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The Daily Grind: Are you playing RIFT?

Fantasy, Culture, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, RIFT

RIFT's upcoming expansion, Nightmare Tide, got me really amped to get back into the game after I previewed it at PAX Prime. I've always had a soft spot for this game, loving its ease of use, multiple content paths, and flexible mix-and-match class system. I've almost never quit under duress, which has made returning pretty simple every time.

Are you playing RIFT right now? Have you been playing it for a good long while or did you come back as I have, for next month's expansion? For a bonus discussion topic this morning, what do you like about this MMO?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Full SWTOR expansion information coming this month

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dungeons, MMORPG

Full SWTOR expansion information coming this month
If you're like many other players of Star War: The Old Republic, then you've been wondering and waiting to hear what the fabled next expansion is supposed entail. Producer Bruce Maclean told forumgoers earlier this week that they will have to wait only until the end of the month, explaining that the team didn't want to give away any content spoilers.

Now that the gurrcat is out of the bag with Update 2.10, information about 3.0 is right around the corner. Maclean wrote today, "We're letting folks have a little time with Rakata Prime and then spilling the beans on 3.0. Look for a teaser within a week, and then a full announce before the end of [the] month!"

We're guessing the Rakata Prime flashpoint has more than a little to do with it...

World of Warcraft outlines anniversary plans, delays Draenor raid

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Dungeons, Subscription

Blizzard has released a new World of Warcraft dev blog clarifying its 10th anniversary plans in light of Warlords of Draenor's impending launch on November 13th. In short, the festivities will begin on November 21st and run until well after the holidays on January 6th. Those who pony up for a sub in that time period will be awarded the Molten Corgi minipet. If you rush to the new level cap in time, you'll also be able to play through the new level-capped Molten Core raid; if not, then you can still play the new Southshore vs. Tarren Mill battleground, which comes in both level 90-99 and level 100 brackets.

Blizzard further notes that the new PvP season and the normal and heroic versions of Draenor's first raid dungeon, Highmaul, will not open until December 2nd to "make sure that everyone [has] had time to level up." Highmaul's LFR and mythic modes will open another week after that.

Massively's sister site WoW Insider also has some good news for Draenor devotees this morning: It appears that facial recustomization is now part of the regular barber shop in beta, possibly alleviating the fears of those worried about being saddled with an ugly pixel face once the new race models are live.

Swordsman announces Gilded Wasteland expansion

Fantasy, Historical, Screenshots, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Swordsman

Perfect World Entertainment has just announced an expansion for its still-new F2P martial arts MMO Swordsman. Dubbed Gilded Wasteland, the update will boost the level cap to 94 and introduce new desert regions (Ping Liang, Tunhuang, and the Shadow Mountain Plains) and dungeons to the game. PWE also says it will improve the leveling curve, weapon-crafting, and PvP.

The expansion arrives later this fall. We've included new concept art below.

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EQII producer's letter talks Altar of Malice date, features

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

SOE's Holly "Windstalker" Longdale has penned a new EverQuest II producer's letter and published it on the game's forums. It contains a general update schedule from now through the end of November as well as an overview of the content in the Altar of Malice expansion.

Said expansion launches on November 25, with an open beta on October 14 and an All Access member beta on October 7.

World of Warcraft's Draenor Q&A, Grommash Hellscream lore

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, News Items, Community Q&A, Subscription

World of Warcraft generated plenty of news this past weekend! First, our sister site WoW Insider published an overview of last Friday's developer Q&A. The studio confirmed earlier reports that Warlords of Draenor was being worked on before Mists of Pandaria launched, as well as clarified Draenor's timeline (35 years in the past), noted that some garrison buildings will be account-wide, and promised no rep or PvP grinds for legendaries.

Second, Blizzard posted up the another entry in its five-part series discussing the lore of major NPCs in Draenor. This video entry, included at the end of this post, covers Grommash Hellscream, chieftain of the Warsong clan.

Finally, a Venturebeat piece showed WoW's soft side: A WoW-playing Alabama woman, stricken with a terminal illness, was showered with funding and support from both Blizzard and the WoW community in her attempt to attend this year's BlizzCon.

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Star Trek Online's artist explains Tier 6 ship designs

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

One of these things is not quite like the others.
The new Federation ship designs in Star Trek Online's upcoming expansion are a pretty big departure from the norm. Sure, the shape of the ships is familiar, but instead of the usual bright Federation white and sweeping curves, they're all hard angles, dark shades, glowing lines, and so forth. They don't look much like the Federation. Concept artist Hector Ortiz took to Reddit recently to explain why the ships look as they do and how the design of the new ships ties into their point of origin despite the departure.

Ortiz explains that with the heavy emphasis on intelligence operations in this expansion, it was only appropriate to design ships that resembled nothing so much as spy planes: angular, stealthy, and dark. That led to the inclusion of the blue lines to help the ship silhouettes stand out against the blackness of space, with the unique nacelle designs also part of an effort to minimize the ship profile. There's no assurance that you'll like the new designs after reading his comments on the rationale, but at least you'll understand why they look the way they do.

RIFT previews Nightmare Tide's Goboro Reef

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Dev Diaries

Trion Worlds has begun showcasing the new zones and content coming in RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion in this week's dev post on Goboro Reef, which will soon become your new favorite spot to drown to death. Expect mesmerizing mermaids, an endangered reef, a threatened well, a critter hatchery, untrustworthy guards, a quest to save the Plane of Water, and the Grotto of Horror.

So basically, California.

Trion promises that a peek at the Pelagic Order and more bits about the zone are en route. Catch the whole post on the official site.

Warlords of Draenor's Robin Williams tribute confirmed

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items

Robin WilliamsLast month rumors swirled about a possible tribute to the late Robin Williams in this winter's World of Warcraft expansion. WoWhead has now confirmed that a new zone in Warlords of Draenor features an ever-burning interactive lamp which summons a genie who subsequently recites a line that Williams made famous in Aladdin.

Data-miners have sussed out additional character models that might end up as Williams homages, as well as a new title -- "Comedian" -- and a large broken egg that could be a Mork & Mindy reference.

Williams, an avid gamer and World of Warcraft player, died on August 11th. Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13th.

RIFT sells digital editions of Nightmare Tide

Fantasy, Expansions, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Promotions

Excitement is bubbling up from the deeps for RIFT's Nightmare Tide, and while the expansion is free for all, Trion Worlds is selling a trio of digital editions with extra goodies.

The Typhoon Edition is $24.99 and features benefits such as dual earring slots, a new bag slot, and planewalker: water attunement (which allows you to equip special gear). The Infusion Edition is $49.99 and includes one instant level 60 character, housing items, a second minion slot, an extra bank vault slot, and a jellyfish pet. And if you want to shell out (no pun intended) $149.99, you'll get all of the above plus a cobalt thresher mount, a 36-slot bag, a Shadow Scion dimension, nightmare cosmetic weapons, an Abyssal Crab combat crab skin, and more.

Trion is also tossing in extra loyalty for those who purchase one of these editions. If you have additional questions about the digital editions, there's a collector's edition FAQ put up just for you!

[Thanks to Bill for the tip!]

Star Trek Online launches the Delta Rising: Operations pack

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

But why did you make this the cruiser?  Why?  It looks like an escort!
When you head out into the Delta Quadrant in Star Trek Online: Delta Rising, you're going to want to be prepared. You'll want the best possible ship, one capable of making use of everything the quadrant has to offer. That's what the Delta Rising: Operations pack is meant to do. It's the equivalent of the Legacy of Romulus pack from the last expansion, a collection of ships, titles, officers, and bonuses to get you going in the expansion when it goes live.

Eight ships are included in the pack: four Federation ships, two KDF ships, and two Romulan Republic ships. Some of these ships also come equipped with Intelligence Officer bridge stations, the new type of officer being added with the expansion, allowing you to scan for weaknesses in enemy craft and exploit those flaws. It also contains exclusive titles and officers, three ship upgrade modules, and special Talaxian uniforms. The pack is priced at $125 and is available for purchase now if you'd like to be kitted out and ready to go for launch.

See RIFT: Nightmare Tide's underwater vistas

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Expansions, Free-to-Play, RIFT

RIFT: Nightmare Tide is not only shaping up to be one full-featured expansion for later this fall, but a darn good-looking one at that. We've got 10 new screenshots from the expansion for you to check out including the minion screen. And while you're at it, why not read our PAX Prime preview of Nightmare Tide?

Star Trek Online announces more Voyager cast members in Delta Rising

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

When you're out exploring the Delta Quadrant, you want people around you who have been there before. It's a big, unfriendly place, after all. Star Trek Online players will have a bit more help than they had previously expected, though. In addition to Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Garret Wang (Harry Kim) reprising their roles from Star Trek: Voyager, Ethan Phillips (Neelix), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Robert Picardo (The Doctor) will be making appearances in the game.

No details on these appearances have yet been revealed, although Neelix is likely still in his role as ambassador, and the game's backstory has Seven of Nine working with the Daystrom Institute. It's likely that more lore will be uncovered as the expansion approaches its release this fall.

[Source: Cryptic Studios press release]

PAX Prime 2014: Hearthstone eyes an expansion

Fantasy, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Hearthstone

The PAX Prime Blizzard booth was one of the larger and more populated venues on the show floor this year. A slow-moving line wrapped around it as players waited eagerly to try out Warlords of Draenor or to see Heroes of the Storm for the first time. Yet it was Hearthstone -- a free-to-play game available to anyone at anytime -- that was winning gamers over.

I talked with Game Director Eric Dodds about how this small project at Blizzard blew up into a great success story. He said that when the team noticed that Twitch livestreams of Hearthstone were drawing in thousands and tens of thousands of viewers is when the studio knew that it had a hit on its hands.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Subscription

If you've played World of Warcraft once, have you played it for all time? I was wondering this as I slipped back into Azeroth for a look at the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion at PAX Prime. After all, it had been three years and two expansions since I've really played this MMO, but as I learned, even new shinies don't make this game feel any more or less like the good ol' WoW that I remember.

The floor demo allowed us to create instant level 90 characters and jump into the second zone, Shadowmoon Valley. I selected a character at random and naturally ended up with a Shadow Priest, a class that I've never played. Figures. I spent a minute selecting a specialization, random talents, and outfitting my hotbar with enough of a skill rotation that I wouldn't be laughed out of the next Priest conclave. Then it was off to check out this brand-new zone.

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