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SOE's new Player Server initiative debuting in H1Z1

Horror, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, H1Z1

There aren't many H1Z1 screens to choose from
Did you watch SOE's late-breaking H1Z1 livestream last night? Are you excited for the zombie survival sandbox MMO? Well, here's another nugget to chew on courtesy of CEO John Smedley and his Twitter feed.

The game will feature private servers.
Today I'd like to announce H1Z1 will be the first game to implement our new Player Servers. In addition to the traditional servers that we set up and run (what you've come to expect in MMOs), we will allow the players to come together in any way they wish and if they can get enough people together to vote for the server we will make it for them.

At first this will be for specific pre-defined rulesets. Later we will expand past rulesets into adding more features. For example perhaps one community prefers to go more militaristic. So they add more military vehicles. So we're truly letting you, our players get exactly the kind of thing you're looking for.

Mechanically this will allow players to buy pledge tokens in Station Cash to vote on a proposal. However, should the vote [succeed] we refund.
[Thanks BabaGraPL!]

Neverwinter launching Curse of Icewind Dale on May 13th

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Lore, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

All right, I can get this thing to work, don't worry.
If you're ready to have some chill adventures in Neverwinter, you'd better be ready on May 13th. That's when the Curse of Icewind Dale module will launch for players, bringing with it two new adventure zones, a new open PvP region, and new factions for players to fight over. Also a new Hunter Ranger Paragon path, but that really only affects Hunter Rangers, which as infographics show make up only half of the characters in the game.

But why are you going to Icewind Dale? What's so important? If only there were some sort of lore trailer past the break that will give a concise explanation of exactly what's going down in the region and why players are taking part, as well as outline the factions fighting over the valuable Black Ice. That would be very convenient, wouldn't it? Perhaps you should click past the break to check out that exact trailer, then.

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The full scoop on Marvel Heroes' team-ups

Super-hero, Interviews, Patches, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

Marvel Heroes
Massively: Last week Marvel Heroes added a new feature to the game in the form of "team-ups." While we know the basics of this new system, we wanted to go into more detail. To help us with this, Gazillion Community Manager Ryan Collins sat down to answer a few questions. So Ryan, let's strip away the game-specific terminology: Are team-up heroes NPC companions? Pets? If you had to compare them to another game's features, what would it be to help us understand what they're like?

Ryan Collins: Team-ups would be most similar to companions or hirelings. Like Diablo II's hirelings, team-up heroes have their own gear (with four brand-new item types just for them) that allow you to customize your team-up's stats. Some team-up items even convey bonuses to your hero directly. Team-ups also have a power tree that allows you to customize the way they function, the powers they use, and the passive bonuses they have. The first choice you get to make with your team-up is how they behave, for which there are three "modes."

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Hands-on with Hearthstone for iPad

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
While I was part of the early beta crowd for Hearthstone last year, I haven't played it in quite some time. It wasn't because I became disenfranchised with the game but rather because I felt it truly belonged on a tablet -- and playing it on a PC just felt wrong somehow. So I've been waiting for Hearthstone to finally make the leap to the iPad, and when that happened yesterday, I was all over it like a murloc swarm on a noobie.

In many ways, Hearthstone is absolutely tailor-fit for mobile gaming. It requires minimal manipulation; poking, holding, and the occasional swipe is about as complex as the physical mechanics get. It's a turn-based thinker's game that gives you ample time to plot your strategy and get a few other things done between moves. On an iPad, that's pretty easy; I would read a book while my opponent took his/her/its turn.

The game actually kept me up past my bedtime because of the "just one more match" temptation, which tells me that the magic that fueled my interest in this game in beta is roaring more now than ever. But how does it actually handle on Apple's devices?

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The Stream Team: Landmark's castles and manors and gardens, oh my!

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, EverQuest II, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

No matter how long you have been wandering around in Landmark, you'll still stumble across new things! Massively's MJ has noted a number of spectacular creations throughout her journeys, including castles without compare. But what if you are more at home in something less grand? MJ has found some impressive manors fit for even the most discerning Norrathians. Of course, homes aren't the only thing built; creative players have designed bowling alleys, underground gardens, and so much more. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. EDT to tour some of these great places, and maybe stumble upon a few more!

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark update highlights the power of players

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

As a long-time gamer, I have to admit: I never expected I'd really see the day. What day is that? The one where a studio says one thing... and does it!

True to SOE's word, the development process for Landmark has been quite open. Between social media, livestreams, and posts, the devs have been very forthcoming about where they are and where they are going, giving players a pretty clear picture of what's going on. But that's only the half of it. What impresses me most about this whole situation is that player input is actually recognized as a valuable commodity, not a nuisance to be brushed aside and ignored. I'm not just referring to the opinions offered during the various Round Table polls either, even though those are a welcome component to the the mix. I'm talking about the fact that players are a driving force behind the direction of Landmark's development. And yesterday's update really brought that fact home.

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Archlord 2 closed beta registration is open

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play

Archlord 2
Webzen wants you to play Archlord 2, and as such the company is inviting you to pre-register for the fantasy sequel's upcoming closed beta test. You can use your existing Webzen, gPotato.com, or gPotato.eu account as well as your Facebook profile.

It's worth noting that registration does not guarantee closed beta access, according to the company's press release. Rather, you'll be entered into a key lottery. The closed beta is currently scheduled to begin in June.

"Archlord 2 is a medieval fantasy-based MMORPG that takes place in the mysterious and dangerous world of Chantra," Webzen explains. "Players will join in a never-ending conflict between the two opposing factions of the Azuni and the Crunn. They will be able to satisfy their thirst for power by participating in enormous PvP battles holding up to 400 players and fighting to claim the ultimate prize and to become the Archlord -- the world's supreme ruler."

[Source: Webzen press release]

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A fierce weather front is blowing into Age of Wushu

Fantasy, Historical, Trailers, Game Mechanics, Previews, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

Age of Wushu
Age of Wushu is introducing dynamic weather effects that will do more than look moody; they will actually herald several events.

Each weather effect will have a different event that it will trigger. The great fog will start a school assassination PvP contest, the sandstorm will begin a treasure hunt in the desert, the eclipse will launch an invasion by the Prince of a Thousand Sentiments, and the thunderstorm will give you the opportunity to find the fight of the century.

This weather system will be coming with the Age of Wushu: Tempest of Strife update. You can check out the weather effects preview video after the break!

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RIFT sends players back in time to fight dragons

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Dungeons

RIFT
Set your time machines back 1,500 years, RIFT players, because Patch 2.6.1 is flinging Ascended heroes into the past to help round up a few rowdy dragons.

The patch, which landed today, opens up a new Tier 3 raid called Bindings of Blood. In this raid, players are experiencing the binding of the dragons from a first-hand perspective, and in so doing they actually change the "present" history of their personal game.

Trion Worlds told us on the phone that the 20-person raid contains four portals to four instances, each with its own mini-boss, dragon, and unique theme. The instances are on separate lockout timers, and currently two are open with two more scheduled for next month. The bosses are reworked versions of Greenscale, Akylios, Laethys, and Maelforge, and will drop best-in-slot gear and weapons.

Hearthstone comes to iPad

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Launches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
After a soft launch in a few countries, Hearthstone is now available to iPad owners worldwide.

Blizzard announced today that Hearthstone is on the app store as an alternative to the PC version. The title is available on iPads 2 and newer as well as the iPad minis. New and returning players will be treated to a free card pack as part of this release.

Hearthstone has a funny trailer for the Apple release, which you can watch after the jump.

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Today's Landmark update introduces glass, removes air

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, New Titles, Patches, Free-to-Play, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Life just got easier for Landmark developers: Today's update introduces new crafted glass props to enhance building as well as makes construction itself more precise by eliminating air when copy and pasting.

Although not a building material (yet), the glass props will enable players to put windows into their homes or construct any number of transparent creations. A more widely applicable change, however, is the ability to remove the air when putting down templates or pasting something. Previously, empty space in a template counted as a voxel itself, meaning that the space would be placed or pasted along with the filled voxels. While helpful in some cases, this same principle caused undesirable effects when trying to combine templates.

As promised previously, the light orbs that were made available for purchase in the Showcase last week can now be crafted in game. Additional tweaks and fixes, including a UI compass, are detailed in the update notes.

Trove empowers community to pitch biomes and classes

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Contests, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Music, Trove

Trove
Trion Worlds is empowering the Trove community even further by inviting players to pitch ideas for a new biome and class to be added to the game.

A Reddit thread has the details of how this process will unfold. Players will begin by brainstorming ideas for biomes, and after some time, the dev team will pick the best (and top-voted) submissions and allow players to vote on the very best one. Following that, the team will poll players for decorations, dungeon designs, and enemy ideas, and then get the biome into the game within the month. There are also plans for a similar pitching-and-voting process afterward in regard to a new class.

On a phone call, Trion told Massively that it's looking to push the crowdsourcing aspect further and further as time goes on. The team is incredibly impressed with what the community has created so far with weapons, hairstyles, dungeons, and hats, and it can't wait to see what comes from this experiment.

One thing that the team revealed is the upcoming addition of music blocks: Physical objects that make notes (and even chords) when walked on. We asked if Trion was looking to crowdsource the soundtrack for the game as well, and while the devs said that no players had yet stepped forward, they promised that if some did with great tunes, those would definitely be included into the game proper.

Heroes & Generals gets a huge update

Historical, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, Browser

Heroes & Generals is badass
We haven't heard from Heroes & Generals in a while, but that's because the devs at Reto-Moto have been working like dogs to update the F2P FPS.

What's Heroes & Generals, you say? It's a nifty blend of massive online shooter and strategic persistent elements that gives you the ability to fight in the trenches, in the air, or as a campaign mastermind. If you'd like to know more about it, see our various hands-on articles, or just go to the game's website and play it for yourself.

The latest update, codenamed Oster, adds plenty of new weapons, more campaign battlefields, improved weapon handling and avatar behavior, the ability to steal vehicles, and more. Click past the cut for the update vid.

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Defiance's Arktech Revolution DLC is live for PC and Xbox 360

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Defiance

Defiance Arktech Revolution
Defiance's fifth DLC pack -- Arktech Revolution -- is now live for PC and Xbox 360 players. PlayStation 3 ark hunters will have access to the new content on April 29th (North America) and April 30th (Europe).

Trion's update page divides the DLC into free and paid feature lists, the former of which includes an EGO cap rating increase, EGO rating progression, new enemy difficulty tiers, expert co-op maps, and more. Paid features include a new titles, a new outfit, daily contracts, 15 new perks, and more.

In addition to the release notes, the Defiance website also features an article by creative lead Trick Dempsey on the game's EGO changes.

Super Hero Squad Online commemorates its third birthday

Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Casual, Kids, Family, Anniversaries

SHSO
Who says kids MMOs are dead? Not Super Hero Squad Online! The adorable chibi-superhero MMO turns three this week, boasting seven million registrations since launch, 144 different playable heroes, playable villains, and even a new crafting system.

The celebratory game additions and perks include new characters (Spider-Ham, Captain America Stealth, Falcon EXO-7, and Winter Solider), new world event heroes, hero sales, Facebook giveaways, a 20%-off sub sale through April, and a birthday card contest.

Enjoy the festivities in the brand-new trailer below.

[Source: Gazillion press release]

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