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A big list of MMOs to watch in 2009

Aion, Darkfall, Huxley, Jumpgate Evolution, MMO Industry, New Titles, Stargate Worlds, The Agency, Chronicles of Spellborn, Free Realms, Champions Online, LEGO Universe, FusionFall, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Over at The Vault, they've put up an exhaustive list of all the MMO titles you should have your eye on throughout the new year. While they sort of term it as thought it's a big list of games coming out this year, we think they know it's unlikely all of those games are going to be released in the next twelve months. With that in mind, if you aren't sure what games you should have on your radar (and you haven't clicked our handy "upcoming MMOs" widget above), this massive list will bring you up to date.

Here at Massively, of course, we've been doing our own level best to keep you updated on a lot of these titles, be they AAA superhero games like Champions Online or DC Universe Online. We've talked fervently about Star Wars: The Old Republic, and given you the skinny on under-the-radar titles like Aion, FreeRealms, and Jumpgate Evolution. We've even walked away from our precious fantasy to talk about games like APB or The Agency. The Vault's list is a great one to run down - check it out to see what game you should be obsessing over today!

FusionFall sneak preview starting this weekend

Betas, New Titles, Previews, Free-to-Play, FusionFall, Kids

Yes, that's right, it's Blossom and Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls. Very few MMOs could support something as extreme as grown-up Powerpuffs or Dexter as a invasion resistance leader, but Cartoon Network's FusionFall seems to be bringing them and more to the table. But if you're still unsure about the whole prospect of having all of Cartoon Network's heroes in one interconnected universe, then why not take the chance to try the game yourself?

This weekend will mark a special "preview" of FusionFall for everyone out there who takes the time to sign up on the main FusionFall website. So for those of you who have been drooling at the idea of taking missions from Ben Tennyson or Numbah Five, wait no longer.

And if you're still on the fence about the game -- Samurai Jack. We think that should be enough to push you violently off that fence.

Mini-fascist kiddie MMOS are a-ok!

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Academic, LEGO Universe, FusionFall, Kids

Unlike most seasoned adult gamers, whose first introductions to online play were usually in the cut-throat world of the first-person shooter or real-time strategy genres, kids today are largely insulated from the bullying behavior that once typified the online experience. Creating a safe, collaborative environment that still manages to challenge gamers is one of the chief design goals of MMOs aimed at children, as Richard Aihoshi explores in a recent article for The Escapist.

Gathering opinions from developers working on titles like LEGO Universe, FusionFall, and Magi-Nation, Aihoshi explores how these titles seek to eliminate anti-social behavior like ganking and trash-talking through calculated design decisions. While Aihoshi establishes something of a consensus among the developers, he doesn't reflect on the potential ills of setting up these "mini-fascist utopias," as they are referred to by LEGO Universe's Ryan Seabury. One wonders whether this digital extension of helicopter parenting is actually desirable at all. Instead of teaching kids that fighting and cursing is wrong, we take away their freedom to do those things altogether. Lesson learned? This blogger doubts it.

FusionFall release date slips to Fall

Betas, Launches, New Titles, News Items, Casual, FusionFall, Kids

We came really close to calling this post 'FusionFall (fusion)falls down to (fusion)Fall', but were talked out of it. At any rate, the Hollywood Reporter, writing about the upcoming MMO FusionFall, mentions that the release date has slipped (once again) from Summer of this year to Fall.

Executive Producer Chris Waldron has said "Let's just say that MMOs are very deep, very large games that are ready when they are ready. They take a lot of testing, a lot of polish, and that's what we're going through." It's the best of reasons to slip a release date, but without more clarity on what precisely they're working on polishing, these sorts of announcements just tend to lead to insecurity among the faithful. After all, if it's slipped once, it can slip twice. If it's slipped twice, as it just has, it could slip again. Let's hope for more information to be revealed soon.

GDC08 Highlights: Eve Online, FusionFall and Lego Universe

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Massively highlights, LEGO Universe, FusionFall, Kids

EVE Online

Eve Online talks new ships and avatars

CCP's Senior Technical Producer Torfi Frans Olafsson had a lot to say about EVE Online's upcoming space station environments. At present, EVE's player characters are little more than still portraits -- in the playable portion of the game you are primarily represented as your ship, which you can use to navigate and explore the game world. Players will one day have the ability to exit their ship and interact with other characters as a human avatar. We still don't have an exact release date, but we scored the details on the proposed gameplay and development process.

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The future of Disney Online: An interview with SVP Steve Parkis

Fantasy, MapleStory, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Club Penguin, News Items, Toontown Online, Habbo Hotel, Free-to-Play, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Free Realms, Hello Kitty Online, FusionFall

Last week, Disney Online merged multiple online divisions into a single entity now called Disney Online Studios. I had a chance to talk to the Senior Vice President in charge of it all, Steve Parkis, about the vision for one of the world's most recognizable brands as it tackles the fast-rising casual online gameplay market.

Before now, Disney's online efforts spanned over many different areas: developing Flash based casual games; acquiring the online community, Club Penguin; and building the successful family-oriented MMORPGs ToonTown Online and Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Steve's mission is to bring all of those together to make Disney.com a dedicated casual games destination.

He believes that casual players are more than just Women 35+ and that there is a large, untapped market of players that Disney's brand can draw in. But how does he plan to do that?

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GDC08: Cartoon Network's FusionFall

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Trailers, Video, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Lineage, Lineage 2, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Tabula Rasa, Ultima Online, Toontown Online, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Hands-On, Casual, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), FusionFall

We were invited to check out Cartoon Network's upcoming kid-focused MMO FusionFall, and while clearly still in development, it shows a lot of potential. Developed in part by Korea's Grigon Entertainment, makers of Seal Online, QRing, and Gambledon, this is a title with a great deal of pedigree under the hood. Among the notable names on this project are Sam Lewis, former systems and content designer for Star Wars Galaxies; Robert Knopf, recently of Ultima Online; and Richard Weil, the community relations manager for many MMOs, including City of Heroes/Villains, Lineage I and II, Tabula Rasa, and Auto Assault.

With so many experienced and creative people behind it, FusionFall definitely stands to make a splash in the 8 - 14 year old demographic that Cartoon Network is shooting for. This isn't to say they don't have a few challenges ahead of them, however. We'll explore this, and show you the trailer, after the break.

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