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Man steals thousands of dollars, spends them on Evony

Fantasy, Culture, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Humor

A Hawaiian man is expected to plead guilty to charges that he stole thousands of dollars to spend on the browser-based game Evony.

David Buchanan, 47, is charged with wire fraud after he convinced one woman to give him $40,000 for an investment that would see a promised 650% turnaround. "As a middle-aged, admittedly square, FBI Special Agent who doesn't play video games," Agent Tom Simon said during the investigation, "I was understandably perplexed when, during the 'follow the money' analysis, I kept seeing payments being made to something I'd never heard of called Evony. A bit of Googling properly identified Evony as an online video game of sorts, but I was still puzzled how anyone could possibly spend thousands of dollars on a video game. I wasn't being judgmental about the societal value of gaming. I was just dumbfounded that any video game could possibly cost that much."

You may remember Evony as that game best known for its boobtastic advertising campaigns a few years back, and, surprisingly enough, it's still around. Buchanan's trial is expected to take place on May 8th with sentencing expected later in the year.

SMITE unveils Bastet's 'Night Prowler' catsuit

Fantasy, Historical, Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Humor, MOBA

SMITELest you think catgirls are the private domain of Asian and superhero games, Hi-Rez Studios has upgraded SMITE heroine Bastet with a brand-new "Night Prowler" skin that leaves neither curve nor tail to the imagination. For a small fee, you can ensure that your version of the Egyptian goddess of cats does all of her ass-kicking in a black leather catsuit, just as the Ancient Egyptians would have wanted it.

We've got the video after the break. You're going to go click on it now.

[Source: Hi-Rez press release]

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Perfect Ten: Strategies for juggling multiple MMOs

Humor, Guides, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Among my friends, I have a reputation for being "that guy who plays all the games." People are constantly asking me how I manage to handle so many MMOs simultaneously on top of work and family, as if I've managed to clone myself or I never sleep. The truth is far more mundane: Work and family get top priority with my time, and what I have left for gaming is simply spent wisely.

The thing is that I'm just always enamoured with so many MMOs that I can't just play one and nothing else. I have to be a "juggler:" a player who balances online worlds. With limited time at my disposal and a desire to be in three or four MMOs at any given time, I've done a lot of experimenting with different ways to juggle titles.

There is no one best way, I've found. It depends on how "fair" you want to be to your MMOs and whether it's a priority to you to give each of them more or less the same attention and time. Each of the following strategies has pros and cons, and if you're trying to handle two or more titles, you're simply going to need to figure out what works best for you and your allotment of time.

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Star Citizen tops $42 million, adds towels

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Humor, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen's damaged towel
The Star Citizen money train is still chugging along, as Chris Roberts' latest chairman letter makes clear. What's the occasion? The crowdsourced space sim sandbox just passed $42 million in funding, which unlocked several "celebratory goals" including an updated observist guide, an explorer-class mobiGlas rig for backers, a new Squadron 42 fighter craft called the Gladius, and most crucially, a towel for your hangar that comes complete with its own damage state.

Roberts says that the SC team is back at work on the dogfighting module after its PAX East hiatus, and he also provides a poll for choosing the next stretch goal reward.

Let's all gape at Azeroth Choppers, a WoW motorcycle-themed reality show

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Previews, News Items, Humor, Miscellaneous

Full disclosure: I built my husband a Mekgineer's Chopper as a gag Christmas present.
We can't decide whether this is completely awesome or bizarrely terrifying, but because there really aren't adequate words for World of Warcraft's latest marketing stunt, I'll just let Blizzard explain it:
Grab a front-row seat for the ultimate road showdown! Legendary custom motorcycle designer Paul Jr. has assembled two handpicked teams of bike experts to bring to life a pair of asphalt-kicking chopper designs inspired by World of Warcraft®'s two warring factions. Joining each crew on their epic quest are members of the World of Warcraft development team, on board to help to infuse the essence of the Horde and the Alliance into each bike. In the end, only one chopper will reign supreme as the undisputed king of Azeroth's roads in a winner-takes-all showdown voted on by World of Warcraft players around the globe.
Get to da choppa already. And by the choppa I mean the trailer -- it's after the break.

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Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO April Fools' pranks of all time

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

There are two types of people on April 1st: those who are annoyed and indifferent to the tomfoolery going on all around them, and those who gleefully embrace the zany antics and baldfaced lies. For the record, I am of the latter crowd. I love April Fools' Day and the humor and creativity that it inspires. While this day is by no means contained to our neck of the woods, MMOs have a long-running streak of trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I think a good goof has to have several qualities to make it truly memorable. It needs to be original. It needs to be actually amusing, whether or not you "fell for it." And it needs to tweak our expectations and understanding of how MMOs work. Sometimes there are even important ideas that emerge from these jokes that could, indeed, make these titles better.

So let's go through my favorite MMO April Fools pranks of all time, as catalogued by yours truly!

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Funcom yanks mankini costume from The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, The Secret World, Humor, Buy-to-Play

Players who logged in this week to The Secret World might have noticed that there was a new male costume option in the game store: a neon green mankini that covered very, very little. However, those who purchased said mankini discovered the costume gone today, as Funcom pulled the April Fools' Day outfits from characters' dressing rooms, refunded the points spent on them, and gave each previous owner a free mystery box.

While there was no explanation as to why the outfit was removed, Funcom apologized for the handling of the joke on the forums: "You may or may not be aware, but the mankini was removed. Anyone that purchased the item has been refunded points and has received a mystery box for the inconvenience. However, if you had purchased points in order to buy the mankini, you can contact customer service for a refund of those points. We're terribly sorry for the trouble, folks. Our CS staff will be happy to help."

The Daily Grind: What was your favorite April Fools' Day prank?

Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

You might not have noticed, but yesterday was April Fools' Day, and in the MMO industry that means a lot of studios blowing off steam by being abnormally silly and trying to trick players with weird promises. Some people like the goofs, some don't, but I'm willing to bet that there was at least one that got your nod of approval.

So what was your favorite April Fools this year? Did you get genuinely tricked by anything or find yourself laughing in delight at the cleverness of developers?

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!

World of Warcraft shows off the 'redesigned' female Draenei

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Races, Humor, Subscription

For far too long, Draenei have existed as bastions of unassailable beauty and elegance in World of Warcraft. We're told the race has fallen to the depths of the Broken and the Lost Ones, but you don't really see that in the game. Fortunately for fans, the new redesign to the female Draenei shows a closer connection between the various subtypes of the races, while simultaneously emphasizing the roots of the game's resident space goats. (Those roots would be "space" and "goat," incidentally. Truly.)

Among the major changes Blizzard threatens to make to the model are the addition of fur, a slimming of the lower legs and hooves, and the removal of the ridiculously long tail from the model. The eye design also speaks to the ways in which this ancient and mystical race sees things in a way that most of Azeroth's residents can only imagine. It's a bit more of a departure from the existing model than the other redesigns, but take a look at the full diary for a closer look. And then remember what day it is. You don't need to reroll your Shaman as a Dwarf. We promise.

Guild Wars 2 inflates your character's head

Fantasy, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Buy-to-Play

It's going to your head.
So everyone thought that Guild Wars 2 was just going to do Super Adventure Box again. But no, this year is going a different route. After all, you're super important in the game, aren't you? So why not let all of that importance go straight to your cranium? The designers have turned on the game's big head mode, and it's probably going to significantly improve your experience within the game as a whole. Maybe. Who knows, it could happen.

The point is that the super adventure is now in your skull, which is greatly engorged, and you can log into the game right now to start playing with the biggest head your character has ever had in Tyria. Bigger even than Trahearne's head! Check out the full infographic on the update just past the break (click for a larger version) and enjoy the new visuals as you head into battle.

[Source: ArenaNet press release]

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The Massively April Fools' Day Quest [We have a winner!]

Contests, Events (Real-World), Humor, Miscellaneous

No secrets in the alt text here either, sorry!
As a citizen of the internet, you know what to expect on April Fools' Day: lots of sites trying to trick you into believing outrageous lies or attempting to make you laugh. As Massively is a paragon of both truth and humorlessness in journalism, we promise to do neither today.

Instead, we challenge you to a quest: a Massively April Fools' Day Quest. We have created a super-secret page here on the site that can be discovered only by finding five special words. So your task is to play scavenger hunt with our posts today -- specifically, to look at the tags at the bottom of each post that goes out during the day and find five separate tags (total) that clearly do not belong with the rest. All posts published today are eligible!

Once you find these five words, you'll use them to assemble the url, starting with "massively.joystiq.com/" and then adding the five words separated by hyphens. For example, if the five words were apple, banana, pear, mango, kiwi, you could try "massively.joystiq.com/apple-banana-pear-mango-kiwi" to see if that worked. Yes, part of the challenge of the quest is to experiment with the order of the words because there is only one path to the solution.

If you complete the quest, please be a good sport and keep the answer to yourself. The first person to figure out the solution and leave us a tip with the correct answer in it will have his or her name added to this post and will forevermore be internet famous. Good luck!

[Update: We have a winner! Reader Nathan was the very first person to submit the correct URL, followed by Greaterdivinity just a few minutes later. Congrats to both of you! Here's the "prize page" with the words in order -- don't look if you're still working on the puzzle.]

Final Fantasy XIV teases human-NPC relationship system

Fantasy, Humor, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Well it's April 1st already, at least in Japan, and Final Fantasy XIV has something to contribute to this off-beat day: a Favour system for the game.

Allegedly, this system will help players curry favor with NPCs and develop relationships with them because that's not creepy at all. To build an NPC's affection, players will have to perform certain tasks, hand out gifts, and even sport a particular look because that's not demeaning at all. As a player rises in affection, he or she will move to later "phases" and have access to new features (such as minigames) and interactions with the NPC.

So if you've ever wanted to start a relationship with a cute NPC that will result in an over-possessive, jealous lover who will deny you the ability to group with members of the opposite sex, here you go. Because that's not bizarre at all.

Neverwinter spoofs game-within-a-game

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Free-to-Play, Humor, Neverwinter

Neverwinter has jumped the gun on April Fools' Day with its "preview" of Respen's Marvelous Game.

The idea is that Neverwinter will add a game-within-a-game, allowing characters in the MMO to sit down and engage in some good ol' fashion tabletop D&D: "Respen's Marvelous Game takes place atop a table, with your character being transformed into a miniature statuette. This new event will challenge you on a whole new level. Now you will know what it is like to be on the other side of a tabletop game!"

Of course, this is just a joke. Or is it? Cryptic teased the possibility of earning a green slime companion and said that it will be revealing more details tomorrow.

Senator who crusaded against game violence arrested on corruption charges

Legal, Humor

Leland Yee says don't play with pretend guns, but real gangsters are OKCalifornia state senator Leland Yee, a Democrat best known in gamer circles for authoring Assembly Bill 1179 that sought to prevent the sale of violent titles to minors, has been arrested on public corruption charges.

SFGate reports that the predawn raid of Yee's San Francisco office involved hundreds of federal and local authorities. The ongoing investigation also "targeted notorious former gangster Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow who was once sentenced to 25 years in prison on gun charges."

Senator Yee was previously arrested for shoplifting a bottle of suntan oil and was twice stopped by San Francisco police officers who suspected him of "cruising the Mission District in search of prostitutes."

Yee made headlines in the wake of the 2013 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting by telling gamers to shut the heck up. "Gamers have got to just quiet down. Gamers have no credibility in this argument," he said. "This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest."

Perfect Ten: Why I'm looking forward to WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, WildStar, Subscription

Sometimes you just know when a game is going to click for you before you even get much time in it. It has a personality that agrees with your own, visuals that cause your retinas to salivate, features that were probably stolen by devs from your dream journal, and a good balance of comfortable familiarity and exciting newness.

That, to me, is why I'm on board the WildStar train.

Listen, I'm not one of those people who feels that a game needs to "win" or dominate all of the rest of the landscape. I don't care whether WildStar is more or less popular that the rest of the field or whether it goes free-to-play or not (obviously, I would like it to do well so that it doesn't close up shop!). If it's not your thing, fine, but that won't stop me from being giddy as its release approaches.

WildStar is definitely my most anticipated MMO for 2014. Hit the jump and let me tell you 10 reasons why!

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