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Massively Rewind: Introducing Massively's news video show

Video, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Miscellaneous, MMORPG, Massively Rewind

Massively Rewind
For the inaugural episode of Massively Rewind, we feel it's appropriate to define what this show is because, frankly, explaining what it isn't would take far too long. (It isn't a cookie. It isn't a poodle. It isn't underwater yodeling. See?) Every week Massively Rewind will recap some of the top gaming news stories and present them in rib-tickling video morsels. It's a lot like time travel without the DeLoreans, world-ending paradoxes, and showing up suddenly without any clothes.

This week, we take a look at a dedicated factionless World of Warcraft player, Smedley putting out SOE fires, and why it's good to be the emperor in the Elder Scrolls Online.

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Free for All: The confused state of Firefall's first few hours

Betas, Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, MMOFPS, Humor, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Firefall

Firefall screenshot
As part of my research for an upcoming article about MMO shooters, I have been playing a lot of Firefall. There are definitely worse assignments in the world. I really, really enjoy the game; I love the fact that I can do almost anything I want even within a short play session and feel as if I accomplished something. Of course, the current enlightened state I am in does not reflect the game's non-newbie-friendly designs. As a matter of fact, the only place I was able to turn for reliable explanations and non-stop answers was a reader of Massively who recognized my name in the chat.

This reader and I have played together several times, and he went out of his way to answer all of the newbie questions that should have been answered by the game. I know that the developers have said (through Tweets to me and in other places) that a better newbie experience is on its way. There are also friendly little helper robots sprinkled throughout the game and a handful of helpful videos that can be found as well.

So why are so many new players still confused about Firefall?

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Free for All: Revisiting EVE Online's newbie tutorial

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Races, Humor, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

EVE Online screenshot
I might leave the EVE Online number-crunching and analyzing to Massively's Brendan Drain, but my personal history with the game is long, however, and I have proudly reactivated my 2004 account (complete with a 10 million skill point character) once a year to see how things are going. I generally spend several hours playing and getting used to the changes but end up playing other games for columns like Rise and Shiny.

This time around, I thought I would try something different. I was spurred into action by the recent Steam sales, one of them offering an EVE Online Starter Pack for something like two bucks. (Now it's almost $5.00) It comes with 30 days of time, some special newbie goodies, and a booster to help skills grow faster. Sure, I could have reactivated my old account for $15.00 (and probably will after this is over), but I wondered how making a new character now would compare to what it was like all those years ago.

It turns out that it's still pretty darn cool.

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The Soapbox: The horror of embargoes

Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

My Little Pony gets a gritty, realistic reboot.
We're right on the cusp of one big holiday or another. Festivus, I think? I don't really pay attention to the calendar. So we're going to take this opportunity to talk about something near and dear to our hearts that a lot of you don't even know exists because you aren't working here. It's the magical miracle known as the press embargo.

Embargoes work something like this. Let's say that Bungie is hard at work developing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Online, and the company wants to reveal a new piece of information on August 9th. The company sends a lot of different press outlets a release with all of the information on August 2nd, mentioning exactly when the embargo lifts. So on August 9th, everyone can cover it at the same time!

It sounds like a great way to ensure that the press knows things in advance and that every big revelation is nicely coordinated across all media. In practice, though, it's something less than beneficial due to failures to communicate and the very nature of the beast. Giving more time between the information and release just means more space for things to go wrong.

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Massively Speaking 278: Bloopers, outtakes, and tomfoolery

Podcasts, Massively Meta, Humor, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

It's the final Massively Speaking podcast of the year! We've been diligently collecting bloopers, outtakes, and general tomfoolery from our past shows, and now we've assembled them all for a hilarious stream of weirdness and non sequiturs. Laugh with us and at us (mostly the latter), and we'll see you all in 2014!

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[Stitcher] Follow the podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Daily Grind: What would you like for a game present?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

My affection for draenei is well-documented.
The problem with people asking, "What do you want for the holidays" is that most of the things you actually want aren't valid answers. What would I like? I'd like to see Final Fantasy XIV adapt its PvP advancement series for PvE purposes and have housing that people can actually afford. I'd like to see WildStar implement body sliders. I'd like City of Titans to be an enormous hit, and I'd really like to see a Transformers MMO that looks playable and enjoyable.

Yes, they may be pie-in-the-sky wishes, but darn it, that's what I'd like. So what about you, readers? Regardless of whether or not it will happen (and it probably won't), what would you like for a game-related present? Bring back a title that died? Add extra features to an existing title? Have developers join forces to make some sort of combination super-title? The choice is yours even as the odds are low.

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!

Rise and Shiny: Aura Kingdom

Betas, Screenshots, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Family, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Aura Kingdom screenshot
You might have heard about Aura Kingdom, the latest game from Aeria Games. It's been generating a lot of buzz not just for its unique look and adorable graphics but for its pre-order offers that literally cost between $19.00 and $299.00. I wrote about the pricing policy in a recent Free for All article, though I don't have a problem with them. I like to ask if these packages are harmful to others, but in my opinion they are doing nothing new. They're just like any old gaming package or preorder or collector's edition that comes with physical or digital goodies.

I have more of an issue with the game's early-game blandness. Unless you are the type of player who is used to soft-grinds and fast leveling or Anime-styled games that are usually played in groups, you'd think that the game was literally nothing but the pressing of a few buttons. I certainly thought it was that for the first dozen or so levels.

Luckily, the game opens up and becomes fun, but it takes a while to get there. I sat down with game producer Aaron Biedma to ask about the controversial packs, combat mechanics, and adorable dragons.

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Field Journal: The true meaning of MMO holiday events

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Hands-On, Humor, RIFT, MMORPG, Field Journal

No, this doesn't belong on WoW Insider.
Field Journal is a bold and exciting new take on MMO journalism. Or the meandering ramblings of a chronic game-hopper. I haven't decided yet. Each week I'll be setting for myself a new "adventure" or "field trip" into a game to explore some aspect of it in detail. I'll be sharing my thoughts and experiences, especially on games without a dedicated column. Anything from the most obscure indie to the elephant in the room is up for consideration. There just has to be something in it we think is worth gawking at and talking about!

Given the timing, I wanted to kick things off with a look at seasonal events in MMOs. To make it special, I thought, why not tackle the events of a few games in one go? Oh how naive I was. Let me tell you, there's nothing like seeing the same flavor of holiday cheer over and over again in supposedly different worlds to strip away one's capacity for goodwill to all developers. Fortunately, there were a few bright spots.

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Colbert cracks ancient Second Life joke, picks on NSA

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Second Life, Virtual Worlds, Humor, Sandbox

Stephen Colbert
I guess we'll forgive Stephen Colbert for not realizing that the Second-Life-users-don't-have-a-first-life joke is older than he is. Mainly because the rest of his segment on Linden Labs' virtual world and its NSA-powered avatars is pretty funny.

Colbert follows up Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart's riff on the NSA in World of Warcraft with a segment heavy on Second Life secret agents. Kotaku has the full story as well as a video embed.

One Shots: Breaking news

Screenshots, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Culture, One Shots, Humor, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

This just in! We've received reports that caped crusaders are beating the ever-loving crap out of a villain literally 12 feet in front of us! Seriously, if we could just turn these news cameras a little to the right, you'd see the whole thing, but for now you'll just have to take our word for it. Sponsored by Doritos.

Reader Sean submitted this particular gem: "I used to play quite a bit of Champions Online from closed beta through about four months after launch. Before the dark times. Before the patches. Here I am laying the smackdown on Foxbat during his 15 minutes of fame -- surely not what he had in mind."

Ha ha! Surely not there, Sean! Now for a word from our sponsors, and by that we mean more excellent player-submitted screenshots.

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Second Wind Roundtable: The final days of Warhammer Online

Fantasy, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Humor, Second Wind, Sunsets

Screenshot -- Warhammer Online
I know it's been a while, but the Second Wind Roundtable is back for a special occasion: the shutdown of Warhammer Online. As you may know, Mythic's long-floundering RvR title is officially shutting down on December 18th, taking with it the war between Order and Chaos that's been waging since 2008.

I was never a die-hard WAR player, but I did have an account still in good standing, and the game was made free for all former subscribers, so I figured that I'd jump in for a last hoorah despite the icky taste it left in my mouth the last time I played. I wasn't about to do this alone, though, so I pulled my now-ex-friend Eliot Lefebvre along for the ride. A post on the official site promised new NPCs to power up our characters and "other unique experiences," so I expected a big end-of-the-world bash as former players returned and boosted to max level for one final brawl. What we got was... well, just read on past the cut. I need a drink.

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Leaderboard: What's the silliest game name in the MMO genre?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Humor, Miscellaneous, Leaderboard

Elite: Dangerous
Today I'd like to highlight some of the goofiest game names in the MMO genre. I'm not out to be mean or anything, but seriously, sometimes you just have to stop and ask what were they thinking, amirite?

Take Ever, Jane, for example. I get it, it's a play on both EverQuest and Jane Austen, but still. That comma is problematic because I don't want to pause and scratch my head when I'm reading a game title. Awkward! There are plenty of other examples, too, so vote for your (least) favorite after the cut.

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Star Trek Online creates a gingerbread colony for the holidays

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Humor

Star Trek Online
Not since Aunt Beru's blue milk has science fiction looked this tasty! Star Trek Online's mischevious Q is creating a gingerbread colony for the game's annual Winter Wonderland event.

As part of the event, players will be shrunk down to defend the colony from snowmen by flinging snowballs and firing snow guns at them (which, if you think about it, is kind of like flinging body parts at the enemy). Toss in ice and yetis, and you have the strangest Star Trek episode ever. And yes, I'm including the one with Data and the masks. What was that about?

Participants in the event can get special prizes and recipes, including a starship. Q's Winter Wonderland will be in the game from December 5th through January 16th of next year.

Perfect Ten: What I'm thankful for in MMOs

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten
It is good to give thanks. It is good to be grateful. I love having a holiday this time of year to encourage me to do what I should be doing all of the time, which is to recognize the blessings that I have and the sacrifices that others have made on my behalf. Even when it comes to games, there's so much to be thankful for.

So if you'll excuse a list full of sentiment and seriousness, today I'd like to give a shout-out to 10 things that I'm thankful for in the realm of MMOs. Check them out and then perhaps add your own thanks in the comments section!

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Perfect Ten: Why we need more post-apocalyptic MMOs

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Humor, Post-Apocalyptic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

With the recent re-release of the 1988 classic RPG Wasteland and the development progress of Wasteland 2, my mind's swimming in post-apocalyptic wonderment these days. Aside from those titles and the insanely popular Fallout series, post-apoc hasn't proven to be as popular a setting for games as it is in, say, film, TV, and novels. And when it comes to MMOs, the only major effort that's been made to produce a similar title has been limited to Fallen Earth (and in a lesser sense, Defiance and Xsyon).

Now, I love me some Fallen Earth, especially as of late, but every time I log in it makes me think of just how rich and fertile this setting is for MMO studios. Considering just how rampant fantasy titles are, I feel strongly that devs need to be exploring outside this well-trod path to other genres, and the post-apocalypse is a perfect place to start. Here are my reasons that we need more post-apoc MMOs, and no, I'm not going to list "rampant prostitution and drug use" because that would also apply to a Los Angeles MMO.

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