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Fat Chocobo dashing out of Weight Watchers and into Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Launches, Humor, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Face it: You have gone far too long without seeing a giant chicken's giant butt.

Happily, Square Enix has your well-being in mind, for the studio has posted a preview of an upcoming Final Fantasy XIV mount that is brimming with chunky avian posterior visuals. A brief and bizarre post on the official site introduces "Fat Chocobo," a special mount that would rather not move unless it has food comically dangled in front of its beefy face.

The chocobo mount is confirmed as a special goodie for those who order the PlayStation 4 collector's edition of FFXIV as well as those who have purchased one of the other CEs. No word as of yet what the studio will do to compensate players if said mount collapses after taking six rapid steps in succession.

Perfect Ten: The journey from announcement to launch

Betas, Launches, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

One of the aspects that I love about MMOs is just how dang fun the build-up to launch can be. I know this period can make some people cranky (Jef) because they'd rather have Santa randomly kick in their door, toss in a bunch of unwrapped video games and Minecraft foam accessories, and refuse to stay for milk and cookies. Not me; I love the build-up, the anticipation, and the goofy fun of partaking in all of this with a like-minded community.

There's something awesome about each stage of the journey from announcement to launch, even if it brings out the crazy in many of us. Now that I think about it, if MMOs didn't exist, where would the drama llamas go to bleat out their discontent? Would trolls go extinct under their mossy bridges? That sounds just awful.

I don't care if liking all of this stuff makes me a big lame-o. I eat lame-os for breakfast because they're high in fiber and there's a free beta key in every box. So get ready to face the full might of my unadulterated joy in three... two... one...

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Free for All: Villagers and Heroes adds bells, whistles, and more sand

Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, Previews, Endgame, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Free for All, Family, Livestream, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Dungeons, Crafting, Housing

Villagers and Heroes screenshot
Villagers and Heroes is a favorite of mine, but let's be honest: The game looks old. When talking to Damon Slye, President of Mad Otter Games, I found that many people agree. According to Slye, it's one of the most frequent concerns he hears from potential new players. The engine that the game currently uses is old and needs to be upgraded big time. And that's just what the developers are doing with this large patch and expansion that should be due in early March.

I sat down with Slye, Associate Designer Cameron England, Head Writer Sarah Skibinski, and Head Artist Adam Alexander to discuss just how different the game will be once the patch goes live. I was given access to a test account loaded up on gear, cash, and other goodies. Even though I found my backpacks full, I mainly wanted to look around the game and explore. Fortunately, the difference between the original client and the new one is literally night and day.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Stronghold Kingdoms

Fantasy, Historical, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, MMORTS, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Sandbox

Stronghold Kingdoms screenshot
Stronghold Kingdoms is probably one of my top favorite MMORTS titles out there. There are many reasons it holds a special place in my slightly crumpled gamer heart, and I will be sure to get to those, but there are also many gameplay elements that could use some improvement. It's a pretty typical MMORTS in most ways; players build up a town, trade goods, fight each other, and swear loyalty to others. In fact, the genre is quite bloated with games that perform in largely the same way, many of them being delivered to us within the browser.

For many players, these defining characteristics are exactly why they are attracted to the genre. In the same way, shooter fans appreciate many of the same basic mechanics from game to game, and trading card players need specific systems in place in order to feel satisfaction. So the existence of these repeated designs is not a problem for me.

It's especially not a problem in Stronghold Kingdoms.

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The Daily Grind: What's the silliest thing you've witnessed in PvP?

Culture, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

Yes, I was a black mage in the Valentione's dress.  This made perfect sense at the time.
PvP is not generally thought of as something that can be silly. It's serious. It's competitive. It's engaging. And sometimes, it's also something that involves a team running out on to the field wearing holiday equipment and hiding until the other team finds them. I've run several PvP nights with my current Final Fantasy XIV free company, and while some of them are serious matches, by the end of the night we're usually just having whatever fun we can think of.

That's not even counting unintentional hilarity, like avoiding death by running in circles around a column for a minute (that happened) or watching a healer in high-end PvP gear do nothing for most of the match before soloing an entire enemy team (also happened). And sometimes it's even in your favor, like when you're running a battleground in World of Warcraft and the other team barely even manages to capture one objective. So what's the silliest thing you've witnessed in PvP?

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!

Massively Rewind: ESO's crafting, WoW's quickie 90s, and the CU pledge

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

Massively Rewind
It's Friday once again, and that means it's time for you to snap out of the work week haze and watch Massively Rewind to catch up on the latest MMO news. Don't worry if this is your first time watching because there's honestly not much you need to do at all. Just grab a cup o' joe and listen.

This week Salem offers up a pair of stories: one involving porn stars and the other all about wiping. Thankfully, they aren't related. ZeniMax released a video showing off the crafting in The Elder Scrolls Online, while Mark Jacobs promised Camelot Unchained fans that there will be no launch delays. Finally, it looks as if Blizzard is considering charging World of Warcraft players $60 for a boost to level 90. Check out the video after the break.

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Rise and Shiny: Inferno Legend

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Inferno Legend screenshot
This week's game was a giant gamble, one that I should have known would not have worked out at all. The problem is that I have this crazy inborn optimism that tells me that even though many MMOs look and play the same way, you never know how they truly play until you actually play them. I've literally played hundreds of MMOs for this job and probably a hundred or so before that, so I've seen my share of games that look one way and play the other.

So this week I decided to go ahead and roll in Inferno Legend, a new MMO by GameBox, even though it appeared to be an auto-player like League of Angels from a few weeks ago and other titles before that. I picked my character from five different classes: the Cyclops, Vampire, Samurai, Faerie, and Mummy. I barely got past the incredibly bad voice-acting that was presumably supposed to add life to the characters and popped into the game.

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Massively Rewind: WildStar's adventure time, GW2's Lion's Arch destruction, and ESO's Oculus Rift prospects

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

Massively Rewind
Can you think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by watching Massively Rewind to catch up on this week's top MMO stories? We can too. Fortunately, this will eat up only a few minutes of your day, and then you can go back to cuddling on the couch in a Snuggie and watching zombie movies.

This week, Smedley's tweets once again make headlines, while Elder Scrolls Online gets unofficial Oculus Rift support. And both WildStar and Guild Wars 2 pumped out new trailers this week to discuss instanced adventures and the attack on Lion's Arch respectively. Check out the full episode after the cut.

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Happy Valentine's Day from ArenaNet! Here's the corpse of your vanquished foe

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

Lovely assistant displays hideous jungle wurm
Remember when you were in third grade and some other little kid put worms in your desk, and your teacher said he did it because he liked you? Or maybe you were the one expressing the depths of your feelings by delivering creepy crawlies. Either way, giving worms to people has long been associated with affection, and tradition mandates the trading of worms between friends and paramours alike on Valentine's Day.

ArenaNet, the developer of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, has set the bar a little higher this year. We didn't receive just a worm from ArenaNet: It's a giant jungle wurm, one of the terrors of the Bloodtide Coast. Its terrorizing days are over, according to the text on the thoughtful card, which reads, "We pulled this wurm fresh from Tyria just for you! This one won't be bothering Bloodtide Coast any more!" Looking at its bright blue innards, we here at Massively are overcome with emotion. We're also a little bit hungry, and that's causing some mixed feelings. Thank you, ArenaNet.

If you're looking at the tub of nightcrawlers you planned to present your special someone with tomorrow and feeling a little inadequate, it's OK. The bait store is probably still open.

Perfect Ten: MMO features that were hyped but never delivered

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Humor, Champions Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Developers like to talk a big game. It's expected, it's encouraged by all parties, and it's part of the fun. When a game or big expansion is coming up, the spokespeople for studios like to hop on stage, grab that mic, and start proselytizing for all they're worth. And while some promises come to fruition, others are various shades of white lies, and still others never come to be at all.

These are the features that studios would much rather you forget were mentioned in the first place, although this is the internet and the internet never forgets. Well, players who latch on to everything devs say as absolute truth never forget.

Sometimes things happen along the way in development. Studios run out of time to get in all of the features and have to prioritize which make the cut and which do not. Features end up not testing as well as hoped and the studio quietly drops them because the PR hit for the features not going in is much less than the disaster that they might cause. And some developers like to flap their gums and spout brainstorm ideas that send the actual programmers and designers back at the company into spasms of agony when they try to figure out how to make them work.

Today let's go through 10 features that were talked up but never delivered in MMOs!

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FlapMMO brings non-combat gameplay to new heights

Culture, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Humor, Sandbox

No, we are not good at this game.  Nor are most people.
For years, players have sought MMOs that truly offered a combat-free experience. FlapMMO, a massively multiplayer version of the sadly defunct Flappy Bird (not officially sanctioned), is that rare gem that delivers precisely that. In fact, it delivers everything you could ask for in the genre -- no combat, no levels, and a wide-open world to simply explore. It even offers exclusively horizontal progression (since that's the way the screen scrolls, you can't go backward).

If all this sounds too good to be true, you should consider also the fact that the game is entirely free-to-play without so much as a cash shop. Chat functions are currently limited, as is character customization, but there's no word from the developer on whether or not this is part of the design or something that will be addressed in the first expansion. You might want to consider giving this wide-open combat-free exploration simulator a try if you've got some free time on your hands.

MMO Mechanics: Three old mechanics I want back

World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Humor, Neverwinter, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
My column has typically heralded modern MMOs as superior advancements of the genre we all adore, but in this week's MMO Mechanics I want to share a small list of some old mechanics I still mourn today. Many older MMOs featured gameplay that could simultaneously exasperate and impress players, especially when the mechanics in question supported a real sense of immersion or realism in otherwise virtual worlds. Recent titles have aimed to open up the in-game world by making it more accessible and much less infuriating, but this has put some of my favourite mechanics and little touches on the development chopping block.

I'm particularly fond of game mechanics that make real-world sense. Real life would not reward you for falling off cliffs, running headlong into a crowded room of enemies, or stumbling off the well-beaten track into the untamed wilderness. Consequences in real life can feel rather scary, so I really enjoyed the fear factor of some older MMOs because this allowed for a much more thrilling -- and ultimately rewarding -- gaming experience. I am going to talk about just three older mechanics I particularly enjoy that have fallen out of fashion, but feel free to lengthen my list by adding your favourites in the comments below.

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Massively Rewind: EQN Landmark's alpha, SWTOR's new content, and Smedley's tease

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

Massively Rewind
The weeks are jam-packed with MMO news, and if you missed the top stories, watching Massively Rewind is a great way to catch up. It's like a DVR that automatically records your favorite shows except you don't have to worry about your kids accidentally taping over everything with episodes of Spongebob.

In this week's episode, we discuss EverQuest Next Landmark's short NDA, the roadmap for Star Wars: The Old Republic's new content, and John Smedley's Twitter teases about the spiritual sequel to Star Wars Galaxies. Elder Scrolls fans, there might be a little something extra here for you today as well!

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Starting out in The Elder Scrolls Online: Bleakrock Isle and Khenarthi's Roost

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, Races, Humor, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), The Elder Scrolls Online

Everyone knows that first impressions matter, and this is especially true for MMOs. The Elder Scrolls Online starts all players in Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbour, but after their escape, they're sent to a faction-specific starting zone, each with its own questline and flavor. While Massively's Matthew has Coldharbour and the Daggerfall Covenant's starting area covered in his own piece, I had the opportunity to make my way through the starter zones of the Ebonheart Pact and the Aldmeri Dominion.

The difference between the two is borderline comical. The Aldmeri Dominion is treated to a sunny tropical paradise, while the Ebonheart Pact fights its way through the frozen mountains of Skyrim. On top of that, they seem to be designed almost completely independently from one another.

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EVE Online, now in text adventure form

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Humor, Sandbox, Subscription

EVE Online: The Text Adventure
While it came out last July, EVE Online: The Text Adventure has only now come to our attention and so we bring it to yours.

This satirical fan project attempts to "look at a day in the life of a grounded pod pilot, poking fun at CCP Games and some of their developmental missteps whilst celebrating the community and the people involved with EVE Online."

The adventure takes a few spirited jabs at CCP's "walking in stations" concept while challenging players to explore and perhaps escape their officer's quarters. If you're a fan of the MMO or need a quick diversion from the mundanities of life, give it a whirl and see if you can't beat it.

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