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Kids

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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The Daily Grind: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Kids, Family

Pirate101
As a parent of toddlers, I have often wondered what games I will be playing with them when they get old enough to want to dive into MMOs (if they ever want to, that is). Considering that during this past year we've seen several kid-friendly titles shut down, I'm worried that there might not be any left in a few years.

Recall that Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Toontown Online have been terminated in the past 12 months and answer me this: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out? I can take heart that KingsIsle is still going strong and that LEGO Minifigures Online is in development, but I don't see a lot of interest in studios making MMOs for the much younger set. What do you think?

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!

The Inochi Project offers adorable robot-animals in exchange for Kickstarter money

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Kids, Family, Crowdfunding

Inochi
If you've got some money burning a hole in your pocket and a love for all things robot and cute, then Forwardfor's Inochi Project Kickstarter campaign would like to have a chat with you.

Launching today, the campaign seeks £30,000 (about $50,000 US) to help accelerate further development on the MMO. The game will allow players to create their own robot animals (ani-mechs), customize homes, participate in battle arenas, explore cities, and fight against the rust plague that is turning ani-mechs into rust-covered villains.

Stretch goals climb upward to £350,000 (about $586,000 US), but pledges begin at $1.60 US. If you want to play the beta, $16 is your buy-in. We've got the trailer after the cut!

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Today's your last chance to play Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Free Realms, Kids, Clone Wars Adventures, Sunsets

Clone Wars Adventures main cast
Per SOE's announcement last January, today is your final opportunity to play its Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures MMOs. If you can't play, be sure to join Massively's Larry Everett for a farewell stream later tonight.

The best of Massively's MMO Family column

MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Casual, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

Pirate101
While young children aren't Massively's target demographic, we frequently encounter MMOs that appeal to kids as well as MMO gamers with kids. That's why we ran the MMO Family column for over four years. Helmed first by Lisa Poisso and then Karen Bryan, the column reviewed kid-friendly games and offered advice and insight on how to survive as the parent of budding MMO gamers.

Enjoy our picks for the very best of their collected work in MMO Family.

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LEGO Minifigures Online previews a world of pirates

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Kids, Family

I apologize for the opening except not.
It's a world of peg-legs and hooks for hands, it's a world of parrots and coastal lands. It's a giant pastiche on the wide-open seas, it's a pirate world after all. Yes, that's the obvious takeaway from the newest preview from LEGO Minifigures Online, showing off the game's nautical land of cutthroats and cutlasses for all to see. And as you might expect, it's playing the routine straight to the hilt.

So what can you expect from the game's Pirate World? If you said "pirate ghosts, sea creatures, and gold," you've seen a movie within the last decade and you are entirely right. Still, it looks to be exactly the sort of broad-strokes swashbuckling that can provide plenty of fun. So if you're eager to slap on an eyepatch and say "arr" more than entirely necessary, hop on past the break to check out the full video.

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Transformers Universe opens up first-come, first-served beta signups

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Kids, Transformers Universe, MOBA

Autobots, transform into thinly veiled copies of Rhinox!
Do you want to be in the first wave of Transformers Universe testing? Then go sign up right now. No, don't finish reading the rest of this article, sign up right this moment. The first beta event is apparently taking place this weekend, March 15th and 16th, and invitations are being handed out according to the highly advanced metric of "the first people who ask for it get it." So go sign up, we'll be here when you get back.

If you don't get in, you can still entertain yourself with two new character reveals past the cut. Front-Line is a big old hulk of an Autobot warrior with twin axes, a chaingun, and a massive hammer for use against the Decepticons. Conduit, meanwhile, takes care of the Deception medical needs while also providing fire support with his ranged rifle. You can take a look at both videos embedded just past the break.

[Source: Jagex press release]

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Pirate101 explains the making of its combat system

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Dev Diaries, Pirate101

Pirate101
If you're the type of player that likes to know how the sausage is made, then strap on a peg leg and wobble over to a pair of dev diaries explaining the making of Pirate101's combat system!

"One of the systems that reviewers feel stands out the most in Pirate101 is the combat. Combat in Pirate101 has been described as 'deceptively simple' and 'really fun,' but it took years of iteration and changes to finally arrive at the experience that players have today," the devs wrote.

The diaries go through the early prototype of the system, how the team figured out combat sequencing, and the difficulties of getting the camera placement just right. The devs said that once the basic system was in place, adding the extra elements such as reflex talents and bullet time was a blast to do.

Transformers Universe promises that beta is approaching

Betas, Sci-Fi, News Items, Kids, Transformers Universe, MOBA

10 TRANSFORM 20 ROLL OUT
It's been a long wait for Transformers Universe hopefuls. The game has gone from MMO to MOBA to MOTA (which is still sort of a MOBA), its release date has been pushed back, and hopeful players could be forgiven for increasingly not expecting the game to ever come out. A new post on the official site confirms, however, that the game is approaching its next beta test in the very near future.

Players who hope to be taking part in the beta are asked to fill in their computer specifications, giving the development team valuable information about the game's performance on various machines. They should also keep a close eye on their email inboxes; beta invitations will be sent out based in part upon the specifications filled in on the official site. So keep the faith, and before long you too could be swapping forms and blowing up other Transformers all over the place.

MMO Family: First impressions of Ganz's Amazing World

Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Kids, MMO Family, Family

WebKinz is one of the oldest kid-friendly MMOs around, and it still boasts a healthy community, long after other running titles have closed their doors. But Ganz Studio recently launched a new MMO that takes the WebKinz spirit and plants it in a colorful 3-D world. Amazing World combines cuteness with adventure and adds a more modern look and feel.

But is Amazing World really that amazing? In this week's MMO Family, we'll take a look and give some first impressions!

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The Stream Team: Rockin' it out in Free Realms

Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Free Realms, Kids, Livestream, The Stream Team, Sunsets

The Stream Team: Rockin' it out in Free Realms
Massively's Larry Everett and his son Zach want to get some time into Free Realms before it shuts down. Join them at 7:00 p.m. EST as they tour their favorite places and play their favorite minigames in SOE's kid-focused MMORPG. Hop in the game with them if you'd like; maybe they can get a full demolition derby team together!

Game: Free Realms
Host: Larry Everett
Date: Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Trove Diaries: Exploring the wild, wild... peaceful forest?

Betas, Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Kids, Trove, Trove Diaries

Trove
In a recent Trove patch, the team added in a new chest at the central world hub for players to toss in gear to share with others. A community chest. Other than making me think about Monopoly for a minute, it gave me one of those brief, warm feelings that this game tends to do on a regular basis. It's a small thing but a good thing. Trove has a lot of that.

So welcome to the Trove Diaries, a chronicle of my sporadic adventures through this developing quirky title from Trion Worlds!

Let me bring you up to speed: Trove was a side project at Trion that got the internal greenlight to be developed into a full-fledged MMO. However, the team's taken a cue from recent crowdfunding projects by offering fans the opportunity to buy into the game and see first-hand how it's being developed on a daily basis. Trove is a strange combination of building and destroying that bucks the typical MMO trend while creating something that it light, breezy, and quite frankly fun.

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MMO Family: Winter fun and cool cash in Roblox

Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

EverQuest Next Landmark might be generating a lot of buzz over the impressive creations that players are putting together, but Roblox has been doing it for years, and many of those creating are still in grade school. Indeed, Roblox has continued to improve the structure of the game and give players great tools to become amateur developers. Recently, the developers showed off those tools with a series of winter games. But the real excitement is found in their Developer Exchange system, which now allows arm-chair developers to earn up to $2,000 a month from the games they create.

Let's take a look at what Roblox has been up to this winter in this week's MMO Family.

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Jukebox Heroes: Free Realms' soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Kids, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Free Realms
There's something about the announcement of a game's closure that draws tons of interest to that MMO, the type of interest that it frankly needed long before now, not a few minutes too late. Even so, I had Free Realms on my to do list for a while now and figured that spending an hour with its score was something that needed to be done.

Free Realms had had a lot of fingers in its musical pie, including those belonging to Tracy W. Bush, Atli Örvarsson, David Raiklen, and Aaron Kaplan. As a score, it's very reminiscent of The Sims franchise's soundtracks: whimsical, childlike, and quite light on pounding percussion. The many minigames and themed zones probably demanded a good variety of motifs to be developed.

It's a very good score overall although not as wide on variety as I would typically like. Let's give this game the musical send-off it deserves!

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Free for All: Thoughts on SOE's mass MMO sunset

Fantasy, Screenshots, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Casual, Free Realms, Kids, Free for All, Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online

Free Realms screenshot
Sony Online Entertainment recently announced the upcoming closure of not one or two but four of its titles. Those titles are Free Realms, Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Wizardry Online. The announcement hit most of us pretty hard, even those who weren't active or interested players. Four titles just feels much more like a move of desperation than one or even two games. And for players like yours truly, MMOs like Free Realms and especially Vanguard hold a very special place in our hearts.

Having said that, I will never wager solely on perception. It's my guess that SOE does indeed know what it is doing and that some of this is due to licensing issues, new games from similar developers, or an attempt to streamline an already fat lineup in order to get ready for one or two massive new titles. In other words, there is no conspiracy. It's most likely that this decision was due to boring old business.

I decided to break down what each game meant to me in the hopes that the confessional will get me ready for the upcoming sunsets. Here's to hoping.

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