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Kids

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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MMO Family: How to encourage reading through video games

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, author Christopher John Farley posited that literature can learn from the rise and success of video games. Polls reveal that families are increasingly concerned that their children aren't reading as much as they should. And they're right to be concerned because studies have shown that good reading habits are forged during childhood, and after age 12, it's extremely hard to get kids to read if they aren't big readers already.

Video games and literature seem an unlikely duo, but there some important ways that gaming can encourage reading. Let's explore this topic in this week's MMO Family.

(Photo credit: Tim Pierce)

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The Stream Team: The SHSO devs play the game with an eight-year-old

Super-hero, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Humor, Kids, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: The SHSO devs play the game with an eight-year-old
From the moment we first saw the demonstration for Super Hero Squad Online, Massively has had a soft spot for it. Then about a month ago, Massively's Larry Everett and his son played this game in a Family MMO Night livestream. One of the developers loves it so much that she requested to join them. And you can join them, too, at 7:00 p.m. EST. You won't want to miss this.

Game: Super Hero Squad Online
Host: Larry Everett
Date: Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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MMO Family: Forbes' three essential parenting tips on video games

Culture, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

As video games continue to grow in popularity each year, there is a correlating increase in the number of studies and advice columns offering insight into how parents should tackle the many parenting issues that go with it. Sadly, far too many of the "experts" who offer advice have little or no real experience playing video games, and their advice is shaped by an overall negative view of video games.

But as Forbes blogger Jordan Shapiro points out in his article 3 Things Parents Should Know About Video Games and Kids, video games and the internet are here to stay. And it's unrealistic to look at the issues of raising a child in the age of technology strictly in black and white terms. Shapiro offers up the three pieces of advice that are great starting points for parents, and we'll take a look at them in this week's MMO Family.

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Battle.net beefs up parental controls

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Kids, Diablo III, Subscription, Hearthstone

Kiddies will find it tougher to spend money in Blizzard's games, as the studio is expanding its parental controls to include locks on in-game purchases. Blizzard is notifying relevant users of this change via email and on the forums.

Starting January 7th, any Battle.net account with parental controls enabled will automatically prevent users from spending money in World of Warcraft's cash shop, Hearthstone's cash shop, or Diablo III's soon-to-be-closed real-money auction house. Account users will be able to enable those purchases by logging into their account and changing the settings.

MMObility: Mobile and browser face off in School of Dragons

Fantasy, Screenshots, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Kids, Family, MMObility

School of Dragons screenshot
I was excited to learn about a mobile version of School of Dragons, a browser-based, kid-friendly MMO based on the fantastic movie How to Train Your Dragon. I pictured soaring through the skies and interacting with characters from the movie, all while sitting down with my favorite tablet. Unfortunately, I am not able to play on my favorite tablet yet (my Android), but I was able to download it on my wife's iPad Air.

I didn't have much experience with the browser-based version, so I read up on Karen's MMO Family article, made an account, and logged in. I was impressed by the game's visuals even though they are fairly primitive, as they do a good job of giving a sense of scale and accurately recreate many of the movie's characters. The game is very active, even during odd times of the day, and the chat is filled with players discussing the finer points of being a viking.

Unfortunately, the game lacks in polish. Is it be good enough to satisfy younger, less picky fans? Possibly, but after playing the browser-based version, I hoped that the mobile version would somehow feel smoother and more natural.

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MMO Family: Setting Sail in Pirate101

Opinion, Free-to-Play, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101
Yo ho ho and a bottle of yum! It's been a while, but I've recently returned to the Spiral to explore the world of Pirate101, along with my two younger game testers. We enjoyed our time in-game the first time around, and were curious to revisit the game to see what's changed. Would we find a hidden treasure or end up sunk? In this week's MMO Family, we're donning our Tricorn hats and setting sail in Pirate101!

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