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Lineage 2

Jukebox Heroes: Lineage II's soundtrack

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Lineage II's soundtrack
Once again, I must begin this column by advising you to jettison your attitude toward an MMO when it comes to evaluating its music. Lineage II doesn't have the rabid following in the West that it seems to overseas, and I've heard a lot of negativity thrown its way (some of it quite deserved, but this is me jettisoning). However -- and I don't say this lightly -- its musical score is absolutely superb. It's right up there with the best of the industry and deserves to be heard.

Its many soundtrack albums have a small army of composers powering them: Bill Brown, Jamie Christopherson, Inon Zur, Hyobum Lim, Chihwan Kim, Junyup Lee, Junghwan Park, Junghye Hong, and Changbeom Kim. Collaboratively, these folks have assembled a sizable body of work that spans a decade of video game music.

The Lineage II soundtrack is, at times, cinematic, tranquil, lovely, and exciting. Check out these six tracks for a taste of the best, and if that interests you, you might want to listen to my recent Battle Bards podcast in which we dissect this score.

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The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in August

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, The Matrix Online, News Items, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in August
How few players do you need to have before operating an MMO becomes ridiculously unprofitable and in need of closing? In the case of The Matrix Online, we found out that the magic number was 500. I wouldn't have even guessed that so few people were in that game when its shutdown was announced, especially considering the vocal anguish that arose when SOE lowered the boom.

I guess it goes to show that we're often quite clueless what goes on behind the curtain. There's always this balance between the number-crunchers (who need players and money to justify continued operations) and the passionate creators (who are often developers putting in the effort because they simply love the game and its community). If nothing else, it reinforced my belief that SOE does bend over backwards to keep these games running as long as possible, much longer than some other studios would in a similar situation.

So what other news regarding classic MMOs happened this past month? It's time for another one of my patented roundups, complete with archaeological commentary!

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NCsoft looking ahead to Lineage Eternal beta, WildStar launch

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, WildStar

NCsoft looking ahead to Lineage Eternal beta, WildStar launch
A couple of additional tidbits came out of this week's NCsoft earnings call that are relevant to fans of Lineage and WildStar. The studio said that it is preparing to roll out the beta schedule of Lineage Eternal, the third title in the series, by the end of this year. Lineage Eternal was announced in 2011, but we've heard precious little about the game since.

The publisher also said that it's taking a close look at the performance of WildStar's closed beta testing and will use testing results to shape its plans for the launch. Previously, Carbine Studios said that it's aiming for a 2013 launch window for the title if all went well in the beta.

Former Lineage II/TERA dev starts new game studio

Lineage 2, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, TERA

Lineage II/Tera dev starts new game studio
What do you do when your parent company wants to focus on mobile gaming and you don't? If you are Yonghyun Park, you start your own studio. Once a developer on both Lineage II and TERA, Park created a new company called NAT Games from LADA Studios, which was dismissed from Netmarble Korea over the aforementioned difference in market focus.

NAT Games plans on creating the next big blockbuster MMORPG, according to Steparu.com, who found the fledgling studio's recruitment webpage and application. Unfortunately, not much more is known about this proposed game in the works, but we'll keep you informed as information comes in.

One Shots: Do you always dress like that?

Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa, One Shots, Humor, Miscellaneous

One Shots Do you always dress like that
Here's a tip from your friendly One Shots coordinator: If you send in a screenshot from a game that hardly ever gets featured in this column, there's a better-than-average chance that I'm going to bump it right up to the top of the pack. Case in point: this groovy shot from Lineage II.

Reader Johnny said he played this game back in 2007: "Behind me we can see the endgame, the Baium Raid Boss. Baium resides on the 13th floor of a the Tower of Insolence, a massive, non-instanced hunting ground with 13 fully accessible and monster-packed floors. The weapon I am holding is a Flaming Dragon Skull, an A-grade blunt weapon."

Be prepared for A-grade awesome screenshots and B-grade commentary as you forge on in this week's repository of player-submitted pictures!

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The Game Archaeologist: Checking in with classic MMOs

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Checking in with classic MMOs
What's this, you say as you rub your eyes in disbelief. Is it... The Game Archaeologist, long since thought lost in his expedition to Atlantis (and the trials therein)? It is indeed, my friends. TGA has been a long-running passion of mine on Massively, but I needed a break for a while to recouperate and refocus. However, as of late I've felt the call of neglected classic MMOs and wanted to make sure that they were getting some column love here on the site.

So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.

If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!

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Lindvior touches down in Lineage 2 today

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Lindvior touches down today in Lineage 2
Today's the day that the goddess Shilen unleashes her fury on the world of Aden in the form of her champion, the dragon Lindvior, Lord of the Western Winds. But Lineage II's latest update, Lindvior Goddess of Destruction, brings more than just this epic dragon boss to test the mettle of players. It also adds more Awakened classes (bringing the total from eight to 34), three new zones, and plenty of new armor and weapons. On top of that, players will have a new character customization system with over 100 new looks.

Gon Namkung, L2's development director, stated, "This is by far the most intricate challenge that players have ever faced in Lineage II throughout its long and storied history. The entire Lineage II development team is proud of this achievement and we are confident only the best players will defeat Lindvior." He continued, "We issue this challenge to all our players, who will defeat Lindvior first!?"

[Sourse: NCsoft press release]

NCsoft sales down from last quarter, up from last year

Aion, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous

NCsoft sales down from last quarter, up from last year
A recent earnings report suggests that NCsoft's sales have slipped from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, although the studio is quick to point out that the showing was "solid" particularly when compared to sales from a year ago. While sales were down 35% and net income was down 49% from the last quarter, sales were up 31% and net income was up 322% year-over-year.

Guild Wars 2 accounted for 21% of sales in the first quarter, in addition to Blade and Soul's 9%, Aion's 16%, and the usual Lineage cavalcade (Lineage 1 represented 38% of sales alone with its subscriptions).

While 64% of NCsoft's sales were in Korea, only 13% were in North America and 8% in Europe. The decrease in NA and EU contributions was due to "the reduction in Guild Wars 2 package sales," according to the report. All of NCsoft's subsidiaries posted drops in sales from last quarter except for NC Taiwan.

[Update: Also of note in the earnings call is the news that NCsoft's Nah Seong Chan says the company is "preparing an expansion pack" but has yet to decide when it might launch. Very interesting news indeed as ArenaNet said as recently as March that it was not working on an expansion. Thanks to Mike and Robert for the tips!]

Lineage II releases Lindvior update trailer, announces PvP tourney

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Lineage 2, Events (In-Game), Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play

Lineage II releases Lindvior update trailer, announces PvP tourney
Before Lineage II's big Lindvior update hits servers in May, players can participate in an inter-server PvP competition for a chance at some impressive prizes, including piles of adena, R99-Grade eternal armor sets, weapons, wigs, and more. During the month of April, up to 32 different teams will fight for the title of greatest PvPers in the 2013 Battle Tournament.

Unlike many PvP tourneys, this one will be focusing on skill by removing gear discrepancies; all participants will set up with a premade level 99 character on a special event server. Folks who use any items or skills that differ from the premade settings will be disqualified along with their entire team. To qualify for this event, all players on a team must be from the same server, at least level 85, and from a different Awakened classes. All qualified teams must also pay an entry fee of 350 million adena.

For complete details on how to enter, check out the official rules and requirements. And you can watch trailers for both the Battle Tournament and the upcoming Lindvior update after the break.

[Thanks to FizzyFreeze for the tip!]

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The Game Archaeologist: When sequels attack!

Asheron's Call, Darkfall, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, Neocron 2, PlanetSide, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Global Agenda, Final Fantasy XIV, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2

The Game Archaeologist When sequels attack!
Sequels are both the bane of and a fact of life for movies and video games. Well, "bane" is a strong word, and you're probably thinking of Batman right now anyway, but personally, I'm always willing to give the benefit of doubt to any continuation of a favorite franchise. While we don't see sequels pop up as often in MMOs, they do exist and have significant effects upon the original title that bears the same name.

It's here that MMOs diverge from movies and other video games. With those, the original is not in any sort of danger, other than the perception of having its legacy dragged down into the muck (Caddyshack II, anyone?) and perhaps overstaying its welcome. An MMO sequel, on the other hand, can cause serious consequences to its ancestor.

Here at Game Archaeologist, we look at classic games that have often seen their time come and go. But what happens to one of these titles when a sequel attacks? Almost anything, it turns out.

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Lineage II offering augmented Adenian underwear promo

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Humor

Lineage II augmented underwear promo
While wading into virtual battle in your skivvies may invite the wrath of the PC police, doing so in the world of Lineage II will give you substantial stat bonuses.

NCsoft is running a Choose Your Underwear promotion from now through March 13th. The unmentionables in question are broken down into five cash shop sets, each of which grants the wearer base stat bonuses in the form of +35 to physical defense, +15 to magical defense, +7 to speed, and +15 to elemental attributes (fire, water, wind, etc.). The garments can be augmented with additional stats and skills via life stones and gem stones.

Lineage II's business model relies completely on the cash shop, as 100% of the game's content is available to all players for free.

[Thanks to everyone who tipped us!]

NCsoft earnings report shows healthy growth

Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous

NCsoft earnings report shows healthy growth
NCsoft just released its fourth quarter 2012 earnings report, and things are looking pretty good across the board for the multi-MMO company. NCsoft's earnings are up both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year due to the releases of Blade & Soul and Guild Wars 2, not to mention "record-breaking annual revenues" from Lineage.

Guild Wars 2 accounted for 45% of the company's sales in Q4, followed by Lineage (24%) and Blade & Soul (10%). ArenaNet's newest game increased the North American market from 16% in Q3 to 25% in Q4.

It's not completely sunshine and roses, however. Lineage II and Aion both experienced declines during the period. NCsoft's net income was in the red for the quarter and its stock has slid since September, losing half of its value in the process.

[Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

Lineage II looks back at 2012 and forward to 2013

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

Not included in next year's updates are add-on packs for your armor spikes to give you additional spikes.
Lineage II went free-to-play last year, and according to the newest state of the game letter, that conversion went very well indeed. The letter points out that more than one and a half million new accounts were created in 2012 alone, an impressive number for any game and doubly so for a game approaching its ninth anniversary. Over 800,000 store items have been sold, solidifying the game's performance and moneymaking capabilities. In other words, if you were worried the game wasn't doing well, you can stop worrying.

But what about the future? Well, there's another major installment of the Goddess of Destruction series due out. The development team is also looking into a variety of improvements for players including tradeable shop items, methods of gifting microtransaction currency, and more options to pay for your cash shop purchases. There's also discussion of more events and tournaments for everyone to enjoy, showing that the title is aging but still has quite a lot of life left.

The Daily Grind: Do you support 'westernizing' Asian MMO imports?

Fantasy, Aion, Lineage 2, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, The Daily Grind, TERA, ArcheAge

ArcheAge Ferre creation screen
I'm a big fan of Korean MMOs. I don't know why, exactly, other than I'm partial to the unquantifiable exoticness on display in games like ArcheAge, Aion, TERA, Lineage II, and others.

Unfortunately from my perspective, the powers-that-be in the MMO industry usually decide that Korean MMOs must be "westernized" before they debut in America, and while the term means different things to different games, it usually involves monkeying with the progression curve, rewriting quests that depend on cultural context, etc.

I'd just as soon play Korean MMOs exactly as they were originally designed (albeit with a quality English text translation). How about you, Massively folk? Assuming you like eastern MMOs, would you prefer a straight-up language translation or do you support "westernizing" a game to make it more palatable to American or European audiences?

[Note: Something is wonky with the comments on this post today. Sorry for the weirdness!]

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 Interview: Dr. Lawrence Sanders on MMO loyalty

Sci-Fi, Aion, EVE Online, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's), World of Tanks, TERA, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Age of Wushu

Aion
Beyond amazing character design, compelling narratives, and the presence of dragons, there is one thing that all MMOs depend upon for success: player loyalty. Without returning subscribers, a loving community, or folks dropping a few dimes in the cash shop now and again, MMOs simply wouldn't be a feasible way for a games studio to do business. Smart development teams have player retention departments tasked specifically with tracking and analyzing the rise and fall of player allegiances and finding ways to leverage loyalty is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the creation process.

Even the non-gaming world is getting in on the fray. Back in November, researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management published a study tracing the roots of player loyalties in a variety of MMO environments. The study outlined the mentalities of MMO gamers and the things that successfully encouraged them to keep coming back for more looting, more grinding, and more /hugging. Most importantly, the study declared that an MMO that increases loyalty by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.

We sat down with Dr. Lawrence Sanders, co-author of the study, to dive a little deeper into the researchers' methods, results, and plans for future MMO investigation.

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