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PAX 2013: Hands-on with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Betas, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Mac, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

Screenshot -- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a brand-spankin'-new online collectible card game from Blizzard, announced just yesterday here at PAX East 2013. And since I love you guys soooo much, I took the time to stand in line to take a look for myself. It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that I flock to CCGs like a moth to flame. No sirree.

Of course, this isn't your traditional MMO, so it's difficult to write a traditional review, especially considering I was able to play only a single match (which I won by a landslide, thank you very much), so instead I'm just going to give y'all a rundown of how the game plays and let you draw your own conclusions. Shuffle your cards, cut your decks, and read on for the skinny on Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

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Not So Massively: Diablo III's console constroversy and Wrath of Heroes' shutdown

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Economy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, New Titles, Patches, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Dev Diaries, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Firefall

Not So Massively title image
It's been a huge week for MOBAs, with the release of several new characters, a ton of balance changes, and even a game closing down for good. League of Legends announced that it will start officially supporting Mac and released a new Smart Ping system designed to help players work together as a team despite language barriers. SMITE showed off its new crowd-controlling water god, Poseidon, and console MOBA Guardians of Middle-Earth released a new Survival game mode DLC.

We heard the unfortunate news that Wrath of Heroes will be closing its doors at the end of the month, and it's not the only game going out of business. Online FPS Bullet Run, formerly known as Hedone, is due to shut down on Friday, March 8th, in a big final event. It's not all doom and gloom, though, as Dota 2 has hit another impressive milestone, passing 300,000 peak concurrent players. The first season of Heroes of Newerth's HoN Tour league is soon to draw to a close, and developers are planning a huge balance patch before the next season kicks off.

Blizzard enraged Diablo III fans this week with the announcement that the console version will not feature the controversial always-online DRM and can be played offline. Path of Exile detailed its next open beta patch, which is due to introduce a new fire skill, a 3v3 dueling arena, and significant Duelist class buffs. Online FPS Firefall produced a new trailer this week showing off its flight gameplay amidst criticism from fans over its lack of beta content. Finally, sci-fi sandbox Star Citizen gave fans a look behind the curtain of game development in its biggest development update video yet.

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Rise and Shiny: Deepworld

Screenshots, Trailers, Video, Launches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Mac, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Sandbox, Crafting

Deepworld screenshot
When I first got my hands on Deepworld, a new iOS sandbox MMO by Bytebin, I knew I was holding something unique. Sure, it took some cues from Minecraft and came from one of my least favorite schools of design -- steampunk -- but it was being built by a young team of indie developers who simply wanted to make a world that was free-form, open to a player's creativity, and multi-platform. After spending some time with the game, I'd say that they have mostly succeeded.

There are some issues with the game, and I have played enough indie titles to know how rough games can be when launch rolls around. So far, however, the issues are relatively minor and could be easily fixed.

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Storyboard: A second descent into madness

Opinion, Mac, Roleplaying, Storyboard

ROT13
I had a lot of stuff to talk about on the subject of madness. As it happens, I had so much to talk about that I elected to split it up into two columns instead of writing one monster, scratching and crawling about in a lone column's space. And as I sat down to write this column, I realized that I have an entire column's worth of things to say about a single facet of madness: acting mad.

Herein we come to the meat of what bothers me about madness as most players use it: It winds up getting used as something wacky. It's an excuse to do things that are wild and unpredictable because your character is so crazy. That bothers me because there's so much to be done with madness and so many ways to make it an interesting character trait. It's not something for casual or shallow use.

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SOE Live 2012: An exclusive sneak peek at the future of Clone Wars Adventures

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Events (Massively's Coverage), Family, Clone Wars Adventures

SOE Live 2012  An exclusive sneak peek at the future of Clone Wars Adventures
SOE Live (formerly Fan Faire) is traditionally a gathering for adult audiences, but over the past few years, the younger fanbase has been growing. This year marked the first time SOE included a "Kids Day" complete with a special gaming area, coloring pages, fun food, and a special preview of the newest episode of the Clone Wars Adventures cartoon on the big screen of the expo floor.

Meanwhile, the team had some exciting news about what's planned for the future of the Clone Wars Adventures MMO itself. While the recent focus has been on combat and there are plans to continue to add even more in the future, the devs also have some new additions for the trading card game, crafting, and even home decorating. Read on for the skinny!

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Design your own robots with upcoming MMO Panzer Pets

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mac, Post-Apocalyptic

Panzer Pets image
If you've been desperately hoping for a Pokémon MMO all these years but have been disappointed by Nintendo's unwillingness to release one or let anyone else develop one, you might be interested in upcoming MMO Panzer Pets. Panzer Pets is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which robots have taken over, but robot builders have found a way to build their own pets to fight back. In Panzer Pets, rather than capture creatures, you'll hunt for robot parts and design your own customisable 3-D pet robots.

The game focuses on the exploration opportunities that a post-apocalyptic setting delivers, with a world filled with randomly generated zones, dungeons and towns to explore, and robot parts to collect. Players will be able to trade parts with each other, challenge other players to battles, form guilds, and embark on quests together. As it uses the Unity 3-D engine, the game will be released on iOS, Android, and both PC and Mac web browsers.

New studio Gamundo has been working on Panzer Pets for free so far but now needs support to work on the game full-time and complete it. If you're interested in exploring a post-apocalyptic world with a customised pet robot in tow, you can help Gamundo finish the game by pledging money to its Kickstarter campaign, which launched last night. The estimated date for completion of the game is October 2012, and the team needs to raise $85,000 to make it that far without giving a publisher or investor a controlling interest in the game.

The Game Archaeologist chats with John Smedley about EQMac's salvation

Fantasy, EverQuest, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Mac, Interviews (Massively's), The Game Archaeologist

John Smedley
A week ago I sat here writing up what I thought was going to be the epitaph for EverQuest's odd foray into an Apple-only product, EverQuest Macintosh. The word came down from on high that with the coming of free-to-play, EQMac's diminutive server population would be ushered out the doors as Al'Kabor got sent to the retirement home.

That was a week ago. Boy, what a difference a week makes, right?

Since the writing of that article, we received word that not only did Sony Online Entertainment reverse its decision to kill EQMac but that it will be making the server completely free for its community for the indefinite future. I learned that while under the influence of a 102-degree fever, so I initially thought it was just my brain cooking in my skull. But no, it was the truth. So what happened in the span of that week? Why did SOE do a 180 and keep alive an ancient relic of its flagship MMO?

For the whole, unadulterated truth, I called up SOE President John Smedley to get the full scoop on the wild rollercoaster he's taken this loyal community on these past few weeks. Finding out what he said will only cost you one click. It's worth it, trust me.

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Reports of EverQuest Mac dying have been greatly exaggerated

Fantasy, EverQuest, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Mac

It gets knocked down, but it gets up again.
Nothing gold can stay, it seems. EverQuest on the Macintosh, affectionately dubbed EQMac, was announced as facing a shutdown in wake of the game's impending free-to-play transition. John Smedley confirmed this, players mourned, and our own stalwart Game Archaeologist lamented its passing. And so, as the game approaches its final month, Smedley has... apparently rescinded the entire thing via a late-night Twitter post that has taken the entire EQMac community by surprise.

Yes, there is apparently both a Santa Claus and a Tooth Fairy, because John Smedley has stated that not only are the EQMac fans "a wonderful group of players," the game will be left running. Better yet, it will continue to run as-is and with no subscription fees. If you're part of the fanbase, no, you don't need to pinch yourself, this is actually a thing that is happening. Further details are to be announced soon, but just the facts alone should make fans very happy.

The Daily Grind: Do you game on a Mac?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Mac, Humor, Miscellaneous

War. War never changes... the platform war, that is. But even those of us who game from the comfort of decked-out PCs can feel sorry for our Mac brethren when one of the Apple MMO offerings, already in short supply, goes dark. That's exactly what's happening to the Mac version of classic EverQuest: SOE is sunsetting the single Mac server due to low population and ancient code. Apple gamers must get a PC or sample one of the other Mac-friendly MMOs like Warhammer Online, Fallen Earth, Ryzom, or Free Realms.

So today we ask: Do you play MMOs on a Mac, and if so, which games? And is it really as bad as PC-loyalists like to 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!

Conquer Online coming to the Mac on May 3rd

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mac

Mac MMORPGs have come a long way. Titles as wide-ranging as World of Warcraft, Fallen Earth, and Free Realms now boast their own native clients, and Conquer Online is set to join the ranks of OS X-flavored MMOs on May 3rd.

TQ Digital has just announced the creation of a new Conquer Online server (dubbed Garden of Eden) exclusively for Mac users. The free-to-play title originally launched way back in 2003 and sports a 2.5D game world set in ancient China. The Mac version of the game is undergoing beta testing through April 26th, and you can download the beta client via a number of sources including FTP and bit torrent. Mac beta testers will be kitted out with equipment, skills, and necessary in-game items according to a TQ press release, and you can learn more at the official Conquer Online website.

Rise and Shiny recap: Dofus

Fantasy, Video, Dofus, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Mac, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Years ago I had to find a job in my new home state of Texas. Luckily for me, my wife hooked me up with a friend who helped me get hired at Starbucks. At first, I hung my head in shame. Later, though, I enjoyed dealing with customers and the free coffee. I had a co-worker, a real chin-scratching, coffee house wanna-be intellectual who would often spend more time dreaming about some game than about getting people on their breaks. He even brought his Macbook to work to sneak in time in the game.

I glanced over his shoulder one day and was delighted to see an odd-looking, cartoony, turn-based game on his screen. It turned out that the game was Dofus. I tried it immediately and fell in love with it, but that was years ago. I still found time to revisit the game, but once I started working at Massively, most of my time became dedicated to every other game in the world.

Well, it's time to visit it again. During the first part of this week, though, I thought this was going to be a disaster. I stayed strong and battled my way through bot after bot, spam message after spam message, and eventually found the great game I remember. Click past the cut to see exactly what I found!

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Free Realms now available for your Mac

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mac, Free Realms, Kids, Family

Mac users rejoice, you've got another option when it comes to MMORPGs thanks to SOE and Free Realms. While OS X fans have seen their list of available titles grow in recent years, AAA games are still fairly scarce, with World of Warcraft, EverQuest, and Fallen Earth being a few of the more notable exceptions.

Free Realms isn't dumping you on a Mac-segregated server either, but rather the same shards inhabited by the free-to-play title's PC users. With fourteen million registered players, you're bound to find someone to hang out with, so head over to the official website to download the client and get started.

Free Realms features a large virtual world, customizable avatars, and a huge variety of minigames designed to provided hours of safe online entertainment for kids and whole families. Check out Massively's in-depth look at the game for more information.

Spacetime's Pocket Legends hits Apple's app store

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Mac

While there have been many attempts at reproducing the MMORPG experience on Apple's incredibly popular iPhone and iTouch devices, the limitations in technology and connection speed have kept these applications from hitting the big time. Spacetime Studios hopes to change all that, as they just revealed a new MMO for the app store: Pocket Legends.

Boasting 3D graphics, three classes and accessibility across iPhone, iTouch and iPad devices, Pocket Legends might be considered an "MMO-lite," but it still contains all the necessary ingredients. Players can choose from one of three anthropomorphic animal classes -- a cat sorceress, a bird archer, and a bear tank -- and head off for a career full of dungeon running, chest looting, and stat leveling. Grouping is also possible (and encouraged!), with thousands of players connecting over a server. Spacetime promises that players can not only play Pocket Legends on almost all of Apple's portable devices (except the first edition of the iPhone), but the game can be accessed via WiFi, 3G and even EDGE networks.

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Nexon MMOs not coming to Mac or consoles any time soon

MapleStory, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Mac, Vindictus, Dragon Nest

There's been quite a bit of talk coming out of Nexon from the time of the GDC -- revealing two games, more news on the venerable MapleStory, and even a developer initiative announced shortly before the conference. But if you were waiting for the other shoe to drop, there is one after a fashion, because the company still has no plans to develop anything for the Mac or for consoles. Both Vindictus and Dragon Nest are apparently popular choices for players to request on consoles, but according to Nexon America vice president Min Kim, neither one is planned for development for the console platform.

Kim went on to explain that his company's base of operations in Korea meant that Mac support was a distant afterthought at best -- the market for non-PC games in Korea is minimal. Of course, in both cases he said that the support is something they would like to expand to eventually, but for now there's just not enough reason to expand. Which is sad news if you're one of the many users who prefer a fruit-based computer, especially with more and more games expanding to be playable on any platform.

[Thanks Tracey!]

Imprudence 1.2 viewer for Second Life

Patches, News Items, Second Life, Mac, Linux, Virtual Worlds

Imprudence viewer logoThe Imprudence project has released version 1.2 of their Second Life viewer. Imprudence is one of our favorite after-market Second Life viewers, and after some months in beta (and a couple of false starts), the latest release version of this viewer is available.

There are some user-interface changes this time around, the ability to backup and restore your own intellectual property, an improved radar/minimap, improved third-party simulator support, RLVa support, optional vertical IM tabs, double-click go-to and teleports, more world map data and a host of other tweaks and features.

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