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Events (Massively's Coverage)

MMO Week in Review: BlizzCon 2014

Events (Real-World), News Items, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Week in Review, Miscellaneous

Overwatch
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

BlizzCon 2014 dominated the weekend in all corners of the Joystiq network, Massively included. Blizzard not only announced OFPS Overwatch but spilled details on Hearthstone's upcoming expansion, Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, the Warcraft movie, and the World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor expansion launching this coming Thursday. We've rounded up all the best bits from Massively and WoW Insider right here!
Liveblogging the opening ceremonies of BlizzCon 2014
World of Warcraft Q&A liveblog
World of Warcraft items, class changes liveblog
Blizzard announces new charity pet for ebola relief efforts
Warcraft movie panel liveblog
Blizzard takes on superheroes with Overwatch
Live blogging the Overwatch panel
Overwatch hands-on gameplay impressions
The heroes of Overwatch
Hearthstone: Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion announced
Hearthstone: Goblins vs. Gnomes cards and mechanics
Diablo III previews Season 2
Heroes of the Storm panel

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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BlizzCon 2014: Liveblogging the Overwatch panel

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Overwatch

At least square-jawed stubble guy isn't in the existing roster, so thanks for that!
If you wanted to sit down and watch the opening panel for BlizzCon 2014, you could without any need for a virtual ticket. If you wanted to watch the Overwatch panel announced shortly after they announced Overwatch itself... well, you can't do that. But if you have the ticket, you can, and you can always just catch up as I blog information about the game down in the comments.

As before, important information will be revealed past the break as I post things. So, is Overwatch the redone version of Titan? (Almost certainly.) Is it more than just Blizzard's version of Team Fortress 2? (Um.) Find out down there in the comments and find the collected information past the break!

BlizzCon returns to Anaheim during the weekend of November 7th and 8th, 2014! Whether you're anticipating World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion or the latest news from Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, we aim to have it covered!

Liveblogging the opening ceremonies of BlizzCon 2014

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Subscription, Hearthstone, E-sports

You call it snark, I call it a healthy dose of world-weary cynicism.
Dear readers, I am going to be wholly honest with you. When I was asked if I could do this liveblog for BlizzCon, I thought I was being asked if I was capable. Like asking "can you ride your bike with no handlebars" or "can you sing to a cat until it leaves the room in disgust." But here I am now, so apparently the question was significantly less rhetorical than I had originally assumed and now I need to actually do this.

You can watch the standard definition feed of the convention's opening ceremonies on the official site for free. I'll be liveblogging the important announcements in the comments if you're in a place where you can't watch along (at work, misplaced your headphones, hiding in an Amish barn and fearing discovery should your phone give away even the slightest beep); highlights will be collected past the break. There will probably be announcements about Blizzard games! Like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone and maybe, if it's very lucky, StarCraft II.

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EVE Vegas 2014 roundup: Tech 3 destroyers, permadeath and more

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

An event that started out several years ago as an impromptu EVE Online player gathering, EVE Vegas has grown so large that this year it was was officially taken over by developer CCP Games. This year's event was organised like a mini-Fanfest, with Executive Producer Andie Nordgren's keynote address and some interesting talks from both players and developers. Players got a chance to compare notes with developers on the game's recent progress, CCP let out a few exciting reveals, and the whole event was streamed live to viewers at home for free.

This year's big reveal was a new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class that can transform into one of several tactical configurations mid-fight to boost power to the engines, shields, or weapons as required. We also heard rumblings of new "glass cannon" weapons that deal increased damage but lower your ship's damage resistances, and CCP tested the public response to the controversial idea of adding permadeath characters to EVE. Player talks were equally informative, giving insights into the world of nullsec Fleet Command and the custom Region Commander software that the game's biggest coalitions use to maintain their grip on power.

If you missed out on the event, read on for links to Massively's coverage of the stream or to watch the stream recordings for yourself.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Getting players involved in EVE's development

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

Back in 2011, EVE Online developer CCP Games was rocked by controversy when players outraged over the Incarna expansion's microtransactions and CCP's indifference to player feedback spoke with their wallets and quit the game. In what became known as the monoclegate scandal, an estimated 8% of players quit, and CCP eventually laid off 20% of its staff worldwide. Some tough lessons were learned about keeping players looped into the development process, and CCP began involving players more closely in the development process.

At EVE Vegas 2014 today, developer CCP Fozzie looked at the ways that CCP gathers ideas and feedback from the community. As a sandbox MMO with a very dedicated community, EVE is in the interesting position that many of the players know more about the game than the developers themselves and can identify problems with ideas very early in the development process. Plans are now announced earlier in development to gather feedback, some new features are now made optional on release to gauge usage, and failed ideas will even be rolled back if necessary.

During the talk, Fozzie confirmed that each SCRUM team within CCP focuses on one particular area of gameplay and that player ideas are often brought into internal meetings for discussion. A new rig named the Higgs Anchor is even being introduced based on player suggestions; it will decrease movement speed by 75% but increase agility to make it easier to align to warp out if hostiles approach the player's location. If this level of player participation keeps up, hopefully disasters like monoclegate will never happen again.

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EVE Vegas 2014: CCP on the new player experience and permadeath

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

Every time some huge scandal or record-breaking battle erupts in EVE Online, thousands of new players flood into the game ready to create epic stories of their own. Confronted with a confusing interface and a practically mandatory tutorial that takes most of the day to complete, most of those players, unsurprisingly, don't stick around. The past few updates have improved things by adding tooltips to the main UI elements and introducing a new notification system, but there's more to come.

At EVE Vegas 2014 this weekend, CCP Rise discussed his plans for a new Opportunities system that will replace the tutorial. To help design the system, developers got together groups of gamers who had never played before and dropped them into EVE with little to no instructions. The playtests highlighted a lack of action compared to expectations and showed how confusing things like the map, station UI, and hangar inventory system can be for newcomers. Many of these problems are very easily fixed and may even be solved in one of the two remaining patches this year.

In an interesting move, Rise went on to talk about his idea to add a form of permadeath to EVE Online. Although you lose your ship when you die in EVE, it's actually only a financial loss as your character is reborn in a fresh clone. What Rise wants is for people to make new mortal characters with no clones and a fixed number of skillpoints to allocate to skills. It's possible that this could close the gap between old and new players by allowing newbies to purchase single lives with the focused combat skills of a veteran. This isn't something that will be introduced any time soon or even that's definitely coming, but the fact that CCP is talking about the idea publicly now is intriguing.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Region Commander turns EVE into a huge spreadsheet

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

It's often said that sci-fi MMO EVE Online isn't so much a game as a giant online spreadsheet and that people pay a subscription fee in order to have a second job they don't get paid for. While that's little more than a joke to the majority of EVE players, there are those for whom EVE is genuinely played on a massive spreadsheet. In a guest talk at EVE Vegas 2014 earlier today, players Javajunky and Gossamer DT from the logistics division of one of the game's largest coalitions discussed the monumental amount of work that goes into the industrial and organisation side of running a nullsec alliance or coalition.

During the talk, Gossamer DT discussed an interesting piece of custom software he develops called Region Commander that was designed specifically for organising player empires. The tool keeps track of starbase tower fuel, maintains a blacklist of players who have been kicked out of the coalition, and allows organisers to create and assign tasks to players in their command. Players who want to contribute to their alliance's industrial backbone can log into the system to take on work tasks due for completion, and the tool updates in realtime. The only thing missing is a punch card and a paycheck.

Using this tool, players have managed to combat the logistical and organisational challenges that would naturally make coalitions of thousands of players infeasible. Many third party tools have been criticised in the past for providing gameplay advantages to those who use them and increasing the gulf between new and experienced players. Players already have tools to help with mining and trading, and even ones that parse data from your ship scanner into useful information for your Fleet Commander. It's clear that whether CCP or the playerbase approves of these tools, this djinn won't be going back into its bottle.

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EVE Vegas 2014: December's Rhea update adds tech 3 destroyers

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Classes, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

During the Keynote speech at EVE Vegas 2014, EVE Online developers revealed some big news for the game's next two major updates. We heard the broad strokes of CCP's plans at the latest EVE Fanfest back in March, when it was revealed that the company would switch from releasing two expansions per year to around ten smaller releases. The upcoming Phoebe release planned for November 4th will improve Tech 2 Invention, improve life in the lawless nullsec regions with heavy nerfs to capital ship movement, and introduce a highly requested unlimited length skill queue system.

While players are certainly looking forward to Phoebe, it's December's Rhea update that will really pack a punch. The Blackbird, Falcon, and Rook electronic warfare ships will get new models, and a new type of freighter codenamed the "Tug" will be introduced that can move large numbers of fitted ships around the game. But the big news coming out of EVE Vegas 2014 today is that a completely new set of tech 3 ships will be added for the first time since 2009's Apocrypha expansion. The new ships are tactical destroyer, and they aren't just smaller versions of the tech 3 strategic cruisers.

Instead of being built out of a set of subsystems, tactical destroyers will have the ability to switch between several modes on the fly, transforming them from snipers or tanks to speed demons as required. If you've ever wanted to transfer full power to your engines or shields like something out of Star Trek, these new ships are for you. Thanks to winning a recent research race event, the Amarr version of the ship will be released before the other races.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Tune in with our free livestream

Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries

EVE Vegas
While the main event of the EVE Online calendar is undoubtedly the annual Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland, new events have popped up around the world over the years. Player-run meetups are frequently organised in London, and EVE Down Under is starting to gain major traction with the Australian playerbase, but the most well-established by far is EVE Vegas. The two day event runs each year in Las Vegas in the USA and is attended by hundreds of fans and is kind of like a mini Fanfest, with presentations on the future of EVE and roundtable discussions with developers.

Today's schedule includes a keynote speech from CCP Seagull on the future of EVE Online, a screening of Rooks & Kings celebrated video Clarion Call 4, and talks from three nullsec alliance players on the topics of Fleet Commanding and Alliance Logistics. There will also be talks from CCP Rise and CCP FoxFour on changes to the new player experience, altered restrictions on trial accounts, and the plan for third party developers. All 500 tickets for the event were sold out in record time this year, but those at home can tune in for free right now on CCP's Twitch livestream. I'll also be tuning into the stream throughout the weekend to bring you the highlights on important reveals and information.

Whether you're a die-hard fan of internet spaceships or just a gawker on the sidelines, EVE Vegas is the EVE Online and EVE Valkyrie event of the season. Follow Massively's Brendan Drain as he reports on the Vegas event's starpower, scheming, and spoilers, and watch CCP's streams of the best panels live here on Massively!

Massively's PAX Prime 2014 roundup

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

Sypster
Massively's Justin Olivetti soloed the PAX Prime boss for us this year, and he kicked its butt! His loot drop? A whole week of well-earned relaxation on the Massively golden yacht. Just kidding! Back to work, Olivetti!

We've rounded up all of his awesome PAX coverage below. What did he think of ArcheAge, Warlords of Draenor, and H1Z1? How many parties did he crash? Did he really cosplay as an angry Chua? Read on to find out!

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PAX Prime 2014: World of Warships balances historical accuracy with big boat fun

Betas, Historical, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), World of Warships, MOBA

wows
A warship is understandably larger and more complicated than a tank or plane, which is why Wargaming is diverging slightly with its third online title. At PAX Prime, I sat down with the dev team for World of Warships to see how the alpha is progressing and what a fleet of ships looks like with all guns blazing.

There are four types of ships from which players can choose when they step into a match. Destroyers are smaller and faster with torpedoes, battleships are hulking gun platforms, and cruisers are straddling the line between the two. Then there are carriers (which we did not get to see) that eschew big guns for a squadron of planes to send out. Unfortunately, submarines aren't part of the mix, as the team decided that they wouldn't be fun for this type of game.

Each ship is as historically accurate in its looks and is hideously detailed, with up to 500 parts and 270,000 polygons. This detail comes into play when ships are damaged in certain sections, disabling features and abilities. The team is planning on launching with around 75 ships between the starting nations of the United States and Japan.

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PAX Prime 2014: Tome makes for a more aggressive MOBA

Betas, Fantasy, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

tome
One interesting trend that I noticed among the up-and-coming MOBAs that I previewed at PAX Prime this past weekend was how there's this real desire to challenge the status quo and cut out what's hurting rather than helping the genre.

Tome may not look much different than its contemporaries, with a grounded fantasy setting and typical setup, but underneath the hood it's sporting a few ideas that should make it more friendly and convenient to a larger audience. The team's decided against including last hitting while putting in handy features such as healing quickly and buying items anywhere while not in combat.

Another core principle of Tome is that it embraces aggressive gameplay. Matches should take 12 minutes or less to complete, with design elements such as hardier minions and limited ammunition towers making turtling an undesirable option.

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PAX Prime 2014: Upsilon Circuit debuts to the public

Betas, Sci-Fi, Previews, Free-to-Play, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage)

upsilon circuit
I'll echo what Eliot wrote back at PAX East earlier this year: Upsilon Circuit is almost certainly one of the strangest and most intriguing video game concepts I've ever seen. Part Diablo clone, part Smash TV, part Hunger Games, and part Max Headroom, it's a virtual game show there eight contestants fight to stay alive while the larger player audience helps or hurts the contestants as they wish. This is all overseen by a Ronald Reagan-ish game show host who will snark and deadpan the proceedings.

The Robot Loves Kitty dev team said at this year's PAX Prime that the genesis for Upsilon Circuit came from seeing the surge of popularity for folks who watched other people livestream games. Why not take that voyeurism and make it more interactive? Thus, Upsilon Circuit was born.

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PAX Prime 2014: I wonder as I Wander

Betas, Fantasy, Previews, Consoles, Casual, Events (Massively's Coverage)

wander
We've been keeping our eyes on Wander for a year now, and during PAX Prime I caught up with Lead Developer Loki Davison to see how this collaborative exploration title's been going.

For someone who only now got a first look at this game, it was a jarring shift from the adrenaline-fueled rides in booths all around. Instead, Wander is something akin to an interactive nature screensaver. You slowly move through the beautiful tropical setting to poke around looking for secrets and more scraps of the overarching story. There is no death. There are no other creatures, except for fellow players. And your top speed is capped at something like two miles per hour.

Davison said that this style of game is meant to be both relaxing and rewarding to the inquisitive mind. Discovery and sharing those findings with other players to figure out the larger secrets is the driving force here, but if you simply want to walk around as a giant tree with hands or flutter about as a butterfly, nobody is going to stop you.

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PAX Prime 2014: Strife learns from the past

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

strife
S2 Games is a big believer in learning from the past. Whereas many other MOBA developers are creating their very first such title, S2 already has a MOBA -- Heroes of Newerth -- under its belt. Taking key lessons from that experience, the devs are creating what they call the next generation of MOBA: Strife.

Strife was definitely in full force around PAX Prime this weekend. The team had not only a prime spot by the show doors (complete with a mechanical dragon that players could ride) but a spot at a local grill where prizes and cosplay repairs took place.

My key question for the devs was, "What makes Strife any different from the dozens of other MOBAs on the market?" This question led into a discussion of how the team has been pulling the best elements from the genre while discarding what didn't work -- denying, for example, is not a part of Strife in the least, nor is the commonplace "last hit" mechanic.

Instead, Strife seeks to be enjoyable both as a MOBA and as a single-player experience. The solo content was put in to flesh out the story of the world (MOBAs have story?) and give players a different kind of experience between matches. I was also interested in the pets that characters can acquire and wield for their special abilities.

Strife went into open beta this past weekend, so give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

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