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Hands-On (Massively's)

GDC 2013: City of Steam demo showcases crafting and other streamlined features

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), City of Steam

GDC 2013  City of Steam demo showcases crafting and  other streamlined features
It may seem like a while has passed since we last experienced City of Steam, the fantasy steampunk MMORPG that fits in your browser. That's because it has! The game's last closed beta testing round was back in December, and fans have been eagerly waiting to get back into the city-state of Nexus. Of course there has been some news to tide us over in the meantime while developers have been turning all of that beta feedback into fixes and updates, but that's not the same; people want to play. Luckily, it's GDC to the rescue!

While the rest of the world won't actually get to access City of Steam until it launches open beta (which is anticipated to be within the next two months!), I was able to dive in and explore the fruits of the devs' winter labors. And let me tell you, they've put their time to good use! I met with Communications Manager Gabriel Laforge and Operations Director Andrew Woodruff from Mechanist Games who showed off all the work that has gone into the game since the beta closed, from graphics to crafting to airships. They also highlighted the game's cash shop and revealed numerous rewards players can earn simply by playing the game.

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Second Wind: Final Fantasy XI

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, Consoles, Hands-On (Massively's), Second Wind

Screenshot -- Final Fantasy XI
Here's a fun fact about me: Final Fantasy XI was one of the first MMOs I ever played. I had dabbled in Ultima Online and EverQuest before it, but at the time those games came out, I was but a wee lad of nine or so, and I truly had no idea what I was doing in either of them. What I did know was that I was in love with the idea of sharing a massive, persistent world with thousands of friends (and enemies) waiting to be made.

So when Final Fantasy XI came out stateside in late 2003 (it launched in Japan in 2002), I was firmly in the grip of some kind of JRPG mania thanks to Final Fantasy IX, Legend of Dragoon, and others of that ilk. Naturally I took to the notion of a massively multiplayer Final Fantasy game like a Black Mage to a comically oversized hat. I was a devout player of FFXI for a couple of years after that, before all of my FFXI-playing friends decided to jump ship to some uppity little newcomer called World of Warcraft, and I've had an on-again, off-again (mostly the latter) relationship with FFXI ever since.

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Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Recap

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, Opinion, Consoles, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Defiance

Defiance - Major arkfall
By popular forum-rager demand, I present to you Massively's "real" Defiance launch week impressions. I guess some folks aren't satisfied with the general contentment expressed in the diaries I posted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they need a chance to vent. So for those people: Defiance is the worst launch ever! It's worse than Anarchy Online! My pet peeves from alpha/beta haven't been fixed, and worse yet, Trion has not called me personally to apologize! Boo-hoooooooo!

Oh, you did actually come here to read some day four Defiance impressions? Good. Today's entry is going to be a recap of sorts because my brief play session last night was likely my last until the TV show's debut.

I feel sorta bad typing that because ultimately I want to like Defiance more than I do, not because I spent 60 bucks on it but because I think Trion has the makings of a title with some staying power. After 20 hours of play, though, I feel as if I've seen enough until the game matures a little bit. No forum rage required.

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GDC 2013: Hands-on with Vendetta Online on the iPad

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Hands-On, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox

GDC 2013  Handson with Vendetta Online on the iPad
When we talk about getting our hands on a game at GDC for a little playtime, we don't usually get to literally grasp said game in our fingers. But that's exactly what happened when I tested out Vendetta Online on an iPad 3; instead of just relating to the space-based sandbox through the standard accessories like mouse, keyboard, or joystick, I held the entirety of the game universe in the palms of my hands. My own 10 digits were the only accessories. And the experience impressed me!

I had the opportunity to sit down with John Bergman, Founder and CEO of Guild Software, to talk about the new iOS platform for Vendetta Online while doing my best Goose impersonation (he's way better than Maverick) playing it.

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Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Day two

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Defiance

Defiance - ATV lens flare
Welcome to day two of Massively's Defiance launch week diary. I've put a little over seven hours into Trion's MMO shooter thus far, so that zomg-it's-a-new-game! glow has worn off and I'm able to see things more objectively (i.e., find things to criticize). That said, I'm still having a good bit of fun, so join me after the cut to find out why.

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Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Day one

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Defiance

Defiance character select screen
I'm an ark hunter, or so they tell me. They being the ruggedly handsome NPCs on display in Defiance's opening cutscene. There's a gruff military man, a captain I think, and some balding suit with trendy eyewear named Von Bach.

There's a bunch of frenzied activity on board the stratocarrier New Freedom, and I pass by a familiar roughneck and a red-haired alien girl that I've seen before in Defiance's ubiquitous television commercials. I'm a human male because I'm one of those weirdos who plays to real-world type in video games. I've got corn-rows here, though, blonde ones, and a face that only a mother could love. Much like my real face, I didn't have a lot of say in the matter because Defiance's character customization is rather bare bones. There's Human or Irathient, male or female. After that there's a choice of four origins: Veteran, Survivalist, Outlaw, and Machinist.

I have a hard time with this because if the earth really were on the edge of sci-fi post-apocalyptic alien invasion extinction, I would no doubt be some sort of grizzled Survivalist/Outlaw/Machinist hybrid. Though this isn't a class-based game from what I hear, for now I have to choose.

It's Survivalist.

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Your guide to Guild Wars 2's Super Adventure Box

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), Guides

Guild Wars 2's Super Adventure Box
April is almost upon us, which means that the first day of April is almost upon us, which means that April Fools' Day is almost upon us. In the past, the folks at ArenaNet have proven themselves fond of celebrating this occasion, which has given fans high hopes for continued trolling in the world of Guild Wars 2. Since March's patch, strange things have been appearing that all seem to hint at some sort of April Fools' joke: Super Adventure Box achievements on the hero panel, mysterious Continue Coins falling out of chests, and a new range of weapon skins added to the sPvP weapon pane.

Of course, it's been pointed out to me that perhaps the most delicious joke of all would be to put in all those clues and then have no actual prank. I can almost taste the rage of fans who had compulsively run characters through jumping puzzles for days in an attempt to stock up on Continue Coins that suddenly turned out to be worthless.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your sense of humor), that's not the case at all. The Super Adventure Box is real, and it's almost time for you to start playing it. Let's talk about it, shall we?

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PAX East 2013: A second hands-on with WildStar's Draken Stalker

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), WildStar

Screenshot -- WildStar
Everyone at the completely fictional Massively office seems to have some kind of schoolgirl crush on Carbine Studios' quirky upcoming sci-fi title WildStar, and I can understand why. The setting is fresh, melding some aspects of our favorite sci-fi properties (cough Firefly cough) with a a healthy dose of fantasy and a not insignificant amount of witty comedy, and the list of features the game boasts is rather extensive. I mean, did you even see that housing trailer? Holy wow, guys.

In spite of all of that, though, I was still a little cautious about giving in to the hype. After all, I'm sure there's not an MMO fan in existence who hasn't gotten super excited about a game and become a devoted fanboy only to have his hopes and expectations shattered when the game didn't live up to the hype. So I let myself be excited, but reservedly so, until I could get my hands on the game for myself to complement Eliot's earlier PAX hands-on with the game. As it so happens, on the last day of PAX East, I got to do just that. Though it was only a short 25-minute demo (thank goodness -- otherwise the lines would have circled the convention center), I think I was able to get a pretty solid idea of what we can expect from WildStar, and let me tell you right now, we can expect some great things.

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MMO Burnout: Yucking it up with Saints Row The Third

Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Crime, Hands-On (Massively's), Sandbox, MMO Burnout

MMO Burnout - Saints Row The Third
So how would you feel about running around in an open-world action title smacking enemies with a giant dildo? The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining whether or not you'll dig Saints Row The Third, which is, naturally, the third installment of Volition's sordid sandbox saga.

If that question made you laugh, utter some version of "hell yeah," or type "Saints Row 3 dildo" into your Google image search box, you and SRTT will get along famously. If you shifted uncomfortably in your seat, grumbled about kids these days, or fired off a how-dare-you email in the general vicinity of the Massively tip box, well, you can probably skip the rest of this week's MMO Burnout.

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GDC 2013: PlanetSide 2's new app and the future of Forgelight

Sci-Fi, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), PlanetSide 2

GDC 2013  Scrolling through PlanetSide 2's new app with Tramell Isaac
On Tuesday, SOE shared a trailer highlighting its Forgelight engine. The proprietary engine not only runs PlanetSide 2 but will also be the foundation for all the studio's future games, including EverQuest Next. The same press release also introduced the upcoming PS2 app. Although it won't be available to the public for a a bit, I had a chance to sit with senior art director Tramell Issac to see the app in action as well as discuss the Forgelight engine and what's coming up for PS2.

The app provides easy access to a ton of gameplay info, from personal stats to weapon information to real-time in-game map updates, and consequently there could be a marked decrease in workplace productivity in store for PS2 fans!

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Second Wind: The Old Republic at the 15-month mark

Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On (Massively's), Star Wars: The Old Republic, Second Wind

SWTOR - This dude is no longer carbon-frozen
A long time ago, I previewed Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was a beta build, and a limited press preview to boot, so it's fair to say that I didn't have the full measure of BioWare's latest Star Wars opus. Even so, it exceeded my expectations in some respects, and despite the reams of hate fan mail I received for being Massively's leering, anti-SWTOR Sith villain, the truth of the matter is that I love Star Wars and video games to such a degree that it's impossible to stay away from any product that marries them.

I own Super Bombad Racing, for funk's sake.

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PAX East 2013: Hands-on with Marvel Heroes

Betas, Super-hero, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Classes, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage)

PAX East 2013  Handson with Marvel Heroes
Gazillion Entertainment made a splash at PAX East, arriving with the big announcement that Marvel Heroes will be launching on June 4th. In addition, the team gave new details about endgame content, PvP, and special "ultimate powers" for each hero.

During the convention, Massively had a chance to sit down with VP of marketing Leo Olebe and CEO David Brevik to get a look at the state of the game, including some brand-new content that the devs have just added to Marvel Heroes. What did we see during our hands-on with the game? Let's just say that rampaging dinosaurs and "Hulk Smash" were but the tip of the iceberg.

Gallery: Marvel Heroes

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GDC 2013: Dragon's Prophet demo and hands-on

Betas, Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Dragon's Prophet

GDC 2013 Dragon's Prophet demo and handson dishes up details
Last fall, Runewaker and SOE announced Dragon's Prophet, a free-to-play fantasy game focused on -- you guessed it -- dragons. Since then, we've been treated to various videos detailing the classes, the starter zones, and other gameplay. Just last week the game entered closed beta in North America, allowing select folks the chance to get in and test out the current stage of the game.

This week, I joined those folks in-game during my hands-on and demo at this year's GDC. I was also able to talk with senior producer Todd Carson and associate producer Rod Haza as they demonstrated different aspects of the game at the convention. What delectable tidbits of information about classes, housing, and (of course) dragons did I uncover? The answer awaits after the break.

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Ascots and crossbows: Hands-on with Renaissance Heroes

Historical, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Humor, Hands-On (Massively's), Livestream, Miscellaneous

Renaissance Heroes
A few months ago, when New Year's resolutions came around, I decided to take broad, sweeping strides outside of my comfort zone -- I decided to play more FPS games. Long have I lingered in the comforting bosom of tab targeting, cast bars, and kill-10-boars. So when Renaissance Heroes, a newly released free-to-play FPS, came to my attention, I thought I might have finally found an FPS game that's more my style, that style being "shoot people in the face with crossbows."

I was not disappointed.

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PAX 2013: Hands-on with Smashmuck Champions

Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, MOBA

Screenshot -- Smashmuck Champions
MOBAs are all the rage these days, with dozens of the things cropping up like weeds in my neglected back yard. As a result, it can be hard for me to pay attention to all of them, and with new ones being announced on what seems like a monthly basis, it's hard to figure out which ones are worth keeping an eye on and which ones can be safely relegated to the realm of ignorance, so as a result I tend to just shrug and say, "Oh, another MOBA," and carry on with my life.

But then came Smashmuck Champions. The bizarrely named game was probably my surprise hit of this year's PAX East convention, largely because I had absolutely no expectations when I walked up to the booth. "Another MOBA," I figured, "that's going to play the exact same as every other one (and that I'm going to suck at, also just like every other one)." Yawn. Man, was I wrong (about the first bit, anyway). Kiz Studios, the studio behind this new entry into the multiplayer online battle arena... well, arena, has taken the tower-attacking, top-mid-bottom-ganking, minion-farming genre made famous by games such as DotA and League of Legends and turned it on its head. Sure, the general MOBA feel is still there, but it's definitely not like any MOBA I've seen before. But as we all know, "different" doesn't necessarily equate to "good," so why don't you click past the cut and find out whether Smashmuck Champions is worth your time?

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