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Interviews (Massively's)

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

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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Sins of a Dark Age plans to evolve the MOBA genre

Betas, Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Interviews, New Titles, PvP, Wallpapers, News Items, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), MOBA, League of Legends

League of Legends title image
Over the past few years, the Defense of the Ancients-inspired MOBA genre has spawned some of the biggest games on the planet. League of Legends has become one of the most played PC games in the world, and both it and Dota 2 now pump millions of dollars per year into competitive tournaments. It looks like MOBAs are here to stay, but the genre is still relatively young and there's plenty of room to experiment with new gameplay.

Upcoming MOBA Sins of a Dark Age plans to evolve the genre with the addition of a new Realm Quest feature. At random points throughout a match, quests may spawn that change the rules of the game and provide new opportunities for conflict. Developer Ironclad Games, known for its Sins of a Solar Empire franchise, hopes this will add a new strategic level to the game that favours players who can adapt to changing circumstances and take advantage of the opportunities that quests present. Sins of a Dark Age will be free-to-play on release but you can join the closed beta now by purchasing a Founder Edition package.

Read on for our interview with Ironclad co-founder and producer Blair Fraser on the Realm Quest system and plans to support competitive gaming in Sins of a Dark Age.

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MMO Family: Roblox CEO David Baszucki talks mobile app, plans for the future

Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Interviews (Massively's), Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Roblox CEO David Baszucki talks mobile app, plans for the future
A few months ago, we looked at Roblox, a kid-friendly MMO with an emphasis on user-generated content. With the help of Roblox Studio, players have made some amazing worlds, ranging from peaceful playgrounds to intense PvP battlegrounds. Recently, Roblox officially launched a free mobile app that lets fans play Roblox through their iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Massively had a chance to talk with CEO David Baszucki about the new mobile app, and he gave us some insight into how it works and what it means for Roblox. He also spoke about an exciting new change to the Roblox economy and hinted at plans for the future.

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Exclusive: The Secret World's Joel Bylos vs. Armageddon

Horror, Real-Life, Events (Real-World), Interviews, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Humor, Interviews (Massively's)

Massively Exclusive Interview  Bylos vs Armageddon
It's no secret that The Secret World's creative director Joel Bylos has been deeply affected by the most recent end-of-the-world predictions. He even started a video log to share his new-found convictions. In that first log, he advocated for the removal of subscriptions so that everyone would have the chance to enjoy TSW before the end came. Shortly after, the game indeed adopted the buy-to-play model. Then Bylos took off to begin preparing his survival bunker.

But that video is over a week old. How has Bylos been coping with the impending Armageddon since then? I took a break from my Issue #5 adventures and caught up with the self-proclaimed end-of-days prophet to see how he's been faring, find out what he has learned about the apocalypse, and maybe get a hint on when the next video log will release!

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Massively Exclusive: Elsword trailer introduces Sheath Knight class

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's)

Elsword Online trailer introduces Sheath Knight class
This past fall, Kill3rCombo released phase two of Elsword's Awakened update, bringing with it the new Velder's Hallucination dungeon filled with gigantic mobs to slaughter. Now, you can dive into that dungeon and commence with said slaughter as a new class! Introducing the Sheath Knight: a dual-wielding swordsman who slices and dices his way through mobs and players alike. The Sheath Knight, so named for his magical sheath that enables him to use two swords simultaneously, focuses on melee combat and speed.

How does the Sheath Knight compare to the other five already established classes? The Elsword team sat down with us and answered a few questions about this new playable character. You can also check out some of the SK's moves in the video after the break.

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An interview with Pathfinder Online's Ryan Scott Dancey

Fantasy, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Interviews (Massively's), Sandbox

An interview with Pathfinder Online's Ryan Dansey
Pathfinder Online is an ambitious new sandbox MMO that is making quite a stir lately. The development team at Goblinworks began its spotlight rampage with an initial Kickstarter project raising money for a tech demo and is currently running a new Kickstarter project to raise enough money to make the game bigger and better with a faster release date.

Of course, it helps that the Pathfinder IP has enjoyed wild success through its Pathfinder RPG, but a massively multiplayer online version is an interesting concept. Add to that the fact that Goblinworks is made up of a few industry vets like Ryan Scott Dancey, Mark Kalmes, and Lee Hammock, and you've got yourself a winner.

We sat down with Goblinworks CEO Ryan Scott Dancey to discuss the project, the game, the IP, and more.

[Update: Clarified that the second Kickstarter project isn't to complete the game. Wowza, people.]

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Massively Exclusive: Matt Higby reveals account-wide SC unlocks coming to PlanetSide 2

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Launches, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Interviews (Massively's), PlanetSide 2

Massively Exclusive Matt Higby reveals accountwide SC unlocks coming to PlanetSide 2
Back at SOE Live, Creative Director Matt Higby spoke about PlanetSide 2's goal to appeal to a broader audience than just the shooter fanbase. It might just have worked: It's been just a little over a week since launch, and PS2 seems to be pulling in players ranging from die-hard veterans of the original PlanetSide to first-time or non-FPS gamers (like yours truly). In fact, as Higby tells it, the number of folks flocking to the new free-to-play MMOFPS has exceeded Sony Online Entertainment's expectations.

Of course, this is only the beginning of PS2's life. With launch now under the developers' belts, the question becomes what's up their sleeves? I cornered Matt Higby to talk about the first week of live servers, how many soldiers have joined in the war, and what's next for the game.

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SWTOR story secrets revealed by Lead Writer Hall Hood

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Lore, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR's Hall Hood
Fans of Star Wars: The Old Republic don't need to be reminded that story is central to the MMO's development. But fans of the story part of the game have been anxiously awaiting the next installment of personal and planetary story arcs. That is why Massively pulled SWTOR Lead Writer Hall Hood aside to ask him some questions.

Hood has been an integral part of the SWTOR writing team since the beginning; he penned major parts of the Jedi Knight, Smuggler, and Taral V storylines. In addition to having one of the best superhero alter-ego names in the gaming industry, Hood sits on the upper rungs of BioWare's writing team. And if that's not enough for you to listen to him, we heard he has a Wookiee co-pilot who could rip the ears off a gundark.

Read on to find out what this practitioner of prose says about the future of the SWTOR story.

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Some Assembly Required: A Greed Monger interview

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Some Assembly Required, Sandbox, Crafting, Housing

Some Assembly Required  A Greed Monger interview
With so many games out there and in development for the themepark and PvP crowds, you had to be wondering when a different demographic would start feeling the developer love. I'm talking about crafters! Of course, the brains behind Some Assembly Required love crafters and all they represent; after all, this column is a celebration of all things player-generated, and what's more player-generated than in-game crafted goods? So trust me when I say we are always on the lookout for games that focus on crafting. And one such upcoming game is Greed Monger.

We first heard about Greed Monger when the crafting-focused game appeared on Kickstarter. And we aren't the only ones keeping our eyes on this game; fan support has helped the game not only reach its initial Kickstarter funding goal but exceed many of the stretch goals as well. From the campaign page, we know some small details about the game. Joining the ranks of games like Xsyon, Greed Monger will boast a world that's nothing but what you make it. It's a blank slate with no NPCs, no buildings, and no quests -- players will build this free-to-play game from the ground up, crafting everything as they go.

Of course, we were interested in learning even more, so we chatted with Jason Appleton, the game's producer and project lead, to get the scoop.

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It's all about story: Massively interviews BLESS's Jacob Han

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Interviews, New Titles, Interviews (Massively's), Miscellaneous

Upcoming Korean MMO BLESS has been creating quite a stir as of late, what with its gorgeous HD visuals and action-packed "in-game" trailers. But MMO fans, skeptical bunch that they are, have expressed concern over the game, likening it to other Korean games, graphically attractive yet overly grindy experiences. What's to say this isn't just more of the same?

This is exactly the question we posed to Jacob Han, lead producer at Neowiz Games. Han's studio collaborated with Epic Games Korea to build the Unreal 3-based title, and we figured he'd be the perfect person to help give us an idea of what makes this game different from the pack and why MMO fans should take note.

Hop on past the break and see what BLESS has in store.

Gallery: BLESS

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Massively Exclusive: An interview with WildStar art director Matt Mocarski

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Previews, Interviews (Massively's), WildStar

Real feel, original style.
WildStar doesn't look like anything else out right now. We're not just talking about the game's mechanics; the game's stylized graphics make it look distinct. There's a lot of unique visual elements in the game, from its opening cinematic to the most recent screenshots, and while you might not like the more stylized approach, you can't say that it lacks personality.

This comes with its own set of challenges, though. After all, creating stylized graphics for a game means you're not just making the best-looking environments possible; you're also creating a whole new aesthetic and making environments that make sense within that style. We had a chance to ask WildStar's art director Matt Mocarski a few questions about the process of putting the game's unique look together, and he provided us some excellent insights into bringing the visuals from concept to reality. Whether you're a fan of the game in specific or stylized art in general, take a look at the full interview past the break.

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Meet Heroes of Evermore, Dungeon Runners' spiritual successor

Fantasy, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Interviews (Massively's)

Meet Heroes of Evermore, Dungeon Runners' spiritual successor
Almost three years ago, a quirky and charming MMO died. It was NCsoft's Dungeon Runners, a Diablo-like action title that had a wicked funny streak running through it. We were genuinely sad to see it go away, but perhaps not as sad as its producer, Steve Nichols. In fact, Dungeon Runners was such an influence on his life that when he moved on to a new studio, he brought with him the idea of creating another MMO in the same vein.

Today we caught up with Nichols to talk about that project, called Heroes of Evermore. Heroes of Evermore is currently in pre-alpha but is pushing hard to make strides in 2013 toward release. What would the spiritual successor to Dungeon Runners look like? You're about to find out!

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The Game Archaeologist: Steve Nichols' The Realm Online debriefing, part 1

Fantasy, Interviews, MMO Industry, Interviews (Massively's), The Game Archaeologist

The Game Archaeologist Steve Nichols debriefs The Realm Online, part 1
It's been called one of "the internet's forgotten games," and yet there are those who will never forget the impact that The Realm Online had in their gaming lives. For some gamers in the mid-'90s, it was the very first taste of a graphical MMO. Though it was little more than two-dimensional cartoon graphics added to the then-standard MUD setup, The Realm Online nevertheless helped to forge a path to the brave new world of MMOs.

The Realm, as it was originally called, was a project of Sierra On-Line. Development on the title began in late 1995, with a 1996 beta and launch following soon after. As with other early graphical MMOs, Sierra had little experience or comparisons to draw from while making The Realm but somehow made it work anyway. The resulting game featured a strong emphasis on roleplay, trade, and turn-based combat, although a robust questing experience this was not.

Sierra On-Line never fully got behind The Realm, eventually selling it off to Codemasters in the early 2000s, which then turned around and handed off the title to its current operator, Norseman Games. To date, it's one of the longest continuously operating graphical MMOs in existence and can still be enjoyed by today's gamers.

We reached out to one of the lead developers on The Realm Online, Stephen Nichols, who agreed to an interview on the condition that we give him a very big horn in a tent. Just kidding; the horn is from his private stock. Let's get to it!

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Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the SOE team

Fantasy, EverQuest, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's)

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
It's hard to believe, but EverQuest is due to launch its 19th expansion, Rain of Fear, in just a few more days. It brings a nice balance of the old and the new as it re-imagines some of the old classic zones but also introduces some stunning new ones as well. In addition, it launches with some features that longtime fans have patiently been waiting for, like the offline broker system, aggro meter, collection shinies, and hunter titles.

We had a chance to talk with EverQuest Producer Thom Terrazas, Lead Designer Adam Bell, Assistant Lead Designer Alan VanCouvering, and Community Manager Eric Cleaver about the upcoming expansion. Join us for a look at the lore and new content in Rain of Fear (and a sneak peek at two of the coolest mounts ever!)

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Farming in Fallen Earth: An exclusive interview with the devs

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Fallen Earth, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting

Farming in Fallen Earth An exclusive interview with the devs
Late last week, Reloaded Games and GamersFirst announced that farming was coming to the post-apocalyptic sandbox Fallen Earth. The initial dev blog gave us some information on how farming will be implemented, but not much more beyond that. We took that as an invitation to pick the dev team's collective brain, and pick we did.

Read on after the cut to learn more on how farming will work in Fallen Earth and how close it will be to FarmVille -- plus you can point your eyes at two exclusive screenshots of the farms themselves.

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