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MMO Week in Review: PAX Prime 2014

Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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.

This week, Massively's Justin Olivetti braved the halls of PAX Prime and wrote all the things. Here's what he's tackled so far!
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!
PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus
PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th
PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th
PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide
PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you
PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Shroud of the Avatar
PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses
PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online
PAX Prime 2014: Warhammer 40k trains players to think like soldiers
PAX Prime 2014: Defiance defies barriers to play
PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise
PAX Prime 2014: State of Decay takes steps toward something larger
PAX Prime 2014: PlanetSide 2 meets the PlayStation 4
PAX Prime 2014: Marvel Heroes is the industry's surprise success story

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One Shots: The big plunge

Screenshots, EverQuest, Culture, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous, WildStar

gw2
For someone like myself who is mortally terrified of heights, MMOs are not a good form of immersion therapy. I still feel my stomach clench when I fall from a ledge or, in the case of our first screenshot of the day, witness someone else doing it.

"This was my first jumping puzzle in Guild Wars 2," Reader Chiara said. "You don't forget those things. I was all excited when I found a secret passage -- I wasn't even aware of the existence of jumping puzzles back then -- and as luck would have it, I found one of the toughest ones. Of course. My character is always camera-ready, as you can see -- even when she's plunging to her death. I think she was trying to wave, actually."

What happened next? In my mind, she'll always be falling, falling. Well, we all might as well take the big plunge into the rest of these screencaps!

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The Game Archaeologist: Ironman modes and elective permadeath

Asheron's Call, Dofus, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, Wizardry Online, Star Citizen, H1Z1

wizardry online
One facet of video games that's been around almost since the very beginning is the difficulty level. This has allowed the player to choose how hard or easy a game would be from the onset, influencing factors such as the number of enemies, hardiness of bad guys, fragility of the player character, and available loot (or lack of it). I used to love how some of those '90s shareware titles would mock me for picking easy, sometimes portraying my character wearing a baby bonnet and sucking its thumb. Real gamers, the devs implied, go tough or go home.

With a few exceptions, MMOs operate on a fixed level of difficulty for all of their players. Instead of assigning blanket difficulty client-side, the game world portions difficulty into areas, usually according to level or activity. Some games have instances with adjustable difficulty levels, but past that what you get is also what I get.

This might be changing. A very fringe but dedicated group of players have championed such ideas as elective ironman and permadeath modes for their MMOs, and at least one studio is responding positively to that desire. Would you choose to make your MMO experience harder than everyone else in exchange for nothing more than a bigger challenge and a more "realistic" experience?

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WRUP: WoW's next-next expansion

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you try to guess what World of Warcraft's sixth expansion's theme will be. If you say pandas, time-travel, or orcs, you lose.

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The Daily Grind: Who is your favorite in-game companion?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

swtor
While not every MMO features companions, there are enough out there that I wager you've played a title or two with a strapping NPC at your side. One of my absolute favorite features of Star Wars: The Old Republic is its companion system. The day that I finally earned my HK-51 was one of the most glorious moments of my life, just narrowly edging out the birth of my children and the return of Arrested Development.

Who is your favorite in-game companion? Did you choose that companion based on personality, looks, or general combat assistance? What is one of your favorite stories involving that character?

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!

Betawatch: August 23 - 29, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

Landmark
This week, SOE injected a limited version of combat into its really-truly-still-a-beta Landmark sandbox. Massively's MJ Guthrie streamed and wrote about her initial experiences with the system. What else is new in the land of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup awaits.

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Study suggests MMOs boost English skills

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

Justin
Researchers from Sweden's Karlstad University and University of Gothenburg have found that MMOs might just improve your language skills. The scientists subjected a group of Swedish students aged 10 and 11 to English language tests to examine the relationship of digital games and English ability, gender, and learning motivation. They found that regularly playing online games and MMOs in particular correlates with having a stronger English vocabulary. Yay us!

They also found differences between the genders, though the paper's abstract attributes that to its male subjects' heavier gaming schedules vs. its female subjects' preference for social media activities.

I can't be alone in having MMO guildies whose first language isn't English, and having seen their language skills improve dramatically over the years the more they type and interact with native speakers, I bet I'm not alone in not being surprised, either.

The Daily Grind: What do you hope to hear at this year's PAX Prime?

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

PAX Prime is the last major Western multi-game tradeshow of the year relevant for MMO enthusiasts, making it the last big wave of mass studio announcements until PAX South's debut in January. Massively's Justin Olivetti will be on the PAX Prime show floor for us this year, checking out Warlords of Draenor, Landmark, ArcheAge, H1Z1, WildStar, The Repopulation, Pathfinder Online, Hearthstone, Trove, Shroud of the Avatar, and other MMOs and not-so-MMOs both big and small.

But sometimes game announcements come out of nowhere during conventions, and we discover something we weren't expecting at all. What do you hope to see from this year's PAX Prime?

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!

Funcom's revenues decrease in Q2

Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Miscellaneous

It's still a better business model than Orochi.
Funcom has released its second-quarter financial results for the year, and it's not a glowing success story. Revenue dropped roughly $600,000 compared to Q1, a drop attributed to weaker in-game item sales over the quarter. Despite this, the report indicates that the company remains on-track as a whole, with the overall pattern of expenses not significantly changed. All of the major MMOs in the studio's portfolio are stated to be cash-flow positive, which is good news for fans.

While the company launched several marketing attempts to draw more players into its titles, The Secret World was the most successful at bringing in more players via its most recent major update. The company projects good results for LEGO Minifigures Online when it releases in October. Interested players can look at the full report, which is less overwhelmingly positive than might be ideal but hardly paints a picture of doom.

Get your Dizzel beta item key today here on Massively

Contests, New Titles, War, Massively Meta, Giveaways, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

Dizzel
Just as our sister site Joystiq did yesterday, Massively is giving away a boatload of Dizzel beta codes to our readers today -- specifically, keys for a Chrome Assault Rifle usable in the game. Dizzel is a free-to-play multiplayer third-person action-shooter by OGPlanet and Neowiz that falls into our Not So Massively category, but we think it could appeal to our regular MMO audience as well. Plus, free stuff!

Interested? Just clicky the buttons below to grab your Dizzel item code, then follow these instructions to redeem it:
  • Via official installer: Sign up for a free OGPlanet account by downloading the Dizzel Installer. Once Dizzel is installed, login to the game and create your character. Go to Dizzel's Redemption Page and enter your key code. Finally, check your in-game 'Storage' to add your items to your inventory.
  • Via Steam: Download and Install Dizzel through Steam. Once you're in-game, locate and click the 'Shop' button on the top menu. Press the 'Cash Reload' button located on the bottom right. Steam's Cash Purchase window will be displayed; you will notice 'Item Package Redemption' on the right section. Please input your Keycode, and press 'Redeem,' and allow up to 15 minutes for delivery. Your item will arrive in your Inventory's 'Storage' section.

GET YOUR KEY GIVEAWAY FAQ OFFICIAL RULES

Twitch viewership now rivals prime-time cable

MMO Industry, Livestream, Miscellaneous

While some folks don't understand the phenomenon of watching others play a game when they could actually play it themselves, many are doing exactly that. And those numbers continue to rise: A recent look at viewership compiled in The New York Times shows that Twitch at its peak now rivals the average of some prime-time cable networks. Compared to major video providers, however, Twitch still lags behind. When held up to NetFlix and YouTube, Twitch has about eight times fewer hours of video viewed monthly compared to the former and roughly 24 times fewer than the latter.

Contributing to Twitch's numbers are a multitude of streamers who've built large audiences. These personalities can individually pull in up to and even more than 40,000 viewers during a single stream. For a glimpse of all the graphs, head on over to NYT.

The Daily Grind: What would you want in a World of Warcraft 2?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
Your guess is as good as mine as to how serious Blizzard was being the other week when it floated the possibility of a sequel to World of Warcraft during an interview. After all, words are cheap, but development is crazy expensive.

But let's have a little fun with this concept today, whether or not a WoW 2 is in the making. Assuming that there was one being brewed up, what would you want to see done with it? Would it embrace more sandbox features? Would it simply remake the current game or jet off on its own timeline? Would you even prefer a platform switch, such as a mobile WoW or a virtual reality-based one?

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!

GX3 Kickstarter gets a big boost from Blizzard

Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Miscellaneous

Points where they're due.
Conventions are expensive, and unless you have a major publisher or media franchise backing them, it's very easy for a convention to be successful without being successful enough to keep going. GaymerX managed two conventions, but the third round is currently on Kickstarter, trying to raise funds for another convention focused on inclusiveness and support of all different types of gamers. That goal is being helped significantly by a big name in online gaming: Blizzard Entertainment.

The Kickstarter site for the convention lists the World of Warcraft developer as pledging "over $10,000" to making the convention a reality. There are still 23 days for the project to reach its funding goal, but that kind of money certainly helps kick a project along. If you're interested in donating yourself, the convention will be in the Bay Area of California in either November or December of 2015.

Massively Speaking Episode 311: Interior decorating

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

Rid yourself of gender-baised notions, for boys love interior decorating too! This week, Eliot and Justin share tips on couch placement, pleasing contrasts between wall trim and carpet colors, and where to put mutated eyeballs so that they're not always freaking out the guests. Also, they talk about MMOs, because that's what we sometimes do on this show.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
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Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Daily Grind: Are kids poor MMO consumers?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

LMFO
Earlier this year after announcing sunsets for the apparently popular Free Realms and three other titles, SOE's John Smedley declared that his studio was done with MMOs aimed at children. "No more kid's games," he said on Reddit. "Kids don't spend well and it's very difficult to run a kids game. Turns out kids do mean stuff to each other a lot."

The last comment is no doubt true and manifests primarily in unfettered chat, as former Massively writer Karen Bryan explored a few years ago. But is it likewise true that "kids don't spend well"? Kid-friendly games like Wizard101 and Super Hero Squad Online seem to be doing just fine. Funcom sure thought the market was ripe for another go at a LEGO MMO. And I suspect that tweens are heavily responsible for some of the crazy IAP spending going on in the mobile space. If I were a kid now instead of in the '90s, I would have blown my allowance on Guild Wars 2 microtrans instead of comic books and trading cards.

What do you think? Are kids truly as terrible an MMO audience as SOE believes?

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!

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