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Eminence: Xander's Tale lands on Kickstarter

Fantasy, New Titles, News Items, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

Well, on the bright side, it's not promising an old-school sandbox experience.
Do you want a bit of MMO in your virtual card game? Because that can totally be a thing now. Eminence: Xander's Tale is an MMOTCG that isn't purely either of those things, blending card-slinging action with an explorable world and social hubs. Players will take part in battles via card games, but the exploration and upgrades will feel more familiar to veterans of other MMOs.

The actual card battles will be familiar to anyone who took part in Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad, focused on matching numbers on different card faces along with utilizing various abilities and stealing opposing cards. If this sounds like your sort of jam, go ahead and drop a few dollars on it; there's still quite a bit of time left on its funding campaign and it's already passed the halfway mark.

Hearthstone boasts 20 million registered players

Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Casual, Miscellaneous, Hearthstone

Ironically, this would be far better than Warcraft is doing lately.
Does it ever seem like there's an endless flow of players in Hearthstone? There's not. But there are quite a lot of players, with Blizzard Entertainment announcing today that the game has broken 20 million registered accounts. If those were all people with real cards, that would be... a lot of cards. Like, at least a dozen.

The game launched on the iPad in April and is aiming at an Android tablet release in the near future, as well as expanding to iOS/Android phones. Hearthstone will also have its first world championship at Blizzcon this year, with contestants fighting for a $250,000 prize pool.

[Source: Blizzard Entertainment press release]

MMO Week in Review: ArcheAge has arrived

MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

Row row row your boat gently down the stream, if you're incredibly lucky or maybe just invisible, you won't get PKed in the face
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.

A huge MMO launched this week! No, not Destiny, although that launched too. I'm talking about ArcheAge, the long-awaited Trion/XL Games sandbox MMORPG that has finally sailed its way across the pond to western shores, probably in an actual boat because, you know, this game has actual boats. Yes, ArcheAge's head start is now live for founders, though it's not been without the usual round of long queues and server instability and DDoS attacks and people waiting in polite and tidy lines for quest mobs. We've been chronicling the head start in a series of launch diaries and streams and will continue doing so this week as we approach the formal launch.

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

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One Shots: Avian servitude

Screenshots, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, Humor, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Miscellaneous, WildStar

Birds? I don't hate them, but I don't trust them either. Anything that can travel passportless with impunity is something to be wary of, especially if it has access to flight without clearing it with the FAA. And ever since the bird flu scare, I'm quite sure that our feathered "friends" are out to eradicate our entire race.

That said, I'm happy for reader Bill because he's finally putting birds where they belong: under us in full service of their land-masters. "Luck has found me again on RIFT patch day when this 'Lovely Budgie" popped out of a box. I can't help but think there is evil hidden beneath pink feathers and those big black eyes!" Bill wrote.

Oh, but there is evil, Bill. No doubt about it. Hopefully the rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots will not reek of foul intent the way that this cute birdie does.

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal MMO gold sink?

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

I realize that asking "what's your favorite gold sink" is a bit like asking "what's your favorite way to eat poop," but I'm confronting an MMO reality here: MMO economies generally spiral out of control when the currency poured into the game isn't drained out at the other end somehow, whether it's through decay costs or housing maintenance or people leaving the game forever and literally taking their gold piles with them. Obviously, this last one is not ideal.

I was impressed at Neverwinter's recent move to auction rare companions off to the playerbase, a system that won't solve the inflation/duping problem in one pass but could, given time and repetition, drain money from player moguls voluntarily and reward them with prestigious but non-game-breaking and effectively worthless trinkets.

That's my favorite kind of gold sink. What's yours?

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!

WRUP: LFG for joy, PST no noobs, link achieves, no reply = noty

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 remind us that games are supposed to be about joy, dammit. How did we go so wrong?

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HEX is not Hearthstone: A look at HEX's closed beta

Betas, Economy, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, HEX

It's been a while, HEX. Last time I saw you was E3 2013. I hadn't yet started to play Hearthstone, and truthfully, I doubted it could hold a candle to you. In a lot of ways, I was right. It's so much simpler, it's less complex, and at the time, it felt less imaginative. But my card game days are behind me. I don't have the kind of time I used to, so Hearthstone's faster games and accessible drafts (called "arenas" in HS) reminded me of the things I love about the genre while allowing me to keep my grown-up schedule intact and being easy on my wallet.

Just the same, HEX, when I got the closed beta invite to see you again, my heart skipped a beat. I was ready to drop some big money on you, but I've been burned a few times. While I've been in betas and alphas for other games, there's been a trend of letting people pay to play unfinished products. I've been burned, and while I don't regret the experience, I do regret the purchases at the moment. I mean, when a game suddenly disappears from the market, it does make you question your decisions, so I decided we should go out a few times first before I really invest in you.

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal MMO raid length?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons, Destiny

I thought it was interesting earlier this month when Bungie explained Destiny's raids: They're smaller than what MMO players would expect from a raid (six players), but they come with some rather old-school MMO lengths, lockouts, and death penalties. One test group, the devs said, took 45 minutes just to get to the front door!

Bungie doesn't expect MMO-savvy players to take nearly that long once they've soaked up some internet guides, of course, but the article did make me wonder what gamers are willing to tolerate raid-length-wise nowadays. I remember giant raids that went on for days in EverQuest all the way up to quickie group-finder raids in World of Warcraft. Making them shorter (and cutting out the trash) didn't really make them easier or less fun, but it sure did enable more people to play them, which seems like a better way to justify the dev time spent on them. What do you think: What's the ideal MMO raid length?

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!

The Think Tank: Consoles and the future of MMOs

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Consoles, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank, Destiny

Destiny might not be a pure MMO, but its huge launch on the fringes of the MMO space this week has prompted us to ponder whether the future of core MMOs lies in the console market. In this week's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about just that.

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The Crew fires up a new gameplay trailer

Real-Life, Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Miscellaneous

Terminate your dialogue and operate your vehicle.
The latest trailer for The Crew might blow your mind. It turns out the game will feature cars. And driving. And... all right, maybe it's all stuff that you've known about if you've followed the game with any sort of enthusiasm up to this point. But it's still a glimpse into how the game will play beyond its cross-country driving.

The trailer shows off a great deal of both driving mechanics and interface pieces, giving potential players a clearer picture of what the game will look like in play as well as how the game is meant to be played. If you like the idea of hooking up with other drivers and hitting the road to explore, race, and take out targets, catch a glimpse of the gameplay just past the break.

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DayZ Producer: 'You are playing development builds'

Betas, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

That rare time when the beta defense sort of works.  Almost.
DayZ is a title in early access. That means that buying the game now will give you access to the full game when it goes live as well as the development versions along the way. Producer Brian Hicks recently took to the game's official forums to respond to player feedback by stating this rather bluntly: "You are not playing DayZ. You are playing development builds."

Hicks went on to explain that the game's current development pace is entirely normal for a large project, with the main difference being that most of these early builds are not seen by the public at large. Players who are displeased by the earlier builds are encouraged to step back and check in again when release is closer, as the later beta versions or the release client will be far closer to the finished experience. Whether or not you've been enjoying the game, it's a useful look at the development process and what it can mean to be playing on early access.

The Daily Grind: What's your favorite MMO forest?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

I love me a good forest in an MMO: One that's not too dense, not too annoying to navigate, and not too full of shrieking spiders jumping on me from above. Give me a quiet, gorgeous, lush grove to wander through and I could easily lose myself in the game.

Some of my favorite forests include LotRO's Lothlorien, World of Warcraft's Elwynn Forest, and Dungeons and Dragons Online's King's Forest. Each has its own personality and absolutely beckons to be screenshotted as I softly wander through its flora.

So what is your favorite MMO forest and what do you like about it?

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!

Massively Speaking Episode 312: Sailing into the sunrise

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

No time for small fry; this week's podcast is all about the huge news stories that have been slamming into the MMO world as of late. From conventions to betas, from layoffs to merges, we've got snarky opinions and wise fortune cookie sayings about them all!

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.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[Stitcher] Follow the podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Daily Grind: Are day-one reviews of MMOs fair?

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, Previews, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Destiny

This is pretty much how I feel during launch week
We've discussed the issues associated with previewing and reviewing MMOs on Massively before (we don't do "reviews" at all, you'll recall), but Bungie has brought the topic to the surface of MMO discussion once again. Ahead of Destiny's launch this week, Bungie wrote a blog post echoing what most MMO developers have long known: Experience with a launch MMO, with its systems not fully formed and its players not swarming the zones, can't really produce a review that fully captures the feel of a game with millions of people fluttering around in it. And even in a game with only 20 levels, a day-one reviewer can't possibly have completed enough content to deliver more than a snapshot of the gameplay.

Bungie didn't even mention the likelihood of the day-one MMO launch disasters that we're all so unfortunately familiar with, disasters that often make MMOs unplayable, never mind unreviewable. Still, if a game sucks at launch, isn't it fair to say so? A snapshot is useful for what it is, and there's no reason a developer should get a free pass on criticism at launch just because MMOs usually improve with age and warm bodies.

What do you think -- are early MMO reviews fair? How do you weigh them when deciding whether to purchase a game?

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!

Not So Massively: LoL's lore reboot, Destiny's launch, and Firefly Online's beta

Betas, Video, Business Models, Patches, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Buy-to-Play, Hearthstone

NSM - Destiny
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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