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Ask Massively: The most popular Massively posts of 2014

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Like MMOs themselves, the MMO-related stories we like aren't always the most popular across the internet. And sometimes the articles that go viral are unassuming duds with our actual commenters, not the most controversial and heated. That's what we're going to look at today in this edition of Ask Massively: the 10 most popular posts of 2014, weighted by pageviews, though we'll talk a bit about comment count as well. Enjoy this trek into the year gone by.

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WRUP: Playing house

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 tell Larry that his decorated Star Wars: The Old Republic stronghold/house is awesome. Because it is.

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Betawatch: January 3 - 9, 2015

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

PlanetSide 2
SOE confirmed this week that the beta for PlanetSide 2's PlayStation 4 edition will begin on January 20th. This month is shaping up to be a big one for the studio; its zombie MMO H1Z1 will kick off its own early access next week. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? Read on for our complete Betawatch roundup.

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Maestros of the Anthymn is definitely still an MMO

Culture, Game Mechanics, News Items, Miscellaneous, Music, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content

MMORPG bard fans, furbish up your lungs! Earlier this week, we posted about Maestros of the Anthymn, a unique music-flavored MMO from indie dev house String Theory (whose name makes us grin every time). Under its original name, Anthymn, the game failed to reach its Kickstarter funding goals, but the developers prevailed and have plans for another run. However, the devs' reference to "episodic content" made us wonder whether the game might not be less an MMO than once planned.

MotA's Creative Director Riley McDougall reached out to Massively to dispel those concerns.
YES! Our end goal is to still make it an MMO. The episodic format is our way of getting there. I think a lot of people forget the legwork it took for Blizzard to gain such a massive and dedicated community with WC1, SC1, Diablo, WC2, Diablo 2, WC3 before even thinking about launching an MMO. Our intent is to follow the same format, use the episodic to build the brand and our community while dedicating more studio resources to the online RPG as we move forward. Long road ahead but we've come this far, no way we're giving up.
The developers also posted an in-depth Facebook introduction on Wednesday. "What we believe makes Maestros of the Anthymn (MotA) so unique is the way in which sound and music are used in game," writes String Theory. "There's a ton of game design philosophies and methodologies out there but no matter what feature or mechanic we're crafting, we begin with the same vital question. What does it sound like? Building from a foundation of sound design has allowed us to breathe an emotional resonance into every part of MotA, from the way our mountain ranges are shaped to the revolutionary 'call and response' musical combat system. This is going to be something truly special and worth your attention come January 15th" -- which just happpens to be when the new launch trailer and Kickstarter arrive.

The Daily Grind: What's an underrated MMO feature that needs love?

City of Heroes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting

Lost now to the ages (at least until player teams finish rebuilding the game) is the crafting system of Glitch, a wee and sunsetted indie MMORPG dismissed out of hand by those who cluelessly believe browser-MMOs without ultrarealistic gore are for grandmas. But Glitch's crafting system was way ahead of its time, with hyperlinking inside every crafting panel so that you never, ever needed to fumble and backtrack or switch tools or count mats to make anything. Hardcore crafters might not have been entirely impressed with the economy, but the crafting process itself was damn smooth.

I can think of lots of underrated features in some other MMOs. City of Heroes' sidekicking has trickled into a handful of games, for example, but its group-and-instance difficulty scaling feature has seldom been seen since. Yet it ensured that groups of all sizes and class-makeups and skill-levels could always tackle content. It was a brilliant way to capture a varied playerbase ranging from casuals to powergamers, and yet no one else is even bothering to try it.

What other underrated MMO features really deserve some love and copypastaing in the genre?

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: On MMO rollbacks

Bugs, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW Insider
Let's talk about rollbacks.

ArcheAge, Elite: Dangerous, Neverwinter -- whenever an MMO pops up in the news with a bug, there's usually an accompanying cry for a rollback, and each of these games has seen such in the last few months. Rollbacks used to be quite common, but modern MMO companies almost never risk them.

For today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers whether they'd ever suffered rollbacks, whether they'd lost anything, whether it was worth it, and just what they think of the whole issue.

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Under construction: Who benefits from MMO early access?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous

under construction
On its Early Access page, Steam posts a manifesto of sorts praising this radical new type of development in which players get in on the alpha or pre-alpha stage, saying, "This is the way that games should be made."

Is it? I'm not so sure.

Early access -- and all of the other similar names for the same concept -- appears to be the latest trend that's sweeping not just MMOs but video games in general. Both Steam and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are largely responsible for promoting early access, and it has been a popular attraction for players who previously had to sit on their hands and wait for a game to get, y'know, finished. Now we can indulge instantly and run around the structure even as it's still under construction.

I was talking about early access with Bree on the podcast the other day, and both of us were expressing distaste and an increasing uneasiness with the early access trend. Popular as it may be, is it really the way that games should be made? Will it result in better titles in the end? And who is getting what, exactly, out of it? It's this last question I want to address today.

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Xsyon enters early access on Steam

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Launches, News Items, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

Because who could resist this?
Want to play Xsyon but hate the mere concept of not being able to play it natively through Steam? Then we have good news! The game is now available on Steam as an early access title, so if you don't already own the game, you can start playing there. If you're wondering how the game could be considered early access when it's been launched and playable for some time, well... that's a good question. Sharp thinking!

If you're already an Xsyon player and want to have the game on your Steam account, you can shoot off an email to a special account requesting a Steam key for no extra cost. Everyone else who's already playing will just want to look forward to the hopeful influx of new players enjoying the game for the first time.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Revival talks about death, decoration, and defenses

Game Mechanics, News Items, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Nice rendered still of a house, though.
You remember Revival, right? You know, the game funding its development by selling in-game houses? That one. The developers haven't been quiet over the holiday season, with several recent blog posts detailing the high-end concepts behind several of the game's key mechanics -- for example, dying, which doesn't simply leave you to run back to your corpse but forces you to traverse the spirit realm, fighting off malicious spirits and seeking the Mortality Gate to drag yourself back from the dead.

Of course, you can stay alive longer by making use of combat mechanics like the shield wall to defend yourself from dying. You can also use your continued "being alive" status to take advantage of the decoration kits available for housing, which allow you to convert existing rooms with certain fixtures to more functional equivalents. It's all interesting stuff and worth considering if you're sorely tempted to drop a bunch of money on the promise of virtual real estate.

The Daily Grind: Does your WoW garrison feel like home?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Housing

I've been a fascinated outside observer in regard to World of Warcraft's recent expansion and its much-touted garrison feature. I have no doubt that garrisons have filled a lot of purposes and gone all-out on functionality. It's certainly been a powerful carrot for Blizzard to wave in front of players.

But what I've been wondering is whether garrisons are so functional that they forgot to be personal. In other words, do garrisons feel like "home" in-game even if you can't decorate and customize them the way that you can in other MMO housing systems? Has your character finally set down roots or does this feel like just another mission hub?

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!

Global Chat: The 2014 MMO blogosphere in review

Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous

The end of the year is a traditional time of reflection, especially among writers and gamers who want to put a pretty bow on progress and journeys made before the next chapter is explored. So it is with bloggers, as practically everyone is using the last days of 2014 to look back at the year and its MMOs.

So today we'll be going on a trip to see what the blogging community members thought of this year, what they did in it, and whether their January 2014 predictions came true. My summary of each article will be shorter than usual simply because there are so many of them!

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Massively Speaking Episode 328: Back in the saddle

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

The Massively Speaking podcast is booting back up after being shut down over the holiday season, only to emerge in one of the most notorious news wastelands of the year: early January. Still, there are a few important stories to talk about, such as one game soft launching and another suspiciously dropping a certain payment option. What do these omens portend for the coming year?

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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Kickstarter successfully aided 1,980 gaming projects in 2014

MMO Industry, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

We've been wondering around the office if crowdfunded MMOs are on the downswing after previous years' highs. It might well be the case, but even so, Kickstarter continues to be a funding powerhouse in the games industry.

GamesIndustry reports that 1,980 gaming projects were successfully funded via Kickstarter in 2014, with a total of $89.1 million raised between them. Those projects were just a fraction of the year's 22,252 funded campaigns.

For more Kickstarter and crowdfunding news, make sure to read Massively's Make My MMO column every week.

New Kickstarter sandbox Identity promises 'complete freedom and a focus on player interaction'

Betas, Real-Life, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Crime, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play

Who's ready for some new Kickstarter MMOs for 2015? How about an ambitious modern-day sandbox? That'd be Identity, an MMO by indie studio Asylum Entertainment, headed up by Mortal Online vet John "Paratus" VanderZwet. The game promises a dynamic, player-run open world, player-driven economy, player housing, minigames like karaoke and paintball, and what sounds like open PvP complete with "player police force, gangs, cartels, [and] businesses."

The title's business model isn't discussed in detail, but it appears to be buy-to-play; VanderZwet says it won't have a sub and won't be pay-to-win: "We hate 'pay to win' games as much as anybody, and will always ensure that items and upgrades purchased with real money will not give a notable advantage in-game."

A 10 CAD pledge is the cheapest with game access; pledges run all the way up to 5000 CAD. Asylum is seeking 150,000 CAD. Closed beta has not been announced, but pledge awards are scheduled for "delivery" by December 2016.

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The Daily Grind: Does your MMO guild use social networking tools?

Culture, Guilds, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

The apparent popularity of ZergID, the most recent social network and online gathering spot for MMO players and guilds, made me wonder just how many gamers actively use these types of tools. I can remember them at least as far back as the early 2000s, when ezBoard was king (remember ezBoard?!). More modern versions, like Enjin, expanded on the message board format to include profiles and calendars and even DKP.

But my guild has shied away from most such tools. We've always had a custom-built website with our own tools, some purchased software and some handcrafted just for us. I wouldn't want to risk losing data on another network, and truthfully, most of my guild's communication is done through other outlets anyway, like Steam, voice chat, and text-based chat channels.

What about you folks? Do you use ZergID, Enjin, or other sites to organize or track your friends and guildmates online?

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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