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MapleStory 2 begins closed beta signups next week, will include a jail system

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

MapleStory 2
Another day, another game we can't have yet. This one's MapleStory 2, the sequel to Nexon's MapleStory, which in spite of its cuteness is still one of the biggest MMORPGs in the world. Steparu reports that MS2 is set to enter its first closed beta phase on January 21st; signups go live for Korean players on Christmas eve.

Over on the official site (in Korean), Nexon further discusses the MMO's jail system, something fans of games like Ultima Online and ArcheAge know well. This particular jail is meant to hold those who make wreckage of chat channels, though Nexon says will punish counter-abuse "severely." What could possibly go wrong?

We don't yet know whether the game will come here, but since classic MapleStory has a global version that's earned Nexon boatloads of money, it's pretty darn likely.

We've embedded Steparu's MapleStory 2 customization video below.

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Choose My Adventure: World of Warcraft and the shadowy priest

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

It's been one week since Choose My Adventure's voters sent me on the path of darkness in World of Warcraft, daring me to cast off my healing roots and adventure forward as a Priest who deals only in shadow. I've gained a couple of levels, tinkered with my garrison, and killed hundreds and hundreds of orcs. I've even managed to work out some of last week's confusion, finding a spell rotation that works for me and laying waste to any PvE enemies that cross my path.

I've also completed about a million quests, Warlords of Draenor-style.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card
In 1996, Richard Bartle published a study of MMO gamers that eventually led to his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds, which was at the time the de facto MMO genre's design bible. Of course, this was before World of Warcraft hit the scene, but many of the principles Bartle laid out still hold true. In fact, if you don't believe me, take it yourself: GamerDNA still has an online test based on the Bartle study.

Bartle categorized players based on their interests in the game; I would like to do the same this year as I did last year for Star Wars: The Old Republic since it's a good way to measure the game against the average expectations of certain types of players. Bartle divides us all into Achievers, Socializers, Explorers, and Killers. I'll explain what each of those means as I discuss the different aspects of SWTOR. If you know what that means and so you have a point of reference, my profile is SEAK, which means that I interact with all types of players.

For fun, I've added a grade-card-style of rating system: A, B, C, D, or F. Just remember the information I give about that score counts for more than the score itself.

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Choose My Adventure: I am so confused in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Last week's Choose My Adventure polls for World of Warcraft set me on a very unexpected path. Male Blood Elf? Really? If you had asked me to predict the result of the class/race/gender/faction polls, I would have been extremely super-wrong. I thought for sure Massively's readership was full of carebear Alliance sympathizers who spend their WoW hours hosting hug parties in Darnassus.

Anyway. This week saw me creating our new character, using the included-with-Warlords of Draenor instant level 90 character boost, and diving through the Dark Portal to experience the starting moments of Blizzard Entertainment's latest bundle of WoW content.

It was... something.

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The Stream Team: World of Warcraft's instant 90

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Choose My Adventure is heading into World of Warcraft this month, and it all begins with the creation of a brand-new character that will immediately receive an instant boost to level 90. Join Massively's Mike Foster as he investigates the instant-leveling process and explores the tutorial system Blizzard has put in place to explain dozens of skills to a fledgling WoW player.

The chaos begins at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Sunday, December 7, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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EVE Evolved: The Sleepers are coming!

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, Roleplaying, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
Ever since the announcement of 100 new wormhole systems and the unique Thera wormhole hub system, some interesting things have been going on in EVE Online. A new star appeared in the night sky and began rapidly growing in brightness like a supernova, and curiously, the light from that star was able to be seen from every star system in New Eden simultaneously in clear violation of the laws of physics. Two days prior to the event, Sansha's Nation were seen scattering from an Incursion site and leaving the area without using wormholes, hinting that something big was happening in their home system. Combined with the intruiging story of Thera, this has had even non-roleplayers scrambling through the EVE lore to come up with theories about what's to come.

Players slowly set apart picking the mystery to pieces, conducting a galaxy-wide search to find the origin of the bright star and sending people into the test server to get clues. The mystery intensified when players discovered that the star was likely near or within restricted Jove space, and soon after they began finding strange cloaked structures throughout known space. While observing these structures, players even found that an all-new form of Sleeper NPC called the Circadian Seeker was periodically warping into the site and using some kind of scanning beam on the cloaked structure. All of this comes in anticipation of the public release of the Rhea patch on Tuesday 9th, which will introduce hidden Sleeper sites in known space and kick off the arms race to discover tech 3 destroyers.

In this lore-heavy edition of EVE Evolved, I look at everything we know of EVE's new Sleeper storyline event and try to figure out how it all fits together.

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Soloing through SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

Sci-Fi, Expansions, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMORPG

Impressions of soloing through SWTOR: Shadow of Revan
Some people question how you can be a solo player in an MMO. To be honest, I, too, question how someone can do the whole game solo, but I do understand the desire to experience the game at your own pace. I believe the creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic understand this, too. Game director James Ohlen said that the biggest thing players wanted was the continuation of Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. Although part of the SWTOR story did continue the Revan and Exile stories, a lot of players haven't even touched on that storyline.

In a multiplayer game, it's hard sometimes to experience the story solo with all the group-only material. However, Shadow of Revan creates an amazing opportunity for the solo MMO player to really experience the full story it has to offer.

Fair warning: I will not spoil major plot points for the expansion, but I will reveal some key characters in order to talk you through this leveling experience.

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Expect zero seizures from today's Black Desert features reel

Betas, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Crafting, Black Desert, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

Black Desert
OK, so you don't like the spazzy shaky-cam and motion-blur of Black Desert's videos. Fortunately, you can turn it all off inside the game. Even more fortunately, there's more to the game than bouncing-off-the-walls, eye-spasm-y hack-'n'-slash, as today's video from Daum demonstrates. There's farming, fishing, boating, gathering, and other crafting skills, plus what looks like an elaborate minigame attached to harpooning sea critters. There's also an extended section on horse taming and associated mount activities like mounted combat. (The horses are gorgeous.)

The sandbox is slated to enter closed beta in South Korea on December 17th. The video's below!

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Work on Asheron's Call's player-run servers continues

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

AC
Earlier this summer, Asheron's Call 1 and 2 went buy-to-play with no sub and technically went into maintenance mode, with no more content updates planned for the pair of games. But it wasn't to be game over; Turbine vowed to keep the servers up for its loyal players because it was, as Turbine's Rob "Severlin" Ciccolini put it, "the right thing to do." Critically, the studio also promised to release tools, though not the source code itself, to help players run their own servers, create their own live events, and someday implement their own locations.

Just before the holidays, Ciccolini quietly released an update about the "community-foused initiative" on the official forums.
I finished documenting and preparing the files players will need for all the SQL set up. We are working on getting documentation for setting up the patch server and and gls servers. I am also checking to see how a player can configure a local one person server with a simplified set up so they can play solo or in a LAN environment but I don't know yet if it will be possible to do without the full login process. We are moving to get things up in a place where they can be downloaded.
Severlin explained that documentation and testing continues, and there's a chance, though not a guarantee, that a "simplified server set up for solo or LAN players" might be workable.

Choose My Adventure: Can't stop the World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
It's been 10 years since Blizzard Entertainment launched World of Warcraft and ignited the great MMO gold rush of the aughts. In that time, World of Warcraft has grown into something more than a game; it's a cultural icon, an immensely valuable piece of intellectual property, and a brooding presence any new MMO has to consider before launch. WoW has gravity.

Just when World of Warcraft's numbers start to slide and the naysayers start planning their "WoW is dead" parties, Blizzard finds a way to make WoW resurgent. Warlords of Draenor, WoW's fifth expansion, launched late last month, bringing three million subscribers back into the game's warm embrace. For those keeping score: That's more subscribers than most MMOs ever see at their peaks.

Warlords of Draenor reworks some core World of Warcraft systems, changes up character models, implements a version of housing, and more. And with so many people returning to check it out, there's no better time for Choose My Adventure to join the fray.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Previewing SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Playing the Shadow of Revan
When I was first introduced to the expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, there were two things I wanted to see: the continuation of the class story and Yavin 4. And I'm happy to say that this expansion delivered both of those in a satisfying way. When I spoke to studio game director James Ohlen and lead writer Charles Boyd about the expansion a few weeks ago, they told me that Shadow of Revan would close one major chapter and open a new book for SWTOR. After seeing the expansion, I have to agree that Shadow of Revan does put a great cap on a class stories and opens the door for an exciting future for the game.

I don't want to give you the impression that everything in the expansion is exactly what I wanted, though. There is a surprising lack of exploration, the amount of content fell short, and parts of the maps felt slapped together. The screenshots depict beautiful scenes, but sometimes form outweighs function.

Before I continue, I feel obligated to tell you that there are spoilers of previous content in this piece, but the important parts of the new content will remain unspoiled.

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Living and dying in the Elite: Dangerous gamma build

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Hands-On, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous
When we last looked at Elite: Dangerous during August's Choose My Adventure, the game was in a barebones beta format with just a few of its promised eventual features. Frontier Developments' crowdfunded space-sim certainly brought a lot to the table with its pretty graphics, realistic flight physics, and down-to-the-details sim structure, but anyone not interested in running courier missions or blowing up other ships was probably left wanting.

Now, however, Elite is a different beast. Just two weeks from final official launch, Elite is in what Frontier Developments is calling the "gamma" stage. It's as close to the finished version of the game anyone is going to get until launch on December 16th. So naturally, I took another dive in Elite to see what exactly has changed.

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The Stream Team: Bashing it up in Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Video, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Final Fantasy XIV, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

FFXIV
This month's Final Fantasy XIV Choose My Adventure is almost at an end, leaving Massively's Mike Foster with just a few more hours to punch monsters in the face and perform adorable emote dances. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST as Mike runs his first dungeon and tries extremely hard to remember all of the positional requirements of his Pugilist's abilities. Spoiler alert: It's not going to go great.

Game: Final Fantasy XIV
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Elite Dangerous returns

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Elite
Frontier Developments' Elite: Dangerous has just entered Beta 3 or Gamma 1 or some other pre-launch version of itself, and Massively's Mike Foster is all set to fire up his Sidewinder and fling himself into parts unknown to see exactly what's new. Tune in tonight as he explores Elite's open play mode and tries desperately not to crash his ship in front of a live viewing audience (again).

The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Elite: Dangerous
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, November 28th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: The final Final Fantasy

Fantasy, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription, MMORPG

FFXIV
It's amazing how time flies when you're punching things. Just a few weeks ago our Choose My Adventure-forged Final Fantasy XIV pugilist was an aspiring adventurer with no pants; today, she's a certified hero (still with no pants). It's been an impressive ride to say the least. Square Enix has done some things so phenomenally right it's hard to believe the studio botched the game so badly the first time around.

Final Fantasy XIV is definitely a traditional fantasy MMO. But it makes enough changes and innovates in enough places to make itself feel unique and compelling. If I had to pay a subscription for a game (which I hate doing), FFXIV would be the one to get my credit card number.

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