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Lord of Ultima shutting down in May

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, MMORTS, Sunsets

Lord of Ultima shutting down in May
The land of Caledonia will soon be swallowed up by the sea of game closures. On Monday, May 12th at 2:00 a.m. EST, Lord of Ultima services will be stopped permanently. Announcing the closure, the developers of Lord of Ultima thanked players for their continued support over the years. Starting now, the ability to buy Play4Free Funds is disabled, but players who currently have the in-game currency are encouraged to spend it before the shutdown. New account creation has also been disabled; those who are already in the game, however, can continue their quest to be one of the final lords ruling over the land.

[Thanks to all who sent in tips!]

Stronghold Kingdoms update brings warfare to Europe

Historical, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMORTS

The MMORTS Stronghold Kingdoms is bringing war to medieval Europe! With the upcoming European Warfare update, Firefly Studios is opening up the largest game world to date, complete with 32 different countries each having its own political structure and ruled by its own player king. Players can also band together and seize control of large portions or even the whole of Europe, bringing the likes of Bulgaria, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, and Russia all under the rule of one house. But future emperors should be cautious of spreading their forces too thin and risking it all as they defend themselves from all sides.

To get in on the action, visit the official site and download the game for free. The war commences at 10 a.m EST on February 13th, 2014.

Kingdom Under Fire II interview highlights development

Betas, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Consoles, MMORTS

Kingdom Under Fire II, which is finally releasing this summer, has undergone a number of changes during its six-years-plus of development. And in a recent interview, Executive Producer Sang Youn Lee sat down with Worlds Factory to discuss the evolution of the game and highlight its upcoming features. Players can look forward to guild-owned territories, a persistent world, territory disputes and sieges, PvE dynamic events, and much more. Sang Youn Lee also noted that while the game will be available on multiple platforms, it will not have cross-platform play. Check out the full interview for all the details.

[Thanks to David for the tip!]

The Stream Team: DC Universe Online anniversary interview

Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Video, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMORTS, DC Universe Online, Livestream, The Stream Team

DC Universe Online screenshot
Join Massively's Beau Hindman as he sits down with Jens Andersen from Sony Online Entertainment to discuss the upcoming DC Universe Online DLC, and the three-year anniversary (yes, three years!) that was celebrated earlier this month! This would be a great time to come out, ask questions, and watch Beau destroy everything with his mighty superheroicish powers!

Game: DC Universe Online
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Noobing it up in StarCraft II

Sci-Fi, Video, PvP, Massively Meta, Hands-On, MMORTS, Livestream, Miscellaneous, The Stream Team, Buy-to-Play

StarCraft II
Massively's Mike Foster has never played StarCraft II before, but that's not going to stop him from checking the game out live and on-stream for all of Massively TV's viewers. StarCraft II has long been a tentpole franchise for Blizzard Entertainment and Mike is keen to find out why. Join him as he learns about Protoss, Zerg, Terran, and why everyone cares so much about pylons.

The insane display of elite APM skill starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: StarCraft II
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Monday, January 20th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: League of Angels with Beau

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Browser, Hands-On, MMORTS, Livestream, The Stream Team

League of Angels screenshot
Join Massively's Beau Hindman as he attempts to discover gameplay and strategy behind League of Angels, a new browser-based game that appears to combine MMORTS features with side-scrolling combat. Jump in the chat room to ask any questions or to give him advice!

Game: League of Angels
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Monday, January 20th, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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MMObility: Innogames' Fabio Lo Zito details Tribal Wars 2

Betas, Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Interviews, PvP, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, MMORTS, MMObility

Tribal Wars 2 screenshot
Tribal Wars 2 is the successor to Innogames' oldest title, Tribal Wars. The original is (to put it gently) ugly as sin, but that has never stopped it from being one of the most popular titles the German publisher produced. As a matter of fact, 2013 was the biggest year for the original game... after a decade in existence! You might have heard of some of the other titles in the Innogames lineup or watched an advertisement for two of its largest games, Grepolis and Forge of Empires. So how does Tribal Wars 2 compare to these other games?

First of all, it offers much of the same intense gameplay as the publisher's other, larger titles. Grepolis is sort of the spiritual successor to Tribal Wars and features water-based gameplay that makes ships and deities an integral part of play. Grepolis also offers a more wide-ranging playerbase, thanks to television advertising that helped to pull in more casual players.

Tribal Wars is much more hardcore, and Tribal Wars 2 will be no different. It will look a heck of a lot prettier than its earlier sibling, though! I sat down with Fabio Lo Zito of Innogames to talk about the changes.

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Study shows intense gaming can cause changes in real-life perception

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Virtual Worlds, MMOFPS, MMORTS, Miscellaneous, MOBA, MMORPG

Surgeon Simulator 2013
A new study published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction has linked changes in visual perception and "pseudo-hallucinatory experiences" with intense video gaming. According to the study, intensive playing can cause the player's mind to perceive real-life objects through a gaming lens and can also create a situation in which the mind generates visual distortions based on gameplay.

Examples offered in the study, which was done by gathering 656 posts from 54 different forums, include a subject seeing the Mass Effect dialogue wheel in his or her mind during conversations and another mistaking in-flight airplanes for Modern Warfare 2 UAVs. Mentioned as a basis for the study are the visual "waviness" some gamers experience after long sessions with Guitar Hero, the "Tetris effect" that involves seeing how real-life items could stack after playing the famous puzzler, and "Minecraft sickness" in which gamers see square-shaped themes in everyday objects.

The full study breaks down a number of different types of gaming after-effects as reported by participants and proposes that the effects can be caused by "the interplay of physiological, perceptual, and cognitive mechanisms."

MMORTS Kingdom Under Fire 2 picks a platform, will release this summer

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, MMORTS

MMORTS Kingdom Under Fire 2 picks a platform and will release this summer
If Kingdom Under Fire 2 sounds vaguely familiar but you just can't quite place it, that could be because the MMORTS was announced six years ago this month then went underground, popping its head up only a couple times in 2010 and resurfacing once in 2013. And over the coarse of those years, the game switched platforms, from the Xbox 360 to the PlayStation 3. Now, Kingdom Under Fire 2 has returned, and it will launch this summer on the PlayStation 4 (which will feature content exclusive to the platform) and the PC after a period of open beta testing.

The Stream Team: Wracking our brains in Brain Storm

Betas, Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Video, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, MMORTS, Livestream, Miscellaneous, The Stream Team

Brain Storm screenshot
Join us as we explore Brain Storm, an interesting quiz-based, browser-based MMORTS. Yes, it's a real thing and so far looks pretty cool, so join Massively's Beau Hindman in the chat room and ask your curious questions!

Game: Brain Storm
Host: Beau
Date: Monday, January 6th, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Massively's Third Annual Frindie Awards

Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, MMORTS, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Frindie Awards
It's time once again for me to throw out my awards for the best of free-to-play, indie, and oddball MMOs, a real niche-within-a-niche. It might seem that I am assigned many of these titles as though I were some modern day Mikey, but the truth is that I get a huge thrill out of finding a new game but get even more of a thrill when I realize that no one is covering it. I had to really think hard about the criteria for the awards this year, mainly because "indie" is quickly becoming one of those often hard-to-define words, alongside "MMORPG" and "free-to-play." Fortunately, I think I know it when I see it.

I kept my choices to games that I have actually played this year. I wanted to avoid games that appear to be really cool. If you want a more broad batch of prizes, check out Massively's best of awards. (Side note: I voted for Defiance as my game of the year.)

These awards are for games that are being created on a shoestring or independent of massive budgets. Some of them are connected to some money, of course, but instead of trying to define "indie," I will only repeat: You'll know it when you see it.

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MMObility: Rail Nation is perfect for armchair engineers

Betas, Historical, Screenshots, Trailers, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, MMORTS, MMObility

Rail Nation screenshot
Travian Games' Rail Nation, a new browser-based, non-combat MMORPG, is intriguing, especially if you are a fan of trains, sim management, and friendly player competition. Admittedly, much of the competition in the game is just as cutthroat as I have seen in more "hardcore" games, but at least there is no blood involved. Players start off with a very basic train and route, and a friendly NPC called William L. Smith explains things nicely to get things moving. The idea is to connect your trains to goods, open new routes, and upgrade your fleet of trains to help level your city (a group of players) as you pass through six different eras of technology. Each era lasts two weeks, and the last era is a competition between the 10 highest ranking cities in the game. As you grow you'll also need to open more routes by adding new tracks, which require more goods. Many industries are not even visible on the map until the player unlocks them, giving the game a real feel of moving forward in time. Travian Games likes to put a time limit on gameplay, meaning that there is a true "win" scenario for players to pursue.

While I'm not a big fan of a time limitation on an MMO, and I'm definitely not very skilled at micromanagement, Rail Nation is a lovely game that is relaxing to play. It does take time to grow on you, and its beta access means that the game still has a few issues that need to be ironed out.

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Not So Massively: Novus AEterno's kickstarter, LoL's Yasuo spotlight, and Elite's first alpha test

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Casual, MMORTS, Dev Diaries, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile

Game title image
If you've ever wanted an MMO that's part Homeworld and part EVE Online, check out upcoming single-shard MMORTS Novus AEterno. The game recently smashed its $75,000 US goal on Kickstarter and has managed to bypass Steam Greenlight to secure a Q1 2014 PC release. Previously kickstarted sci-fi sandbox Elite: Dangerous has now entered alpha testing with the release of an impressive-looking singleplayer combat test.

League of Legends released a spotlight video on new champion Yasuo, who features an insane critical hit chance, a spammable knock-up ability, and a wind wall that blocks all projectiles and spells. Dota 2's annual Frostivus celebrations were taken over this year by the interesting new Wraith Night co-op horde game mode. SMITE developer Hi-Rez Studios offered to help players hit by YouTube's recent automated copyright sweep by providing written permission to use its game footage, and old character Kali got a complete revamp.

Mobile MOBA Arena of Heroes is now officially out of beta with the release of its first version for the iPad. Diablo III's Reaper of Souls closed beta has now officially begun and test versions of the new loot system and paragon patch are now on the public test realm. And Path of Exile fans won't have long to wait for the big PvP update, as it should be starting after content update 1.0.4 on December 22nd.

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Infinite Crisis trailer introduces Robin

Betas, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Classes, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMORTS, Infinite Crisis

While full of plenty of superheroes to play, Infinite Crisis has not forgotten about the sidekicks that fight alongside them. The latest playable hero to join the MOBA's roster is none other than Robin, based on Tim Drake. Cast as (what else) a melee support role, Robin benefits his team with skills such as This Guy, Bo Master, and Dynamic Duo, each skill offering various team buffs and enemy debuffs. Robin's ultimate, Emergent Leader, combines AoE damage with team buffs.

Gather some hints and tips for utilizing Robin in the reveal trailer below. Folks interested in playing Robin -- or any of the other heroes -- for themselves, can sign up for closed beta on the official site.

[Source: Turbine press release]

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MMObility: Elemental Kingdoms is almost a unique game

Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Trading Card Games, Casual, MMORTS, First Impressions, MMObility

Elemental Kingdoms screenshot
We've all had our share of trading card games. It's a popular genre, and there are always new titles popping up. Frankly, it's hard to tell many of them apart. That's sort of the point, I guess. The fact is that the basic design is so successful because it can be so fun to play with. Tweak the formula a little bit and you might have a very fun game that is easy to get into yet hard to master.

It's also possible that you'll have yet another boring trading card game. I tried Perfect World's Elemental Kingdoms this week and found a very familiar title that sits a bit apart from the rest of the pack but still has plenty of issues. It attempts to be too many games at once and still does not go far enough as it's asking you to gather cards, craft decks, enhance cards, and fight enemies.

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