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Mortal Online

Mortal Online claims 'breakthrough' with improved client performance

Fantasy, PvP, Mortal Online, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

mortal online
If you've been frustrated by bad client performance with Mortal Online, then you'll be glad to hear that developer Star Vault has isolated the problem: It's Gordo the Carniverous Sea Slug (as seen above) who is eating your packets and pings with wild abandon.

In all seriousness, the team has pinpointed the issue as related to the new armor models and is beginning to work on a solution. "We have made a very exciting breakthrough in how to handle player performance cost," a team update reads. "We have identified one big thing that does indeed add quite a bit of drop on client performance when the client sees many players."

In addition to fixing the performance drop, Star Vault announced that the territory control system is "progressing very smoothly" and that the team has added a new concept artist to flesh out the world and lore.

[Thanks to James for the tip!]

Mortal Online upgrades its graphics engine

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Mortal Online, Subscription

Mortal Online
If you log into Mortal Online today, you'll be treated to a vastly upgraded game. The team switched the game's visuals to an updated Unreal graphics engine, including new lighting, better grass, Oculus Rift support, and "countless gameplay improvements."

"Myrland has been remade, from the ground up, in a new modern terrain system," Star Vault wrote in a newsletter. "This means not only does the terrain look much better and less jagged, but also performs loads better."

Today's changes mean that players should start seeing faster updates in the future. The patch notes for V1.80.00.03 are up for your perusal.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

Mortal Online patch will add more blood and Oculus Rift support

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, PvP, Mortal Online, Virtual Reality

Mortal Online
Mortal Online is about to both look better and play better with the coming of Patch Wait, is that a patch version or an IP address? Never you mind.

The new patch contains a boat-load of tweaks and upgrades, including the switch to an updated Unreal Engine. The dev team has improved the UI, rebuilt the gathering system, added more custom helmet overlays, created a unified options system, and even added support for Oculus Rift rendering and control.

And if you worried that Mortal Online might be losing its savage edge, then you'll be glad to read the following patch note: "Tweaked decapitation blood for more... blood."

[Thanks to Graham for the tip!]

EVE Evolved: Designing EVE Onland, part 1

Sci-Fi, Dark Age of Camelot, Darkfall, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, Ultima Online, Shadowbane, Mortal Online, EVE Evolved, Perpetuum, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

EVE Evolved title image
When I'm not playing or writing about EVE Online, I can usually be found huddled over my computer typing lines of code into a compiler and chipping away at bugs that make varying degrees of sense. Designing my own hardcore space game is a really fun challenge and very fulfilling work, but I have a dirty little game dev secret: I've actually always wanted to make a fantasy game. While the budget and personnel required to take on a project the scale of an MMO remain quite far outside my grasp for the moment, it's still fun to think about how I might design such a game if the opportunity arose. The MMO genre seems to be heading for a sandbox revolution this year, and there's no bigger sandbox than EVE Online, but could all of EVE's gameplay translate to a fantasy game?

EVE is probably the most atypical MMO out there, maintaining a subscription-based single-shard PvP sandbox in a genre that's typically headed in the exact opposite direction. There are several new sci-fi sandboxes on the way that may or may not qualify as massively multiplayer titles, but the vast majority of MMO gamers still prefer to keep their feet on the ground in fantasy lands. I often find myself wondering how much of EVE Online's core gameplay is possible only because of its setting -- and how much could actually be applied to a fantasy MMO. Not only should it be possible to adapt most of what makes EVE great to a modern land-based game, but many of the mechanics sandbox gamers now attribute almost solely to EVE actually started life in classic fantasy MMOs like Ultima Online.

In this week's unusual EVE Evolved, I'd like to start a game design thought experiment as I delve into the hypothetical world of EVE Onland.

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Mortal Online overhauls characters and armor visuals

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Mortal Online, Crafting

Mortal Online
Mortal Online has been hard at work performing comprehensive overhauls to character and armor, making them look better than ever.

The character improvements for the game include visual passes, more natural animations, a new character creation system, and high-definition upgrades to armor. The visual improvements to crafted armor make up 90% of the game's wearable gear. The recent update also added in three new craftable armor sets and improved large-group performance for mass battles.

Due to the character overhaul, Star Vault is giving a free recustomization option to all players.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

One Shots: Home sweet home

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, One Shots, The Secret World, Mortal Online, RIFT, Miscellaneous

One Shots Home sweet home
It's easy to forget that in all of these game worlds that we're adventuring through, some people allegedly live and work in these lands! Even in the very, very scary places! Reader Xexanos found this run-down house in a dark corner of The Secret World and found himself entranced by the mystery of it.

"I stumbled upon this place during my exploration of the Shadowy Forest (the name really tells you everything)," he said. "I wonder what the history behind this is."

I had just found that last week myself and was wondering that too. If any lore experts want to fill us in, please do so, otherwise head past the jump and check out all of the other great reader screenshots we have in store for you this week!

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The Daily Grind: Would you pay to interview a developer?

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Mortal Online, Community Q&A, Sandbox

Personally, I can get devs to ignore my interview questions for free, so no, I'd not pay for the privilege. (Mortal Online pic)
Earlier this week, we reported on one of the stranger interview setups we've seen in a while. A player of Mortal Online who goes by the handle Aralis was given the chance to interview Star Vault CEO Henrik Nystrom about the state of the game. There was just oooooone little itty-bitty catch: Aralis landed the interview only because he'd been the top donator to the game in January. In fact, he'd ponied up $1000.

The interview is fraught with a few other issues, such as the fact that Nystrom dodges some of the player's questions and smooths over others, which'd probably annoy me if I had just effectively spent $1000 for the privilege of emailing a few questions off to a dev I admired (but then again, I'm pretty used to getting my questions ignored for free). Readers also pointed out the weirdness of "donating" to an MMO in an era of free-to-play.

But let's stick to basics. What do you guys think? Would you pay any amount of money just to snag a sit-down with your favorite developer? How much, and what would you expect, exactly, in return?

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!

Mortal Online CEO interviewed by top contributing player

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Mortal Online, Community Q&A

Mortal Online CEO interviewed by top contributing player
Each month, Mortal Online developer Star Vault rewards its top donation contributor with certain rewards for aiding development. In January, the top contributor was a player by the name of Aralis who was granted a custom "Champion of Nave" title showing that he donated $1,000 and was also given the opportunity to interview the development studio's CEO, Henrik Nystrom, in a one-on-one interview.

Some interesting points from the interview focus on future development, and Aralis pulls no punches when asking about a development timeline and the absence of promised content.

Check out the entire interview over at the Mortal Online forums, and let us know what you think about the Q&A.

Massively Speaking Episode 227: Paragons

Podcasts, City of Heroes, EVE Online, EverQuest, News Items, Massively Meta, Mortal Online, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

Massively Speaking Episode 227 Paragons
In this Very Special Edition of Massively Speaking, Bree and Justin hold a wake for a certain superhero MMO that's passed into the night. We were there until the bitter end, my friends, except for Justin who valued sleep and didn't want to stay up until 3:00 in the morning. But he was there in spirit -- oh yes he was!

It's not all tears and booze, of course; we have plenty of other stories to talk about, including the return of a long-lost profession, an expansion launch, a free-to-play conversion, and why MMOs are now being held up as art.

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Mortal Online is now free-to-play with a video to prove it

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Free-to-Play, Mortal Online

Mortal Online is now freetoplay with a video to prove it
The epic sandbox MMO Mortal Online has gone free-to-play today, allowing any interested player to have access to the entire game for the low, low price of zero!

The new business model allows for a free account as well as a Premier account status with a regular subscription rate as low as nine Euro a month (with discounts given to bulk time purchases and Facebook users). Premium status opens the skill levels to 100, while F2P players are restricted to 60. Premium accounts also allow thievery skills and expensive object looting and trading. Both free and Premium players have the option to expand the characters slots from one to four, but customers who bought the game before will be grandfathered in with three slots.

Be sure to check out all the details on the switchover over at the official forums, and enjoy the F2P trailer embedded after the cut.

[Thanks to all who sent this one in!]

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Mortal Online welcomes back all former players for a free week

Fantasy, News Items, Mortal Online, Promotions

Why did I bring a horse into a cave?  What was that all about?
MMOs change at a breakneck pace, but you don't always have time to check back in and see what changes have taken place. Mortal Online has just recently released its second major expansion, and the community staffers want everyone to check in and see how the game has grown, so they're giving you the chance to do just that. Starting today you can hop into the game and experience all of the improvements in Awakening for free if you previously subscribed to Mortal Online.

If you've played in the past but haven't been following the game recently, you might have missed all of the features added by Awakening, including new AI mechanics and a variety of new combat abilities. The free play period will last for the next week, more than enough time to patch the client and take a look at the latest update to the game.

[Thanks to Chris for the tip!]

Mortal Online is due for an Awakening

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Mortal Online, Sandbox

This game produces some darn lovely screenshots, that's for sure.
Awakening is the latest free expansion for Mortal Online, and it's available on the live servers today. What does that mean? It means that the game will benefit from a new GUI, a new AI system for NPCs, a new region, and a whole lot of new options for players to enjoy the game.

Some of the UI changes include an easier system for making use of workbenches, the addition of slash commands and macro functionality for abilities, and a new method for determining the direction of strikes in combat. Players will also have access to new combat skills, new out-of-combat skills, and a rebuilt taxation system.

The update also contains several bugfixes, but the patch notes warn players that the large update will be a bumpy ride at first. Players are asked to petition the customer support team only when absolutely necessary. But even with the likelihood of bugs, there's a lot for Mortal Online players to appreciate in this expansion.

[Thanks to Chris for the tip!]

Mortal Online's CEO has high hopes for the game's subscriptions

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Mortal Online, Sandbox

I see this armor as being able to stop a dragon's breath without a problem.
A game company's CEO should always promote the company's games and be enthusiastic. There is such a thing as too much enthusiasm, however. Case in point: StarVault CEO Henrik Nystrom's comments during an IRC chat with fans. The chat was meant to cover the game's next major update, Awakening, but it included fan questions for future updates as well. It also included Nystrom telling a fan that he sees Mortal Online having roughly as many players as EVE Online in five years.

By way of elaboration, EVE Online currently has roughly 450,000 players. Mortal Online's subscription numbers have never been revealed, but estimates place it under 10,000 players.

An impossible goal? Definitely not, but certainly one that might be a bit overly ambitious. Fans of the game can still take a look at the chat for other interesting tidbits, however, including plans to add drugs and improve the new player experience in the future.

[Thanks to Sandboxer for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: Would you play an adult MMO?

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Second Life, The Daily Grind, Mortal Online

Age of Conan - CasildaYesterday we told you about an adult MMO called Orgia Romanus that's causing a stir due to its focus on sexual content. While the game is certainly taking an over-the-top approach, it's by no means the first MMO to walk this path.

Indie titles like Sociolotron and portions of virtual worlds like Second Life are renowned for their focus on various taboo topics, while more traditional titles like Age of Conan and Mortal Online have dabbled in avatar nudity and adult-oriented quests.

But what if an MMO came along that managed to incorporate adult topics in a manner devoid of sensationalism? Sure, it's a tall order, but let's assume it's possible. Would you play it, or do you steer clear of anything with the "adult" label?

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!

Mortal Online hacked, Star Vault encourages users to verify accounts

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Mortal Online, Sandbox

Mortal Online - female half-orc concept art
If you've got an active Mortal Onlne account, you may want to think seriously about changing your password. A new post on the sandbox title's forum describes a security breach that led to the destruction of in-game assets and account status changes. The intrusion has since been contained, according to a Star Vault GM, and "additional security is in place."

The company says that customer payment information was not affected, but users are encouraged to verify their account status and passwords anyway.

As to the breach itself, details are understandably scarce, but Star Vault does say that a member of the GM staff had his account compromised and his details used to carry out the aforementioned mischief.

[Thanks to slapshot1188 for the tip!]

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