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Neverwinter spoofs game-within-a-game

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Free-to-Play, Humor, Neverwinter

Neverwinter has jumped the gun on April Fools' Day with its "preview" of Respen's Marvelous Game.

The idea is that Neverwinter will add a game-within-a-game, allowing characters in the MMO to sit down and engage in some good ol' fashion tabletop D&D: "Respen's Marvelous Game takes place atop a table, with your character being transformed into a miniature statuette. This new event will challenge you on a whole new level. Now you will know what it is like to be on the other side of a tabletop game!"

Of course, this is just a joke. Or is it? Cryptic teased the possibility of earning a green slime companion and said that it will be revealing more details tomorrow.

Neverwinter releases post-Shadowmantle infographic

Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

There are a lot of numbers.  Should probably go tell somebody.
So how is Neverwinter doing these days? The game's been a little quiet since the launch of Shadowmantle. But it looks as if it's doing fairly well, judging by a brand-new infographic, which is embedded just past the cut. More than 2 million new characters have been created since the launch of Shadowmantle, with Hunter Rangers turning up as the most popular new character and Devoted Clerics as the least.

Beyond that, over 3 million characters have died in PvP matches and a combined total of 405 years' worth of experience has been gained. If you can't get enough of numbers about games, go ahead and jump past the cut to see exactly how the game has been doing since its last update. On a numerical level, it seems pretty solid.

[Source: Perfect World Entertainment press release]

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Neverwinter's Icewind Dale PvP factions detailed

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

Neverwinter Icewind Dale PvP
Neverwinter's forthcoming Curse of Icewind Dale module will introduce two factions to the free-to-play fantasy MMO. Players will receive contracts from either the Ten-Towners or the Arcane Brotherhood and will subsequently be sent to collect black ice and fight monsters on behalf of their factional choice.

In the process, adventurers will encounter players from the opposing faction in what Cryptic says is "a more developed PvP progression path for players who are seeking an alternative to the standard PvE content in Neverwinter."

Cryptic's latest website update refers to Neverwinter's PvP as "open-world," and you can read more details via the links below.

Perfect World enjoys a profitable 2013

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

Perfect World Entertainment is celebrating this week as the most recent financial reports show a revenue increase of 11% for last year, thanks to forward-thinking initiatives aimed at investments in other companies and a focus on mobile gaming for the future.

Most impressive was the Q4 results showing a net profit growth from RMB86.4 million to RMB209.8 million ($34 million), according to a report at Gamesindustry.biz.

All of this, of course, is on the heels of DotA 2's upcoming release in China and Neverwinter's Chinese release later this year which both may play a part in even further growth for 2014.

Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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Neverwinter's next expansion heads to Icewind Dale

Fantasy, Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

Neverwinter's Icewind Dale
The name Icewind Dale conjures a lot of fond memories for fans of both the Forgotten Realms and turn-of-the-century RPGs. Fortunately for both groups, Cryptic and Perfect World are returning to the iconic locale in Neverwinter's next expansion.

Module 3: Curse of Icewind Dale is slated to release "later this spring," according to a news blurb on Cryptic's Arc website. Players can expect "new PvE content," new features, and "completely different ways to PvP."

The Neverwinter dev team has released a brief preview trailer for Module 3, and you'll find it behind the break.

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Watch Neverwinter's PvP state of the game

Fantasy, Video, Patches, Previews, PvP, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Neverwinter

It's no surprise that big PvP changes are coming to Neverwinter soon, and Cryptic Executive Producer Rob Overmeyer has a state of the game video to help sum up what's going down in this action MMO.

Coming "early 2014," the PvP update will contain stat changes, a new stat called Tenacity, crowd control tweaks, and new armor sets. But as they say, seeing is believing, so check out the overview by Overmeyer after the break.

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Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #40-31

Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Opinion, RuneScape, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, City of Steam, Jukebox Heroes, Music

MMO main themes hold the potential to be some of the most powerful and magical pieces of music, partly because we associate them with particular games more than anything else. A great theme will dredge up intense memories or euphoria by the third note, and I see composers putting in their all with many of these themes.

A long time ago I did an MMO theme countdown of 20 tracks, but since then I've heard a lot more and have wanted to do the list all over again. So this week in Jukebox Heroes, we're kicking off a countdown of the top 40 MMO themes -- in my opinion, of course. I listened to over 150 themes and spent hours ranking them to create this list.

Because these choices are bound to be a little controversial and stir up debate (which is encouraged!), I set down a few rules that I wanted to share here. I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So no points added or subtracted based on the love of the game; I'm counting down the best music, period. Let's see what numbers 40 through 31 have in store for us!

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Neverwinter to penalize PvP cowards, launches in Brazil

Fantasy, Launches, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

Neverwinter's upcoming PvP patch is shaping up to be significant, as Cryptic Studios has said that it will add in a matchmaking system and penalize players who leave early.

The matchmaking system will lump players together for domination matches based on their skill ratings. What's a skill rating? It's a fancy number that rises and lowers based on your wins and losses in comparison to others' rating. You better stick it out when you do queue up, however, because the game will block you from queuing up for any group content for a set amount of time.

In other Neverwinter news, the game has launched in Brazil, fully localized for Portuguese. Perfect World has partnered with UOL BoaCompra to handle the local support, payment, and marketing for the title.

MMO Mechanics: Three old mechanics I want back

World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Humor, Neverwinter, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
My column has typically heralded modern MMOs as superior advancements of the genre we all adore, but in this week's MMO Mechanics I want to share a small list of some old mechanics I still mourn today. Many older MMOs featured gameplay that could simultaneously exasperate and impress players, especially when the mechanics in question supported a real sense of immersion or realism in otherwise virtual worlds. Recent titles have aimed to open up the in-game world by making it more accessible and much less infuriating, but this has put some of my favourite mechanics and little touches on the development chopping block.

I'm particularly fond of game mechanics that make real-world sense. Real life would not reward you for falling off cliffs, running headlong into a crowded room of enemies, or stumbling off the well-beaten track into the untamed wilderness. Consequences in real life can feel rather scary, so I really enjoyed the fear factor of some older MMOs because this allowed for a much more thrilling -- and ultimately rewarding -- gaming experience. I am going to talk about just three older mechanics I particularly enjoy that have fallen out of fashion, but feel free to lengthen my list by adding your favourites in the comments below.

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Neverwinter prepares population for PvP patch

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, PvP, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Neverwinter

Cryptic has a host of changes in store for Neverwinter's PvP game, including a brand-new stat and shiny gear.

The team posted a developer blog to briefly discuss the upcoming patch. The biggest change is the addition of a Tenacity stat to PvP equipment. This stat will increase resistance to crowd control spells, stuns, critical hits, and (of course) damage. Cryptic sees Tenacity as being essential to those who want to mount a strong defense in PvP.

Neverwinter will also be tweaking the prone effect so that it will be shorter and affected by control resist. The team also teased new PvP gear, although it said that details about the gear will have to wait for another day.

Why I Play: Neverwinter

Fantasy, Video, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Why I Play, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content

Neverwinter screenshot
I have to say that for all of my yapping about needing to play MMOs that allow me to freely roam and to explore a virtual world and live a virtual life, I sure am a fan of linear themeparks. Who isn't? In fact, show me someone who now claims to be the enemy of all things themed, and I'll show you someone who at some point enjoyed the benefits of a good themepark, most likely World of Warcraft. I'm not sure why there's any shame in admitting that one enjoys a good romp through a virtual storybook, but I sure do. In fact, I often depend on it in order to get me over lazy sandbox slumps.

Neverwinter is one of my favorite themeparks out there. There are quite a few reasons it works so well, many of them obvious. I'd like also to point out some of the reasons Neverwinter might work so well for certain types of players.

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Perfect Ten: Lessons from three months in Neverwinter

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Humor, Perfect Ten, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content

Recently I decided to end a good run in Neverwinter, my second time back to the game that went well over three months. It was a strange period, no doubt, mostly because of the conversations I'd get into people about it.

"You're playing Neverwinter? Are you, like, trying to be ironic?" they'd ask, with internet eyebrows all quizzical.

"I know! I don't understand it either!" I'd invariably respond. "But... it's fun. It is!" That last bit always dribbled off my lips.

Then our friendship would be terminated and I'd have to rely on my fallback companion, a pen pal from Austria who sends me notes in an archaic form of German. I guess Neverwinter isn't a super-serious MMO for super-serious players, but there's something very Pringles about it: Once you start playing, you can't stop. Well, at least not for three months. So since my time in it is through (for now), I thought I'd share with you 10 lessons I picked up in three months.

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Field Journal: Neverwinter gonna let you down

Fantasy, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Guides, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Field Journal

We're no strangers to bad storytelling.
My original plan to talk about some of the better quests in Neverwinter's Foundry has been replaced with the burning need to rant about some of the common pitfalls in the less stellar entries. I'm not going to mention anything by name because I'm not here to shame anyone. I just need to explore some of the stupid design decisions that keep cropping up.

I make no claim to great skill with the Foundry myself. I still haven't gotten around to much map decorating in my first adventure, though I did pull the trigger on publishing. (You can find it with the ID: NW-DNGJU57ID.) What I can claim is a critical eye and an understanding of what makes a good story with the tools Neverwinter gives you to tell them. There are plenty of good stories, so picking something from the featured pile will usually work out great, but when you go digging in the new and unrated adventures for hidden gems, you'll find far more rough than diamonds.

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Field Journal: Floundering in Neverwinter's Foundry

Fantasy, Bugs, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Field Journal

It's surprisingly fiddly to have objects lie perfectly flush with the floor.
Given that I'm a roleplayer, you might think that I find Neverwinter's Foundry an amazing expressive tool that I relish wholeheartedly. To that I respond with a resounding sort of! I love that it exists and seeing all the neat, even mind-blowing creations of others. Actually using it to make something of my own, though? That's pretty daunting, and I'm not talking about the interface.

I am a very creative person, but there are many kinds of creativity. I've long since given up trying to be the game master in tabletop games given how painful it is for me to prepare and how I bring so much more to the table as a player. I'm the expressive sort, coming up with great ideas on the fly that make things more fun for everyone, drawing everyone's characters, that sort of thing. I'm not the constructive sort, so I have a hard time building worlds compared to inhabiting them. That might be why I had to stick a cameo from my own Trickster Rogue in the quest I designed.

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