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Not So Massively: Elite's launch, Transformers' sunset, and SMITE's $2M prize pool

Betas, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Mobile, Consoles, Crime, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MechWarrior Online, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

Transformers
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Aion EU starts a new Q&A vidcast

Fantasy, Video, Aion, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Community Q&A

Aion's EU dev team has released the first episode of a new vidcast called Ask Aion. It follows a pretty familiar Q&A format, with the questions pulled from fans via Twitter.

They include bits about player events, possible server merges, and even an angry rant directed at publisher GameForge which prompts Aion's EU product director to strangle a plushie on camera. See for yourself after the cut.

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Check out the ultimate Elite: Dangerous setup

Sci-Fi, Video, Culture, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

It might be less time-consuming to just go to flight school, I don't know.
Immersion is all in the eye of the beholder. It's all about what you need to feel as if you're stepping out of your world and into the game, something that can happen on a setup as simple as a handheld game console in the right circumstances. But it can also happen on a setup like that belonging to Elite: Dangerous fan Markus Boesen, which is going to put your own setup to shame no matter how good it may be.

Boesen's game cockpit is setup with head tracking, three monitors angled for a simulation of peripheral vision, touchscreen interfaces, two joysticks, and more or less everything you could ever want to pretend that you're really sitting in a ship and flying through space. There's a video just past the break, if you'd like to see the setup in action and possibly make some last-minute amendments to your winter holiday gift list.

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CCP looking for EVE Fanfest speakers

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

The 2015 version of EVE's annual Fanfest is only three months away! CCP is looking to ramp up player engagement during the event, though it says it will not be "replacing any developer presentations with community ones." The firm does want to "increase the number of player-run sessions," though, and its latest news article outlines how you can get involved in 45-minute panels, 10- to 20-minute presentations, or five-minute "lightning talk" events.

World of Tanks' 9.5 update detailed in new trailer, review vid

Historical, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, World of Tanks

Wargaming has released a new trailer for World of Tanks version 9.5. The patch adds three new maps, a host of British war machines, an overhauled minimap, and much more. The trailer is kind of a quickie, so we've also embedded the 9.5 review video just beyond the break

WoT 9.5 is now available for download via the game's official website.

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Shroud of the Avatar drops Release 13 for the holidays

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, AND WE ARE MAKE YOU PASTE.
The team behind Shroud of the Avatar has headed home for the holidays until December 28th, but a little present has been left behind for fans just the same. The latest update for the game is live on the servers, and it allows you to pick up a seasonal Yule Hat just for stopping in and checking out the new content. Also there is a whole lot of new stuff to play through, so a hat is probably not your primary incentive here, but the point is that the hat exists just the same.

To be fair, stopping in and checking out the content requires going through the game's Grand Tour quest, which will lead players through all of the new bits added in this update. That includes new crafting, new creatures, new skills, and new areas. Check out the full update for patch notes, details on how to clear out the Grand Tour, and upcoming community events.

The Repopulation drops NDA, comes to Steam

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation

The Repopulation is spreading a bit of early Christmas cheer according to the latest news blurb on the sci-fi sandbox's website. In short, the final alpha phase begins this weekend, and you can also pick up the game via Steam's Early Access program. The Steam launch has done away with the NDA, too, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Oh, and don't forget to watch the Alpha 4 trailer after the break!

[Thanks Crow!]

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Massively's MMO guide to the 2014 winter holidays

Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Massively Meta, Humor, Promotions, Miscellaneous

creepy snowman gonna get you. i... might be the wrong person to do this roundup, being not-a-fan of holiday mmo events. ah well.
Winter break: that time of year when I think woohoo time to sit around all day in my jammies and play video games but instead I have to work and bake junk food and wrap presents and go to family gatherings. First world MMO problems, right? Those of you who get to game this week better bank some experience points for me, and maybe check out some of the MMORPG genre's winter holiday events and promotions, conveniently rounded up for you in our guide below. The list isn't exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any we've missed that you love.

Happy holidays from the Massively crew!

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online vs. Elite: Dangerous

EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Elite: Dangerous

EVE Evolved title image
Like many EVE Online players, I grew up playing early sci-fi games like Elite and its sequel Frontier. In fact, CCP's recently released stats on the distribution of ages within the EVE community shows a peak around 29 years old, meaning that most players grew up in that same gaming era. A big part of what initially drew me to EVE Online was the prospect of playing the same kind of massive trading and space exploration game with other people, and for over 10 years it's scratched that sci-fi sandbox itch. I've watched EVE grow from a relatively unknown game with around 40,000 subscribers and laggy cruiser skirmishes into a vast game where thousands of players wage war for territory, profit, or just the adrenaline rush of PvP with something valuable on the line.

Now that Elite: Dangerous is finally here, I want to see whether it can scratch the same sandbox itch as EVE and to what extent the two games can be compared. Both feature customisable ship fittings, open-world PvP with a criminal justice system, and real financial loss on death, for example, but the end result is two very different gameplay styles. And both also have that same intoxicating notion of exploring the unknown and try to make you feel like you're in a living world, but they take very different approaches to world design, content, and travel. Elite may not be a full-fledged MMO, but with a sandbox made of 400 billion procedurally generated stars and an open play mode that seamlessly merges players' games together, does it matter?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I compare my experiences in Elite: Dangerous to my experiences in EVE Online and look at their differing strategies with regard to server model, active and passive gameplay, and the new player experience.

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Make My MMO: December 14 - 20, 2014

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Elite: Dangerous launched. Let's hold here for a brief round of applause.

Moving on, Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs talked up developmental transparency, and his PvP sandbox closed in on $3 million in total funding. Last but not least, Massively interviewed Shroud of the Avatar gurus Richard Garriott and Starr Long. Click past the cut for more of our weekly crowdfunding roundup.

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Final Fantasy XIV introduces two new jobs and new races for Heavensward

Fantasy, Classes, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Well, at least we finally got it.
The last Final Fantasy XIV fan festival of the year is going on now in Japan, and the event's keynote speech has already contained big revelations for the game's first expansion, Heavensward. Players can look forward to the first new race for the game, the Au Ra, a race of dragon-esque people from Othard. It's been established that heretofore masked NPC Yugiri belongs to this race, and she will be revealing her face in patch 2.5.

Fans were also treated to preview footage of the Dark Knight in-game as well as two new jobs, the Machinist and the Astrologian. Astrologians are a new style of healer, drawing cards from decks to aid party members while debilitating enemies. Machinists are ranged DPS with a single large handgun and a style of play based on laying down turrets and paying attention to positioning. The keynote also contained information on the next multi-part raid and the Collector's Edition for the game, currently scheduled for release in spring of 2015.

Betawatch: December 13 - 19, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

Elite Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous formally launched this week, departing our Betawatch (Gammawatch?) list and flying free into the wilds of the MMO jungle. What else is new in the land of MMO testing?
  • Landmark's closed beta launched PvE combat this week; SOE says it will shift full-time to working on EverQuest Next in early 2015.
  • Shroud of the Avatar's devs spoke to us about its community and development process.
  • Black Desert officially launched into open beta in Korea.
  • Sandvox SkySaga began its alpha phase for UK players.
  • Skyforge launched a beta contest and demoed two classes.
  • Cabal II's closed beta is taking signups; the first focus test is slated for this weekend.
  • Valiance Online kicked off a Steam Greenlight campaign. It's currently in pre-alpha stress testing.
  • Space strategy MMO AD2460 leaves testing and launches on December 29th.
  • MapleStory 2 will begin closed beta signups in Korea next week.
  • Albion Online's winter test begins January 26th.
  • Rainbow Saga softlaunched into open beta.
  • MMORTS Siegelord's closed beta began this week as well.
Read on for the complete Betawatch list.

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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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Sandvox SkySaga hits alpha in the UK

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

Skysaga
Sandvox SkySaga has officially entered alpha, says developer Smilegate. The team announced the start of the testing phase over social media yesterday and today:
Great news! We've just started up the Alpha servers (UK only still, I'm afraid), and from now on they'll be running 24/7 (with the exception of maintenance periods!).
You read that right: The alpha's open only to UK players right now, though we've had reports that there's no IP blocking just yet. Release is still set for next summer. The game is a voxel-based sandbox with the usual trapping: crafting, harvesting, combat, arena PvP, and an "evolving" online world shaped by the players themselves.

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War Thunder's Steel Generals expansion beta is live

Betas, Historical, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS

War Thunder
War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment's WWII-flavored MMO, updated with its Steel Generals patch this week, just ahead of the holidays. It includes new vehicles, tow cable mechanics, retooled artillery strikes, and new damage modeling. Gamers can also jump into three new maps: White Stone Fortress for air and ground battles, an Eastern Europe map with "varied open ground and urban terrain features," and the massive air-combat Battle for Moscow, which reconstructs the city during the Winter Campaign of 1941-1942. The Steel Generals content, however, "steals" the show:
The biggest addition to War Thunder with this update is the beta of the Steel Generals expansion, which includes the first six American tanks available now. By the end of Q1 2015, more than 30 US WWII tanks will be available. This release schedule allows Gaijin Entertainment to test each of the tanks to ensure that they are ready for battle when commercially launched. In honor of the update launch, special packages are available for purchase that contain premium US tanks and other bonuses alongside closed beta access. Players can participate in the Steel Generals beta by entering into contests and in-game events in War Thunder.
Check out the new screenshots and walkthrough video below.

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