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Wizard101 and Pirate101 rack up 50 million players combined

Fantasy, Kids, Wizard101, Giveaways, Family, Pirate101

The Spiral, KingsIsle's online universe, is one of the most underrated success stories in the MMO genre. After six years of operation, Wizard101 (and its spin-off Pirate101) have tallied up over 50 million lifetime players (that's total players ever).

The big numbers don't stop there, either. These two games have seen more than 1.46 trillion gold earned, 2.1 billion quests completed, and 3 million player homes inhabited. One pet-happy player even collected 4,986 companions and thus earned a place in the history books.

To celebrate the milestone, KingsIsle is giving away a free monolith housing item in both Wizard101 and Pirate 101. You can check out more crazy numbers in the infographic after the break.

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Pirate101 adds Tower of Moo Manchu, tweaks Cool Ranch

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Dungeons, Pirate101

Are you a high-level pirate in Pirate101? Have you completed all of Mooshu and all of the Moo Manchu side quests? If so you can partake of the Tower of Moo Manchu, a ten-level group dungeon that KingsIsle says is the toughest content that Pirate101 players have ever faced.

This week's update also revamps the world of Cool Ranch with fast transport services and content tweaks including improved drop rates and encounter overhauls. There's plenty more to Pirate101's latest patch, but you'll need to head to the official site to read it all!

Pirate101's spring 2014 update is live

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101's spring 2014 update is now live. The patch has added new free-to-play areas, advanced pets, and advanced companions to the game. KingsIsle has published a lengthy list of update notes, and you'll probably also want to take a(nother) look at the update trailer. We've embedded it for you after the break.

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Massively exclusive: Pirate101 announces new advanced pet system

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Casual, Family, Dev Diaries, Pirate101

Pirate101 pet art
Pirate101's pet system is getting an update, and KingsIsle tells us that a new test realm will soon open its doors to showcase the changes. Pet owners will be able to send their minions on various world-based training missions which will raise their level, unlock talents and powers, and more.

The devs are also adding the ability to PvP in a pet battle arena as well as a new quest that details the new advanced pet system. KingsIsle has penned a lengthy dev diary explaining how everything works. You can read it after the cut.

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Pirate101 explains the making of its combat system

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Dev Diaries, Pirate101

If you're the type of player that likes to know how the sausage is made, then strap on a peg leg and wobble over to a pair of dev diaries explaining the making of Pirate101's combat system!

"One of the systems that reviewers feel stands out the most in Pirate101 is the combat. Combat in Pirate101 has been described as 'deceptively simple' and 'really fun,' but it took years of iteration and changes to finally arrive at the experience that players have today," the devs wrote.

The diaries go through the early prototype of the system, how the team figured out combat sequencing, and the difficulties of getting the camera placement just right. The devs said that once the basic system was in place, adding the extra elements such as reflex talents and bullet time was a blast to do.

MMO Family: Setting Sail in Pirate101

Opinion, Free-to-Play, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Pirate101

Yo ho ho and a bottle of yum! It's been a while, but I've recently returned to the Spiral to explore the world of Pirate101, along with my two younger game testers. We enjoyed our time in-game the first time around, and were curious to revisit the game to see what's changed. Would we find a hidden treasure or end up sunk? In this week's MMO Family, we're donning our Tricorn hats and setting sail in Pirate101!

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Sharks, skulls, and ships: One year of Pirate101

Fantasy, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Anniversaries, Pirate101, MMORPG

Pirate101 is a strange beast. It is a family-friendly, free-to-play, colorful MMO with silly characters, simple design, and quirky environments. Adventuring in Pirate101 sometimes demands that you investigate the secrets of a city that literally sits on top of a flying whale or that you and your friends (a fencing crab, perhaps, or a sharpshooting fox) leap onto a flaming, flying pirate ship in order to punch sharks in the face and steal their treasure.

Hidden underneath the silliness, however, is a relatively deep turn-based strategy game designed to engage younger gamers while ensuring their adult counterparts have a good time. KingsIsle Entertainment isn't in the business of making kids games; instead, the studio strives to create titles that kids and parents can play together. The success of Pirate101 in its first year demonstrates that KingsIsle might just be on to something.

Let's take a little peek back on the last 12 months of Pirate101 to examine its major milestones.

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MMO Family: A cornucopia of kid-friendly Halloween events

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Kids, Wizard101, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

MMO Family  A cornucopia of kidfriendly Halloween events
Part of the fun of MMOs is the chance to dress up our characters, so it's no surprise that the month of October is a big one for kid-friendly MMOs. There's a plethora of pumpkins, countless costumes, and copious amounts of creepy housing decor. And the vast tonnage of treats available makes those real-life treat bags look minuscule in comparison.

In this week's MMO Family, we've got a roundup of several Halloween celebrations in kid-friendly games. And while most are about the "stuff," there are also several creative contests and events that are worth a look. Get your scare on below!

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Pirate101 celebrates a birthday with headwear

Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Anniversaries, Pirate101

So much birthday your face will explode.  If your face is already prone to exploding.
It's been a year on the high seas for Pirate101, and the development team is in a celebratory mood. it's understandable considering how many games don't make it to a year or even out of beta. So from now until October 31st it's time to revel in all the birthday celebrations you want, starting with an entire game decked out in birthday regalia. Which will look a little odd next to the usual pumpkins, but whatever.

The game is also offering two bits of accoutrement for players, veterans and novices alike. All players are eligible to receive a free birthday hat, and the game will also sell a birthday cake eyepatch in the cash shop for a limited time. (The eyepatch looks exactly like you would expect something with that name to look, if it was unclear.) So kick back and enjoy some piratical birthday bliss with a new hat.

Pirate101 begins testing on Mac client

Fantasy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Pirate101

There are jokes to be made but I leave them for others to make.
A life of adventure on the high seas is the sort of thing that appeals to everyone, even people who choose to buy a Macintosh instead of a Windows computer. That's why Pirate101 is adapting the game to a native Mac client, with the test realm version of the client available now. Players will be able to download and install the game at their leisure, although the new client is not currently hooked up to the live servers.

There's no need to sign up for the testing, but not everyone is eligible. Active members and players who have made at least $6 worth of purchases in the last 30 days may download and try the new client; free-to-play players may not. Still, it's easy to become eligible if you really want to jump into some Mac-based piracy, so you can free your computer from having to run at least one game via Boot Camp.

Check out a day in the life of a KingsIsle artist

Fantasy, Screenshots, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Pirate101

Check out a day in the life of a KingsIsle artist
What's it like to be an artist working on one of the more visually imaginative MMOs out there? Just ask Melissa Preston, the art lead for Pirate101 who wrote an article looking at what a typical day entails in her job.

She says that one of her favorite parts of the day is reviewing the art book to see progress being made: "All of the pieces have to work together to tell a story and they need to be believable in the same world."

Much of Preston's job is coordinating between departments and her own team to make sure that everything syncs up. She also provides a few pieces of concept art with explanation as to the stories behind each. It's an interesting job that doesn't always get the spotlight in the way that other developer positions do, so check it out and learn a thing or two about what artists do for MMOs!

Make-a-Wish boy becomes KingsIsle honorary producer

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Wizard101, Pirate101

MakeaWish boy becomes KingsIsle honorary producer
We've all heard the incredible dreams that the Make-a-Wish foundation accomplishes for seriously ill children, but what if a boy with brain cancer wanted to tour his favorite game studio and become an honorary producer instead of go to Disney World? No problem: wish granted!

Eleven-year-old Ryan and his family were granted an all-access tour of KingsIsle Studios through Make-a-Wish's efforts. The studio posted an article with Ryan's adventures throughout the day, including a voice recording session, a Pirate101 play session with developers, and time spent learning about what each department does.

Ryan's mother related how important the day was to her son: "For him to see some of the actors and creators in person and see how a game he loves to play is created is just so special. It's something we could never give him and just an amazing opportunity for him."

KingsIsle had a special surprise in store for Ryan at the end of the day. The team created a new Pirate101 NPC named Ryan the Relentless and equipped the character with the sound files from Ryan's recording session that day. Ryan the Relentless and his Yum-n-ade stand will be added to the live game this week.

Pirate101 sets sail for Marleybone

Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Pirate101

The game is 78% sharks by volume.
One of the bonuses of having Pirate101 set in the same world as Wizard101 is that the former can benefit from some of the latter's layout. KingsIsle has launched a big expansion for the game that includes some old favorites for veteran players, starting by sending pirate captains to the familiar land of Marleybone. Players will be investigating a war zone they helped inadvertently create while working up through another 15 levels of experience.

The update also adds the new region of Aquila, a new Bazaar system for players to trade goods, and a new tutorial to help players get accustomed to the game. There are also new bosses and transport systems to give players more to do while they sail across the oceans. Last but not least, new companions are scattered through the added regions, and old companions are learning some new tricks. Pirate101 players can log in and start enjoying the update immediately.

Pirate101 prepping 'largest expansion to date'

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101 prepping 'largest expansion to date'
Two new world expansions are on the horizon for Pirate101. KingsIsle is prepping Books 13 and 14, which feature the war-torn skyway of Marleybone and the "legendary beauty and danger found throughout Aquila," according to the studio.

The updates comprise the free-to-play fantasy title's largest expansion to date. KingsIsle says that these new worlds are coming to the Members Only Test Realm in short order, with deployment on the live servers soon to follow. Sail past the cut for a bit of lore and some exclusive screenshots.

[Source: KingsIsle press release]

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One Shots: Yo ho ho!

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

One Shots Yo ho ho!
There's probably no gulf as wide as the one between historical pirates and the pop culture versions that we venerate. As a guy who had a pirate-themed 30th birthday party, I can't say that I'm against our off-kilter brand of scallywags. Neither is reader Phinneas, who sent in our featured screenshot from Pirate101.

"These shots are of the main starting area with my fearsome pirate looking to the horizon for adventures ahead," he writes.

Best of luck to ye, laddie! May the wind be at your back, your enemies in Davey Jones' locker, and a bottle of ginger ale in your belly! Yet pirates are only the beginning of today's adventure through One Shots...

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