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Wizard101, Pirate101 celebrate season with 12 days of specials

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Wizard101, Giveaways, Family, Pirate101

Wizard101, Pirate101 celebrate season with 12 days of specials
It's that time of year -- the time when the festivities lurk around every corner and good cheer permeates the air. And KingsIsle Entertianment joins in the celebration with the 12 Days of the Spiral! Starting today and going through December 19th, the studio is offering a special daily surprise for Wizard101 and Pirate101 players. Each day could reveal a special offer, a free giveaway, or a new item for one or both of the games.

The first deal really gets to the heart of the spirit of giving: Every purchase of today's special, the Fa-La-La-La Llama mount, will directly benefit two children's charity organizations. This limited-edition mount is available for both games, but must be purchased separately for each.

Massively Speaking Episode 220: BraveStarr Citizen

Podcasts, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, League of Legends, Pirate101

Massively Speaking Episode 220
Is it probable, even inevitable, that we have too many great MMOs to play right now? Are the releases coming in too quickly for the average fan to process? Will Bree and Justin go mad from trying to absorb it all on top of babies and the neverending news cycle?

The answer to all of these is "yes."

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.
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Battle for the high skies: Hands-on with Pirate101

Fantasy, Launches, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, First Impressions, Kids, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101 Header
Her name is Reckless Roslyn Ramsey, and she is a pirate. She sails a ship, loots treasure, hangs out in seedy bars, and fights anyone who stands between her and the fame and fortune she so rightly deserves. You wouldn't be lying to say that young Ms. Ramsey has swashed a fair few buckles in her time, and the pink and white, panda and crossbones flag under which she and her crew sail is feared the world over.

Such is life in Pirate101, a family-oriented MMO created by KingsIsle Entertainment and due to launch today. Placing you in the role of a young pirate at the beginning of his or her quest for glory, Pirate101 asks you to carve your own path, gather cunning crewmembers, and discover the hidden mysteries of The Spiral (a fantasy world the game shares with smash hit Wizard101).

I hopped in on the Pirate101 head-start over the weekend to get an idea of what this colorful MMO has to offer and to see whether its kid-friendly design hinders its ability to be fun for those of us jaded gamers who expect a little blood with our sword slashes. What I found was an accessible game with a clear slant toward younger players as well as a robust and fun MMO with plenty to offer grown-ups seeking to step away from the grim, dark worlds of more traditional fare.

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Pirate101 early access has lifted anchor

Fantasy, Launches, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Pirate101

Pirates101 early access has lifted anchor
After giving everyone a chance to sample Pirate101 during the sneak peek last week, KingsIsle Entertainment restricted access to beta members. Today, the game leaves beta and opens for its head start period before the official launch next Monday.

The week-long head start is open to everyone who participated in closed testing, purchased a Boochbeard or Gandry Bundle, is a member of Pirate101, or redeemed a gift certificate for a prepaid membership. Want to get in on the early access, but don't fit in one of these categories? You still can! Folks can start playing right now by either becoming a Pirate101 member or making one of the aforementioned purchases.

Pirate101 sneak peek open to all going on until 9 tonight

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Pirate101

Pirate101 sneak peek open to all going on until 9 tonight
If you've been following the development of Pirate101 and looking forward to checking the game out, you just might want to drop whatever you are doing! Going on right now and for only six hours, KingsIsle has opened the game to any and all who want to jump in and get their pirate on.

So grab your parrot and swashbuckle on over to the official site to sign up and download the game to get started; the open sneak peek will close promptly at 9:00 p.m. EDT tonight! And while it's downloading, you can learn more about the game in Massively's Pirate101 reveal.

MMO Family: How kid-friendly games can treat MMO malaise

Opinion, Free Realms, Wizard101, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Pirate101

MMO Family  How kidfriendly games can treat MMO malaise
Let's face it: It hasn't been a banner year for MMOs. We've witnessed disappointing launches, studio layoffs, and even studio meltdowns. There have been reports questioning whether MMOs are a good investment, and some studios have even signaled that they're shying away from traditional MMO development in the future.

With all of these dark clouds looming overhead, it's sometimes hard to stay cheerful about MMOs. But ironically, the kid-friendly genre might actually buck the trend. KingsIsle's launch of Pirate101 and SOE's recent updates to Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms might help curb the malaise with a blend of old and new styles of gameplay. In this week's MMO Family we'll look at what's new with these titles and why kids both young and old have reason to celebrate.

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Pirate101 head start begins on October 8th

Interviews, Launches, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Kids, Wizard101, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101 Interview
If you're a fan of family-friendly MMO Wizard101 and can't wait to get a taste of KingsIsle's next project, then this is your lucky week because Pirate101 is set to begin its head start on October 8th. While the game doesn't officially hit digital shelves until October 15th, you can hop in and get to pirating beginning on the 8th by picking up specific membership types or snagging a pre-launch game bundle (beta participants are also invited). Additionally, Pirate101 game cards will be available in retail stores as of October 8th.

Pirate101 is in many ways the spiritual successor to Wizard101 and marks an ambitious undertaking by KingsIsle to build another engaging and successful MMO that is also family friendly and safe. We talked to producer Jay Gordon and associate producer Mike Stone to get an idea of the challenges the team faced and what may lie in store for those looking to loot and plunder.

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Pirate101 launching in 'early October' [Updated]

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Kids, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101 launching in 'early October'
KingsIsle's Pirate101 has a launch date, sorta. It's actually more like a launch window, as the followup to Wizard101 is slated for an "early October" release.

Forbes says the free-to-play kid-friendly title will go on sale just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (that's September 19th if you're curious). Pre-sale purchasers will get access to the game a week prior to its actual launch, and they'll also score a range of in-game pets, mounts, weapons, and homes.

If you're willing to fork over 89 bucks for the Boochbeard bundle, you'll get automatic beta access which will enable you play this week.

[Update]: Click past the cut for details on the two pre-order bundles.

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Previously on MV TV: The week of August 18th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Humor, Champions Online, World of Tanks, Family, Guides, Livestream, Miscellaneous, Dungeons, Previously on MV TV, Pirate101

Previously On MV TV banner
Ah, livestreaming. It's not for the faint of heart. Streaming a favorite title requires knowledge of technology, a solid internet pipeline, and the willingness to have your noobnessocity pushed live for all to see. It's not a thankless job, however. We livestreamers get to show viewers our favorite titles or titles that the audience might not have seen before. For me, it's a challenge to find new and interesting games, while the other streamers tend to enjoy showing off classic titles or new parts of modern hits. Variety is the keyword when it comes to our livestream lineup!

So what did we show off this week? Well, let's start with MJ running through The Secret World and EverQuest II, followed by our favorite little Piggy taking on an hour's worth of Champions Online. Mike followed up with an hour in his favorites World of Tanks, EVE Online and Drakensang Online. I steered into worlds unknown by streaming some Vendetta Online and followed that up with an exclusive (first!) livestream of Pirate101, KingsIsle's soon-to-be-hit.

Check it out, but be sure to bookmark our livestream page so you don't miss a thing going forward! Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section while you're here. We get a lot of our ideas from readers and always love to hear more.

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MMO Family: Pirate101 and the Pixar effect

Fantasy, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, MMO Family, Family, Pirate101

MMO Family Pirate101 and the Pixar Effect
Back at the ranch, it's been a pretty busy (and off the grid) summer. We've spent the bulk of it at the grandparents' house at the beach, complete with snorkeling, beach combing, hikes to a nearby island, and lots of late nights discussing the finer points of the Harry Potter series. That made for many late nights, but a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly didn't have to struggle to get my kids to go to bed. Turns out, they wanted to play a certain game to wrap up their day, and that game was Pirate101. What's interesting is that they liked it for different reasons than I do, and I actually found myself rethinking my approach to games by watching them play.

In this week's MMO Family, we'll look at some first impressions from a kid's-eye view and explore how KingsIsle is able to hit all of the right notes (again) to make a compelling game for both kids and adults.

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Massively Speaking Episode 213: Pirate sharks

World of Warcraft, Podcasts, Guild Wars, MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

Massively Speaking Episode 213
Oh to be a pirate shark in today's world! To sail the high seas with impunity! To be at the top of the food chain for both above and below! To make your dentist quake with fear for once! If I t'were a pirate shark, the world would be my oyster, and I its king. Oh happy times, that would be. Arrr.

Also, podcast! Today we wrap up a week full of conventions, take a look at a certain beta, and talk about what big nerds we are.

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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Massively's first impressions of Pirate101

Betas, Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, New Titles, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Casual, Humor, First Impressions, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

Pirate101 screenshot
If you've been following the MMO industry for a while, you've probably been watching in near astonishment as Texas-based developer KingsIsle Entertainment grew a little-known MMO called Wizard101 from the level of "just some kids game" all the way to a very successful world for all ages. So when we heard about a new title in the works, we wondered whether it was possible for the KingsIsle team to duplicate its earlier successes. Well, after trying out new kids on the block Pirate101, I can say that it might even dwarf the success of its predecessor.

Why do I say that? Well, there are many reasons. The game is in only a beta stage, but it's aiming for a launch this year. And even though it's still in beta, the current Wizard101 fanbase is going nuts over the game. If that, combined with the unique selling points of the two titles, is any indication, KingsIsle can count Pirate101 as a huge step forward. One that will make a lot of money, I'm sure.

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Pirate101 sails into closed beta

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Pirate101

Pirate101 sails into closed beta
Ahoy, landlubbers! If ye be ready to get your sea legs, prepare for adventure and board Pirate101 as it leaves dock and sets sail into closed beta. Although first-round invitations to participate in the beta have already gone out to testers, more beta key giveaways are in the works and will appear over the next several weeks. You can keep up to date on all beta access promotions at the official website.

Pirate101 offers rich storylines, fully voiced characters, and friendly navigation in a game with something for everyone, whether a player is casual or seeks more complex and in-depth systems. The game is set to launch later this year.

[Source: KingsIsle Entertainment press release]

KingsIsle discusses Wizard101, pet upgrades, PvP, and pirates

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Launches, New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Races, Casual, Interviews (Massively's), Kids, Wizard101, Family, Pirate101

Wizard101 screenshot
If you've found yourself going crazy over raising pets in the hugely successful Wizard101, worry no longer! We called up Fred Howard, KingsIsle VP of Marketing, to discuss some of the upcoming changes en route to one of the most popular activities in Wizard101. These pet changes are underway thanks in large part to a very passionate, informed community of players who have been asking for specific tweaks for quite a while. Pets aren't just for looks in Wizard101; they can level, aid in combat, and be hatched from eggs. There's even a fan-made Petnome Project to break down each pet and its abilities.

We also virtually twisted Fred's arm and got a few comments about Pirate101, KingsIsle's next MMO. Fans of PvP will also be pleased at what he had to say. Just click past the cut and we'll break it down for you.

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Pirate101 co-creator: 'Our goal is to become the Pixar of online gaming'

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Wizard101, Pirate101

Pirate101 cocreator 'Our goal is to become the Pixar of online gaming'
KingsIsle Entertainment Vice President J. Todd Coleman sat down with Forbes to give some insight into the development process of the studio's upcoming Pirate101 -- and how the studio plans to expand its empire.

"We have more plans for the 101 universe," Coleman said, "but we're also looking to expand beyond it with other properties. Our ultimate goal, to summarize it easily, is to become the Pixar of the online gaming space."

Coleman went into the challenges of developing a title set in the same universe but with a different thematic bent and combat system. He also said that the Pirate101 team is twice the size of Wizard101's, mostly because the studio's follow-up MMO is bound to be compared with its eight-years-in-development predecessor.

Competitors might want to think twice about taking KingsIsle on, however. Coleman notes that many have tried and failed, such as LEGO Universe. "Realistically, if you want to compete with Wizard101 at this point, you're looking at an investment of at least 5 to 6 years and well over $100 million in total cost," he said.

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