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The Division developers explain the 2015 delay

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Consoles, Post-Apocalyptic

Because sometimes you can't have what you want when you want it?
A lot of people weren't particularly surprised to learn that The Division was being delayed until 2015, but it's still nice to find out exactly why. After all, if you're looking forward to the game at all, you would like to see it sooner rather than later. Gamereactor recently spoke with the development studio, and the developers explained the core reason behind the delay as simply being a matter of properly exploring the concept rather than releasing an unfinished game on a tighter schedule.

According to the interview, the development team was upset at the original announcement of a 2014 release, as there had been no in-house discussion of release dates. The game's engine is quite powerful, but even the 2015 date may be overly optimistic, with The Division's multiplayer components still having major issues with implementation. Hopefully the delays will help ensure that the game is more polished and playable when it does release, whether that's in 2015 or later.

Xsyon's Raccoon Roundup kicks off a summer of in-game events

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Xsyon survivors
Notorious Games is hosting a series of events this summer in Xsyon, its player-driven post-apocalyptic sandbox MMORPG. The festivities start Saturday, May 17th with the Raccoon Roundup, a combat event that sees players hunting wild raccoons in a "hectic competition to become the Raccoon Rajah."

The latest Notorious press release says that the hunt will happen on Xsyon's PvE and PvP servers, as will upcoming races, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, skill contests, combat arenas, architecture competitions, "and much more."

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

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Choose My Adventure: Starting out again in Defiance

Sci-Fi, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Defiance

For the month of May, I'll be playing in Trion Worlds' Defiance for this Choose My Adventure column. I played the game a bit at launch and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Since then, the MMOFPS has grown significantly, with five DLC packs added to its stable in only one year as well as another season renewal for the Defiance TV show on Syfy.

But does all of this ultimately mean that the game is good? I'm going to take another look at everything while you guide my path a bit. This week, you'll be voting on how I'll spend my EGO points as well as my progression through the story.

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Not So Massively: GTA Online's expansion, Reaper of Souls on console, and LoL's Braum spotlight

Betas, Horror, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Crime, MMOFPS, MMORTS, Community Q&A, World of Tanks, Post-Apocalyptic, Not So Massively, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Infinite Crisis, Path of Exile, Hearthstone, H1Z1

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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Meet The Secret World's Tokyo cast

Sci-Fi, Lore, Previews, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Buy-to-Play

Tokyo is coming -- no, really! -- to The Secret World later this month, and Funcom is fueling fans' anticipation by introducing to them several of the primary NPCs who will be in the new zone.

These characters include Sarah, a Council of Venice occult investigator; Gozen, a samurai leader who protects Japanese leadership from demons; Inbeda, an Oni demon mercenary; Daimon Kiyota, a leader of the Yakuza occult branch; and Kurt 'Buster' Kuszczak, an Orochi tank commander who is having a very bad day.

Interestingly enough, players have already met Sarah. She was the character through whom players explored the tutorial; we saw the aftermath of the Tokyo disaster through her eyes.

[Thanks to Cotic for the tip!]

SOE's Jimmy Whisenhunt on the paranoia and potential of H1Z1

Betas, Horror, Interviews, Previews, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

What's more dangerous to your survival after the apocalypse: undead abominations or your fellow humans? OK, that's certainly not a new question in the zombie gaming genre, although it's not going to stop H1Z1 from asking it. In fact, there's a haze of extreme familiarity that's settled around this title, even though it's the first full MMO on this scale to tackle a zombie survival sandbox. Is it almost too familiar for its own good? Will that familiarity be an asset or a drawback? Is SOE merely trying to cash in on the DayZ craze without trying much new? Or are these assumptions blinding us to the grander plan?

To get a better feel for H1Z1, we got on the phone with Senior Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt. To start off, Whisenhunt gave us a quick summary of the game for those who aren't clued in to the whole. H1Z1 is a post-apocalyptic survival MMO that's more focused on physicality than stats. So instead of needing to level up, you'll find your initial challenges will be things like foraging for food, finding a shelter, building a campfire, and getting your hands on a weapon because everything wants to kill you. And when Whisenhunt says "everything," he means not just zombies but the environment, infection, weather, wildlife, and even other players.

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Fallen Earth posts its update on development in May

Sci-Fi, Fallen Earth, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Oh, what could have been.
If you're a Fallen Earth player eagerly awaiting the release of the Outpost (the player-built town originally meant for live implementation this month) you're going to have to wait a little longer. But you're not being forgotten, either. The latest development update states that while it's taken a while to even bring the new feature to the test server, the team is still hard at work testing all of the ways it interacts with other systems in the game, and it's still on its way.

Additionally, this update reveals that another developer has joined the team. The Scapegoat is a systems developer who will be responsible for tweaking the game's skills and mutations, with a build and patch notes due to arrive on the test server very shortly. While it's still largely quiet for the post-apocalyptic game, players should be happy that there are still signs of life.

Rust, H1Z1, and the emerging 'survival MMO' genre

Betas, Opinion, Virtual Worlds, First Impressions, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

I'm naked and alone again, but that's OK. After having to level up in other games a million times, deal with boring tutorials, repeatedly turn in quests that add no value to my play time, and then watch as my guild slowly bleeds members to the next MMO asking us to repeat the whole ordeal, "naked and alone" is actually nice. Well, maybe just the naked part.

And that, my friends, is the horror-survival/post-apocalypse genre. I love MMOs, but recent themeparks and building games have left me wanting something a bit more dangerous but still not a pointless murderfest. For the most part, these games are less about levels and quests and more about finding items to make sure you don't die. Hunger meters, diseases, and limited supplies in a world filled with enemies who loot you certainly feels like a good throwback to classic RPGs mixed with the multiplayer I've been craving since Asheron's Call first hooked me on MMORPGs.

But community-wise, these games have seemed more like lobby shooters than MMOs, which for a long time made me hesitate to try them. If you've been finding yourself in the same situation, hopefully my little plunge into this bloody genre will give you some ideas of what to expect.

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The Secret World's Tokyo story missions will be replayable

Horror, Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Patches, Previews, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

The Secret World's Issue #9: The Black Signal is coming this month (when, Funcom, when?), and in today's newsletter, the studio announced that all of the main storyline missions for Tokyo will be replayable for the first time in the game.

Funcom posted a three-page comic for the issue and promised that it will be talking about Tokyo quite a bit in the coming weeks. "With Issue #9, we will be releasing the first part of the zone, the first chapter in the continuation of the main story, several side missions, and of course, the AEGIS system," the studio summed up.

To fill the weeks between now and then, Funcom is triggering a repeat of all of the stages of the Whispering Tide event. This encore event will begin on May 7th and end on May 21st.

Xsyon adds over 200 tutorial panels

Fantasy, Patches, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Let it not be said that Xsyon is trying to discourage new players from learning how to play this sandbox. On the contrary, today's patch primarily focuses on including a detailed tutorial that includes "over 200 panels of instructions."

The new tutorial serves to guide players through various in-game mechanics, such as building fires, foraging, and crafting. New players to the game now begin with several tools and items to aid in their survival. From the get-go, a player should be able to craft a set of grass armor and all of the basic tools. Because nothing says "survival" like pasting lawn clippings onto your torso!

Other improvements with today's patch include interface refinements, tweaks to campfires (which also look better), and adjustments to energy, hunger, and thirst mechanics.

Defiance will flip the F2P switch this summer

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Post-Apocalyptic, Defiance

Trion Worlds has just announced that the PC version of its transmedia-synergistic wonder Defiance will go free-to-play on June 4th of this year, with the PlayStation 3 version to follow around July 15th and the Xbox 360 edition expected to switch over at an unannounced date. The game had been running a free unlimited trial since last December.

The studio says that new players will have access to the Bay Area storyline, the original endgame content, and future missions for free. Gamers who pick up a new copy of the game earn 1,000 Arkforge (currency), four character slots, five loadouts, up to 75 Ark Keycodes, and a minimum of 70 inventory slots, as well as a month of "Paradise Patron" status come the F2P conversion. Existing players, fear not; Trion says that "these bonuses are also granted to all existing Defiance box or digital copy owners." Paradise Patron status grants character boosts (to skill, XP, scrip, salvage, and reputation gain rates), store discounts, and grab bags that include lock boxes and more boosts.

Trion also hinted that we'll see new crossover storylines "in the coming weeks":
The world of Defiance is rocked when the hope of Tranquility, the first Earthling-Votan hybrid on record, lies dying in Eren's emergency facility. As players track down the half-human and half-Irathient crossbreed's medical history, they'll quickly discover other forces are working to cover them up for a dark purpose.
[Source: Trion press release]

DayZ's Dean Hall says Steam removes the need for publishers

Betas, Horror, MMO Industry, News Items, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

I don't need a publisher, just my backpack.  And a hopeful lack of people with handguns getting ready to shoot me.
Steam's ubiquitous nature as a digital distribution platform has really changed the landscape of PC gaming. It's changed it so much that according to DayZ creator Dean Hall, companies don't really need to worry about a publisher any longer. Hall went on the record recently saying that the Early Access service offered via Steam essentially lets players take over the role of publisher, paying to finish development and providing marketing via word-of-mouth.

The strategy has obviously worked quite well for DayZ, which has sold an impressive number of copies even in its very early and unfinished state. Hall also pontificates that it remains up to publishers to see where they fit into the new paradigm, since Early Access gives smaller studios an option that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Infestation: Survivor Stories claims 2.5 million players to date

Betas, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

A new state of the game post is up today for Infestation: Survivor Stories (formerly The War Z), and the team claims that the title has seen 2.5 million players pass through its doors, with "over 100,000 people" playing the game daily.

The team apologized for not getting its promised updates out on time and said that it's made "sweeping changes" to improve communications and be more accurate with releases. Part of these efforts included hiring CMs and pledging to an internal model of "complete transparency whenever possible."

The state of the game post went on to list some of the game's recent additions, including vehicles, Super Zombies, balance tweaks, and an overhaul of the Colorado map. The team also said that it has committed itself to work on Infestation without external funding.

The Daily Grind: How much paranoia should MMOs provoke?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, H1Z1

A few weeks ago, SOE's John Smedley suggested that H1Z1's gameplay mechanics and atmosphere are intended make you "scared when you see someone" and that "your first instinct needs to be to hide." It seemed to me that what he was describing was not an MMORPG but the antithesis of an MMORPG. I usually log into MMOs to be surrounded by people, not to hide from them. Even in a game with open PvP, I don't want the entirety of my play experience to be summed up by sheer paranoia, especially a game that features so prominently a crafting-based and presumably social economy.

What do you think -- how much do you want the feeling of paranoia and fear of your fellow players to dominate your play experience?

[With thanks to SallyBowls and Space Cobra for the inspiration for this question!]

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!

John Smedley discusses H1Z1 monetization

Business Models, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

Well, at least the budget plan isn't currently creatively appropriating parts of the Landmark budget.
Player characters in H1Z1 won't be concerned with money, seeing as how they'll be busy trying to fortify themselves against hordes of shambling zombies. Sony Online Entertainment, however, does indeed want to make money off of the game. President John Smedley took to Reddit to share the details of the team's first monetization meeting, and while it's not a decisive list of how the game will make money, it serves as a preview.

The early list contains character slots, wearable items, crates with random selections of wearable items, and emotes. The team also intends to allow players to loot wearables from other players, but looted cash items will degrade over time rather than being perpetual acquisitions. Smedley makes it clear that resources like food, water, and ammunition will not be sold, nor will any boosts to those resources, since acquiring these assets makes up the core of the gameplay. Take a look at the post for the details and the community response.

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