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Why you should be playing Puzzle Pirates: Swordfighting

Puzzle, Puzzle Pirates, Free-to-Play, Why You Should Be Playing

"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

Free to play MMOs just don't get the respect they deserve. The problem is that that the entire submarket is painted by the same brush. Yes, there are many examples of not-so-great Asian MMOs poorly translated and dumped on the US market as free-to-play titles. Despite that, not only are some imports well done but home-grown free games are increasingly high quality. Three Rings has been making high quality free games for years, and Puzzle Pirates is their flagship title.

You probably already know the outline of the gameplay just from the name; it's an MMO where everyone does pirate-y things via puzzles. Everything is a puzzle in the game, from sailing and bilging to drinking contests. One of the most popular games in Puzzle Pirates is the swordfighting contest, and rightly so. Truly massively multiplayer, based on the Puzzle Fighter 2 console game, swordfighting is craftily, beautifully fun. Read on below the cut for my thoughts on why this simple puzzling technique may be one of the most engaging combats you can enjoy in an MMO.

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Myst Online goes fully open-source

Puzzle, Myst Online: URU Live, MMO Industry, News Items

As many know, Myst Online: URU Live has had an incredibly rocky road throughout its history. First sunsetted by Ubisoft, then by GameTap, URU's fans agreed to trying MORE (Myst Online Restoration Experiment) after Cyan Worlds got their IP back. Most recently in October, Cyan posted word that due to financial difficulties, URU and the entire MORE project would be placed on indefinite hold. Since then, nothing - until now.

In a startling move, Cyan Worlds has decided to release all of URU Live's assets to the public as open source. This includes the client and server architecture. Amazingly, they aren't simply releasing it into the wild and leaving it alone; Cyan has decided to hold one Myst Online server shard open for players to have a centralized world, despite the fact that others can now freely put up their own Myst Online servers.

It's a bold and daring move to open source a project of this scale. We applaud Cyan Worlds' dedication to their fans and love of their game to take a brave step like this, and wish all the URU users the best as they develop their worlds as they see fit. It's going to be really interesting to see how this develops.

Puzzle Pirates celebrates five years of puzzley skulduggery

Puzzle, Puzzle Pirates, News Items

It's hard to imagine that Puzzle Pirates launched five years ago, but it's true. The online game from Three Rings has seen quite a lot over the years, too. In fact, according to Three Rings there have been over 250 million hours of puzzling, 4 million Puzzle Pirate accounts and one and a half million forum posts. That's a ton of puzzle skulduggery, not to mention the laundry list of past game updates. We can only hope for the same kind of content in Whirled.

As part of the celebration for five years going, Three Rings is recognizing all their longtime pirates with a special in-game trophy to show off. We hope Puzzle Pirates and its players see another five fine years of updates, pirating and puzzling on the high seas!

MindFuse's The World of Gatheryn detailed, kinda dated

Puzzle, New Titles, News Items, Casual, Gatheryn

MindFuse Games, which a couple of weeks ago announced it had raised $1 million in funding for a Victorian-themed MMO, sent out a press release yesterday officially announcing and providing details about the game, which is called The World of Gatheryn. Gatheryn is not merely Victorian, as we originally reported -- there are steampunk elements too.

The focus seems casual, although the graphics are quite strapping for an independent game. MindFuse promises character customization, apartments, and puzzles, while specifically singling out violent conflict as a no-go. It seems to be a mostly laid back, friendly, social affair, but aimed at grown ups rather than pre-teens, in contrast to a lot of other casual titles.

When we say the game has been pseudo-dated, it's a bit of a stretch: the press release says it'll be released in 2009. When in 2009? Your guess is as good as ours, but we'll bet it's not soon.

MindFuse gets $1M in funding for a Victorian MMO

Historical, Puzzle, MMO Industry, New Titles, Gatheryn

For all of you Elf and lightning bolt haters out there, MindFuse may have found a solution to your MMO blues. As was recently announced, the game developer has secured $1 million USD in convertible note funding from Keiretsu Forum angel investors for an MMO project they're currently working on. What project is that, you might ask? According to the MindFuse website, they're developing a Victorian-themed MMO entitled The World of Gatheryn.

The game is described as "a massive multi-player world of adventure, mystery and romance." It's said to include interactive games and puzzles, with "new adventures appearing with each successful solution." So is this what we've been waiting for? It's not high fantasy. It's not cheesy sci-fi. Can a Victorian Age MMO work for those looking for something different? Take a tour through the website and check out the gorgeous screenshots, gameplay explanation and storyline entry for yourself, and let us know what you think.

One Shots: Birthday fun on the Puzzle Pirate GM seas

Puzzle, Screenshots, Puzzle Pirates, Free-to-Play, One Shots

As some of you may remember, we recently sent out a call for different GMs to send along some of their favorite screenshots. The above screenshot was in response to that call, and comes to us from Ocean Master Eurydice. She helps players out in Three Rings' incredibly addictive, free-to-play game Puzzle Pirates! Here's what she had to say:

I'm a GM on Puzzle Pirates, although over here we call them Ocean Masters. I saw your call for GM pictures and got this OKd with a supervisor. (Always good to check first...) [This] is a screenshot of my first ship, called the Queen of Shadows. It was colorfully decorated a couple years ago for my birthday by wonderful co-workers -- on their off time! It is where I stand when on duty on the Midnight Ocean (a server). We stand on ships so that we can have quiet while we answer petitions, but we can pop off at a moment's notice and be with the players if we need to. As you may be able to make out from the faint messages in the lower left-hand corner, there are parts of the ship not pictured here that are so decorated that I can't walk around them.

That seems like it's definitely a fun place to work if your co-workers decide to pull silly pranks like crowding your ship full of flowers and blocking you from moving around too much! (You know, especially when you also have awesome GM-type powers and can just move the flowers around.) Are you a GM who would like to show off something fun from your game? Send those screens in to us here at oneshots AT massively.com, along with whatever you'd like to say about them. It's almost as much fun as a ship full of flowers.

Gallery: One Shots

The reasons why you need to play Myst Online: Uru Live

At a glance, Fantasy, Puzzle, Myst Online: URU Live, Culture, Opinion, Hands-On

Shorah, readers! Kehnehn rahm b'yihm shehm!

Myst Online: Uru Live seems to be one game that not only continually gets the proverbial shaft, but also knows how to come back from the dead better than the Scourge of the Eastern Plaguelands. Ubisoft canned it, Cyan Worlds brought it back via a shard system in "Until Uru", GameTap brought it back officially, GameTap canned it after one season, and now Cyan Worlds is once again attempting to put life back into their only online Myst game thanks to the extremely active and vocal community.

Mike Fahey over at Kotaku might think Uru should die already
, but this blogger is currently squealing in glee in his computer chair. In an attempt to pass the glee on to you, loyal readers of Massively.com, I've compiled not only what Myst Online: Uru Live is all about, but why you should turn your attention to this massive online adventure game.

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Massively exclusive: Inside the mind of Mind Candy's Michael Smith

Puzzle, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Interviews (Massively's), Kids, Moshi Monsters

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and spend some quality time with the CEO of Mind Candy, Michael Smith. I picked his brain about Mind Candy's newest game, Moshi Monsters, how they're going to attract and protect the kids that play it, and what some of Michael's favorite past-time activities are. Plus, we even discussed a little background on Perplex City, and the status of the anticipated alternate reality game, Perplex City Season 2.

Interested in what goes on in the mind of one of Britain's most innovative game developers? Read on after the break and find out!

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The Daily Grind: Do we really need greater Web integration?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Puzzle, Real-Life, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Puzzle Pirates, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, The Daily Grind, Virtual Worlds

You hear it all the time, especially when pundits talk about Second Life: how our virtual worlds and MMOs will one day become so integrated with the World Wide Web that you'll be able to check your bank balance from World of Warcraft; you'll order books from within Everquest; you'll chat with AIM friends while still in Pirates of the Burning Sea. Sure, at first glance, it seems like a good, maybe even necessary. But think about it -- when you're playing your favorite game, do you really need to do any of those things? Isn't that the reason you play in the first place, to get away from other concerns?

When we're in Second Life, we're engaged with talking and playing with our SL friends. When cutting a swath of destruction through marauding bands of orcs in Lord of the Rings Online, we're miles away from worrying about what our stocks are doing. And just think of how much concentration Puzzle Pirates demands -- do you really want to dilute it with putting together an important email? What does greater Web integration mean to you?

Games that shouldn't be MMOs: Lemmings

Puzzle, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Professions, Grouping, Opinion, Races, Humor

If you're one of the few who've never played Lemmings, it's a game where you have a limited set of tools to prevent 100 tiny green-haired creatures from walking steadily to their hilarious doom. Is there a platform that this game hasn't blessed/defiled? Given its ubiquity, we're surprised it hasn't made the jump to MMOville. But if it did, how would it play?

Be one of millions taking charge of their own destiny, in LeMMOings! Work cooperatively with other Lemmings to prevent yourself from being killed! Choose a function to control: are you the parachute lemming? The pickaxe? The builder? Develop trust in your fellow players to execute their ability at precisely the right time for you to apply yours, and save the whole tribe, or perish over and over and over again until you get it right!

*shudder* They could subtitle this 'Groundhog Day, the MMO'. At least PUGs would be a thing of the past.

Comic Watch: Penny Arcade bricks up LEGO Universe

Puzzle, Culture, Forums, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Opinion, Comics, Casual, Humor, Comic Watch, LEGO Universe

Oh, Penny Arcade, is there nothing you can't do? The fancy lads have taken on the news of in-process MMO LEGO Universe and applied conventional wisdom to the announcement. To wit: what if LU played like any other combat-oriented MMO?

What strikes me most about this strip is the attention to detail -- all the typeface work, the player avatars, the account holder names -- this is why they consistently rise to the top of most people's 'best comic' list. Enjoy!

The top 5 free MMOs

At a glance, Fantasy, Puzzle, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeon Runners, MapleStory, Puzzle Pirates, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Opinion, Mythos, Free-to-Play, Casual, Massively highlights

It's been said that the best things in life are free. Whoever said it probably didn't have MMOs in mind, but it's certainly true that there are many quality games out there that are completely free to download and play. Here's a list of the top 5 free massively multiplayer online games.

Now, to pre-empt the equally massive glut of angry emails and comments I'm sure to receive for leaving someone's favorite title off of this list, I'm going to state right up front that these choices are based completely on the number of times I've heard them mentioned with favor by a variety of different sources. I make no guarantees of having played any of these MMOs, so they're not necessarily my personal picks. But if I keep hearing people mention them in different contexts, there must be something to them. In short, these games are popular for a reason, and if you haven't played them, you might find that they're worth your download. We begin after the jump!

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Predicting the MMO landscape in 2008

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Puzzle, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Dark Age of Camelot, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Launches, PvP, Warhammer Online, The Agency, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Marvel Heroes

It's that time of year again-- before 2008 starts, everyone and their brother is going to throw out some predictions about what will happen with MMOs this year. So here's a Massively roundup, and a little meta-analysis of what might happen in this Year of the Potato.
  • Let's start with our own Zenke-- he says Wrath won't make it out in 2008, The Agency and Warhammer will hit big, and Dark Age of Camelot and Vanguard are on their way out. He's also got Tabula Rasa sticking it out for the year, and claims that a major MMO (Age of Conan?) will be delayed past 2008.
  • Ancient Gaming Noob is next: he also says Wrath is shipping late, but goes against popular notions to say that Star Trek Online will be released to cheers from fans on all sides. He also says the biggest story of the year will be Age of Conan's "titties," and that will throw a scare into the "adult" MMO market. He also says, tongue firmly planted in cheek, that Bioware is not actually making an MMO, and the announcement of that will "only spur greater excitement and speculation as to what kind of MMO BioWare is making." Funny.
  • Keen of Keen and Graev expects Warhammer to go gangbusters, but also says Funcom will have trouble with the nudity in AoC, causing them to patch it out. He has Wrath "bombing," but at least he thinks it'll make it out.
Lots more predictions for 2008 (including our own) after the jump.

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KillTenRats' Zubon on the state of the genre at WorldIV

Fantasy, Puzzle, Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Chronicles of Spellborn

WorldIV continues their MMO blogger interview series with an interview with Zubon of KillTenRats, which is not only a great MMO blog, but also a one-of-a-kind "blogomerate"-- they're a group of people who blog as a group without actually grouping together. As the Interview at WorldIV notes, the KTR folks are off in their own separate worlds, and yet somehow all of their posting feels like it all belongs in the same place.

So Zubon is just one part of the blog, but he still shares some interesting opinions about the state of the MMO world. One thing that draws him to these games, he says, is the fact that for all of their "persistent" gameplay, they're not actually persistent at all-- all the servers we're playing on now will be turned off someday, just as our sun, he says, will eventually run out of energy. Even he jokes that that sentiment strays into pretentious-ville, but it's an interesting thought: using the impermanence of virtual worlds to figure out own our impermanence and mortality.

He also labels himself a fan of "niche MMOs", and then defines those as anything that strays away from the elves and orcs type of world. He specifically mentions Tale in the Desert and the upcoming Chronicles of Spellborn as two MMOs to watch in terms of bringing new innovations to the genre. All in all, a good interview with a smart guy.

Puzzle Pirates: The Carpenting Minigame

Historical, Puzzle, Screenshots, Puzzle Pirates, Game Mechanics, Guides, Professions, Tips and tricks, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual

Here's the latest in my exploration of Puzzle Pirates, as begun here and continued here. The Carpenting minigame looks at first glance like Tetris, the same way that the Bilging minigame looks like Bejeweled. This impression lasted for all of one minute after gameplay began, as pieces never fell, rows never disappeared, everything was the same color, and there wasn't even a hint of Slavic undertones to the music.

However, Carpenting does provide some serious anxiety, the way later levels of Tetris do. The full scoop, after the jump.

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