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The Game Archaeologist: Four online sci-fi titles no one remembers

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

In the MMO industry, science fiction has always taken the role of the overlooked little brother to big sister fantasy's popularity. Sure, there have been several online games that eschewed dungeons and dragons for spaceships and solar radiation poisoning, but even today the fantasy genre continues to be the dominant one in the genre.

So not only have we had fewer online sci-fi games, but the ones that have attempted to make in-roads are all too soon forgotten. Over the years that I've been researching and writing The Game Archaeologist, I continue to come across these little games that have been all but forgotten by modern gamers, and many of these titles are indeed of a sci-fi bent. This week I'll be taking a look at four such games, including one that never even made it to launch, in an attempt to acknowledge their place at the family dinner table.

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Bungie executive swatted

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Destiny

An unnamed "high-up executive" at Destiny developer Bungie was visited by police officers and a sheriff's helicopter at his house in Sammamish, Washington early yesterday morning. Polygon reports that a fake 911 call informed police that someone had placed explosives in the executive's yard and was holding a family hostage with an assault rifle.

Law enforcement officials haven't traced the call's origin as of yet, but if caught the swatter could face a year in prison and a $5000 fine.

SWTOR's Vanguard, Powertech discipline changes detailed

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Did you catch yesterday's Star Wars: The Old Republic dev blog about update 3.0's changes to Mercenaries/Commandos? Good, because now we're on to Vanguards and Powertechs. If you're just joining us, SWTOR's talent trees are going bye-bye in favor of disciplines when Shadow of Revan launches early next month.

Click through the links below to learn what's becoming of your favorite class!

BlizzCon 2014: Liveblogging the Overwatch panel

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Overwatch

At least square-jawed stubble guy isn't in the existing roster, so thanks for that!
If you wanted to sit down and watch the opening panel for BlizzCon 2014, you could without any need for a virtual ticket. If you wanted to watch the Overwatch panel announced shortly after they announced Overwatch itself... well, you can't do that. But if you have the ticket, you can, and you can always just catch up as I blog information about the game down in the comments.

As before, important information will be revealed past the break as I post things. So, is Overwatch the redone version of Titan? (Almost certainly.) Is it more than just Blizzard's version of Team Fortress 2? (Um.) Find out down there in the comments and find the collected information past the break!

BlizzCon returns to Anaheim during the weekend of November 7th and 8th, 2014! Whether you're anticipating World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion or the latest news from Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, we aim to have it covered!

Liveblogging the opening ceremonies of BlizzCon 2014

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Subscription, Hearthstone, E-sports

You call it snark, I call it a healthy dose of world-weary cynicism.
Dear readers, I am going to be wholly honest with you. When I was asked if I could do this liveblog for BlizzCon, I thought I was being asked if I was capable. Like asking "can you ride your bike with no handlebars" or "can you sing to a cat until it leaves the room in disgust." But here I am now, so apparently the question was significantly less rhetorical than I had originally assumed and now I need to actually do this.

You can watch the standard definition feed of the convention's opening ceremonies on the official site for free. I'll be liveblogging the important announcements in the comments if you're in a place where you can't watch along (at work, misplaced your headphones, hiding in an Amish barn and fearing discovery should your phone give away even the slightest beep); highlights will be collected past the break. There will probably be announcements about Blizzard games! Like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone and maybe, if it's very lucky, StarCraft II.

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EVE Online solicits feedback for UI revamp

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

That there above is the new user interface for EVE Online, so what do you think? Well, you can tell us, but CCP really wants you to tell it, as the studio is asking for feedback on the upcoming UI overhaul.

"For the look itself, we want EVE's UI to look and feel more like something fitting a science fiction universe, and a bit less like an operating system," CCP posted today. The team posted its goals for the overhaul, including making it feel more intuitive, allowing for semi-transparent windows, using colors "in a sensible way," and tweaking the icons to fit thematically within a group.

Currently, the UI changes are on the test server for any and all to try out.

Braben says Elite: Dangerous' December 16th launch date is 'sensible'

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Launches, News Items, Elite: Dangerous

Frontier's David Braben has announced that Elite: Dangerous will launch on PC on December 16th.

Braben told Eurogamer that a game is "launch-ready when it is a great game," in spite of the flaws those close to the title might still see. He expressed concern over feature-creep and diminishing returns from gameplay polishing. "At Frontier we have been doing this for a long time," he said, "so we are confident the date we have announced is a sensible one."

Elite's third beta phase, open to those who've already ponied up for the game, began at the end of October. After spending September playing through the beta 1 release, Massively's Mike Foster wrote that he "would happily recommend it" but for the beta price tag. The Mercenary pre-order edition is available for $50 from the official site.

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Skyforge's first technical beta weekend begins November 13th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, News Items, Skyforge

The conglomerate of companies building Skyforge -- Allods Team, Obsidian Entertainment, and My.com -- have announced that the MMORPG's first technical beta weekend will kick off on Thursday, November 13th. What's a technical beta?
The technical beta weekend is a "technical test" in that the purpose of the beta will be to test Skyforge's core systems such as server infrastructure, client distribution system, login services and more. Therefore, we are only inviting a relatively small number of players to participate in this phase of testing to ensure that our core systems are operational, fully functional and able to withstand the stress of many players all logging into the game simultaneously.
The developers are also hoping to provoke feedback about core gameplay systems such as classes, quests, combat, and character progression.

This weekend's beta winds down on November 16th, but more tests with more invitees are planned.

Star Trek Online posts lore on a mystery object

Sci-Fi, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Oh, yeah, it'll all turn out great.  No worries.
So let's get this straight. While exploring Star Trek Online's Delta Quadrant, the USS Voyager comes across a mysterious object. The ship's crew immediately brings it aboard and tries to figure out what in the world it's supposed to be, coming to a lot of conclusions about what it isn't while being unable to find many answers beyond "it's probably a communication device of some kind." It also doesn't quite match any of the technology seen from the obvious sources of technologically enhanced mystery objects like the Solanae Dyson Sphere.

And yet everyone thinks keeping this on a ship is a good idea? There are a lot of episodes arguing against that.

All joking aside, there's a fair bit of lore to be found in the latest official dispatch from Star Trek Online, hinting rather solidly toward potential new encounters for players in the future. What it all means remains to be seen, but you can take a look at the lore and puzzle over what Voyager found.

SWTOR's Commando, Mercenary 3.0 discipline changes detailed

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dev Diaries

Do you play a Commando or a Mercenary in Star Wars: The Old Republic? If so, you'll want to read BioWare's latest dev diary because it explains the discipline changes scheduled to hit your advanced class with the game's 3.0 update.

There's a lot to digest, including the fact that the game's new discipline system will allow players to select utility skills that were previously tied to a particular skill tree under the old system.

SWTOR's Shadow of Revan expansion launches on December 9th.

Star Citizen passes $60M in fundraising, becoming 'single, coherent vision'

Betas, Sci-Fi, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

Star Citizen appears to be unstoppable, with the in-development space sim passing the $60,000,000 crowdfunding mark this past weekend.

The $60M barrier unlocked the Aegis Bulldog fighter stretch goal. Moving forward, Chris Roberts revealed the next few milestone goals: the Espera Prowler boarding ship ($61M) and the Genesis-class Starliner ($62M).

"I think I speak for everyone on the team when we say it really feels like Star Citizen is starting to go from a series of modules to a single, coherent vision," Roberts said before teasing "a few more surprises" before the year is out.

The Secret World's Issue 10 characters, locations, and shield upgrades

Horror, Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

First things first: Funcom's Joel Bylos is still not revealing the release date of The Secret World's Issue 10, so don't get your hopes up when you read through today's October game director letter.

However, if you can get past that disappointment, you'll find a treasure trove of information about Issue 10 details, such as the descriptions of four key NPCs that players will meet and four fascinating locations that players will explore (love palace, anyone?). Bylos also discusses how players will be able to wield AEGIS technology to create protective shields of their own.

The Secret World's Halloween event will continue through November 13th and be followed by a scenario bonus weekend.

A tour of WildStar's upcoming Black Focus area

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Patches, Previews, Opinion, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I can say it was about what I expected, sadly.
The next update for WildStar has some pretty big shoes to fill. Arriving on November 11th, it's the first update the game has seen since August, when the game abruptly peeled back from monthly updates to quarterly ones. It comes after a round of server merges. It needs to prove to fans who are still subscribed to the game that there's good reason to keep playing and that more content is on the way in the near future -- that there's a reason to hold out hope.

Earlier this week, I toured the Black Focus, the five-person group content releasing in the new region of The Defile in the upcoming patch. Not all of my questions about the zone as a whole were answered since I didn't get to go through all of the quests leading into this particular encounter. However, I did get a chance to form at least some first impressions and see how well this bit of content holds up. And there's a new trailer past the cut if you just want to watch that.

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MechWarrior dev vlog talks inner sphere quirks, faction switching

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items

If you're a MechWarrior Online fan and you've got a spare 20 minutes, you might want to catch up with the game via the ninth installment of the MWO Dev Vlog. Piranha president Russ Bullock is interviewed regarding the changes to the inner sphere quirk system, while lead designer Paul Inouye updates us on community warfare -- including the ability to switch factions.

Click past the cut to watch the full dev vlog!

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Leaderboard: Have you tried The Repopulation yet?

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation

I'm cautiously optimistic about indie sci-fi sandbox The Repopulation. Most of said optimism stems from people I trust comparing it favorably to the late great Star Wars: Galaxies. I haven't played it myself, though, on account of a full gaming plate and an increasing reluctance to throw money at pre-release products not named Star Citizen.

What about you, Massively readers? Assuming you're interested in The Repopulation, have you tested it? Are you going to? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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