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World of Warcraft increases fees in China

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Subscription

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It's going to be a little more expensive to vacation in Azeroth from China in just a couple of weeks.

MMO Culture noted that Chinese publisher NetEase is jacking up World of Warcraft's fees for the first time ever in the region. As of October 16th, the fee will go up by about 45% to become 30¥ for 2700 minutes and 15¥ for 1350 minutes. Instead of paying a flat subscription per month, Chinese players purchase blocks of time to access World of Warcraft.

NetEase handles a bundle of properties in China including World of Warcraft and reported an increase in profits for the previous quarter. However, Blizzard pointed at Asia as the location for a "disproportionate" amount of the 800,000 subscribers lost earlier this year.

RIFT explores the heights of Tarken Glacier

Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Subscription

I can't hear you!  I said, what's cooler than being cool?
Beneath the waves lies the city of nightmares, but RIFT players exploring the Nightmare Tide expansion will not stop there. Far above those waters sits Tarken Glacier, a massive edifice of frost that stretches to the very boundaries of the cosmos. Players will be exploring this towering mass of ice, obviously, starting at the most basic ascent before moving up to the most distant reaches of the land.

Along the way, players will be working with Skelf pilgrims, fighting off vicious frost giants, and seeking the last stronghold of the near-annihilated Pelagic Order. There are port cities nestled within the glacier, great structures devoted to researching the frostbitten land, and marauding enemies from all sides. In short, it's exactly the sort of place players will love exploring and fighting through when the expansion goes live; check out the full preview for more details on the lore of this region. The open beta for the expansion went live yesterday, with the full launch planned for October 8th.

Return to Britannia campaign starts tomorrow in Ultima Online

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, Ultima Online, Anniversaries, Subscription

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For the entire month of October, Ultima Online will be running another Return to Britannia campaign in the hopes of luring both the old guard and the new generation for the game's 17th anniversary.

From October 1st through the 30th, former players will be able to return to the game for free, mirroring previous Return to Britannia events.

There's a lot to celebrate in UO these days above and beyond its birthday. The game recently implemented its Publish 86 with the vice vs. virtue system, added more sea adventures, and is working on a new UI for the enhanced client. You can check out video of the 17th anniversary festivities after the break.

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Dark Age of Camelot builds statues of King's Tournament champions

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, Events (In-Game), PvP, Anniversaries, Subscription

daoc
Have you ever fancied the notion of having a giant in-game statue erected in your honor? This egotistical dream may come true for you in Dark Age of Camelot... if you are one of the winners of the October's King's Tournament.

This brand-new event in DAoC kicks off tomorrow to commemorate the game's 13th anniversary. Each of the three realms will be tracking RvR stats for everyone in the game, and at the end of the month the top two players from each realm will be crowned champion. These six winners will have a statue of their character constructed in their realm's capital city.

To track the progress of the tournament, players can check out an in-game leaderboard which will be updated on an hourly basis.

WildStar's Stephan Frost calls it quits

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, WildStar, Subscription

frost
In a new WildStar Nexus Report livestream, Design Producer Stephan Frost stunned listeners by announcing that he would be leaving Carbine Studios.

"It really pains me to say this, but this will be my last show and my last week at Carbine," he said on the show. "I'm off to a new adventure; I got an offer that I couldn't turn down and so I'm going to take it. This is super-hard for me. This is one of my proudest achievements. A lot of my heart and soul is in this game."

Frost assured fans that it had nothing to do with the game and the community, and he promised that he would still be playing WildStar even after his departure.

How Blizzard is improving World of Warcraft's e-sports appeal

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Subscription, E-sports

WoW Insider
World of Warcraft is no stranger to e-sports, though its cousins deeper in the Blizzard family tree have fared far better. During the Hearthstone qualifiers at last weekend's DreamHack Stockholm, Blizzard Senior Manager of eSports Kim Phan spoke to PCGamesN about the challenges faced by World of Warcraft in the e-sports subgenre.

"I can definitely say that WoW 3v3 Arena right now is kind of hard to watch, in the form that it is, and so there are things that we want to evaluate," she explained. "World of Warcraft was obviously created well before e-sports blew up to the way it is now. We knew there was a competitive element to World of Warcraft, and then it just kind of blew up from there.

Warlords of Draenor's upcoming spectator mode is intended to address the difficulty of following arena matches, but Blizzard isn't stopping there. Even raids might be worth watching, Phan says. "Ideas have been brought up like Battlegrounds. People enjoy watching live raids at BlizzCon. What makes something an e-sport really depends on what people want to see. We are taking a close look into how we can better support e-sports."

Villagers and Heroes' latest update introduces subscriptions

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Subscription

Villagers and Heroes
Indie sandbox Villagers and Heroes' latest patch, Sands of the Equinox, landed last week. Of note, the patch adds a new all-level zone called the Oases of Anuk'Amon, where players can fight new bosses, collect new gear, and gather craft components. To address player complaints about the combat system, Mad Otter added a new optional dodging mechanic.

And here's something you don't see a lot of indie F2P games doing well past their launch: With this update, Mad Otter implemented an optional subscription plan. Ardent Society Memberships, as the subscriptions are called, boost experience gained from most activities, grant unlimited travel hops and bonus consumables, eliminate house rent, and create extra shared storage. A month-to-month sub is $7.95.

Massively last explored Villagers and Heroes in the wake of its April 2014 update and Steam launch.

WildStar settles on megaserver names

Sci-Fi, Culture, Previews, WildStar, Subscription

wildstar
Players have cast their votes for the new megaservers coming to WildStar, and the decisions have been reached. In North America, the PvE server will be Entity and the PvP server will be Warhound. European players will soon be hanging out on Jabbit (PvE) and Luminai (PvP).

WildStar previously announced that it would be merging all current servers onto these four megaservers to facilitate increased population density and player interaction (and, presumably, to clean up the desolated servers). Until megaservers are instituted, players may transfer to other servers for free within their region.

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV and the housing mess, part 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Housing, Subscription

Because I really enjoy writing this sort of column again.  Thanks, guy.
Wait, part 2? When was part 1 a thing? January, my friends. And while I had prayed for sun, I planned for rain, and that turned out to be a wise move. What happened in the end was unpleasant but entirely unsurprising, as Final Fantasy XIV's second implementation of housing went little better than the first.

In the interests of full disclosure, yes, I am one of the vanishingly small number of people with an in-game house at the moment. I work at home and happened to have both the money and the time to grab myself a place to live in-game. That doesn't mean the system is anything remotely approaching good or even acceptable, which is why I want to spend this week talking about the mess that has been made and what, if anything, can be done to correct this fact. Housing in Final Fantasy XIV is a sore spot right now, and that's a problem, especially when it doesn't have to be.

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EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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WoW Archivist: Bottlenecks

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Humor, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Gyrocopter jam
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on September 24th and is included here by permission.

Wherever thousands of players try to complete on-rails content, bottlenecks are inevitable. For Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard is trying to be proactive about eliminating them. Back in July, CM Zorbrix posted a "targeted feedback request" about bottlenecks in the beta. Given that the introductory experience is completely on rails before the expansion unleashes players into its less structured zones, this is a real concern.

WoW hasn't had the best track record when it comes to bottlenecks. As we help Blizzard loosen the bottlenecks of the future, let's revisit those of the past.

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Camelot Unchained celebrates new website and forums

Betas, Fantasy, PvP, Community Q&A, Dev Diaries, Camelot Unchained, Subscription

cu
Camelot Unchained is now boasting a shiny new website and player forums, according to the game's second newsletter.

That's only the tip of the wordy newsletter. A brief community question and answer section addresses a few in-game topics, such as boat travel and caravan details. Then it dives right into a treatise on world game design and how the team is still attempting to figure out how large Camelot Unchained's landmass should be and how quickly players will be able to traverse it.

"In our case, we are making what is essentially a medieval fantasy war game conquest map, which means things like territory and resource control, logistics, and force projection are extremely important considerations, but things like good quest flow are less so," the team said.

The art department also piped up to say that it's working on the Tuatha Dé Danann race, the Arthurian Storm Rider, and pre-alpha testing support.

Captain's Log Supplemental: Exploring the art design of Star Trek Online's Delta Rising races

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

It's like the Yamato, only in a series I like.
If you asked me about my favorite antagonistic race through all of Voyager's seven-year run, my answer wouldn't have been any of the regular suspects. It would have been the Vaadwaur, and not just because of their funky appearance; the race really twisted the usual formula of a Star Trek one-off villain, and besides that, they had a culture that hinted at something very unusual in the show. I was kind of sad that they never showed up again after their one episode.

Obviously, I was happy to see one of my favorite races get the upgrade treatment in Star Trek Online. But that poses a problem just the same because it's not as if the producers on the show detailed dozens of ship classes and a huge amount of culture for a race that showed up for 50 minutes. I chatted with art director Brad Stokan about bringing these smaller races of Star Trek into a fully fleshed-out form in Star Trek Online, discussing both the Vaadwaur and the Kobali and how his team took a one-off guest appearance and made a full race out of it.

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WoW's final Lords of War video is not about an Orc

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Video, Culture, Lore, News Items, Subscription

WoW
The fifth and final entry in World of Warcraft's Lords of War video series has arrived, and if you're tired of Orclords of Orcnor, then rejoice because this one is about a Draenei: Vindicator Maraad, the narrator of the series. On the downside, Maraad's backstory is still mostly about Orcs; he's Garona Halforcen's uncle, for example. On the upside, his backstory also involves a lot of killing of Orcs. So there's that.

The full video is below.

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World of Warcraft gives you a way to undelete characters

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Dev Diaries, Subscription

wow
Those World of Warcraft GMs are probably beyond sick and tired of player petitions to undo a character deletion if a recent dev post by Blizzard is any indication. Coming with Warlords of Draenor is a new feature that will allow players to resurrect a deleted character with its gear and enchantments intact. The studio even said that it will even hold onto deleted character names "for a limited time."

There are a few exceptions to the undelete feature. Toons under level 10 won't be recoverable at all, and those between levels 10 and 49 will be lost forever after a set amount of time. Also, players can use this function only once every month, so undelete wisely!

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