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Choose My Adventure: On autopilot in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Life as a shadow Priest in World of Warcraft is pretty mellow. Mostly you bounce around from quest to quest and enemy to enemy, ticking off objectives by murdering orcs with dark magic and scaring everyone with your spooky shadow face. It's not a career path I'd recommend for your average citizen, but if you're looking to become an instigator in the clan wars of Warlords of Draenor, there are worse paths to take.

We accomplished quite a bit this week in Choose My Adventure. Our Blood Elf Priest gained a couple of levels, DPSed his very first Warlords of Draenor dungeon, and completed the Frostfire Ridge set of story quests. And while it's all been very, very good, I'm still having a hard time connecting to this latest World of Warcraft expansion.

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Jukebox Heroes: WildStar features the MMO soundtrack of the year

Sci-Fi, Opinion, WildStar, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Subscription

wildstar
Originally I wanted to write a final Jukebox Heroes column for this year that would have ranked all of the soundtrack releases in 2014, but that ran into a couple of snags. Not only am I still in the process of listening and finding all of them, but one game's score was going to thrash the rest of them so badly that it didn't feel fair to stack them up together. That MMO was, of course, WildStar.

I started to suspect that Composer Jeff Kurtenacker's score for WildStar was going to be something else when the studio started releasing parts of it over a year ago, but even then I wasn't prepared for the sheer quality and quantity that the full soundtrack presented. Critics and fans of the game alike have been very vocal in praising this game's music since the beta and through launch, and I'm still grooving on it months later. My only complaint is that it still -- still -- has yet to see an official release, free or paid.

So even though our yearly awards didn't include a soundtrack category, I'm going to take the initiative and crown WildStar as the soundtrack of the year. Let's listen to six of the OST's highlights and discuss our favorites in the comments section.

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The Stream Team: On to Gorgrond in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Choose My Adventure Live continues as Massively's Mike Foster says farewell to Frostfire Ridge and heads into Gorgrond, the second of Warlords of Draenor's all-new zones. Experience World of Warcraft's latest expansion with Mike as he quests, fights, and garrisons his way to level 100 from the perspective of a voter-created shadow Priest.

The action begins at 4:00 p.m. EST.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST.

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's big fanfest reveals

Fantasy, Classes, Expansions, Endgame, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

This is, what, five whole months away?  I can't wait that long!
Christmas came early for the forward-looking Final Fantasy XIV player this year. I know some people are upset at the fact that there were more revelations in the Japanese fan festival than in the ones in Vegas or London, but the timing is different. (I'd also point out that the expansion was announced in Las Vegas.) We've gone from having only a dim view of what's coming to having a pretty clear picture of what awaits through the next few month.

One of the things that awaits is, of course, endless yelling about Machinist. Because boy.

So let's start unpacking the stuff we learned from Tokyo. I say "start" because there is no way to get everything in one column, certainly not with deadlines and other considerations to take center stage. It's going to be a few months, but there's a lot to chew on just about 2.5, even if we ignore all of the expansion stuff, which I have no intention of doing.

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EVE Online plans security crackdown on RMT rule violators

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

eve
Players who have been skirting EVE Online's TOS might find themselves on the bad side of a ban come 2015, as the studio is rolling out tougher rules on violators in the new year. CCP posted a security blog in which it outlined how real-money traders will be punished, as well as those engaging in other activities such as input broadcasting and multiplexing.

While CCP didn't post the number of bans it performed in 2014, it did show a few graphs illustrating where the problem areas lay. Banned accounts this year, permanent and temporary, were divided up by macro use (56%), ISK selling (18%), ISK buying (5%), modified clients (4%), ISK spamming (1%), and other (16%).

On the brighter side of news, the team is hard at work on January's Proteus patch with sneakier combat recon ships, improved asteroid belt visuals, and the retirement of industry teams.

[Thanks to Chrysillis for the tip!]

WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Hands-On, Crafting, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Scrolls of glyphs
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 December 17th and is included here by permission.

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than in any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: The glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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Final Fantasy XIV introduces two new jobs and new races for Heavensward

Fantasy, Classes, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Well, at least we finally got it.
The last Final Fantasy XIV fan festival of the year is going on now in Japan, and the event's keynote speech has already contained big revelations for the game's first expansion, Heavensward. Players can look forward to the first new race for the game, the Au Ra, a race of dragon-esque people from Othard. It's been established that heretofore masked NPC Yugiri belongs to this race, and she will be revealing her face in patch 2.5.

Fans were also treated to preview footage of the Dark Knight in-game as well as two new jobs, the Machinist and the Astrologian. Astrologians are a new style of healer, drawing cards from decks to aid party members while debilitating enemies. Machinists are ranged DPS with a single large handgun and a style of play based on laying down turrets and paying attention to positioning. The keynote also contained information on the next multi-part raid and the Collector's Edition for the game, currently scheduled for release in spring of 2015.

EVE Online and DUST 514 celebrate the holiday season

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, MMOFPS, DUST 514, Sandbox, Subscription

It's usually hard to find a way to mention a good year and DUST 514 in the same space.
The year is wrapping up and EVE Online players are getting presents to celebrate. CCP Games has posted a short recap of the past year and an announcement of the holiday gifts players can expect to receive as a paid subscriber. That includes snowballs, fireworks, jackets, and a set of trinkets to commemorate the past year. Players can also look forward to 20 free days of multiple character training as a final additional gift. All of these promotions are available until January 11th.

Meanwhile, for those of you who prefer to explore this particular universe via a console shooter, DUST 514 is having a holiday event with its 12 Days of DUST. Starting on December 25th, each day will bring a new reward to players who finish three daily missions, so you'll have to keep playing through January 5th to unlock all the rewards. A special reward is awaiting those who clear everything, so get strapped in and ready to shoot if you want to celebrate the holidays that way.

Allods Online grants players two weeks of a free sub

Fantasy, Business Models, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Allods Online, Promotions, Subscription

Allods
Allods Online is one of the few MMORPGs in existence that began free-to-play and added a subscription server well after its original launch. And as part of its winter holiday celebration, Allods is granting everyone the chance to play on that subscription server for two weeks -- entirely for free.
From the 18th of December until the 1st of January, all Allods players - veterans and newcomers alike - will be granted two weeks of free subscription time for the premium server "Smugglers Paradise". If you have never played on the server before, now is a good time to check it out - while those who already play there will gain two weeks of extra playtime. We hope you enjoy this New Year gift - and don't forget, we've got many other events and celebrations on the horizon as well, so stay tuned and enjoy the festivities!
The Allods team is currently toiling away on its Brothers in Arms patch, which is set to include "multi-personnel combat mounts, additional PvP skirmishes with new objectives, new PvE adventure mechanics, and many other improvements," according to a dev blog posted to the official site yesterday. Unfortunately, the dev diary vid is in Russian, so you'll just have to take the official site's word for it.

Camelot Unchained prepares to cross $3M in fundraising

Betas, Fantasy, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, Subscription

camelot unchained
As of the writing of this post, Camelot Unchained is on the verge of hitting $3M in fundraising donations at $2,952,875. City State Entertainment said that when that already-impressive sum climbs to $3,025,000, the team will sign on a sound engineer to kick the game's audio up a notch.

"Part of this goal will cover licensing the Audiokinetic Wwise engine and technical support for it, as well as some great plug-ins, while the rest will go toward the salary and expenses of the sound engineer," CSE posted.

To help prompt more of those donation dollars, Camelot Unchained began selling unveiled lifetime subscriptions today at the builder's level.

World of Warcraft proposes tradable subscription currency

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Patches, Previews, Subscription

wow
Six-point-one. That's all you World of Warcraft players need to hear to get psyched for the new year. The dev team took a brief pause in rolling in all of the money from Warlords of Draenor sales to talk about what's coming up with Patch 6.1 as well as a proposed new subscription currency.

The patch, which will go into testing soon, will contain improvements to garrisons, a legendary follower, the ability to send tweets from the game, the new Blood Elf models, shorter flight master routes, incentives for visiting friends' garrisons, and the new heirloom collection tab.

Even bigger than this news is word that Blizzard is "exploring" adding a subscription currency that sounds like EVE Online's PLEX. The proposed idea would allow players to buy and sell game-time tokens for in-game gold: "Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system."

WildStar eyes Chinese release

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, WildStar, Subscription

WildStar
WildStar may have a new audience for its sci-fi western ways, as 2P.com reports that the game will be headed to China somewhere between late 2015 and early 2016.

The MMO will be operated by Giant Interactive, which also handles ZT Online. However, NCsoft and Carbine have yet to officially announce the partnership.

A new market for WildStar may be just what the beleaguered title needs to shore up its financials. The Q3 2014 earnings report from NCsoft showed that the new MMO had dropped sales dramatically compared to the previous quarter.

[Thanks to Mason for the tip!]

City of Steam is merging EU servers on December 22nd

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, City of Steam, Subscription

And then everyone just burns forever.  I think.  I don't know how merges work.
If you've played City of Steam in the EU and thought to yourself, "Man, there are just too many servers for this game right now," the developers agree with you, which is why the server list is being consolidated down to a single server as of December 22nd. Characters will be automatically transferred, with character names getting server tags to make sure naming issues sorted out before they arise.

Players on the current EU3 server will be receiving a compensation package that includes a 90-day subscription and a variety of other materials for character advancement. The five-characters-per-server limit will be enforced with prejudice; the staff is simply deleting the oldest or least-played characters on an account if the merge puts someone over five characters on the final server. So take care of that issue before it arises on the 22nd.

Final Fantasy XIV is now offering a PlayStation 4 two-week free trial

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XIV, Promotions, Subscription

ff14
Final Fantasy XIV may be intriguing you ever since it won of our Most Improved MMO of 2014 this past week. If you haven't bought into it yet and have a PlayStation 4, then you now have a free option to sample this acclaimed title.

Square-Enix announced today that it has begun to offer a 14-day free trial on the PlayStation 4 before requiring a subscription. There are a couple of caveats for these trial accounts, however; players can level only to 20 and have a few in-game activites restricted for the duration of the two-week trial.

[Source: Square-Enix Press release]

EVE Online nixes industry teams

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

eve
Not every new idea is going to take off and be a smash hit, as CCP definitely understands this as much as anyone. The EVE Online developer said that the implementation of industry teams earlier this year has been vastly underused, and as a result, teams will be removed from the game entirely in 2015.

"We have been closely tracking all related industry metrics and dials and it is apparent to us that usage of teams has been very low relative to the goals we set for it -- with single figure percentage use in manufacturing jobs and near nonexistent use in research," CCP wrote.

Industry teams had allowed players to hire NPCs to help out with industry jobs. The feature will be "methodically removed" over the next few months, although players will be able to use teams until they are forceably retired.

On another note, EVE tweeted that it has freed up over six million names from former trial players and has made them available for general use.

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