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Al Rivera discusses his role in Star Trek Online on Reddit

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

There's always a nebula.  Or an anomaly.  Or a distortion.
Who is Captain Geko? It was a fairly innocent question posed on Reddit earlier in the week by a user who happened to group with someone using that name in Star Trek Online. The answer is that it's the usual screen name of lead designer Al Rivera, who took the opportunity to respond to the question with a larger discussion of what makes the game what it is and how the game's microtransaction model is set up.

Rivera discusses his experience with the franchise and being a longtime fan from the age of 10, as well as the fact that the game's microtransactions are decided upon chiefly based on what will keep the lights on and keep the game fundamentally free-to-play. While he states clearly that not every decision comes down to him, at the end of the day he's proud of what the team has accomplished and the state of the game. If you want a look behind the curtain at one of the people in charge of Star Trek Online, take the time to read Rivera's full answer.

[Thanks to Lootcritter for the tip!]

RIFT spurns hoverboards and brings out hoverbikes for 2015

Fantasy, Video, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Subscription

It's like Star Wars except for all of the many ways it's not like Star Wars.
Do you all like your current MMOs? More than you like RIFT? That's fair. But do you like your current MMO more than you like... hover bikes? Faced with the choice, the team behind RIFT is hoping that when it comes down to the wire, your answer of what game you love the most will be answered with a resounding chorus of "hover bikes!"

Hey, it's close enough.

Yes, bikes that do not roll but instead hover slightly above the ground are being floated out to RIFT for a limited time. If you want to not-actually-roll through Telara with these stylish mounts, you'd best log on and grab them promptly; they're available for only a limited time. And who doesn't love hover bikes, after all? Especially when they have a video showing off just past the break.

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Final Fantasy XIV drops the preliminary patch notes for patch 2.5

Fantasy, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

It's coming down.
The patch notes for Final Fantasy XIV always include a surprise or two. Yes, the preliminary patch notes for patch 2.5 are out, and they contain lots of things that players had known to expect. But aside from the three new dungeons, the World of Darkness, the previewed trials, the new quests -- whew! -- there's even more new stuff tucked away into the patch.

For example, there's a new form of PvP match added to the game, which pits alliances against one another in a straight deathmatch. There's a new mystery trial unlocked through the main storyline. There's the new Aetherial Wheel furnishing, which allows free companies to charge up their company credits through alternate means. That's not even counting system adjustments or usability improvements or the items not previewed but expected such as new hairstyles. Take a look at the preliminary patch notes to get an idea of what's coming around once the patch goes live on January 20th.

Camelot Unchained funds sound engineer, looks to speed up world building

Betas, Fantasy, PvP, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, Subscription

Dear Camelot Unchained: What's up with the duck? Is that your mascot? Does your artist love duck doodles? Or is it referring to a secret race in your game? Please let us know. Sincerely, Massively.

Some good news for fans of this upcoming RvR title as City State Entertainment announced that it has crossed the $3,025,000 fundraising mark and thereby hit a stretch goal to hire a sound engineer for the game.

Next up on the stretch goal docket is a "Hug the World" campaign at $3,225,000. If this target is hit, Camelot Unchained will hire more artists to "accelerate the building out of the game world" and improve the quality of other art assets.

World of Warcraft dispels free-to-play 'Veteran Edition' rumors

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Ironically, being a veteran of the game is part of why I no longer wish to go back.
Pretty much anything in the world will start the World of Warcraft free-to-play rumors these days, but this set of rumors had a bit of basis in reality, at least. Datamining uncovered references to a "Veteran Edition" for players, which prompted speculation that it would be a preferred account status for players who were on the free side but still had played in the past. It turns out that's not quite accurate, but it's also not entirely wrong: Veteran Edition will allow players to play for free, essentially, with Starter Edition restrictions.

Community Manager Bashiok addressed the rumors, explaining that while someone who never had played the game before could jump in with Starter Edition restrictions, veteran players could not. Veteran Edition, then, places almost all of the same restrictions on players, but it will allow you to roll up a new character and play through level 20 or at least log in to chat with friends. No word on exactly when this will be rolled out, but it should put the free-to-play rumors to bed until they start again in a month.

Star Wars: The Old Republic will address balance and ranked PvP for update 3.1

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Subscription

Locked in mortal staffblade combat, as always.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is launching update 3.1 in about a month, and the developers are using this patch to address some standing issues. The patch also kicks off the game's fourth ranked play season, which is scheduled to last about three months. This season will be used as the basis for some new ranked play adjustments, such as implementing a "floor" rating for picking up the lowest-tier season rewards in Season 5. The season's titles will also be class-specific based on forum feedback.

Designers are also looking into balancing classes, starting with the Darkness Assassin and the Kinetic Combat Shadow, addressing issues with survivability and damage in the class. If you've been feeling squishier or less resilient or noticed oddities with abilities, you can take part in the thread yourself. Early versions of these changes have already been rolled out to the test servers for the coming update.

[Thanks to Mikey Moo for the tip!]

Final Fantasy XI drops a new patch for the new year

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Consoles, Subscription

Still standing!
Another year has come to Final Fantasy XI, and it brings with it a new year's version update with a host of new improvements. From a system standpoint, players can now equip two linkshells at the same time, complete with two separate chat modes. The game will also allow players to send tells and invite other players by clicking their names in the log window rather than relying purely upon text commands.

In terms of content, new quests have been added to Adoulin regions, several Records of Eminence objectives have either been added or had their requirements lowered, and new Wanted objectives have been implemented. Puppetmaster players can also benefit from improved spell lists for their automaton and a new set of automaton improvements. Take a gander at the full list of changes, all of which should make the game less punishing and more engaging for veteran players.

Final Fantasy XIV shows off story content and trials for 2.5

Fantasy, Lore, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Run on, for a long time; Run on, ducking and dodging; Run on, for a long time; Let me tell you, child, Odin gonna cut you down.
The last pre-expansion patch for Final Fantasy XIV is titled Before the Fall, not That Time When The Heroes Fixed Everything. There needs to be a fall, doesn't there? And there's a lot of stuff that can start falling, as demonstrated in today's preview from the official site. Ul'dah can fall. The Scions can fall. Ishgard can fall. Eorzea can fall. Or if you decide to face off against the Dark Divinity himself, you can fall.

Players not confronting the dread primal directly will still have plenty of opportunities for pratfalls, as the Hildibrand storyline is wrapping up with the final confrontation between the Gentleman Inspector and his thieving rival. There's also a second confrontation with Gilgamesh Greg in the Battle at the Big Keep, with the victor winning the Treaty-Blade... which sounds like pretty good loot, but Greg carries a lot of weapons, so it seems rather natural.

Patch 2.5 drops on January 20th.

Elder Scrolls Online boxes continue to vacate store shelves

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, Rumors, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

More Australian retailers have apparently lined up to pull boxed copies of The Elder Scrolls Online from store shelves.

Aussie gaming site Games.On.net reports that both Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi have deleted copies of the game from their physical stores. The unnamed Games.On.net source, who said he/she had seen the paperwork confirming the recall, claims that "all game cards and copies were pulled out of Harvey Norman, and the ONLY reason that would happen is because it has become a free product [...] if it was being brought out in a different format, it'd have a price drop, not a recall."

Last week, EB Games in the land down under began destocking ESO boxes, and Microsoft abruptly updated the game's scheduled release on Xbox One to February 24th, 2015. ZeniMax removed long-term subscriptions from the game back in December, claiming that players prefer shorter billing options and prompting widespread speculation about a possible impending business model change.

WildStar will reduce grind, focus on 'a multitude of playstyles' in 2015

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

You can see this as something to be repaired or something beyond repair, you're going to argue about it in the comments either way.
Where does WildStar go from here? That's the question that director Mike Donatelli seeks to answer with his latest address to the community. Donatelli says this morning that while he's thankful for the praise the game received toward the end of 2014, there are several areas where the game needs to improve, and thus the team is working on making a better game experience for everyone moving forward. He lays out three chief foci for the team over the next year: listen to feedback to make the game more fun and "less grindy"; support "a multitude of playstyles," group sizes, and levels; and invest, expand, and improve the existing game.

Donatelli targets for these plans the first half of 2015, which will contain better-tuned endgame reward systems to fight fatigue along with a wider breadth of content for solo and small-group players. Over the rest of the year, the team plans to introduce a new Contract system to support different playstyles, continue tuning the rewards, and greatly expand the game's customization options. It's a lot of changes, but the Carbine team seems dedicated to making them work.

Blizz publishes WoW's Blackrock Foundry raiding schedule

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Dungeons, Subscription

"It won't be long before you'll be able to take the assault against the Iron Horde to the next level in new raid content," Blizzard says in its latest World of Warcraft website update. The firm has released an unlock schedule for Blackrock Foundry with normal and heroic difficulties due for public consumption on February 3rd.

Mythic difficulty hits one week later while Raid Finder Wing 1: Slagworks (Gruul, Oregorger, and the Blast Furnace) debuts one week after that on February 17th.

Final Fantasy previews dungeons and plans maintenance for patch 2.5

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Dungeons, Subscription

Oh, good, two decades of dragon corpse can still move around and fight us.  Super.
The last pre-expansion patch for Final Fantasy XIV is going to be a big one. So big, in fact, that the game is dropping 12 hours of maintenance for the first part. Servers will go down at 6:00 p.m. EST on January 19th before coming back online at 6:00 a.m. EST on January 20th. As always, exact completion time is subject to change.

If you missed yesterday's trailer, you can get an idea of some of the fuss by checking out today's dungeon preview, which shows off the Keeper of the Lake, Amdapor Keep (Hard), Wanderer's Palace (Hard), and the World of Darkness. While the exact item level requirements for these dungeons are hidden, it is clear that the Keeper of the Lake will once again be part of the main scenario quests like Snowcloak was in patch 2.4. So get ready to fight a dragon corpse, slaughter various voidsent, and most importantly rescue a whole lot of far-less-rancorous Tonberries.

EVE Online patches in Proteus

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Sandbox, Subscription

Deep space never looked as good in EVE Online as it does today, now that the Proteus release has gone live. This monthly update has made visual improvements to the Gallente Exequror and the asteroid fields that players will encounter on a regular basis.

Other Proteus features include a balance pass on recon ships, additional high-end exploration sites, improvements to the beta star map, new player mining locations, and a streamlining of some module groups.

You can check out the Proteus features page or read up on the patch notes for more info. EVE's next update, Tiamat, is scheduled for February 12th.

Final Fantasy XIV drops a trailer for patch 2.5, Before the Fall

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Although since it's coming out in the winter, it's more like AFTER the fall!  Haha!  Seriously, though, every single part of Eorzea is getting wrecked.
The final patch before Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion is a week away, and it's got plenty going on, so much that it's being split into three parts. A new trailer for the patch has been unleashed today, showing off bits and pieces of the whole thing but focusing chiefly on the content that will be going live on January 20th. You can view the whole thing just past the break, assuming you have 10 minutes to see all of the various hints and spoilers.

Patch 2.5 brings with it more main scenario quests, three new dungeons (Keeper of the Late, Amdapor Keep Hard, and Wanderer's Palace Hard), the World of Darkness raid, a battle against the primal Odin, and a continuation of the Hildibrand storyline. Patch 2.51 is confirmed in the trailer for late February and will include the Manderville Gold Saucer, while part 2 of Before the Fall will wrap up the main scenario and set up the story of Heavensward in late March.

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Rumor: World of Warcraft may be prepping a free 'veteran' edition

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Free-to-Play, Rumors, Subscription

World of Warcraft dataminers, while diving into the piles of information for the upcoming Patch 6.1, may have found game-changing evidence that the title is preparing a new free-to-play option.

The data files include several references to a "Veteran Edition," in a similar fashion to the already-existing Trial Edition, which allows players to level to 20 for free. The Veteran Edition has several limitations listed, including a level cap, money cap, and chat channel restrictions.

There's a lot of speculation going on right now as to whether or not the Veteran Edition will happen, and if it does what it will entail. MMO blogger Superior Realities theorizes that WoW will allow subscription-lapsed accounts to continue playing with the above restrictions.

[Thanks to Tyler for the tip!]

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