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The Stream Team: Playing Vanguard using 'Immersion Rules'

Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team

Vanguard Saga of Heroes screenshot
Years ago Beau set out to play Vanguard: Saga of Heroes in a unique way that would add depth to the game. He came up with a set of rules -- the Immersion Rules -- and followed them for a long time. Some of the rules include seeking shelter during bad weather, using a real-life map only, eating and drinking at particular times and even resting or sleeping. He even added in permadeath and lost one of his most beloved characters that way. Join him as he tries the rules out once again, on camera!

Game: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Host: Beau
Date: Friday, November 8th, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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One Shots: The people pillar

Screenshots, Culture, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, Firefall

One Shots The people pillar
How are MMOs different than real life? There are many answers to that question, but our opening screenshot today reminds me that I don't actively seek to run into a sweaty, heaving mass of humanity just because they'll provide localized healing and damage boosts. Everyone always tries to use that excuse at conventions, and all I come away with is an intestinal debuff.

Reader Eri had this observation while playing a recent beta: "Firefall seems to have quite a few community events regularly going on and it always amuses me at the end how it devolves into the ancient art of people stacking. This tower was during the stress test a month or so ago after a few invasions had finished. There were a lot of people around and a rival tower was being built in Sunken Harbour as well. Everyone was laughing and having a lot of fun, talking in chat while serving as a human pillar, and there was usually a dance party going on at the bottom of it. While this one did get big, apparently the dastardly Sunken Harbour Folks beat us."

Are you ready to jump into the people pile? If so, we've got more for you after the break!

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Perfect Ten: MMO industry moves I didn't see coming

Asheron's Call, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online

Perfect Ten MMO industry moves I didn't see coming
Despite -- or more accurately, because of -- my love for video games, I would never want to work in the games industry as a developer or what have you. I think it's an industry that doesn't have a good track record of job security, sane hours, or products that you could feasibly spend years working on that might not make it to ship. But I love writing about the industry. I love the news. That's why I adore being at Massively.

I also love the news because MMOs and studios constantly surprise me. Hey, maybe you're an amazing clairvoyant person who can not only predict but accurately foresee all of the jukes and twists that the industry makes. I am not. When mental superpowers were being handed out, I got "setting people on fire with a mere thought" instead of what appears to be the widespread "know it all" ability. I don't regret it. I mean, you probably already knew that I was going to post a picture of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi being attacked by bees on the front page of Massively.

But I think that the surprises are part of the fun. No matter what we've seen in the past and no matter how knowledgeable any of us is about MMOs, the strange developments keep on coming. So this week I want to list 10 stories that I really didn't see coming at all.

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Vanguard gets a development roadmap

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Vanguard apparently has giant bug mounts now
Vanguard's gone and got itself a roadmap. No, really!

SOE has issued an upcoming content schedule that includes "major performance upgrades" and the introduction of mentor stones. Said stones will be placed at the entrance to all of Vanguard's dungeons in order to give players the option to set their levels appropriately.

The update post also touches on the Cave of Wonders raid content, which SOE says is now slated to go live via four separate installments. There's more on the schedule, too, but you'll need to head to Vanguard's official website to read it all!

The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in August

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, The Matrix Online, News Items, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in August
How few players do you need to have before operating an MMO becomes ridiculously unprofitable and in need of closing? In the case of The Matrix Online, we found out that the magic number was 500. I wouldn't have even guessed that so few people were in that game when its shutdown was announced, especially considering the vocal anguish that arose when SOE lowered the boom.

I guess it goes to show that we're often quite clueless what goes on behind the curtain. There's always this balance between the number-crunchers (who need players and money to justify continued operations) and the passionate creators (who are often developers putting in the effort because they simply love the game and its community). If nothing else, it reinforced my belief that SOE does bend over backwards to keep these games running as long as possible, much longer than some other studios would in a similar situation.

So what other news regarding classic MMOs happened this past month? It's time for another one of my patented roundups, complete with archaeological commentary!

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Free for All: My top four MMOs for relaxation

Trailers, Video, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, Wurm Online, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Free Realms, Free for All, Livestream, Sandbox, Housing, Player-Generated Content

Wurm Online screenshot
Say you come home from a long day's work, dreaming about the vacation that you've yet to take and how nice it would be to turn off your brain for a while, to kick back and watch the wide world walk by. Unfortunately, vacations cost a pile of money. You have to pay someone to watch the dogs and water your plants and work is a real pain about letting you out of the shackles even for a week.

The good news is that much of the benefit of vacation comes from the mental release. Sure, nothing beats the real, true feeling of pressing your toes into warm water and sand, but it can be fun and relaxing to visit virtual worlds, to take in virtual sights and sounds. MMOs are perfect for blowing off some steam, for taking a moment to realize just how nice it is to have access to such landscapes from the comfort of your desk.

Here are some of my favorite virtual worlds that bring on that feeling of relaxation.

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SOE Live 2013 recapped in just two minutes

Fantasy, Super-hero, Video, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Free Realms, Events (Massively's Coverage), DC Universe Online, Clone Wars Adventures, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Dragon's Prophet, MMORPG

SOE Live
SOE Live 2013 was a blur of tournaments, panels, announcements, and keynotes. It brought news for games like PlanetSide 2, Vanguard, Free Realms, Dragon's Prophet, and DC Universe Online, along with the industry-shaking reveal of EverQuest Next.

In other words, it was kind of a big deal. And you can see what it was like to be there in person by watching the two-minute recap video just released by SOE. Check it out after the break, and feel free to browse back through our coverage for in-depth looks at everything that was on display.

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SOE Live 2013: Looking at the future of Vanguard

Fantasy, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage)

SOE Live
"The little game that could" is how Mark Tuttle introduced Vanguard at the SOE Live keynote, and although the game has had its share of struggles through the years, it forges on with a strong community, lots of recent changes, and a roadmap of future endeavors. Now that the free-to-play transition is up and running, the team took some time at SOE Live to give fans a rundown of what it's been up to and what players can look forward to seeing.

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Vanguard producer's letter talks Pankor Zhi, bug fixes, and a new network layer

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play

Vanguard producer's letter talks Pankor Zhi, bug fixes, and a new network layer
Well, what do we have here? Is... is that a Vanguard producer's letter? It is a Vanguard producer's letter!

SOE's Harvey "Rahtiz" Burgess does the honors, and he says that those of you who've been away from Telon for a while will notice some changes starting with a new network layer. "While this won't solve all of the issues that we have had since the launch of Vanguard," Burgess explains, "what it will do is help us track down problematic areas of latency where we will be able to examine and resolve. Before this, we didn't really have an adequate way of troubleshooting these issues."

The Vanguard team has also squashed over 50 long-standing bugs and is also still working on Pankor Zhi, though Burgess notes that it "is definitely going to be a long-term project for us." There's more to the letter, of course, so head to the official Vanguard site to read it all.

Some Assembly Required: Five ways MMOs should support player events

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Aion, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Vanguard, RuneScape, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required Five ways all games should support player events and why
Over the course of Some Assembly Required, we've covered a few player-run events out there that haven't been highlighted in their respective game columns. After all, we're all about PGC here, and you can't really get content more player-generated than that! But with all the the possible events across the whole gamut of games, there's no possible way to attend them all, let alone cover them here; there is only so much time in the day and space in the column. Of course, that won't stop me from trying!

From Age of Conan to Warhammer Online, a few of the events I've been able to catch are festivals, races, plays, fishing contests, tavern storytelling nights, quests (yes, quests), treasure/scavenger hunts, trivia contests, arena duels, gambling nights, musical concerts, war games, horse races, weddings, dance-offs, terraforming challenges, auctions, jousts, fashion shows, tournaments, funerals, crafter fairs, and more contests than can even be mentioned. These examples aren't restricted to any one genre, either; creatively concocted events run the gamut and include themeparks like Aion, MOBAs like SMITE, and more -- and not just sandboxes.

As you might have noticed, that's quite a bit of content, content that comes at no cost to the the studio! So why is it these events can be so hard to find? With so much free content at their fingertips, it would behoove studios to make it the norm to support and promote these events. And the tools they need to do so are already at their disposal.

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One Shots: March beneath the raptor's wings

Screenshots, Star Trek Online, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Humor, DC Universe Online, Miscellaneous

One Shots March beneath the raptor's wings
Man, it's downright shadowy underneath the raptor's wings! Reader Draxos is kicking off our player screenshot exhibition this week with an interestingly lit picture from Star Trek Online's new expansion.

"This picture is of my new Romulan character inside a Romulan space station that was having a few ... issues," Draxos wrote in. "When the lights suddenly go out in a space station, you become thankful for the brightness outside the window because then at least there is some chance of seeing what may now be lurking within the darkness. Although you could say that my Reman crew members are the true ones to be fearful of in the dark."

Couldn't you use the Borg's head as a flashlight? That's what I would do. Join us for more shadowy flights into dangerous worlds of characters who do not exist in today's One Shots!

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Jukebox Heroes: Character select music

City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, The Chronicles of Spellborn, Vanguard, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Character select music
Character select and creation music has always fascinated me. OK, maybe not fascinated; it's interested me. I've always viewed such themes as the overture of the game, the interlude between the title theme and the game proper to come.

These themes don't tend to be rip-roaring in their presentation because that's not their purpose. They have to be pleasant enough without being annoying when looped endlessly. After all, sometimes players spend a loooong time making their characters or sitting there at the select screen, and the last thing you want is for their ears to become fatigued by the experience.

So here are six MMO character select and character creation themes that I've enjoyed over the years. And if you saw the title graphic up there and immediately started hearing this song in your head, then you and I probably grew up in the same era.

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Player panel submissions open for SOE Live 2013

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Vanguard, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet

Player panel submissions open for SOE Live 2013
Last year, SOE threw a new ingredient into its convention mix -- player panels. The result was such a hit that the studio is not only bringing them back this year, but extending their availability; Sunday has been added to the player panels schedule, and that means there are plenty of openings!

Do you have a subject involving any SOE game that you think would be of interest and benefit others? Maybe you are a whiz at livesteaming or you have primo tips and tricks on cosplay to dispense. What about sharing your fan site or holding a raid clinic? Whatever your idea, submit your proposal by 3:00 a.m EDT June 1st for consideration. If selected, you and up to three other panel members will receive All Access passes to SOE Live 2013 (no other expenses are covered, including food, travel, or add-ons). Panel selection -- which is not on a first-come, first-served basis -- will be completed mid-June.

Free for All: My favorite female armor sets

Fantasy, Screenshots, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Culture, Lore, Ryzom, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Roleplaying, Virtual Worlds, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

Brienne picture
Of all of the crazy characters from HBO's Game of Thrones, Brienne is easily my favorite. Why is she my favorite? It's not because she's just heroic or brave or any of the things that people often attribute to her; it's because she's a survivor. Much of that survival comes from her armor and the fact that she knows well enough to be able to protect herself! The actress Gwendoline Christie has talked about how uncomfortable the armor is to wear. I've heard the producers say that the metal skin is supposed to look sort of mismatched, and I love that. It only makes it stronger.

I often wish MMOs represented armor in better ways, especially for female characters. Some MMOs do a better job than others, and some MMOs do a decent job some of the time. Here are some of my picks for my favorite armor sets for female humans, orcs, goblins or... well, you get the point.

(Please don't post Game of Thrones spoilers in the comments section.)

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Free for All: My five favorite MMOs for exploration

Screenshots, Culture, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Vanguard screenshot
There's nothing more important to me than the ability to freely explore MMOs. Heck, exploration is the reason I got into MMOs. I remember grabbing that box of Ultima Online (man, I wish I still had that box!) from a shelf at the local game store and looking in wonder at just how vast this virtual world seemed to be. I'm still the same way, although after years of doing this, I am a bit more cynical about games. I've heard so many promises that never came true, but I know that even the worst of titles offers the chance to explore a brand-new world.

There are a lot of exploration mechanics out there. Free Realms has an adventurer "job," The Secret World needs players to explore to solve mysteries, Guild Wars 2 offers experience based on discovering new areas, EverQuest II entices people to explore by offering collectible items embedded in the ground, and there are so many MMOs that allow players to gain experience just by approaching areas they haven't before.

But I have my favorites. These are games that just make me feel like an explorer.

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