World of Warcraft, Aion, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, News Items, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, Global Agenda, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous
So in my last Perfect Ten of 2011, I put together the 10 most significant MMO stories of the year. Ten seems like an awfully small number for such a great big field, so I had the rest of the staff members chime in with their nominations just to make sure I wasn't too off-base with any of these.
It was a whopper of a year, and Massively was there for all of it -- the ups, the downs, the queues, and the QQs. It's time to wrap it up with a pretty bow and dedicate it to the history museum!
Of course, the world does not revolve only around SWTOR, so the guys also take some time to highlight other goings-on in the MMO world. Warhammer Online will be merging servers once again, which does not forecast a sunny outlook for Mythic's PvP-focused title. Also on the table is talk that the gradually less sane Richard Garriott will be returning to work on the Ultima universe. What could this mean to MMO players? Well, click on past the cut and find out for yourself.
The rewards for the event haven't changed much this year, with the usual assortment of Party Kegs, Keg Taps, and Battlebrew Backpacks. There are giants roaming the field looking for their own ale and a handful of sporting battles, and there are plenty of special drinks to be sampled just for the event. So get yourself ready to log in tomorrow and take a nice roll through fields filled with blood, beer, and battle. Especially beer.
Players on the Gorfang (North America) and Karak Azgal (Europe) will be able to move house to Badlands and Karak Norn, respectively, starting December 14th. Once this happens, Gorfang and Karak Azgal will be marked as "Legacy" servers, keeping new players from rolling on them, and then after three weeks, the two servers will be shut down completely. Any characters left on those servers will not be playable until they transfer to their new homes.
Mythic is also paving the way for guilds to move wholesale to new servers, with more information about this coming next week.
The distinction between the two games is up for discussion in a new Warhammer Online interview at Stratics. "There is no direct link currently between your WAR and WOH characters. That being said, we plan on giving WAR subscribers benefits in WOH," explains producer James Casey. "We are also looking at other ways to connect them and have the benefits go both ways."
The interview also touches on the next WAR update (currently slated for the PTS next month), as well as the fact that the devs are considering a level-cap increase on the game's endless trial offering.
With Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes in beta testing, BioWare Mythic is testing the waters of free-to-play while preparing for Star Wars: The Old Republic's massive subscription launch. "We often got asked about taking our old games free-to-play, and in the case of Warhammer, we felt there was a different way of doing it," he opined, going on to say that the Mythic branch was learning a lot about polish and quality from the BioWare team.
Evans commented on the observation that the widening global market means that no one business model is guaranteed to work in every country: "We're all still figuring out what free-to-play means, what the best way to monetize is, and how to run it as a business and engage players in ways they're prepared to accept."
"Right now, we're focused on Wrath of Heroes as our free-to-play offering in the Warhammer universe," Evans said at this week's GDC. "We believe in the community of players who are playing Age of Reckoning. Yes, we could have attracted a lot of players to it [via F2P], but it's unclear how long you'll keep them. We wanted to support our game as it currently exists."
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It seemed like a perfect week, therefore, to look at piratey life in MMOs. From entire games to mere outfits and from the token pirate union that has a chapter in each game to delusional madmen, this list aims to sate the swagger of keyboard swashbucklers. It's a testament to the pirate phenomenon that most developers can't help but include a buccaneer or two, even if the setting isn't always asking for it -- a phenomenon even the U.S. Navy has accepted.
Hit the jump to start, and sail straight on 'til morning!
Or I just didn't want to be one of a thousand World of Warcraft bloggers who dominated the scene. Just a thought.
In any case, it was a terrific decision to do so on my part. I found that I had a passion not only for MMOs but for talking about them, and I loved connecting with other writers and readers and players, which happens with blogging. I've been asked from time to time if I regret picking Warhammer Online as the game that I latched onto for a couple of years, and I always say no -- no regrets. The game was fun, but the coverage was an unparalleled rollercoaster of anticipation, hype, fun, speculation, promise, disappointment, and above all, ideas. Wonderful, flawed, captivating ideas.
I haven't touched WAR since 2010, so perhaps I'm not the best source for the latest and greatest in the game. But what I do have to offer is a humble blogger's perspective on what went right, what went wrong, and why I'm ultimately happy that WAR came into being and is chugging along on today, its third anniversary.
What's on tap for the inevitable celebration? Bonus XP/RP, of course, and a whopping 10 days of it. Starting today, players can enjoy increased advancement potential and loot a few fireworks from the twitching carcasses of their foes. Also, three-year veterans are being recognized for their loyalty, as Mythic is gifting them with a Jack-O-Lantern vanity pet and an endless supply of both chaos black and blazing orange dyes.
Don't forget that the 1.4.4 patch was recently deployed, and the Wild Hunt event is currently ongoing. Finally, check in with Massively on Sunday for our three-year Warhammer Online retrospective.
The new patch introduces the Wild Hunt live event, which allows players the chance to "test their skills tracking and slaying fierce animals, collecting sacred pelts, and sighting the elusive White Stag." There's also an opportunity to earn event influence and participate in the Curse of Kurnous public quest.
Mythic has also tweaked the RvR keep defense mechanics, introduced new vanity pet packs, and shifted the scenario lineup. Finally, you can vote for the next batch of scenarios via the Dev Discussions forum on the official WAR website.
A variety of RvR changes have been made as well, such as new Keep Defense mechanics. This new mechanic requires keep defenders to destroy the attacking war party's battering ram, at which point the siege will "briefly shift to a 'Successful Defense' state." The defending troops will then receive a buff, intended to allow them to push back their attackers. Once the defenders push the attackers out of their keep area, however, the buff will quickly fade, putting the battle back on a level playing field.
For all of this and more, players can check out the full patch notes and get a firsthand look on the public test servers.
The team found that people liked WAR but couldn't justify investing in it, so Mythic wanted to create an experience for them. The team took what it saw as one the more popular aspects of WAR -- the scenarios -- and modified them to pit three teams (six on each) against each other for quick, 15-minute gameplay sessions. On death, you can choose any hero in your arsenal so you can adjust to whatever your team needs.
This game format allowed the team to strip away the parts of the game it saw as unnecessary. "We went, you know what? If you play the MMO, we give you all this cool equipment on your adventure, and it's a neat thing to do, but let's just get rid of the boring crap and give people cool [stuff] to wear," Paul Barnett said.
Citing the accumulation of multiple -- and sometimes quite situational -- skills over the course of "748,000 hours of grinding," Barnett said that his team got rid of this approach by focusing on only five skills per hero in Wrath of Heroes. He thinks that the small incremental progress of skills and skill effects in Warhammer Online is "dull" and instead extolls Wrath of Heroes for picking the best skills, effects and armor so that players don't have to worry about getting all of them.
You can watch the full reveal panel of Wrath of Heroes after the jump.
[Thanks to Joris for the tip!]
Meanwhile, Warhammer Online is keeping it simple with a 50% XP and RP bonus for all players. Vanguard players get bonus experience as well, whether it's of the crafting, adventuring, or diplomacy variety. EverQuest II is also providing bonus experience -- double experience, to be exact -- for AA, tradeskill, and adventuring experience. If you're a regular of any one of these games, or if you just want to pop in to see what the fuss is about, it sounds like this weekend is the right time to do it.
See something we missed on our list of Labor Day weekend events? Tell us in the comments!
[Update: Commenter Furdinand reminded us that Star Wars: The Old Republic's beta test weekends began today, and commenter Dartanis points out that RIFT's half-birthday celebration continues throughout the weekend, providing players with a wealth of bonuses.]
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