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Wizardry Online

The Game Archaeologist: Ironman modes and elective permadeath

Asheron's Call, Dofus, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, Wizardry Online, Star Citizen, H1Z1

wizardry online
One facet of video games that's been around almost since the very beginning is the difficulty level. This has allowed the player to choose how hard or easy a game would be from the onset, influencing factors such as the number of enemies, hardiness of bad guys, fragility of the player character, and available loot (or lack of it). I used to love how some of those '90s shareware titles would mock me for picking easy, sometimes portraying my character wearing a baby bonnet and sucking its thumb. Real gamers, the devs implied, go tough or go home.

With a few exceptions, MMOs operate on a fixed level of difficulty for all of their players. Instead of assigning blanket difficulty client-side, the game world portions difficulty into areas, usually according to level or activity. Some games have instances with adjustable difficulty levels, but past that what you get is also what I get.

This might be changing. A very fringe but dedicated group of players have championed such ideas as elective ironman and permadeath modes for their MMOs, and at least one studio is responding positively to that desire. Would you choose to make your MMO experience harder than everyone else in exchange for nothing more than a bigger challenge and a more "realistic" experience?

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Wizardry Online is now... Wizardry Offline

Fantasy, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Livestream, Wizardry Online, Sunsets

The MMO world mourned Vanguard's sunset yesterday, but as The Ancient Gaming Noob reminded us, Vanguard wasn't the only MMO SOE shuttered in July. Wizardry Online also closed its doors permanently last night, bringing to a end one of the stranger games SOE has published in its long career.

Over on the official forums, where players have been posting their goodbyes, a player named Dremlock published a video of the game's last moments. We've included it below (start at about 1:29:00 to see the final curtain call).

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Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Arena
Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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Free for All: Thoughts on SOE's mass MMO sunset

Fantasy, Screenshots, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Casual, Free Realms, Kids, Free for All, Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online

Free Realms screenshot
Sony Online Entertainment recently announced the upcoming closure of not one or two but four of its titles. Those titles are Free Realms, Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Wizardry Online. The announcement hit most of us pretty hard, even those who weren't active or interested players. Four titles just feels much more like a move of desperation than one or even two games. And for players like yours truly, MMOs like Free Realms and especially Vanguard hold a very special place in our hearts.

Having said that, I will never wager solely on perception. It's my guess that SOE does indeed know what it is doing and that some of this is due to licensing issues, new games from similar developers, or an attempt to streamline an already fat lineup in order to get ready for one or two massive new titles. In other words, there is no conspiracy. It's most likely that this decision was due to boring old business.

I decided to break down what each game meant to me in the hopes that the confessional will get me ready for the upcoming sunsets. Here's to hoping.

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SOE shuttering Vanguard, Clone Wars, Free Realms, and Wizardry [Updated]

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Wizardry Online, Sunsets

SOE logo
SOE is closing down four of its MMOs. Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms will close on March 31st. Vanguard and Wizardry Online will bow out on July 31st.

"At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we're providing players with the best gameplay experiences," the company said via press release. "At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community."

SOE CEO John Smedley will be fielding questions on Reddit at 6:00 p.m. EST. We'll update you with the link when it's live.

[Update]: Smedley's Reddit AMA

SOE considering an one-subscription-covers-all plan for $14.99 a month

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Economy, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet, Wizardry Online, Subscription

EQN
SOE President John Smedley took to Reddit today to address the "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" that's been swirling about regarding the subscription changes made to its games, most notably PlanetSide 2 and EverQuest II. While he lists several reasons why the studio is doing this, the main reason is a big change in the works: SOE is considering implementing a one-subscription-covers-all plan moving forward.

"We are considering (and are likely going to move forward with) a plan that means if you subscribe to one of our games you are a subscriber to all our games (this applies to PC titles only, by the way) all for the current $14.99 a month," Smedley wrote. "That's a benefit most companies simply can't offer because they don't have our portfolio of games. The goal would be to let you pick an item in each game you play."

He implied that this plan will also cover EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next. Other reasons for the subscription change include helping players buy larger items on the marketplace, internal issues regarding people stockpiling Station Cash, and disparity between computer and console promotions.

For a more in-depth look at the subscription plan changes, read our recent Norrathian Notebook column.

Wizardry Online hit by duping and hacking, bans issued

Fantasy, Bugs, Culture, Economy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Wizardry Online

Teleport them into an ogre, perhaps?
Some things never presage good news. Case in point: Wizardry Online has been hit with what appears to be a round of hacking and item duping, leading to hyperinflation and a great deal of player outrage on the forums. Exact figures about how much gold was dumped into the economy are hard to come by, but most players seem to agree that it's a matter of several million gold sometimes foisted on unwitting victims.

After claiming that the matter was being investigated, Sony Online Entertainment representatives locked some of the threads related to the topic while simply stating that suspensions had been issued and further discussion did not help the community. No statements have yet been issued regarding permanent bans or any potential rollbacks to the environment. What long-term effects this will have on the game's viability remain unclear, although several players are protesting SOE's apparent lack of action quite vigorously.

Wizardry Online prepping for 'major code update'

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

Wizardry Online prepping for 'major code update'
SOE's Wizardry Online website has updated with a post outlining an upcoming "major code update." The patch will bring the western client "one step closer to all the advanced features of the Japanese version of Wizardry Online," the company says.

Advanced forging and the game's socketing system take up most of the space in this particular blog entry, but there's also a mention of new skills for each class as well as a skill reset NPC.

Wizardry Online compensates players for performance issues

Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online compensates players for performance issues
For those put out by Wizardry Online's performance issues as of late, SOE has posted assurance that the worst is behind everyone: "Our engineers have been working tirelessly to address the issues and we're confident that you will have a better experience now."

The studio is offering compensation for the inconvenience starting with a 300 Station Cash credit to players who logged into Wizardry Online before today. SOE is also handing out free seven-day Dimento Medals in the game. Finally, players who subscribed before March will see a seven-day membership credit added to their accounts.

Sony officially announces SOE Live 2013

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), Vanguard, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Wizardry Online

Sony officially announces SOE Live 2013
While we've known that SOE Live was moving location and dates this year to Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas from August 1st through the 4th, we now have official confirmation from the studio itself.

SOE Head of Global Relations Linda Carlson drafted up an accompanying post about the upcoming convention that includes several pictures from previous years. "We're all gamers too," she writes, "and can hardly wait to hang out with you again! Everyone at the company LOVES going to SOE Live, the one event each that focuses solely on our players. We have everything in common!"

Carlson explained that the change in venue was made for several reasons, primarily to keep costs down, have more flexible meeting space, and experience better air quality. She confirmed that, as in previous years, kids will get in free to the event.

Wizardry Online launch-day roundup

Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online launchday roundup
If you've been waiting to get your fill of fantasy in the no-holds-barred setting of Wizardry Online (and then waited some more when the launch was pushed back), your patience is about to be rewarded. The time is finally at hand; the hardcore game sporting permadeath and friendly fire launches today.

Curious about what lies ahead in the wilds of Wizardy Online? Get a glimpse of dungeons and death along with a taste of the adventures that await you through our hands-on experiences, gallery, videos, and news bytes after the break.

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SOE webcast to celebrate Wizardry Online's launch

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Wizardry Online

SOE webcast to celebrate Wizardry Online's launch
Wizardry Online has conjured more than a few different opinions from our staff during its beta, and we're happy to say that the game is finally launching tomorrow! To help celebrate the launch, SOE is hosting a special webcast on Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 p.m. EST on its Twitch.tv channel.

Host and Senior Global Brand Manager Omeed Dariani will be joined by Senior Producer Todd Carson and Associate Producer Rod Haza to discuss the game's features and what we can expect in the future of the game.

Wizardry Online adds high-level dungeon for launch

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Dungeons, Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online adds highlevel dungeon for launch
While we remain on standby for Wizardry Online's delayed launch, the team at SOE has used the time to shoehorn in an additional feature for release: the Underground Dragoon Ruins. The Dragoon Ruins is a high-level dungeon full of nasty creatures and even nastier traps.

We've got a video featuring combat and exploration of the ruins after the break. It's got a warrior beating up ghosts, giant rock monsters, and -- most insidiously of all -- little glowy lights. A little glowy light once killed that warrior's whole village, and she's sworn revenge over it. That's all you need know.

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Wizardry Online launch delayed until Jan 30th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online delayed until Jan 30th
If you had plans to skip work tomorrow to play on Wizardry Online's launch day, you should probably go ahead and earn a paycheck instead. SOE announced that it's moving the release date for the hardcore MMO from January 16th to January 30th.

The delay of two weeks was a necessary step, according to the company: "As we head into final preparations for launching the game, we have decided to move the launch date in order to allow us extra time to ensure we're delivering the most epic gameplay experience possible to our players."

Community Manager Piestro elaborated on the delay later in the announcement thread. "The transition from beta to live requires integrating with a good number of other systems. We are also planning to launch on Steam which complicates matters and requires other sorts of implementation work. Specifics aren't necessarily meaningful to those who aren't familiar with our internal systems, or particularly valuable. That being said, we aren't wasting this time and are definitely looking to see what else we can accomplish. More news later this week I'm suspecting."

Wizardry Online launching January 16th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online launching January 16th
Don't have enough vitamin hardcore in your diet? Then make a new year resolution to try out Wizardry Online. SOE announced that the permadeath-happy fantasy title will release on January 16th.

Wizardry Online is the latest in the long-running Wizardry series and features many mechanics not typically seen in modern MMOs, such as the aforementioned permadeath and friendly fire. Massively previewed the title at SOE Live and more recently got to take it for a more extensive test drive.

SOE will be talking about Wizardry Online's release date and other launch details in its webcast at 7:00 p.m. EST this evening. You can catch the webcast on Twitch.tv.

[Source: SOE press release]

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