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Some Assembly Required: How do you define player-generated content?

EVE Online, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, The Secret World, Roleplaying, Xsyon, Miscellaneous, Some Assembly Required, Sandbox

Some Assembly Required  How do you define playergenerated content
During a recent conversation with my fellow Some Assembly Required columnist, it became apparent that we had slightly differing opinions on the definition of player-generated content. We both agreed that it was content generated by players (obviously), but when it came to the type of content, our opinions diverged. Seeing as PGC is one of the founding premise behind SAR, I thought it would be a good idea to start the new year out by defining the term more precisely to give us a stable foundation to build on. After all, we want to be on the same page, don't we?

Of course, that gives you the chance to weigh in with your opinions as well! What is the first thing you think of when you hear the term? Let's see whether your ideas about player-generated content mesh with mine, more closely resemble Jef's, or embody something totally different.

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Xsyon architecture contest runs through January 13

Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Housing

Xsyon - Rainy River settlement
It's been nine months since Xsyon's last architecture contest, and Notorious Games has kicked off a new competition to recognize the most creative tribes in the post-apocalyptic sandbox title. Submissions will be judged on originality, uniqueness, design, layout, and beautification. The contest also features two sections, one for small tribes (one to five active members) and one for large tribes (six or more actives).

Submissions will be accepted through January 13th, and you can see some of the competition (and get a few ideas) via the video after the break.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Xsyon offers a free-to-play option

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Xsyon offers a freetoplay option
Have you been wanting to get in and check out the post-apocalyptic world of Xsyon but hesitant about plunking down the cash just to get a taste? Well now you can! Notorious Games just announced a free-to-play option for the current Prelude phase of Xsyon.

Previously, Xsyon offered a free trial server, but weekly wipes prevented folks from really experiencing parts of the game. Now, without any cash commitment, new players can game alongside everyone else on the main server. F2P also allows any survivors who left the chance to come back and reestablish themselves in the Tahoe Basin before the game moves to its next phase, Apocalypse.

As with many F2P options, there are some limitations, especially regarding the formation and management of tribes. For instance, players without paid access can neither form tribes nor count toward membership totals in existing tribes, thereby preventing individuals and groups from artificially padding tribe counts to enlarge tribe borders. For more details on restrictions, check out the official list.

Xsyon looks to go gold with a little help from Kickstarter

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Xsyon, Promotions, Post-Apocalyptic

Xyson is an ambitious sandbox MMO that first opened to public consumption in 2011 under the name Xsyon: Prelude. While the game has been out since that time with no secret about its "not really launched yet" status, the team at Notorious Games has just announced today that official launch is finally right around the corner. But they need your help.

Thanks to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Xsyon aims to raise a total of $250,000 to help the game launch under the new name Xyson: Apocalypse. As lead designer Jordi Grau Davis says in the Kickstarter pitch, this will be what Xsyon was intended to be with two servers, nine times the world of Prelude, the addition of religion and magic, a larger dev team, and more.

If you'd like to try the current version of the game out before making a decision to support this project, Xsyon: Prelude has a free trial, and you can learn much more about Notorious Games' plans with the future of the title on their Kickstarter project page.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Xsyon opens free trial server

Fantasy, Business Models, Xsyon, Promotions, Sandbox

Xsyon opens free trial server
If you've got a hankering for some sandbox action, but find the thought of a subscription up-front is a deal-breaker, then Notorious Games has heard your unspoken plea! The studio announced that a free trial server is now open to the public.

The trial server is the same game as the subscription server, although the separation will certainly protect those investing in the title. All you have to do to access the trial server is sign up on the forums, after which instructions will appear on your account page.

There's one caveat of playing Xsyon for free, however: The team plans to hit the big reset switch on the trial server every Monday. So if you're looking to preserve your hard work, you'll eventually have to subscribe.

[Thanks to UltimateCarl for the tip!]

Xsyon creature migration system unveiled

Game Mechanics, News Items, PvE, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Xsyon creature migration system unveiled
As part of making a dynamic, living world, Notorious Games unveiled Xsyon's unique new creature migration system. Unlike worlds where mobs are static, this sandbox will ensure that animals don't just hang around one place. Instead, as animals breed and the populations expand, they will move from regions with higher populations to areas with lower ones.

Different species will also exhibit different tendencies when migrating. Smaller, tamer critters will congregate toward the shores of Lake Tahoe and civilization, whereas the more dangerous creatures will migrate toward the mountains away from people. The wild animals that venture too close or into the toxic mist will mutate and return to wreak havoc upon the denizens of the land.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Previously on MV TV: The week of July 28th

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, EverQuest II, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, MMOFPS, Humor, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MOBA, Previously on MV TV

Previously On MVTV banner
You know what time it is? That's right: It's time for me to heckle you for missing out on some of our awesome streams! Sure, you might have been at work, or perhaps you visited that strange, outer world people call "real life," but that's no excuse! Still, I've got your back. I gathered some of the best moments from the past week of livestreaming, tied them up with a bow, and set them under that little line down there. All you have to do is click the "continue reading" and BAM! All of the presents are yours. Share with your sister. Oh, and bookmark the livestream guide on your little browser there so you won't ever miss a stream again.

What went on this week? Well, we started off with Richie doing some sort of multi-armed attack in SMITE and then switching to a character who shares my name. (That must have given him extra points.) Next up we had MJ with all of her streaming glory. She dived into some Xsyon, the indie post-apocalyptic world where giant dogs tend to bite your ears off. Next she visited Tinkerfest in EverQuest II, escorted somebody's trunk into a toilet (don't ask me) in The Secret World, and rounded her week off with a bit of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Speaking of Vanguard, I wonder if you heard about the free-to-play release date. No? Well then click here and read all about it. I finished things off with a Rise and Shiny revisit to good old Face of Mankind. Yes, I get shot.

Read that Vanguard article after you watch these videos. Your Aunt Beau went through all that trouble to put them together for you, so go upstairs right now and try them on!

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Inactive players give rise to Xsyon zombies

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Braaaaaains... better gear and braaaaaaains...
Normally, the worst things that happen to inactive players are that guilds kick them out. But in the world of Xsyon, the consequences are more dire, not just for the player but for everyone around. With the game's latest update, inactive tribal totems will begin to give rise to intelligent and malicious undead revenants. And these creatures are far more intelligent thatn your average monsters, hunting other players and looting them for better equipment as they capture new territory.

Fortunately for the players, there's also new armor to be looted off the revenants themselves and plenty of opportunities for players to beat back the invasion. The update also brings along a widespread upgrade to monster AI, making all foes a bit more clever and deadly aside from just the revenants. If you've been out of the game for a while, you might want to jump back in, especially to prevent your former home from turning into an undead nest.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Xsyon totem abandonment phase for MIA tribes starts June 25th

Game Mechanics, News Items, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Xsyon screenshot
Deserted structures in neglected lands, abandoned goods sitting unusable in baskets; in Xsyon, as in any game where players can own property, there comes a time when owners move on leaving valuable in-game resources tied up and inaccessible to those who remain. To combat this, Notorious Games is implementing decay for all inactive totems starting June 25th.

Abandonment, the culling of inactive tribes from land ownership, is a four-phase process. Any tribe without at least one active member will move into the first stage, neglected. The second is the deserted phase; all bins on the land will become accessible and the area will no longer be a safe zone. Revenants (aggressive creatures who can loot players and equip their gear) will haunt tribes in this stage and increase in number during the next stage -- abandoned. In the removal stage, buildings can be demolished and the land reclaimed by active citizens.

All Xsyon players -- past or present -- have the chance to log in and claim their totems from Friday, June 22nd until Monday, June 25th before Abandonment begins. All active accounts prior to June 25th will also receive two weeks of free play time.

[Source: Xsyon press release]

The Daily Grind: Do you judge all MMOs by the same standard?

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Xsyon, Sandbox

Xsyon - player-created temple
One of the challenges facing sandbox developers is the fact that recent themepark MMORPGs have raised the bar in terms of smooth launches and relatively bug-free experiences. Aside from EVE Online, most of the current sandboxes on offer are small indie affairs known as much for their rough-around-the-edges implementation as for their feature innovations.

And yet, many so-called sandbox fans seem to expect games like Xsyon, Darkfall, and others to be as polished as World of Warcraft, RIFT, and other themeparks with fewer features and several times the budget.

For today's Daily Grind, we'd like to know how much (if any) slack you cut developers of sandbox and/or indie MMOs. Do you hold these games to the same standard that you hold a triple-A themepark?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Xsyon welcomes back former players, gears up for totem decay

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Xsyon, Promotions, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Xsyon - Totem decay
Notorious Games is working overtime to highlight all of the changes it's made to its Xsyon sandbox. The company ran a 10-day welcome back promotion late last month, and it's doing so again starting this Friday. Previous subscribers will receive a free 10-day pass, while current players will get two additional weeks of game time on the house.

The dates for the 10-day passes vary, according to Notorious' latest press release. If you're a previous subscriber, check your email over the next few days to see where your game time falls within the larger five-week promotional window.

Also noteworthy for dedicated Xsyon players is the fact that the game's totem system will enter something called a decay phase once these trial periods are over. Totems represent land claimed by a particular guild, and those without any actively subscribed players will become abandoned in short order. Abandoned totems will then decay and free up the land for other players, while also leaving any buildings, resources, and containers free for the taking.

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

Latest Xsyon patch adds player-made quests, tweaks skill gains

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Xsyon, Sandbox

Xsyon - player-made cart
What's new in the world of Xsyon? Quite a lot, according to Notorious Games' latest patch notes. The new update has overhauled many of the sandbox survival MMO's systems, including extensive skill tweaks, increased stat gains based on actions, and stat readjustment functionality.

Players may also create quests for one another. Doing so rewards both the quester and the creator with XP upon successful quest completion. Overall experience gain has been adjusted to reward players per action and via quests, which should lead to a marked reduction in the grinding necessary to gain skills.

These are just a few of the improvements, too. Have a look at the patch notes for the full list.

Xsyon hosts 10-day welcome back promotion

Fantasy, Xsyon, Promotions, Sandbox

Did you play the sandbox title Xsyon in the past year but you've let your subscription slip? Notorious Games wants your patronage back, and it's willing to meet you halfway with 10 days of free game time to check out all of the new additions and developments in the game.

Any former subscriber to Xsyon will receive a 10-day pass to the game sometime after May 18th. This time will be used over the course of five weeks. Eligible players will be notified by email when their 10-day slot is scheduled.

Xsyon recently celebrated its first anniversary and since launch has seen explosive growth of both player-created structures and the wildlife population. Other improvements that Notorious Games is proud of include a better crafting system, an overhauled UI, and tweaked visuals.

Xsyon celebrates its first year of Prelude

Real-Life, Opinion, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Xsyon screenshot
One year and counting. Crack open the waterskin and raise a toast to Xsyon: Today the post-apocalyptic sandbox by Notorious Games celebrates its first full year of launch. Well, the first year of the official launch of Prelude, a limited first release of the virtual world. Come to think of it, even that date seems a bit nebulous as the pre-order players in the first phase of Year Zero (basically beta) actually had their most significant change on March 11th, 2011 when the second phase launched and totems were introduced.

Semantics aside, Xsyon has come a long way from that official first day. Unlike many games where gameplay is neatly laid out, this indie title gives players only the canvas and a few tools before setting them loose to fashion their world. As the year continued, additional tools were provided and the world became more vibrant and dynamic. Initially barren without any critters (other than your surviving neighbors) to hunt, the world is now populated with large creatures that roam the land, threatening the lives of travelers and hunters alike. Even the lay of the land itself is different as players manipulate and alter the terrain, build settlements, and plant trees. Communities are forming; groups are supporting and even entertaining each other. Civilization is slowly rebuilding.

And that's only the beginning.

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Some Assembly Required: Six must-haves for creative expression

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Virtual Worlds, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Some Assembly Required, Sandbox

Some Assembly Required header
Creativity. It is expressed in so many ways in so many mediums. Art, literature, architecture, music, performance... I love it all, conventional and unconventional. Heck, I revel in it! Why do you think my work and recreation include gaming?

Wait, gaming?! You betcha!

Beyond the artistry of the developers, MMORPGs offer outlets for player creativity in a variety of ways. I am not ashamed to admit that the primary reason I delve into MMORPGs is not for the gameplay but to explore and experience the creative expression of others (and to express some of my own as well). In fact, finding and sharing that very creativity by championing and highlighting player-generated content is precisely what Some Assembly Required is about.

Between (or in lieu of) the hacking, the slashing, and the plundering, players seize proffered tools in myriad virtual realms to build works of art, pen masterpieces, construct edifices, compose melodies, and take the stage, all within the pixeled confines of a virtual world. Unfortunately, not all games have adequate tools for such creative expression. While inspired players can make do if they must, having supporting features exponentially enhances a game (and positively affects retention). Thankfully, some games provide a few standard-setting features that -- in my opinion -- should be included in every game on the market. Here are six of those must-have features.

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