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The Daily Grind: Got cons?

Events (Real-World), Opinion, The Daily Grind

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So the New York Comic Con is in full swing, and the fact that it's here already reminds us of just how many game-related cons there are scattered throughout the calendar year. Whether it's NYCC, Dragon Con, E3, GDC, or the various flavors of PAX, there always seems to be something just around the corner that calls for hotel reservations and airline tickets. More often than not, the next convention on the circuit sneaks right up on us before we manage to shake the jet lag from the last one.

While we'd like nothing better than to shirk responsibilities and tour the world of gaming and pop culture conventions for a year, work must occasionally intrude, and most of us have to pick and choose our events. What about you Massively readers? Did you attend NYCC this weekend, and are you a regular on the gaming convention circuit?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of our 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 The Daily Grind!

SDCC 2010: TERA by the numbers

Fantasy, Classes, Previews, Races, TERA

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If looks were everything, then TERA would certainly place as a finalist in the Miss Upcoming MMO Universe pageant. Yet as visually sumptuous as it may be, we're more interested in its personality. Can the brains match the beauty? So far, it looks promising. We've been locked on to TERA's unique brand of fantasy play since this year's E3 (and before), and as such, it's great to check back in with the title, take it out for a quiet romantic dinner, and see how it's shaping up.

We caught up with En Masse Entertainment at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con and spent a half hour putting the game through its paces and chatting up with TERA's devs. While TERA's dev team is working with a more recent build of the game, our hands-on demo was the same build as the one we saw at E3. Even so, it's always worth spending a few more minutes with an upcoming MMO to see what new facts and impressions can be gleaned. Hit the jump to read more about classes, races and an idea about not getting hit that's so crazy, it just might work!

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Play me, my lord: Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms fires up an interview

Fantasy, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Browser

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The Heroes of Might and Magic franchise has a long and rich history with PC gamers, although the series has somewhat fallen into obscurity as of late. Ubisoft is looking to thrust it back into the spotlight with the upcoming Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms, a Civilization-type title. We've been tracking MMHK since this year's E3, and recently MMOsite.com grabbed some facetime with Ubisoft's Chris Early about the game. (Note that this isn't the Heroes of Might and Magic Online that's also nearing release.)

A browser-based title imported from overseas, Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms encourages players to slowly build up a city (and later, cities) and interact with their neighbors. This can take the form of peaceful resource trading, hostile skirmishes, or large-scale strategy. While MMHK is set in the Might and Magic universe, the game differs from Heroes of Might and Magic's playstyle -- for example, combat is automatically resolved instead of turn-based. One of the most interesting features of the game is that it has a six-month cycle, after which winners are declared and the server resets for another grand struggle.

The interview spends a bit of time prodding Chris Early about the advantages -- and potential imbalance -- between free players and those who drop cash for advantages (such as more cities to control). Early claims that while paying players will have more options available, free players are still a significant force, especially if they specialize. You can read the whole interview over at MMOsite.com.

TERA's David Noonan talks story, gameplay

Fantasy, Video, New Titles, News Items, TERA

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TERA was one of the big winners at this year's E3, and the action fantasy MMORPG continues to ride that wave with a set of newly released video interviews taped on the show floor. TheGameNet's Nadine Heimann interviews lead writer David Noonan, who drops a few interesting nuggets about TERA's gameplay and story.

For starters, Noonan clears up a question many fans have had regarding Westernization and the game's plot. Despite the fact that the majority of TERA's development is happening at Bluehole Studio in Seoul, South Korea, the game's quests will have a distinctly American flavor since Noonan spends one week out of every month traveling to the far east to collaborate directly with Bluehole's designers.

He also points out that the game's quests will feature upwards of two million words, and that players could play through the TERA's lengthy storyline twice without repeating any quest content.

Check out the full interview on YouTube, and don't forget to watch the shorter "personality" piece as well.

Extensive TERA E3 demo video unveiled

Fantasy, Video, Events (Real-World), New Titles, News Items, TERA

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If you're a fan of TERA but weren't able to make it to E3 2010, you can still check out portions of the lengthy press demonstration video that En Masse Entertainment showcased a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. Gametrailers has an edited version of the video, narrated by producers Sam Kim and Stefan Ramirez, which takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of TERA's action combat as five of the game's eight classes are shown battling through a scenario to take down the evil Captain Marduck.

"Keep in mind that this isn't a trailer, it is a cut down version of our demo and it is built entirely from footage captured from one of our sessions. We're going to boil this down to a five minute recap that gives you a taste of the experience," Ramirez notes.

The video highlights the berserker, warrior, slayer, sorcerer, and priest classes. Check it out after the jump, or at Gametrailers.

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The Road to Mordor: Old school hobbits

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, The Road to Mordor

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Over the past couple weeks Lord of the Rings Online players' eyes have turned to the future, and this column with it. After all, with the beta for LotRO F2P edition in full swing and the recent news from E3 about this fall's offerings, it's kind of hard not to be focused on what's ahead.

However, I was tickled by a LotRO forum thread this week that looked back, not forward. It's one of those nostalgia threads that tend to pop up in a forum of any game more than a few years old, a place for veterans to reminisce about the olden days (whether good or bad). It's also an excellent chance for newbies to learn a bit more about the history of the game -- and perhaps thank their lucky stars they didn't have to walk uphill through three-foot snow with a Balrog on their tail just to log in to the servers every day.

The thread certainly makes for good readin', but I wanted to comment on a few specific examples of how the game's changed, and how it was back when we were in school. Old school, that is. Hit the jump, and we'll travel to the past in our hobbit tub time machine!

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This week on The MMO Report

Video, News Items, Humor, The MMO Report

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This week's MMO Report takes us back to last week's E3 at the Los Angeles convention center, and the show is so packed with content that Casey Schreiner and crew couldn't manage to fit it all into one episode. As a result, you can check out part one this week and wait with baited breath for part two next Thursday.

Speaking of content, Schreiner kicks things off by interviewing Nexon's Eun-Seok Lee and Min Kim about the forthcoming action title Vindictus. Lee talks about the game's non-traditional approach to classes as well as the free-to-play business model. "That's all we do, that's all we know how to do, we kind of invented free to play back in 2000," he says.

Chris Sherland, executive producer on LEGO Universe, is also interviewed on the show, and discusses the creativity inherent in the upcoming title. "We've taken the build metaphor across a number of different levels. If anybody's played the [LEGO] Batman games or the Star Wars games, it's very familiar [to] that early build experience where you're creating something in the world that's pre-determined, but you get that feedback that you've built something. We've that taken that to another level," Sherland says.

Finally, Star Wars The Old Republic writer Daniel Erickson discusses BioWare's decision to avoid demos and simply put the game in the hands of convention-goers, as well as specifics on the game's classes. He also touches on the much-discussed "Hope" trailer, which Casey accurately describes as "better than all three prequels combined."

Check out all the MMO Report E3 action at G4TV or after the jump.

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EQII's Dave Georgeson talks battlegrounds, starter cities

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Interviews, News Items

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Now that this year's E3 is safely in the rear-view mirror, more MMO-centric news from the show is slowly filtering out of outlets around the web as writers are able to collect their interview notes and put fingers to keyboards. One such piece features EverQuest II's Dave Georgeson, the new producer on the long-running fantasy MMORPG, who sat down with Ten Ton Hammer to chat about changes coming soon to the world of Norrath.

Georgeson indicates that the updates will be revealed at this year's SOE Fan Faire. In the meantime, he mentions tweaks to the beloved cities of Freeport and Qeynos, recently removed as starter city options to the chagrin of many veteran players. "I think the business as usual model needs to change. It would be so much better if we can put back some of the richness into the game so we don't have the empty world syndrome. We're going to be offering some new things here in the future that are really going to shake things up a bit," Georgeson says.

He also touches on the problems inherent in the new Battlegrounds system, as well as hints at plans to address it eventually. "I think that people who are just casually going in are getting worked by people who have a lot of PvP gear and because of that we are seeing that people aren't going in without a full board commitment. Because not a lot of new people are going in we basically have the same set of people playing over and over again. Battlegrounds is a really good feature and we will continue to support it, we like it a lot; it's just under performing for the amount of effort we put into it," he says.

Massively Speaking Episode 104: E3 2010 impressions

Podcasts, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Hands-On, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Massively Speaking

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Massively Speaking Episode 104 is back after a bit of a break as we return from E3 with tales of MMOs from a faraway land. Or Los Angeles, CA at least. Join Shawn and Sera as they discuss their honest impressions of the games they saw at E3 2010.

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to shawn AT massively DOT com. Maybe we'll read your letter on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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TERA E3 video walkthrough with Evan Berman

Fantasy, Video, Interviews, New Titles, News Items, TERA

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Thegamer.vg has an interesting video interview with En Masse Entertainment senior community manager Evan "Scapes" Berman recorded live at last week's E3 convention in Los Angeles. The three-part interview, which features over twenty minutes of footage from En Masse's upcoming TERA action MMORPG, touches on everything from character creation, to class skills, to equipment customization.

"With the focus group [testing this past March], we saw the Crystal Socketing System, which will allow your armor and weapons to be a little more customized toward what you want to focus on. If you want to have healing per second, or mana per second, or additional damage when somebody's knocked down...these are all crystals that you'll socket into your armor and weapons and you'll have a combination of them," Berman says.

The walkthrough focuses on character creation, and also shows a bit of PvE in the form of quests and starter area gameplay. View the first portion of the video at Thegamer.vg.

Fett's threads: The progression of SWTOR's bounty hunter armor

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Previews, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Star Wars: The Old Republic did not exactly keep a low profile at E3 this year. Between another slam-bang cinematic trailer and the revelation of player ships and war zones, the razzle dazzle of news kept us all hopping. However, BioWare did drop a few smaller bits of TOR goodness for us to snatch up, including a nifty video showing armor progression for the bounty hunter.

As with most MMOs, the look, bulk and "cool" factor of armor increases as one levels up and gets his or her hands on the latest and greatest gear. In this video, a bounty hunter is taken through the paces fighting enemies as he goes through five iterations of armor, each more threatening than the last. A sharp-eyed viewer can even spot a couple unfortunate souls frozen in carbonite in the background.

Check out the video after the jump!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Fires of Hope from E3 2010

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Lore, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Races, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon

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The Hyperspace Beacon is a weekly guide and discussion by Larry Everett about the yet-to-be-released game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

No matter where you were this week, if you are a Star Wars fan, you saw the new SWTOR trailer: Hope. I'm sure you also read the Daily Grind asking, "Do cinematics make you want to play?" It's an honest question. Lots of times these over-the-top trailers mask some of the things producers aren't telling you about the game you are interested in playing. In fact, it may give you greater expectations than the game has to offer. There have been quite a few comments about Star Wars Galaxies' trailers which have caused some players of the seven-year-old MMO to ask rhetorically, "I want to play that game. Where is that game?" So let me tell you up front, Star Wars: The Old Republic does not look like either of the cinematic trailers, but that does not mean it is not a great game.

I believe as a fan of this game and as a reporter for this website that I would be doing you, the reader, an injustice by totally giving into the (albeit mostly fan-created) hype that surrounds this game. So this week I want to take things back a notch and hopefully give you a realistic outlook on a couple of announced aspects of the game.

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E3 2010: Your complete Massively coverage roundup

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Jumpgate Evolution, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, The Agency, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Might and Magic, Crime, MMOFPS, Warhammer 40k, LEGO Universe, Kids, DC Universe Online, Black Prophecy, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, TERA, Battlestar Galactica Online, Vindictus, Need for Speed World

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The 2010 edition of the gaming nirvana known as E3 has come and gone, and Massively was there to bring you three days of exclusives, firsts, and hands-on impressions for all your favorite MMORPG titles, studios, and developers. This year's Expo saw plenty of news and announcements regarding highly anticipated games, as well as plenty of information on assorted titles large and small.

We thought it best to collate our coverage into a complete and concise roundup post for your viewing pleasure, so read along after the cut to make sure you didn't miss anything. You can also check out all of our E3 galleries along the way.

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E3 2010: Revving up Need For Speed World

Events (Real-World), Interviews, Launches, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Need for Speed World

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"This is Need for Speed World. It is a Massively Multiplayer Action Racing Game. This is the first time for the franchise to go on the Massively Multi[player] Online market, so that is really exciting for us," Producer Jean-Charles Gaudechon announces to Massively at E3 as he gives us a tour of this brand new step into the MMO world. He could not wait to show of the innovative and (dare it be said) powerful features of this, yes, free-to-play game.

How does someone transform one of the best-selling console racing franchises into an online living world that players expect from an MMOG? The producers at EA make it seem simple. It actually seems as if this game should have been an online world the whole time. From customizable cars to character leveling and achievements to exportable leaderboards -- this game is any MMO without even thinking. All you need now is a couple thousand friends for you to race against.

"The world is the biggest we've ever done, it's a seamless open world that you can explore." Well, that sounds like an invitation from Mister Gaudechon. Follow the break, and we will explore!

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TERAs Brian Knox interviewed at E3

Fantasy, Interviews, New Titles, News Items, TERA

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Amira over at TERAfans managed to corner En Masse Entertainment Senior Producer Brian Knox at last week's E3 convention in Los Angeles. The highly visible TERA producer was quizzed on a variety of game-related topics submitted by TERAfans forum-goers including bits on the character talent system, battlegrounds, and a few hints on the game's political system.

"We're not talking a lot about it [the political system], but, there'll be different ways to be elected, be it through PvP, wealth, as well as voting. We're just trying to find the right balance so that different players can participate in different ways and have a choice about how they want to be a part of it all. Once you're elected to office, there'll be some cool features available as well," Knox said.

You can view the full transcript over at TERAfans.

E3 2010: Hands-on with Clone Wars Adventures

Betas, Puzzle, Sci-Fi, New Titles, Previews, Browser, Hands-On, Virtual Worlds, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Clone Wars Adventures

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Arriving at the SOE booth at E3, one is assaulted with the shininess of their latest upcoming titles, DC Universe Online and The Agency. But scattered about the booth were demo stations for many of their other upcoming games including the recently announced Clone Wars Adventures. We haven't heard much about this game since it was announced (and our subsequent interview with the lead designer), but we got to sit down at E3 and find out what's involved.

As a quick refresher, CWA is less a traditional MMORPG and more a virtual lobby where players can access a number of minigames. There's no leveling or quests or equipment with stats. It's more Free Realms and less EverQuest. It will be free-to-play as a Flash-based browser title when it arrives this fall. But how does all this actually play? Click past the jump for more info.

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Massively's Best of E3 2010

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage)

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E3 2010 has wrapped up and we're still recovering a bit from the shiny overload that's bombarded us for the event's long three days. While many MMO development studios and publishers weren't in attendance (NCsoft, Funcom, CCP, Mythic, etc), there was still a significant presence for MMOs this year. Whether through demos or hands-on play, we spent time with each and every MMO on the show floor this year.

So we wanted to honor the best of the best in our annual E3 awards which focus on MMO-related topics only. Follow along after the jump to see what tickled our fancy.

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WRUP: All work and no play...

Massively Meta

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You might think that going to E3, testing out half a billion games, conducting inaudible interviews in a roaring crowd of thousands, and then trying to deliver the goods to your staff over a crappy wifi connection would imply some glamorous existence. You might think that the writers who spent day and night transforming all of the interviews and trailers and screenshots into something that you, the reader, wanted to *squee* about, would be just like the reporters in some adrenaline-fueled news room in a grainy black-and-white film.

Well, you'd be right, more or less, minus the sound of creaky old typewriters clicking furiously -- but that doesn't mean we're not completely exhausted after a week this crazy! Hopefully you all enjoyed our coverage of the MMOs shown at E3. For now, we're going to kick back and relax before we wander too much into Jack Torrance territory. Hit the break and see which games we'll be using to recharge our play meters!

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The Daily Grind: Do cinematics make you want to play?

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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The Massively chat room, as well as the rest of the nerdosphere, was all abuzz this past Monday morning as some kind soul leaked the new Star Wars: The Old Republic cinematic that BioWare had been saving for this week's E3 reveal. Despite a quick retraction of the offending YouTube link, the clip remained viewable for some time prior to its official release, and frankly we all watched it.

Leaving aside the ethical question of leaks (and wink/nudge "leaks"), the thought occurred to me that while the video is a marvel of CGI artistry and admittedly feeds the inner fanboi fire, it also bears absolutely no resemblance to what the actual game it is advertising will look or play like.

So I ask you, Massively readers, do cinematics like this inspire you to play the game, or do you simply acknowledge them for the technical tour-de-force that they are and seek out definitive gameplay details before making a purchase decision?

E3 2010: Dragon Nest hands-on

Free-to-Play, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Dragon Nest

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Dragon Nest couldn't be more different from Vindictus, Nexon's other new title. Where Vindictus is all about "elegant brutality," Nexon describes Dragon Nest as "kinetic and beautiful." And though both games are lovely in their own way, Dragon Nest's style is more typical of what you'd expect from Nexon: The art is stylized, with a bit of an anime feel to it. Gameplay felt a surprising amount like Nexon's 2-D classic arcade-style MMO, Dungeon Fighter Online, though DN is fully 3-D and much more like what you'd expect of an MMO. But like DFO, DN's combat is fast-paced, full of flashy animations, and just a lot of fun. With every game we see from Nexon, it's clear that they're taking everything they've learned from previous development and adding it to their latest project.

Though we haven't seen everything the game has to offer, Dragon Nest may be their most polished game yet.

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