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Diablo III previews the Vault

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, Diablo III

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One of them is here because of greed, and the other one is... also here for that reason.  Huh.  I think we've reached a nadir.
There's nothing worse in Diablo III than seeing a treasure goblin waltz up and snatch a valuable item away from you whilst you're dealing with a pack of monsters. It's endlessly satisfying to catch the little monster and take it down. But what if you could head back to the goblins' base and start taking stuff from them for a change? That's the idea behind the Vault, a new area being added to Diablo III with patch 2.1.

Whenever you take down a treasure goblin in 2.1, there's a chance that a portal to the Vault will spawn. Inside the Vault there's a ton of items pilfered by the treasure goblins, as you'd expect. There's also the Baroness Greed, who doesn't take kindly to having her space invaded and her pilfered goods re-pilfered by someone else. Still, it turns the game on its head; instead of being annoyed when a treasure goblin pinches your loot, now you'll have a chance to get something even better.

Ninja Theory reveals Razer, a prematurely cancelled MMO

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles

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razer
Ninja Theory, the makers of the upcoming Hellblade, revealed today that it previously worked on an MMO called Razer that has since been canned.

Razer was "an epic massively co-op sci-fi adventure" for Xbox One, PS4, and the PC that would have pitted players against a gigantic alien that enveloped Earth. Three months of concept design and previsualizations were performed on Razer before Ninja Theory decided to pull the plug on the project. According to the studio, Razer "was a game we designed in conjunction with a publisher to satisfy their desirable feature list."

To enlighten the community and fellow developers about the complex and involved process of creating a game, Ninja Theory released concept art, previsualization videos, and documents from Razer. You can check out the gameplay experience trailer after the jump.

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Riot Games starting programs to help support retired e-sports players

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends

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Some day you could be appearing in a mattress commercial as a former player of League of Legends, and at that point it's time to just clock out of the future of the species because it no longer makes much sense.
So what do you do when you're too old to play e-sports on a professional level? Do you accept that you had a good run being treated like a rock star for playing a lot of games and move on with your life? Heck no. You need to start worrying about leveraging your brand and your media training. That's the sort of material covered by a new program headed by Riot Games, guiding professional League of Legends players on the path from the start of their career to their expected retirement at around age 27.

The accepted retirement age for professional players is due to a decrease in fine motor control and reflexes, which means that as in physical sports, it's impossible to continue playing as you get older. While the symposia Riot is offering don't yet go into detail about what players can do after playing, they are meant to help keep professionals in the spotlight and support them when they can no longer keep up with the events. It's useful training for professional e-sports players looking to move through their career and have some direction for after the game.

Destiny shows off a Venus trailer

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Lore, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Destiny

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I like this version a lot better than the sulfurous wasteland version.  Better wi-fi, for one thing.
What lurks beneath the cloudy exterior of Venus? In the real world, a blighted hellscape that's about as conducive to human life as the heart of a nuclear reactor. In Destiny, though, it's a lush landscape full of ruins, plant life, and stunning vistas, though considering the large number of gun-toting robots that appear to be popping out of the woodwork, one suspects it might not be all that comfortable for humans just the same.

Yes, the latest Destiny trailer is giving a quick peek at the planet, and while it's not replete with detailed information, it's enough of a tease to get fans excited. Click on past the break to see the planet for yourself before the game launches on September 9th.

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World of Warcraft's Chinese partner sees increase in profit and revenue

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Diablo III, Hearthstone

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wow
Earlier this month, Blizzard claimed that a "disproportionate" amount of its 800,000 lost World of Warcraft subscribers were from the east. While that may be, China is doing quite well with the studio's games.

Gamasutra reports that Blizzard's partner in the region, NetEase, posted a "modest rise" in both profit and revenue during the second quarter. The company reported revenue of $376.6M, a rise of 13% from last year. This financial summary includes NetEase's own titles along with World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Hearthstone. Hearthstone was singled out as a "strong earner" due to its recent launch in the region.

Both Blizzard and NetEase are working to bring Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm to the country in the future.

Players allegedly negotiating with NCsoft to buy City of Heroes

Super-hero, City of Heroes, Culture, MMO Industry

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city of heroes
Instead of spending gobs of volunteer development time and money on City of Heroes knock-offs, wouldn't it be better to simply acquire the real deal? That's the thought behind a fan effort to purchase the rights to the superhero MMO from NCsoft, while proving to the publisher that the team has the talent and capability to handle the property.

According to a poster named Ironwolf on the Titan Network message boards, progress is being made on this front. Ironwolf wrote the following on August 13th: "I did contact the team yesterday and got this reply back: Things are moving along. We should have things worth showing fairly soon, made a great leap forward yesterday."

The efforts to purchase City of Heroes started in early March, according to a timeline on the same thread. On March 12th, Ironwolf noted, "Got letter back from [former NCsoft executive] Chris Chung -- it showed that is WAS possible to buy the game." On April 5th, he wrote that the general range of the price is "very doable."

[Thanks to Duane for the tip!]

How your Guild Wars 2 class will change in September

Fantasy, Classes, Patches, Previews, Guild Wars 2, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
When Guild Wars 2's second feature pack crashes down on our heads next month, there will be none of us unscathed from its impact. A new dev diary posted today reveals that the feature pack will contain balance changes for all of the game's classes.

Among the changes are a rework of Elementalist and Thief grandmaster traits, love for Engineer kits and elixirs, an improved Spirit Bow ability for the Guardian, a revamp of the mimic skill for the Mesmer, improved survivability for the Necromancer, more flexible pet choices for the Ranger, and tweaks to the Warrior's adrenaline resource. Overall, it all sounds pretty positive, although there could be a nerf or two lurking in the mix.

SOE Live 2014 in pictures: H1Z1's Zombie Prom, a costume contest, and attendees galore

Galleries, Free-to-Play, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage)

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Every year there seems to be something different at SOE Live. IN 2013, there was the big reveal of the new EverQuest Next and the surprise announcement of Landmark, complete with sand art and champagne. This year, one popular festivity focused on another new title in development: H1Z1. Attendees got all dolled up and put on their best undead faces for a night of dancing at the Zombie Prom (those who preferred the living enjoyed a pool party). It was quite the evening, complete with a wedding proposal!

But even as some things change, some stay the same. Friends and guildies meet up (or just plain meet!), games are played, tournaments are won, costumes are shown off, swag is collected, and folks have a good time geeking out with devs. There were also plenty of heart-warming moments, from stories of players helping players to actual weddings. If you weren't able to attend the festivities, or you just want a little pick-me-up as you come down from your convention high, here's a quick look at the weekend in pictures.

Origins of Malu's Dunham talks phased release, Unreal 4, and more

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Origins of Malu

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So, what's going on with Origins of Malu? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Recall that the sci-fantasy game recently updated its website and hinted at huge upcoming changes. Lead developer Michael Dunham then took to YouTube over the weekend to talk about what's basically a complete revamp of both the game and the development process.

The dev team has switched to the Unreal 4 engine as well as DirectX 11, which of course involves plenty of labor, testing, and the like. Dunham also mentions that OOM's original scope was way too big, and even though the team has already spent nearly five years and 60,000 hours on the project, a "much smaller scope for initial release" is driving the current plan. There's a "much, much higher focus" on combat at the moment, Dunham explains, though he says that the end goal is still a skill-based sandbox.

You can watch the full devlog after the break.

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The Mog Log: Expectations for Final Fantasy XIV 2.35

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

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Playable Tengu!  I mean Ixali.  (This is for you, Anatoli.)
I realize it's kind of silly, but I'm still annoyed at Final Fantasy XIV's methods for numbering interquel patches. I get the schema, I really do, but "2.35" to me says a patch that's preceded by 34 others. "2.3.5." would indicate a patch partway through the 2.3 patch cycle. Could we get another dot in there? Please?

No, evidently not. And yes, I know we'll probably have an expansion long before we'd be that far through 2.x, it's the principle of the thing.

As I write this, we still don't have a preliminary set of patch notes or anything on 2.35, but while it's a "minor" patch it's still adding a fair amount of stuff into the game. This is one of the great parts about playing the game, that however bad some parts of it might be when it comes to balance, it pumps out content as minor patches that makes other studios look painfully lazy. Specifics are left to the audience for speculation. So what am I expecting from this week's little patch, the known and the unknown?

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Gamescom 2014: Skyforge's crew narrates a 30-minute tour

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Events (Real-World), Free-to-Play, Skyforge

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skyforge
Skyforge is a title that has caught my attention for several reasons, including its pretty graphics, its science-fiction bent, and its flexible class build system. Past that I'm a little ignorant, which is why I appreciated the following video from Gamescom.

After Skyforge's trailer, the team delivers a crash course on the game's lore, features, and combat. One of the interesting aspects is how the game can zoom out to show you the entire world so that you can easily see where quests for your character are waiting.

If Skyforge is on your radar, do yourself a favor and give the Gamescom panel a watch when you have a moment!

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SOE Live 2014: PlanetSide 2 plans battle islands, a fight finder, and more

Sci-Fi, Interviews, PvP, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

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PlanetSide 2 got some big updates over the last couple of months, but there's plenty more planned for the MMOFPS. Creative Director Matt Higby, Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac , and Lead Designer Luke Sigmund detailed some of those plans at SOE Live. Specifics include the squad mentoring, the Valkyrie aircraft, battle islands, a fight finder, and more. They also showed off the progress of the Playstation 4 version, which will launch in early access before the end of the year.

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WoW getting a price hike in the UK

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Subscription

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A Blizzard moderator spilled the beans regarding World of Warcraft's upcoming price hike over the weekend. The catch, so far, is that the increase only applies in the UK. The fantasy MMO will transition from £8.99 ($15.00) to £9.99 ($16.72) per month, while 90- and 180-day sub prices will also rise.

The firm mentions "changes in light of local and regional market conditions" as factors behind the price increase.

The Daily Grind: What was your favorite Gamescom reveal?

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Star Citizen

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Gamescom 2014 came and went, but not before a handful of interesting MMO-related news blurbs made their way from Cologne, Germany to your monitor. My personal favorite was Star Citizen's quartet of new videos, not to mention a fifth that showed off a multiplayer-crewed Constellation fighting for its life.

What about you, Massively readers? What was your favorite Gamescom reveal? Or did nothing much catch your eye this year?

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!

MMO Week in Review: SOE Live 2014

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, the MMO world has been preoccupied with SOE Live, Gamescom, and Blizzard's Warlords of Draenor shindig. Massively's MJ Guthrie has been reporting from SOE Live in Las Vegas, delivering fresh info on Landmark's and EverQuest Next's combat systems.
SOE Live 2014: Details on EverQuest Next combat, classes, and races
SOE Live 2014: Combat comes to Landmark August 27th
SOE Live 2014: EverQuest will release The Darkened Sea expansion October 28th
SOE Live 2014: EverQuest II's Altar of Malice expansion includes new playable race
SOE Live 2014: Thursday keynote liveblog announces EQ and EQII expansions, more

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EVE Evolved: How to fix nullsec territorial warfare

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Guilds, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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EVE Evolved title image
If you've been playing EVE Online lately or just following the major events in the game, it can't have escaped your notice that nullsec has become a bit stagnant. The lawless nullsec regions are supposed to be politically unstable territories claimed by hundreds of warring player-run alliances, but today they're dominated primarily by just two or three mega-coalitions. Individual alliances can no longer hold out against the combined forces of the coalitions and must either pick a side or be annihilated. The coalitions have even signed agreements not to take space from each other by force, and players are being bored to death as a result.

Two weeks ago, I examined the history of force projection in EVE Online and made the argument that capital ships and jump drives ultimately created today's nullsec problems. Increases in mobility have led to alliances teaming up over vast distances, making mega-coalitions an inevitable outcome. It's obviously too late to remove capital ships or jump logistics, but there are plenty of other ways to potentially fix the nullsec problem. We had some great discussions in the comments of the previous article about how this complex problem could be solved without making warfare the painful slog it was back in 2004, and I believe it's possible.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I lay out some ideas for new game mechanics that could solve the current nullsec crisis and may meet CCP's goals for the eventual sovereignty revamp that's on the way.

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Here's Shroud of the Avatar's opening cinematic

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

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Shroud of the Avatar's Release 9 is less than a week away, and Portalarium is whetting fan appetites by showing off the fantasy sandbox's opening cinematic. There are a bunch of other interesting tidbits in this week's newsletter, too, including pics and maps of Release 9's Ardoris, a call for player-written books, and even a level designer job opening.

The cinematic's the main attraction, though, and you can view it after the break!

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Elite: Dangerous' Stellar Forge tech powers planetary creation

Betas, Sci-Fi, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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elite
Maybe you think that creating solar systems for an MMO is nothing more than plunking down a few spheres and programming in physics for a gravity well. Well, you've got some nerve! The developers at Elite: Dangerous think about nothing else day in and day out, and as a result the team has come up with special tech to create the billions of systems that players will encounter in-game.

In a recent newsletter, the team elaborates on the Stellar Forge system that it uses for most of the game's celestial bodies: "In Elite: Dangerous, when we are generating a system procedurally, each planetary system is formed from first principles. Bodies are gradually aggregated over a very long simulated time from available matter, taking into account its chemical composition. Depending on the angular momentum, this might begin to form into a single central body, or into multiple co-orbiting bodies."

This explanation goes on in detail -- great detail -- and if you haven't appreciated how planets are made before now, you certainly will by the time you finish reading it.

[Thanks to Cotic for the tip!]

Gamescom 2014: Blizzard says World of Warcraft 2 is 'something we have talked about'

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, Subscription

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wow
World of Warcraft fans are not the only ones who have speculated about a sequel to the hit MMO. Blizzard Game Director Tom Chilton gave a surprisingly non-evasive answer at this year's Gamescom about whether the company was thinking about creating World of Warcraft 2.

"It's something we have talked about," Chilton said. "It's something we have talked about for 10 years. I think that there are a lot of challenges there in seeing how World of Warcraft 2 relates to World of Warcraft, do they live alongside each other, does one feed into the other, what is that product, etc. These are challenges that have to be figured out before that becomes a reality."

One Shots: Falling through the world

Screenshots, Culture, Vanguard, One Shots, RIFT, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Destiny

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Did you get a chance to say goodbye to Vanguard and perhaps take a screenshot or two in its memory before it shut down? Reader Agemyth did, submitting the following odd image and fascinating tale.

"The Vanguard shot that looks like I'm in a cave is actually because I flew my griffon straight into the peak of a mountain. Thanks to Vanguard's being the lovely lump of lovable bugs it is, I fell off my mount and right through the mountain," Agemyth writes. "Silly Vanguard, I thought, but instead of falling to the bottom of the virtual world as typically happens, I fell on top of a dungeon of some kind! I never got to explore Vanguard as much as I had hoped, but what started as an annoying bug ended up being a shortcut to an ancient forgotten underground structure soon to be forgotten for good by the end of Telon itself.

"In Vanguard's final hours, it showed me the beauty of its true open-world design. You never know what mysteries lie below the dirt when your world is designed to be lived in rather than 'progressed' through."

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