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PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus

Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, Events (Massively's Coverage), WildStar, Subscription

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wildstar
Nexus is a giant ball of mysteries at its core, but WildStar doesn't want to drag out solving them. In the upcoming Defile drop, the team is prepared to address some of the biggest questions of Drusara and the Elden as players delve into the mystery of Genesis Prime. I sat down with Carbine's Stephen Frost at PAX Prime to pry out a few secrets in advance of the patch's release.

Defile is a massive patch compared to the game's first two releases, piling on a ton of solo, small-group, and large-group PvE content for players to face and conquer. A new zone will open up, one that's a key battleground between the Strain and Drusara, and things have gotten all sorts of weird there as a result of the clash. There are sentient spiders who have kidnapped faction leaders, a black focus that is malfunctioning, and a five-stage public event that includes bombing runs and a 20-man boss fight.

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One Shots: The big plunge

Screenshots, EverQuest, Culture, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous, WildStar

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gw2
For someone like myself who is mortally terrified of heights, MMOs are not a good form of immersion therapy. I still feel my stomach clench when I fall from a ledge or, in the case of our first screenshot of the day, witness someone else doing it.

"This was my first jumping puzzle in Guild Wars 2," Reader Chiara said. "You don't forget those things. I was all excited when I found a secret passage -- I wasn't even aware of the existence of jumping puzzles back then -- and as luck would have it, I found one of the toughest ones. Of course. My character is always camera-ready, as you can see -- even when she's plunging to her death. I think she was trying to wave, actually."

What happened next? In my mind, she'll always be falling, falling. Well, we all might as well take the big plunge into the rest of these screencaps!

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PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide

Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), RIFT

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rift
When RIFT's Nightmare Tide releases on October 8th, Trion Worlds expects that it will make more than a few MMO gamers rediscover why this is not a game to be discounted. Not only will the full expansion be completely free, but it will allow the Ascended heroes to finally take the fight to the Plane of Water. It's there that a being known as Draum has had his dreams disturbed, water has decided to eschew the laws of physics, and the bloodfire army is attempting an invasion of its own.

The team believes that RIFT has two types of players: ones who want to enjoy the story and ones who just want to level already. Nightmare Tide is built with both in mind, allowing people to delve into the story as much or as little as desired. However, Trion's Bill Fisher told me at this year's PAX Prime that the story is so good this time around that he's had a hard time doing the MMO gamer thing of ignoring the quest text.

At one point, players will encounter the birthing of a clutch of Skelf eggs. Skelf are humanoid sea creatures (some are like sharks while others share similarities to angler fish) who tend to kill the weakest member of a clutch. However, player intervention will save a poor Skelf baby who will then follow that player around and become a key part of the expansion tale.

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The Daily Grind: Do you have an ArcheAge guild yet?

Fantasy, Guilds, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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ArcheAge has a launch date. And a founder's launch date. And an open beta date. I'm ready to go, but for the fact that I'm going it alone. I don't have an AA guild, and I've been purposefully steering clear of my alpha and beta access over the last few months so as not to spoil more of the game and instead savor the experience when it counts.

So I've missed the usual pre-launch guild recruitment opportunities, basically.

What about you, ArcheAge fans? Do you have a guild yet, or are you just going to play it by ear?

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!

PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Landmark

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landmark
After the better part of a year of being both an excellent building simulator and the sparse skeleton of an actual MMO, Landmark is finally starting to fill out in all sorts of pleasing ways. At this year's PAX Prime, Dave Georgeson was gushing about the joy that's been unleashed with the recent PvP combat patch. Not only are players reveling in the slaughter of their fellow humans, but a new market for death match arenas has sprung up virtually overnight.

"Players are having stupid amounts of fun with the PvP, even if they aren't typically into PvP," Georgeson noted. He said that contrary to popular belief, PvP is tougher to put into an MMO because it deals with a very unpredictable foe (a thinking human). But it's also better for the team to implement that first and home in on what makes the combat click to make PvE combat sparkle when that's added later on. More PvP customization options are on deck for the future as well.

Also part of the crazy fun are the new platforming elements: teleporters, moving platforms, and "flingers." Georgeson predicted that once the playerbase gets a handle on what these elements can do and how they can be chained together, the game will grow several orders of magnitude wilder.

From here, Landmark's progress will only speed up. The team is going to focus on bug fixes and polishing the new systems while listening to what the players think about the new toys. One thing that the devs have to do is separate ideas that are possible (such as allowing players to order voxel structures to obey the laws of physics) from those that are not (such as allowing players to create enemy creature models). The team does have a release date for the game in mind, although it is not sharing.

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Make My MMO: August 24 - August 30, 2014

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

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This week's MMO crowdfunding news was headlined by Project Gorgon's second Kickstarter drive as well as TUG's upcoming "major content and engine updates."'

Gorgon is described as having "an unusual, original feel," by creator and former Turbine producer Eric Heimburg. It mixes "ideas from older and newer MMOs with a whole bunch of ideas never before seen in any MMO." TUG, meanwhile, is pretty well documented here on Massively, and fans can get an eyeful of the latest Nerd Kingdom shenanigans via the team's new video releases.

The rest of our crowdfunding roundup can be found past the break.

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PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Launches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

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archeage
The packed ballroom at Trion's PAX Prime party erupted into giddy cheers last night when the team announced that ArcheAge's launch is merely a couple of weeks away. This gorgeous fantasy sandbox blew up the alpha test population and is poised to be a huge coup for Trion as the studio adds another title to its growing portfolio.

While the official launch date is September 16th, there will be an open beta from September 4th through the 8th, followed by a headstart launch on the 12th for founders.

The team expressed confidence in the alpha testing and the back-and-forth communication with developer XLGAMES. If XLGAMES is the proud mom and dad of ArcheAge, I was told, then Trion is the proud auntie and uncle. A lot of work has gone into straightening out regional differences for the western audience as well. For example, in Korea it's quite common to play an MMO with the intent of selling your character for actual money, which places a different value and emphasis on what you accumulate and do. Since such sales aren't often legal here, adjustments had to be made for the localized version. There was also a special cape item that Korean players could use to identify botters, which was used responsibly in that country but has apparently been wielded as a griefing tool in the west.

ArcheAge won't be budging on its commitment to an open PvP world; it's simply how the game is constructed. Players who want to avoid getting ganked will need to keep an eye on war zones that move throughout the world and accept the inherent risk that comes with attempting trade in those regions.

The team hopes that there will be enough space on the servers for all subscribers to grab an open world housing plot if desired. Coming some time after launch will be castles, which are larger structures that guilds can build, maintain, and defend together. Trion said that server transfers won't be in for release but are being worked on for the future.

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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

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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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PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1

Betas, Horror, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage), H1Z1

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h1z1
The time was just before dawn, with colors muted by the limited light. I silently roamed through fog banks, looking for a quarry in the woods and finding none. It was my first time playing H1Z1, and I had no other purpose than to find something living (or unliving) and end it with my hefty axe.

Suddenly I spotted it: the flash of a white tail as a deer sprinted away from me through the brush. I pressed down the sprint button and went after it, chewing through my stamina and cursing my lack of four legs or gasoline-powered wheels.

The deer led me on a grim chase through the mostly silent woodland. At one point, a wolf appeared out from behind a tree and sprinted after the doe as well, although it couldn't catch up and eventually became disheartened (or glitched out). Yes, I felt both gruesome and silly spending my moments at the demo booth trying to kill Bambi, but I needed to know if I would be able to survive in this environment.

One wrong move and I was upon the prey, bringing it down with a sickening thud. Continuing to hack away at the carcass with my axe found me rewarded with more crafting materials and a dented conscience. Stricken, I wandered away and roamed up a hill, only to encounter a strange solitary sign with a skull on it.

"That marks the border of the game," a nearby developer told me while another dev professed amazement that he had never seen such signs before. "If you go past here, you'll die," the first dev cautioned.

Maybe I deserve to die. If chopping through a tender critter is what it takes to survive in this new world, is that worth the cost? I put down the controls and walked away, innocent no longer.

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PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, The Repopulation

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Above & Beyond Technologies Lead Developer Josh Halls has been on a very long journey with The Repopulation, a journey that began back in 2009 and isn't even close to being over yet. I met with Halls at PAX Prime to talk about where this sci-fi sandbox has been and where it's going as it angles for beta testing.

The Repopulation released its Alpha 3 build this past April and will be sticking with that for the duration of alpha testing. Halls told me that there's a pretty dedicated group of testers in the game, with around 1,500 having picked up the title so far and around 20 to 40 playing at any given moment. Those numbers are primed to increase when the game transitions into beta and Steam Early Access later this year.

While it's not terribly sexy, bug tracking and fixing is vital to the development process and foremost on the team's mind. Player feedback during the alpha has helped to refine the game in other ways, such as to make gathering less of a click-fest and more of a community effort. Right now a group of players can work together to enhance a region in order to gather better materials.

Other big to-do items include putting in a fishing minigame and opening the doors (so to speak) for open-world housing. Fishing will pave the way for other possible minigames, and open-world housing is the next step from the game's existing instanced homes.

Halls said that the dozen or so members of the team are hard at work to prepare The Repopulation for the larger gaming public and that the studio is currently operating in the black.

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The Stream Team: Experiencing Landmark's first combat arenas

Betas, Video, PvP, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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Folks have had a few days to get their bearings with Landmark's new PvP combat system, and that means more arenas have opened their doors. Want to see what's sprung up? Massively's MJ is taking a tour to see and experience -- and most likely die in -- some of the new builds focused on the fledgling fighting system. She's sure there are many creative ways to perish at the hands of her fellow players! With any luck, at least some will involve proximity mines. Join us live at 1:00 p.m. for the two-hour tour (as well as a chance to win more codes).

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, August 30th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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PAX Prime 2014: PlanetSide 2 meets the PlayStation 4

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), PlanetSide 2

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ps2
PlanetSide 2 is waging a war for your attention on two platforms these days. The big push by SOE as of late is to prepare the title for its testing and release on the PlayStation 4. At this year's PAX Prime, the team said that the MMOFPS should be going into a beta later this year after the devs finish refining the UI for use on the controller.

The PlayStation 4 version won't be sharing the same server as the PC, although SOE predicts that it will become the more popular edition due to the number of first-person shooter fans on the console. Great effort is being made to keep the game as fast and responsive as other FPS titles on that platform. As in many other FPS games on the PS4, voice chat will be a must-have for squads.

The team will be attempting to keep the updates for the PS4 edition as close as possible with the release of the PC title. Because of the approval process by Sony, it won't be possible for the devs to assure a same-day release across platforms.

We asked whether PlanetSide 2 could be coming to the PlayStation 3 as well, but the studio said that the older hardware simply can't handle the title without a serious compromise in game quality.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you

Betas, Horror, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), H1Z1

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h1z1
In most MMOs, bears are chunky cannon fodder: good for lowbie XP and a sad scrap of a pelt as loot. In H1Z1, bears are possibly more terrifying than zombies and gankers combined. At PAX Prime this weekend, Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt explained that in this game, a bear attacked will run you down as fast as it does in nature and make a plaything of your skull. It's a good thing that they're relatively rare and give a warning roar before charging, otherwise the zombies would be coming to you for help.

Expanding the role of nature is essential to the immersion of H1Z1's survival aspect. Wolves, deer, and bear roam the countryside, getting into the occasional tiff with each other and the undead. They're useful if you can take them down quickly, since the harsh elements (such as rain and snow) will soon be programmed to degrade your well-being and those animal pelts could be made into clothes.

Whisenhunt walked us through the four essential stats to staying alive in this world. Stamina is for sprinting and attacks, and while it regenerates quickly, neglecting it will ensure your body will draw from your hydration and energy levels instead. Your health is also constantly ticking down and replenished by the food and water you drink, meaning that you'll always need to be looking for more to scarf up and quaff in your journeys. Stashing your food in your backpack is a good option, although the team is still tinkering with the style of inventory to make the limited storage another survival factor.

When H1Z1 goes into early access later this year, there will be one "vanilla" server on which no punches will be pulled (this is doubly true as all players will start with only their fists as weapons). Other types of servers, such as player-only or PvE rulesets, are possibilities once the team assesses how players are engaging the game in beta.

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WRUP: WoW's next-next expansion

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you try to guess what World of Warcraft's sixth expansion's theme will be. If you say pandas, time-travel, or orcs, you lose.

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PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, PvP, Sandbox, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

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pathfinder online
Would you pay to get into an alpha test? Well, would you continue to pay a monthly subscription to keep on playing a title that's not yet launched? If you've answered "yes" to these questions plus the special one that I ask at the end of this article, then you're one of the folks that Pathfinder Online hopes to recruit for early enrollment come September 15th.

I sat down with Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey and Game Designer Stephen Chaney at PAX Prime yesterday to talk about this next big step for the game. Pathfinder Online is still far from feature complete, but the team considers it done enough that it can monetize the game in the form of a monthly sub. The 20,000 or so folks who will be admitted into early enrollment play (a number that includes the 7,000 Kickstarter backers) are expected to pay $15 a month as the team continues to develop the title. In exchange, characters and progress will not be wiped, and players will get to see the game take shape around them.

Goblinworks' philosophy is to have a robust game design first and then wrap the rest of the game around it afterward. Dancy said that the monetization is necessary to keep the lights on and the development rolling. The budget for a finished Pathfinder Online is $5 million (89% of which is salaries), but only $1.4 million has been raised so far.

Being only passingly familiar with Pathfinder Online, I asked why the MMO with its territory control seems so different from the small party, adventure-oriented tabletop game. The reason for this is that the pen-and-paper game doesn't completely translate to software boundaries, plus it draws from an adventure pack that Paizo tested a while back that went on to become one of its best-selling products. In both versions of Pathfinder, the long game is to rule the land and establish a legacy, not merely fill up a bag with XP and loot.

So is it worth it to you to pay a full subscription price for a half-finished game? That's up to you.

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The Daily Grind: Who is your favorite in-game companion?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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swtor
While not every MMO features companions, there are enough out there that I wager you've played a title or two with a strapping NPC at your side. One of my absolute favorite features of Star Wars: The Old Republic is its companion system. The day that I finally earned my HK-51 was one of the most glorious moments of my life, just narrowly edging out the birth of my children and the return of Arrested Development.

Who is your favorite in-game companion? Did you choose that companion based on personality, looks, or general combat assistance? What is one of your favorite stories involving that character?

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!

PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th; Trove's closed beta begins September 25th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, RIFT, Sandbox, Defiance

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Trion made a bunch of ArcheAge fans happy earlier this evening, so now it's time to do the same for followers of RIFT, Defiance, and Trove.

RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion officially launches on October 8th, while Defiance will get "a massive end-of-September" update called Aftermath that includes new missions and events.

Last but not least, Trove will enter closed beta on September 25th. Massively's Justin Olivetti learned today on the show floor that this phase of beta will not be wiped prior to launch. Players who have purchased currency will receive half again as much back.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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Yes, I know she turns into a bad angel
And lo, a new MMO came upon them, and the glory of non-linear gameplay surrounded them, and they were sore afraid.

Actually, they weren't afraid. They were exuberant. They sang "funk yeah!" -- their voices an angelic choir -- because frickin' finally, four years after discovering ArcheAge and three years after initially playing it, they received a western launch date.

That date, as we learned tonight at PAX Prime, is Tuesday, September 16th. Other dates to bear in mind are September 12th (the Founder head-start) and September 4th through September 8th (the open beta).

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

Betawatch: August 23 - 29, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

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Landmark
This week, SOE injected a limited version of combat into its really-truly-still-a-beta Landmark sandbox. Massively's MJ Guthrie streamed and wrote about her initial experiences with the system. What else is new in the land of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup awaits.

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The Stream Team: Becoming a TERA BAM killer

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, TERA, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG

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TERA
En Masse's Kickstarter-esque Bam Killer TERA event is too adorable for Massively's Mike Foster to pass up, so tonight he's lacing up his lancer boots and setting off on a course for monsters and mayhem. Join him as he scours the world for BAMs (Big Ass Monsters) to kill and works to help TERA's community reach its murderous stretch goals. The ultimate goal is five million BAM kills in 21 days; surely Mike can put a considerable dent in that number?

The action starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: TERA
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, August 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Game Columns

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The Stream Team


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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
Destiny September 9, 2014
The Crew November 11, 2014
LEGO Minifigures Online Fall 2014
ArcheAge 2014
WoW Warlords of Draenor November 13, 2014

Meet the Team

Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
Jef Reahard Managing Editor
Justin Olivetti Contributing Editor
Eliot Lefebvre Contributing Editor
MJ Guthrie Contributing Editor
Mike Foster Contributing Editor
Anatoli Ingram Columnist
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Larry Everett Columnist
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