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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card
In 1996, Richard Bartle published a study of MMO gamers that eventually led to his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds, which was at the time the de facto MMO genre's design bible. Of course, this was before World of Warcraft hit the scene, but many of the principles Bartle laid out still hold true. In fact, if you don't believe me, take it yourself: GamerDNA still has an online test based on the Bartle study.

Bartle categorized players based on their interests in the game; I would like to do the same this year as I did last year for Star Wars: The Old Republic since it's a good way to measure the game against the average expectations of certain types of players. Bartle divides us all into Achievers, Socializers, Explorers, and Killers. I'll explain what each of those means as I discuss the different aspects of SWTOR. If you know what that means and so you have a point of reference, my profile is SEAK, which means that I interact with all types of players.

For fun, I've added a grade-card-style of rating system: A, B, C, D, or F. Just remember the information I give about that score counts for more than the score itself.

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LotRO patch nerfs essences, adds group Pelargir epic battle

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

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LOTRO
A small but significant patch hit the Lord of the Rings Online servers last week, bringing with it a new fellowship-size version of the Retaking Pelargir epic battle. This version comes with additional secondary missions and tougher elite mobs (naturally). Also, the team announced that, "Aragorn's voice can FINALLY be heard summoning the dead to fulfill their oaths."

Update 15.1 also nerfed essences by only allowing one of each type to be equipped at a time, as multiple copies were deemed too powerful and an obvious threat to Sauron's dominance over Middle-earth. Also, Beornings got a bear-load of tweaks, as well as the permission to use the "-beorn" suffix with names.

Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Most Likely to Flop

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Most Likely to Flop in the coming years. This'd be a released or announced MMO that we think has little chance of performing to expectations, even if it may not capsize completely (though we're happy to be proven wrong!). All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Most Likely to Flop in 2015 and Beyond...

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Elite: Dangerous' launch-day roundup

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Business Models, Launches, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite
Successfully Kickstarted just over two years ago, David Braben's space MMO Elite: Dangerous formally launched early this morning, a rare buy-to-play entry in the MMO market and one of the most high-profile Kickstarter MMOs to actually reach launch to date. If you're heading to the comments right now to inform us that Elite isn't an MMO because of its single-player mode, know that the tide's against you; even Frontier, in the midst of controversy over the cancelation of its originally promised offline mode, justified that decision because Elite is an MMO and "technically [...] always has been."

Elite: Dangerous won Massively's Most Underrated MMO of the year by a hair just last week. Check out the launch trailer and our roundup of the best Elite news, streams, and hands-on articles by the Massively staff below!

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Exclusive: Elsword's Ara becomes the Dark Fox

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Elsword
KOG Games is on the verge of launching new content for the North American edition of F2P sidescrolly MMO Elsword in the form of updates for character Ara. Ara is a speardancer with insane jumping skills, and starting tomorrow, she can follow a brand-new job path that ushers in the Masters of Darkness theme destined for the game.

As the appropriately brooding Dark Fox, Ara can advance to Little Specter at level 15 and Asura at level 35, both of which roles feature phantom claws. "Explore the eerie side of Ara's mystical connection with Eun, the spirit of the legendary nine tail fox sealed in the ancient hairpin for centuries," hints the website. We've got an exclusive trailer below that shows off Ara's new path -- enjoy!

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TERA: Fate of Arun goes live today

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, TERA

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If there's one thing the game lacked, it was robots.  (It's always robots, really.)
Ready to travel to unfamiliar lands, level past the existing level cap, and fight against new villains in TERA? Of course you are. You know what expansions are all about. Not coincidentally, that's the whole basis for Fate of Arun, the game's first expansion, which sends characters to Northern Arun for the first time. And wouldn't you know it, we have a shiny new trailer for this update just past the break.

The expansion also includes quality-of-life improvements like a simplified enchanting system and a new Coliseum mode, which throws two teams of players in a race to clear through groups of enemies. You can check all of this out now on the live servers, although you might want to view the trailer first. Tradition's sake and all.

[Source: En Masse Entertainment press release]

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The Daily Grind: What's the best MMO for solo play?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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SWTOR
One of the comment tropes we see repeated over and over below our articles is this idea that if you're soloing in an MMORPG, you're in violation of the rules of the genre. I despise that idea so much that I even wrote a whole rant about it. The fact that a game is massively multiplayer does not mean that you need to be playing directly with other people at all let alone all the time, and it definitely doesn't mean you need to be grouped up performing completely arbitrary combat activities, which is usually how the argument goes. MMORPGs without groups and without combat debunk that construct handily. The genre is way bigger than that limited definition; the options are what make it great, not the requirements.

A lot of MMO gamers solo for so very many reasons: don't like other games, don't want to hold anyone back, don't want to be held back, might need to AFK, feel too shy, don't speak the language, or just prefer solo challenges and want to be measured for them against that massively multiplayer backdrop.

That leads me to today's question: Which MMORPG is the absolute best for a gamer who likes to solo but wants to do it "alone together" alongside lots of other people?

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!

Not So Massively: HEX gets new cards, Dota 2 cancels Christmas, and Hearthstone lands on Android (sorta)

Betas, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, MOBA, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, HEX, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

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HEX
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Path of Exile Update 1.3 goes live with PvP revamp

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Path of Exile

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path of exile
Big things are afoot at Path of Exile. The OARPG released the much-anticipated Update 1.3 on Saturday, and with it, heralded the beginning of tournament season one.

The update contains challenge leagues, a new forsaken master, a comprehensive PvP revamp, and tons of additional skills. Due to a slew of changes to passive skills, every character in the game has also been treated to a free optional passive respec.

Since Update 1.3 is such a PvP-heavy patch, the devs have posted a PvP Manifesto that explains their purpose and reasons behind balance and damage scaling.

Zombie sandbox MMO Immune enters early access on Steam

Betas, Horror, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Promotions, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Buy-to-Play

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Immune
If you can't wait for H1Z1 and want to slay some zombies this Christmas, perhaps isometric post-apoc sandbox Immune will suffice. Billed by developer Vidiludi Games & Entertainment as an MMORPG, Immune launches into early access today and is pushing for Steam greenlighting.
"Immune is a humorous early access sandbox survival MMORPG with PVP and PVE, in which you scavenge, hunt, and even grow your own food to survive. Inspired by classics such as DayZ, Rust, and Stalker, Immune takes place in a post-apocalyptic world following an outbreak of a devastating pandemic leaving only a handful of survivors. But beware of the gasmask wearing NPCs doing everything in their power to avoid the infection by shooting everyone sick or immune in the face!"
The game is currently $10 US on the developer's website, half off as a holiday promotion.

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CBS looks at the rise of spectator e-sports

Video, Culture, MMO Industry, PvP, Miscellaneous, E-sports

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cbs
In a "Game On" segment, CBS Sunday Morning featured an in-depth look at e-sports and the spectator community that has grown up around them. It showed how games like StarCraft II and League of Legends have packed stadiums full of people who watch and cheer on their favorite teams of gamers.

"I think I'm too old to understand what's going on in online gaming now," the reporter comments at one point. Our dear friend Research Analyst Michael Pachter replies, "You probably are."

You can watch the entire eight-minute segment after the jump.

[Thanks to Sorenthaz for the tip!]

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Wurm Online adds in a new Challenge mode

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, Wurm Online, News Items, Sandbox

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Sandbox, noun: a version of gameplay wherein no actual content is provided, thus inciting players to punch one another in hopes of something happening.
Sometimes you don't want to fuss about with leveling; you just want to jump into the meat of a game and start accomplishing things. Wurm Online's new Challenge mode is all about that, giving new characters created just for these month-long challenges enough skills to get started right away and a faster advancement rate to boot. It sounds pretty magnanimous until you realize that the other two sides are also starting ahead and moving just as fast, so players are going to need to step up fast if they want to keep going.

The Challenge server offers a 64 square kilometer space for three player factions to feud over control. Everything on the server remains persistent for a month, after which point prizes are awarded to the players and factions that have advanced the furthest in specific categories. The update also includes siege weaponry, strategic resource spawns, and defensive fortifications to hold off attackers. It's the equivalent of throwing players in a box and shaking it until the fireworks start flying; if that sound like fun, you can jump into that box now.

[Source: Code Club press release]

Borderlands Online will use heavy instancing

Betas, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Miscellaneous

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bo
So, Borderlands Online. You know, that popular game-turned-MMO conversion that we'll probably never get to see in the West? At least we have a few new details that will taunt us forever with our lack of this sci-fi western title.

The title looks to be a more instance-heavy MMO, akin to Dragon Nest or the original Guild Wars, with co-op adventure zones but no mass shared open world zone. Instanced MMO gaming isn't everyone's cup of tea, of course, but it doesn't automatically mean it will be horrible, just different. Other details that Chinese game site Sina discovered is that there will be over 20 million guns, plenty of hidden secrets, and some form of PvP.

Guild Wars 2 celebrates the holidays with a player murder spree

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), PvP, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
Don't get too comfy and cozy with that hot cocoa and crackling fire; Guild Wars 2 is calling all fighters to arms for epic PvP conflict over the next month. Today, the team posted details for the game's two upcoming PvP events, both starting tomorrow and ending on January 13th.

The fun and casualties begin with the WvW Sneak Attack event, which will change some of the established rules for this setting to make it harder to see who is attacking what and give a bonus to experience and rewards earned. Then the team is testing out a PvP ladder season, with prizes such as mini llamas and glorious hero's armor pieces to those who kick and claw their way up the rankings.

Elite: Dangerous has no offline mode for story reasons

Betas, Sci-Fi, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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These just keep going, huh.
Frontier Developments head honcho David Braben has been working overtime to defend the 11th-hour revelation that Elite: Dangerous will have no offline play option. A recent video interview with Braben includes his response to these issues; he states that it's not off the table, but it's incompatible with the way that the game handles storytelling. The game world is meant to change over time based on player actions, and it wasn't as functional without players being affected by each another.

Braben explains that the game's missions are generated in part by aggregates of player activity; if a majority of players choose to support a rebel faction on a given planet, for example, then that faction becomes more powerful, and the nature of missions related to those rebels changes. Keeping the game online ensures that these changes can be reflected in gameplay, making the experience more dynamic and engaging. The full interview also covers the details of beta testing and control setups, if you're not as interested in the fine details of staying online while playing in single-player mode.

Elite: Dangerous formally launches tomorrow.

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's Eternal Bond

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

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WEDDINGS WE CAN JUST SAY WEDDINGS COME ON YOSHI-P
Weddings in MMOs always feel like content aimed directly at me. However many side benefits might exist, weddings are fundamentally roleplaying tools, ways for people to mark themselves as bound together in a virtual space that serves no purpose beyond character establishment. So even if I weren't planning on taking part in the marriage ceremony in Final Fantasy XIV, I'd be happy it existed for that reason alone.

Of course, since my actual real-life wedding was objectively the best day of my life and the best possible wedding, there's no way that the Eternal Bond setup could quite match that. But for roleplaying purposes, my character was engaged, so I was still looking forward to it. All that's left is to take part in the actual ceremony, but there's a lot of stuff to be looked at about how it's handled thus far and what's praiseworthy or just plain baffling in the setup stages.

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Landmark's monster update delayed until Wednesday

Betas, Patches, PvE, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Landmark

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With such a monster update coming to Landmark, SOE was open about the possibility of troubles and a delay. After keeping the community updated on progress and pitfalls over the weekend, Creative Director Dave Georgeson confirmed it: The PvE patch is delayed until Wednesday, December 17th, at 1:00 p.m. EST. Apparently the mobs themselves are scared of the introduction of players -- as well they should be! Mobs were found all clustering in a single cave. To fully fix this, SOE has to regenerate the islands. But don't worry, builders; there is no claim wipe involved, just time. Once the servers are up and running, watch for a Stream Team tour to check out the new Landmark wildlife.

Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Biggest MMO Blunder of 2014

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Biggest MMO Blunder of the year. This is also not a fun award to give or receive, but criticism is a necessary element of growth. This category focuses on a mistake made by a game or developer or the genre as a whole, something that has far-reaching negative consequences for the industry. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Biggest MMO Blunder of 2014 is...

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ArcheAge Korea adding second-story housing upgrades, treehouse

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Housing

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When update 1.8 hits in Korea, ArcheAge housing will reach new heights -- literally. Two different models of houses, the thatched farmhouse and the medium house, are getting a special upgrade that will elevate them to two-story dwellings. Available in the cash shop, this upgrade item is applied to existing homes; there's no need to tear down and build anew. In addition, there are new models of houses being developed for release in Korea, including a house nestled high in a tree. Yes, folks, there's an outline of a genuine treehouse to tantalize housing aficionados!

There's also talk of an exclusive housing district, but the details of the translated notes are fuzzy. Whether the Western market gets this update, however, remains to be seen; if it does, it's likely a long way off.

Black Desert's sieges are purposeful chaos

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Black Desert

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black desert
Believe it or not, Black Desert's appeal doesn't begin and end at darn fine looks; the Korean MMO has a wealth of other features as well. Two of those features are the subject of a new trailer today, half of which shows off the mighty field boss fights and the other half showing the chaos of castle sieges.

We've got a five-minute look at both of these features in a gameplay trailer after the break! Our favorite part is the musician who is merrily wandering around the field of combat belting out sweet tunes, oblivious to the carnage all around.

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Elite: Dangerous launch Dec. 16, 2014
TERA: Fate of Arun Dec. 16, 2014
H1Z1 Early Access Jan. 15, 2015
PAX South Jan. 23, 2015
GDC March 2, 2015
FFXIV: Heavensward Spring 2015

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