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Betawatch: October 11 - 17, 2014

Betas, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Landmark
This week, Landmark introduced lava. Also new gear, appearance slots, a better UI, and a zillion other tweaks. But lava.

What else is new in the realm of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup is below.

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Kingdom Under Fire II took seven years and $50M to complete

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Free-to-Play, MMORTS

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kuf2
After spending over seven years in development, Kingdom Under Fire II may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It's currently in beta testing in southeast Asia and has plans for US and EU tests before the end of 2014.

Game Director Sang Youn Lee said that the title's lengthy development was compounded by a format switch from a single-player Xbox title to an MMO for the PC and PlayStation 4. The cost for the game also spiraled upward over the years. "The scale of the game has expanded to three or four times what it was at first," Sang Youn Lee told Kotaku. "$15,000,000 was the first budget for the game. Now it is $50,000,000."

Kingdom Under Fire II blends RPG and RTS elements to allow players to lead up to 500 soldiers in battles against each other rather than against the computer. Reportedly, the game can handle displaying 10,000 troops in combat at the same time.

Halloween makes the rounds in SOE's line-up

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet, Landmark

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eq2
'Tis the season for spookies and crawlies, and SOE is not above appropriating Halloween for its own ghoulish ends. Pretty much every one of its MMOs is hosting Halloween festivities this month with events, prizes, and macabre decorations.

DC Universe Online is bringing back the Witching Hour and Midnight Masquerade with a few new rewards, Landmark is hosting a spooky building contest, Dragon's Prophet is reprising its Styx Festival, and both EverQuest and EverQuest II are reprising their infamous Nights of the Dead.

Out of the bunch, PlanetSide 2 is the only one with a truly new holiday: Nanite of the Living Dead. With this event, players will be scouring the planet for "space pumpkins" to destroy for fun and profit.

APB's lead designer on the changes in 1.18.0

Real-Life, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, All Points Bulletin, Dev Diaries

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If you're curious about what's happening in the world of APB: Reloaded, why not read the latest dev blog? Lead designer Ricardo Viana writes that the team's focus for the forthcoming 1.18.0 update is on APB's missions, dynamic events, and visual effects.

He also mentions that the patch will tweak APB's team leader system, primarily by adding messaging, the ability to request the leader role, and an AFK parameter for the existing demerit system.

MapleStory gets aerial combat

Fantasy, MapleStory, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play

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maplestory
Mounted ground combat is so yesterday's MMO feature. If you want to really rise above the competition, then you'll need to throw in aerial combat into your game.

MapleStory is doing just this with an upcoming patch. In the second chapter of the Black Heaven storyline, players will be able to jump into a flying machine and duke it out in the sky. As with everything else in the game, the action will take place strictly in a side-scrolling 2-D format. From the looks of it, it calls back to classic shmups of earlier console generations.

Also coming in one of the future updates is a revamp to MapleStory's Resistance classes, including the Wild Hunter, Battle Mage, and Mechanic.

Elite gets mining on October 28, premiere event on November 22

Betas, Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

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This is the best header image in the history of header images
The latest Elite: Dangerous newsletter brings word of a premiere event for the space sim sandbox to be held on November 22nd. It's all happening at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK, but if you can't make it in the flesh you can tune in via Twitch.

Newsletter #45 also looks at mining, which is scheduled to arrive in Elite's Beta 3 on October 28th. Click through the links below to give it a read.

[Thanks Cotic!]

A Pox (Nora) on Steam

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items

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Turn-based tactical online game Pox Nora resurfaced on Steam this week. The free-to-play title, originally released by Octopi Media in 2006 and at one time owned and operated by SOE, is now being published by Desert Owl Games.

You can get an idea of Pox Nora's gameplay via the tutorial video embedded after the break.

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The Stream Team: Checking out Chaos Heroes Online

Betas, Video, New Titles, PvP, Livestream, MOBA, The Stream Team

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Have you heard about Chaos Heroes Online? The fantasy MOBA is currently in open beta, and Massively's MJ is heading in to check things out. Her first visit also happily coincides with the new Halloween event, which is by far her favorite holiday. Want to see what's behind the beta curtain? Or maybe you just want to watch MJ's first real experience in MOBA? Either way, join us live at 3:00 to get a glimpse of this new game!

Game: Chaos Heroes Online
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, October 17th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Final Fantasy XIV's 2.4 trailer tosses the giant crab

Fantasy, Trailers, Patches, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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ff14
So what has you most excited for Final Fantasy XIV's Patch 2.4? Is it the continuation of the storyline? Is it the addition of the Ninja and Rogue? Or are you itching to tackle one of the new dungeons?

No matter what it is, this new Patch 2.4 trailer will get you pumped up for this quarterly content update. Especially if seeing a mostly naked man slingshot a giant crab to the approval of a big green chicken. I mean, I know you have to have some filler for an eight-minute-long trailer, but can anyone explain what is happening at 2:40?

You can watch all of the zaniness after the break!

[Thanks to Bob for the tip!]

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Xsyon opens guilds, housing to F2P players

Business Models, Game Mechanics, Guilds, News Items, Free-to-Play, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Housing

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Xsyon
Hardcore indie sandbox Xsyon introduced a free-to-play option almost two years ago, but the restrictions were brutal. Free players couldn't build in or terraform the world, and they couldn't lead guilds, which the game calls tribes. (Originally, they couldn't even join guilds at all!)

But as of this week, Notorious Games has lifted some of those restrictions. In a press release issued today, the studio explained,
Starting this week, new players can join the Xsyon community and start their own tribe for free. Creating their own homesteads, new free players can shape the land explore the game's extensive architecture system on their own, without the aid of other game citizens!
If you're a free player chafing at ArcheAge's housing restrictions, well, here's a sandbox willing to accommodate you.

Working As Intended: But I already have that game

Culture, Guilds, MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Working As Intended

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Back in 2001, I desperately wanted out of EverQuest. I hated the gameplay. I hated the community. I loved my guildies, but I hated what our guild was becoming, consumed by a grindy rat race so different from our roots in Ultima Online. When Dark Age of Camelot offered a way out, I took it, dragging as many guildies as I could along with me to a game where PvP and territory control, not camp checks and plane raids, ruled the day.

Some of them didn't come with us, and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't jump at the chance to start fresh, to be rid of a self-destructive community and gear grind. What was wrong with them, I wondered, that they'd stay in some old thing rather than play the new shiny?

Dozens upon dozens of MMOs later, I finally understand: They already had that game.

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Sevencore launching globally on November 4th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play

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sevencore
Sevencore might not be your typical Cinderella comeback, but the tenacious little science-fiction title will have a fairy tale moment when it releases globally last month after being shut down in 2013.

Sevencore's previous provider, Route Entertainment Korea, Inc. will be merged into Webzen, which will then operate the title worldwide through its game portal. There will be two servers for this launch, one in English and one in Spanish, although there are plans for other languages.

Focusing on mounted combat as players explore an alien world, Sevencore features three races, three classes, and "incredible depth" of customization.

[Source: Webzen press release]

Have any PWE ZEN left? Better spend it soon [Updated]

Business Models, News Items, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, Swordsman

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PWE
If you happen to have any ZEN currency sitting around in your Perfect World Entertainment ARC Wallet, now is apparently the time to spend it. Players with unused currency were sent an email yesterday informing them that the ARC Wallet is being discontinued and that leftover currency must be transferred to one of PWE's games.
We've noticed that you still have ZEN sitting in your Arc Wallet. The Arc Wallet system will be going away soon, but we'll have more details on that later. In the meantime, don't let your hard earned money go to waste. There are tons of amazing items available. Log in and transfer your ZEN to one of your favorite games today!
PWE's more popular western games include Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, Swordsman, and Champions Online. We've asked PWE for clarification and will update this post when we have it.

[Thanks, Omedon!]

[Update: askray1 in our comments pointed us to a post on the PWI forums that helps clarify the situation: "You may have gotten a recent email from us regarding the transferring of your ZEN. This is a legitimate email, and in no ways does it mean you need to actually spend your ZEN. We are removing the wallet function and working on a more Arc integrated system, which means that you will need to transfer your ZEN from your wallet, to a game of your choice to avoid any potential delays. The wallet will go away, but your funds will still be available. We're simply sending this message out so you do not experience any delays in using the contents of your wallet when it does. By moving it over now, you should not experience any delays when this change goes live. I can't say for certain when or how long, even if there will be delays when the wallet goes away, but this will help those that do not want deal with that when it happens."]

Seldon Crisis removes Asimov references following IP dispute

Betas, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Legal, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

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seldon crisis
The sci-fi sandbox Seldon Crisis initially tried to draw attention to itself through copious amounts of name-dropping with revered author Isaac Asimov, although it turns out that this marketing plan may have backfired. Its Kickstarter campaign has been canceled, with page saying the game is "the subject of an intellectual property dispute."

The team attempted to clarify the situation with a post earlier this week: "We were/are speaking with the Asimov estate regarding a partnership, but until those talks are concluded we were asked to not mention certain elements of his novels. This is completely understandable (copyright law demands holders actively protect their copyright or they can lose it). We have taken the necessary measures to fully comply with what has been stated."

In the meantime, Seldon Crisis' fundraising efforts have moved over to Indiegogo, where the team is attempting to rake in £250,000 over the next month.

The Daily Grind: Would you play an all-endgame MMO?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

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I'm hard on MMOs with endgames, especially endgames that focus on a single repetitive activity. The problem isn't so much what that activity is but that MMOs spend so much time making you do something else before you can get to that activity -- instead of just letting you just do that presumably ideal and fun activity from the start. That's prompted some clever players to wonder, why not just make an all-endgame -- an all-raiding -- MMO?

To be clear, I'm not talking about sandboxes or persistent PvP games that can be perceived as entirely endgame. I'm talking about a classic themepark experience with the levels and questing ripped out -- just endgame dungeons and raids, pure PvE group challenge, from the moment you log in to the moment you log out. If raiding really is about the challenge and the thrill of big group PvE, such a game would be welcomed by hardcore raiders... right?

And more importantly: Would you play it?

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!

The Think Tank: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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Darkfall relics to add CTF mechanics, promote clan raiding

Fantasy, Darkfall, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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Relics are coming to Darkfall, sometime in November according to an Aventurine forum post. What are relics? They're basically items that will spawn randomly around Agon that players may pick up and transport to a clan holding.

The mechanic is intended to add a capture-the-flag activity to Darkfall while simultaneously increasing the value of clan holdings and promoting clan raids.

ArcheAge's northern continent opens November 4

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Crafting

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Trion has announced that ArcheAge's Auroria continent will officially launch on November 4th.

The northern landmass features six additional zones, four of which will be claimable by guilds. Trion also notes that "30 percent more housing space will be available to players throughout these four claimable zones."

A new dungeon is also included, as is a farm wagon and a submarine. Full details are yours on the official ArcheAge website.

RIFT's newest dungeon is called the Citadel of Insanity

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, RIFT, Dungeons

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Citadel of Insanity has a nice ring to it, don't you think? It'd probably make a swell guild name or at the very least, a subforum title on a particularly crotchety MMORPG message board.

Alas, Trion has already put it to work as the name of a new RIFT dungeon. It includes a giant armored crustacean called Glacieus, a "massive nightmare worm," and a couple of other bosses who may cause your party to break a sweat.

You can read all about the new dungeon on RIFT's official website.

Elder Scrolls game director talks Update 5, performance upgrades

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Dev Diaries, The Elder Scrolls Online

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Elder Scrolls Online game director Matt Firor has just released a new Road Ahead update post. Much of what he has to say relates to the forthcoming Update 5, which includes a new vet dungeon, new facial animations, repeatable pledges and writs, dungeon level-scaling, and additional stuff like the Dwemer crafting style and chat bubbles.

Firor also mentions "a series of stability and performance improvements for Cyrodiil in the works right now." Additionally, ESO players will be getting new performance options to "cull visual effects" and improve client framerates.

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