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WRUP: Dropping all the subs

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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ESO
Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you guess, to the day, when WildStar will join ESO in dropping its sub. Winner gets the admiration of his peers!

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite archer class?

Classes, Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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camelot unchained
I've never been one to gravitate toward bow-and-arrow classes in MMOs, although I've dabbled in them from time to time. I guess I fear that archers and their ilk are far too popular and feature mindless, straight-forward mechanics (shoot... one arrow at a time! Now two at a time! Now a whole bunch rapidly!).

But if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Dungeons and Dragon Online's Bard. I equipped her with a heavy repeating crossbow, and being able to man the medieval equivalent of an automatic rifle was strangely satisfying. Plus, crossbows do not get a lot of play in MMOs for some reason.

Do you have a favorite archer class, and if so, what was 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!

Here's a trailer from that Borderlands thing you'll never play

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items

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Borderlands Online is still a China-exclusive title, but if for some reason you want to watch the trailer for a game you'll probably never play, we have it for you after the break!

MMO Culture reports that Borderlands started its "technical test" today. It also says that the game is an "instance-based online shooter," so really you aren't missing too much if you're a fan of the original series and its open world ethos.

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Betawatch: January 17 - 23, 2015

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Star Citizen
This week, crowdfund legend Star Citizen laid out a testing timeline for the next two years; it plans to publish the "planetside/social" and FPS betas this spring, while alpha for the persistent universe portion of the game is expected before the end of 2015. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? Read on for the full Betawatch list.

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PAX South 2015: Hangin' with Frontier, playin' Elite on the Oculus Rift

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Interviews, PvE, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite: Dangerous
Readers of the Choose My Adventure column may remember that I spent the month of September smuggling beer, shooting NPCs, and dodging space rocks in Frontier Developments' Elite: Dangerous. Though the game was in early beta, I found lots to do and lots to love about the space simulator that isn't that other space simulator. Realistic physics, challenging flight controls, and beautiful design work made the game stand out to me as unique and promising (other Massively staffers seem to agree), and I've revisited it since and enjoyed it every time.

Thus, I jumped at the chance to check Elite out again at PAX South 2015, this time with the experience enhanced by a rad HOTAS setup and the ever-so-popular Oculus Rift. Guided by producer Eddie Symons, I bluffed my way through a combat demo and discovered that when it comes to shooting things in space, being able to look and fly separately is a great thing indeed.

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DayZ has sold over 3 million early access copies

Betas, Horror, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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DayZ has been on Steam early access for over a year now, and what does the post-apocalyptic zombie sandbox have to show for it? Well, over 3 million customers, for starters.

A new Bohemia Interactive press release touts the 24 updates the game has seen since its "launch," and it also mentions ongoing improvements including a core engine rewrite begun in 2014. The new engine is called Enfusion, and it includes renderer upgrades and corresponding performance upticks as well as "vastly improved" particle effect aesthetics.

Bohemia also notes that the DayZ dev team now boasts over 80 people.

[Source: Bohemia Interactive press release]

TUG's multiplayer goes live

Betas, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Patches, Sandbox

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tug
Yesterday, the first stage of TUG's multiplayer went online with its 0.8.1 alpha patch. Players can now bump into each other in both survival and creative modes. But wait -- there's more! The patch also sports a brand-new terrain engine, a new UI, better mod capabilities, additional AI characters, and a handy return stone.

The TUG team will be at booth #1483 at PAX South this weekend and will be selling access to the game at a discount for the duration of the convention. Massively will be reporting on TUG from the show floor, so stay tuned!

City of Titans explains its prototyping process

Super-hero, Previews, News Items, Crowdfunding

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This cat came in, not like a cat, but like cats and dogs, you know, man.
The developers behind City of Titans haven't been shy about praising the Unreal Engine 4 at the heart of development. A new design article gives some insight into one of the major elements of design that makes it so useful to the team, a feature that offers rapid progress between brainstorming, prototyping, and testing: blueprints.

While the article doesn't contain the nuts-and-bolts of the programming elements, it demonstrates how the team was able to build and test a tile-based map system (akin to Skyrim) as an independent element to be tested. The result is that instead of spending a great deal of time brainstorming the idea, the team can drop the prototype in for testing and it can be evaluated as an actual option instead of simply a theory. Take a look at the full article for more details on the map system and the test process.

[Thanks to Byron for the tip!]

The Stream Team: Analyzing ArcheAge's latest update

Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, ArcheAge, The Stream Team

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ArcheAge just introduced a new gift event meant to help the economy in a controlled way (according to the latest producer's letter, at least). Another anticipated change ushered in with this update was the gazebo farm, the largest single farm plot a player can own. It's a beaut, but it costs an awful lot -- especially in labor points! That means Massively's MJ needs to earn gold while simultaneously conserving her labor. Can she manage that? Only if she finds plenty of trouble to get into! Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for a chat about the latest updates (including the recent sloth addition) while MJ tries to make progress on her plans to acquire this fancy new real estate.

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Marvel Heroes hands out free cows and plans team-up revamp

Super-hero, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Humor, Dev Diaries

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marvel heroes
The Cow King is on the move in Marvel Heroes, and a call is going out for all supers to join the most ridiculous battle in the universe. During the weekend Cowtastrophe event, players will get an 40% XP bonus and a portal to the game's bovine levels, where they can slaughter beef for better loot. Marvel Heroes is even giving out a free mini-cow pet for any players who log in on Saturday.

In other Marvel Heroes news, one of the next big projects for Gazillion is a revamp of the team-up system. While all of the details of this revamp are not clear as of yet, we do know that the revamp will allow players to customize team-up's power pools much like main characters.

RuneScape's sub fee hike goes into effect March 1st

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Sandbox

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RuneScape
Jagex announced a sub rate hike for long-running sandbox RuneScape back in November, and this week, the studio has declared that the new fees will go into effect beginning March 1st. While the game is still free-to-play, the optional sub will increase from $8 US to $9.49 US; the official site includes a conversion chart for the international community and multi-month subbers. For existing Premier Club customers, Jagex posted a reminder about grandfathering in the old rates as long as the sub is maintained:
Don't forget - as long as you're a member and don't lapse out for more than 14 days, you're eligible to keep your current rate of membership. Subscribe now to secure access to all of RuneScape's members' content at current prices.
The studio is also talking up its inbound ports expansion; there's a fresh trailer on the mechanic after the cut.

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Working As Intended: The MMOs we lost in 2014

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Sunsets, Working As Intended

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Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Vanguard's early stumbles foreshadowed the changing MMORPG industry. In January 2007, when Vanguard lurched its way to launch, the genre was barely a decade old; it was booming, and it had never suffered hardship on a massive scale. In the west, we'd seen only three "major" MMOs sunset (Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond, and Asheron's Call 2), and only one MMO, Anarchy Online, had "gone F2P," though we hadn't yet thought to call it yet because it was such a rare and new thing. In fact, it wasn't until 2008's first big wave of AAA, post-World of Warcraft MMOs launched and mostly flopped that MMORPG players gave much thought to the future of the genre and how WoW had reshaped (and possibly broken) it. Maybe not even then.

Here in 2015, sunsets are commonplace, and the vast majority of modern MMOs have adopted some sort of subscriptionless model. Last year, we lost more than a dozen MMOs, including Vanguard itself, all of them wiped from the face of the earth (at least until someone decides to resurrect them), and several more under development were canceled, leading to concern among industry watchers like those of us who pen for Massively. Let's try to get some perspective and revisit the MMOs we lost in 2014.

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WoW's new Blood Elves arrive in update 6.1

World of Warcraft, Patches, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

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WoW
Our sister site WoW Insider reports this morning that World of Warcraft's Blood Elves, left off the roster of races that received model revamps with the Warlords of Draenor expansion last November, will finally meet their new faces. Actually, it's just the bodies: The male faces aren't entirely done yet and currently share the same facial geometry.

"While we're excited to share with you our progress on these new models, I do want to stress that the models, textures, and animations are not entirely finished. Bug fixing and iteration can and will occur, and that's where you come in!" writes Blizzard QA on the US and EU forums, soliciting costructive feedback.

MMO Champion has full-size, head-to-toe bikini shots of both the female and male models because of course it does.

Also arriving in update 6.1 are class tweaks, new heirloom gear, garrison expansions, follower mission fixes, and the chance to buy (with gold) those followers you missed while questing. The first iteration of the update landed on the PTR in early January; the patch's launch date on production servers has not been announced.

RIFT's 3.1 Storm at Sea arrives next week -- with capes

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, RIFT

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There's a preview of RIFT's new Tyrant's Throne content on the game's official website. On January 28th, Trion says, players will see some "titanic zone events" as well as a new 20-player raid, a 2-player chronicle, and more.
The journey into RIFT 3.1 Storm at Sea is nearly at hand. On January 28, players will make landfall at the harbor of Tyrant's Throne – just in time for titanic zone events that bring ancient akvan lumbering out of the abyss! Ascended will have one week to wipe them from the island before the opening of Tyrant's Forge, a new 20-player raid pitting the strongest Guardians and Defiant against the Dragon Queen of Air.
The most important bit, of course, is capes. Yes, capes. "New capes debut for all," says the studio.

New ArcheAge producer promises communication, game improvements

Fantasy, Culture, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Subscription

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No word yet on whether or not there will be a chicken in every pot, although it seems likely.
There's someone new at the head of ArcheAge, producer Marv Lee Kwai. Kwai posted a lengthy letter to the players on the forums recently outlining the major standing issues that the team still sees in the game along with several of the changes and additions set for the game over the next year. He stresses that the developers are well aware of unusual market fluctuations, sieges being too costly and difficult, and the balance of top-end rewards; moving forward, the team means to see them all tweaked and improved.

The letter goes on to mention that the team is planning to add a global trade channel to reduce faction chat spam. Also en route is The Diamond Shores, a new area in southern Auroria that accompanies a bump in the level cap to level 55. It's a little past the start of the new year, but Kwai's tone is hopeful that the game can rise above its somewhat buggy and controversial launch.

The Daily Grind: What's the most exciting bit of MMO news you've heard lately?

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Star Citizen

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Wednesday's blurb about Star Citizen's release schedule caught me a bit off guard. I guess I lost track of time because the thought of getting to see the game's persistent universe this year took me aback. It makes sense, though, since Star Citizen boasts a big dev team and an even bigger developmental warchest, and they've been going at it in some form or fashion since 2012!

So that's a bit of exciting and unexpected MMO news for 2015, at least in my book. What about you, Massively readers? What MMO news has tickled your fancy of late?

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!

Red 5 tweaking Firefall's reputation system

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Firefall

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Firefall's latest news blurb concerns reputation. It's not all about grind and 20 different currencies that will clog up your inventory, though. In fact, Red 5 says that the work-in-progress rep system will ultimately feature reputation points that function like experience. Which, OK, is still about grind. But yay for inventory space!

The devs are also enthused about the future of the rep system, which they say will make use of Firefall's NPC corporations that "aren't much more than flavor" in the current build. You can read all about rep at the official Firefall website.

The Think Tank: Analyzing Elder Scrolls Online's B2P model

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Elder Scrolls Online, The Think Tank, Buy-to-Play

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Yesterday's reveal that The Elder Scrolls Online will go buy-to-play in March has prompted much speculation about the nature of the cash shop, the ethics of the switchover, the continued viability of the game, and the quality, cost, and frequency of the promised DLC. In today's Think Tank, the Massively staff will discuss the decision. Is B2P the right call for ESO? Was the exceedingly long delay of the console launch a huge mistake? What do we expect from the DLC? And is "Tamriel Unlimited" in fact the worst rebrand ever?

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Heroes in the Sky brings out another WWII arcade battler

Historical, Video, New Titles, War, Free-to-Play

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his
World War II fighter games, both in simulator and arcade format, have been on the scene since approximately 1946. Well look out below, because here comes another one: Heroes in the Sky.

Heroes in the Sky looks to provide a streamlined combat experience, as players will jump into PvE and PvP aerial battles with a mouse-and-keyboard setup. Dogfights can happen in the various WWII theaters, including Europe and the Pacific. It's been around for several years now but is only now making itself available worldwide.

If you're curious about giving it a try, you won't have to wait long: Heroes in the Sky will launch globally on February 5th with various in-game events. We've got a trailer for you after the break.

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Elite's February patch to feature 'community goals'

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Elite: Dangerous

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Elite: Dangerous is readying something called "Community Goals" for its 1.1 patch. Executive producer Michael Brookes told PCGamer that community goals are a "new type of story-driven collaborative content."

The first such goal will involve supply and bounties, with "massive player migrations [that] will have a knock-on effect on galaxy-wide economy and power structures."

February's 1.1 update will also feature a new gas giant shader and city lights on planetary dark sides, Brookes says.

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The Stream Team


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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
PAX South Jan. 23, 2015
GDC March 2, 2015
PAX East March 6, 2015
EVE Fanfest March 19, 2015
FFXIV: Heavensward Spring 2015
E3 Summer, 2015
SOE Live Summer, 2015
Gamescom Summer, 2015
PAX Prime Summer, 2015
DragonCon Fall, 2015
BlizzCon Fall, 2015

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
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