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Lord of the Rings Online : Developer Diary: Anatomy of a Cluster

Posted Nov 05, 2008 by Keith Cross

Turbine has posted a new dev journal which looks at the game design principals behind the new content in The Mines of Moria, the next expansion for Lord of the Rings Online.

When sitting down to plan the Mines of Moria, we realized that we had come far in our game, but there were still improvements to be made. We read the forum posts, heard the feedback, watched the competition, and came up with a system for our instance and raid players that we think will be to your liking. Gone are the days of behemoth instances that take fifteen hours to complete, with people begging on the LFF channel. Welcome to a new era of fast, exciting instances that provide lots of loot, lots of challenges, and a steady growth pattern in which players can learn, adjust, and gain tactical skills.

One of the things we haven’t had a chance to do with our instances in the past is establish a sense of progression. The instances got more difficult, yes, but they also lacked the ability to train players to become better, and they did not encourage players to use the skills they learned to defeat the next bosses. We also simply did not have enough of them at the highest levels to support people who were capped. Being able to create a sense of what’s next and help guide players from one instance to another is really important. We’re going to be doing this in Mines of Moria through progression, clustering, “hard mode,” and yes, loot.

Read more here.

Atlantica Online : Surviving Your First Boss Fight

Posted Nov 05, 2008 by Jon Wood Atlantica Online Correspondent Matt Plourde writes this guide to surviving a boss fight in the new turn-based MMORPG from NDoors.

Unlike mainstream MMORPGs, Atlantica Online's combat system does not boil down to hot key and aggro management. Instead, you must plan for success with your party formation, and then you execute your attack strategy on the grid-based battle board. While not all battles are as dynamic and interesting as PvP and Shadow Dungeon (difficult group zone) fights, combat is easy to learn and fun to watch.

Before we dive into the nuts & bolts of Atlantica's combat, I want to spend a moment on geography and zones. As I mentioned in my preview article - Atlantica Online takes place on earth. In addition to typical terrain & architecture you'd expect to find in China, Europe, Southeast Asia, etc - Atlantica offers some fantastic locations such as an underwater palace! When your party is transported to your battle instance, the terrain there reflects the landscape of the outside world. So, if you were underwater, then your fight will happen on the ocean's floor. In a ruin? Expect typical dungeon floors and walls. A few games (like Final Fantasy Tactics and Civilization 4) have built-in systems for interacting with different terrain types, but Atlantica does not go that far. Adding another layer of tactical depth could have been interesting with the varying landscapes, but like most games - terrain serves as a colorful backdrop and nothing more

Read the article here.

Star Wars Galaxies : City Building Guide

Posted Nov 05, 2008 by Jon Wood Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Jef Reahard writes this new guide giving players some insight into creating player cities in SOE's Star Wars Galaxies.

So you're new to Star Wars Galaxies, or you're a veteran looking to see what all the fuss is about regarding the building and management of a player city. Well, you've come to the right place. Your humble correspondent has designed and run two such projects on the Starsider server, dating back to 2004, and if there's a nagging question regarding Galaxies' city system lurking in the back of your mind, chances are this article will provide the answer.

Star Wars Galaxies Screenshot

Read the article

Fallen Earth : Travelers and Lightbearers

Posted Nov 05, 2008 by Jon Wood

In the third part of our developer journal series from our friends over at Icarus Studios, the makers of the upcoming MMORPG Fallen Earth. In this journal, the team gives us a look at the Travelers and the Lightbearers.

Last week we posted images of the gear used by the nature-oriented Vistas and the science-obsessed Techs, and this week we move on to the Travelers and the Lightbearers.

The Travelers exist in the junction between traveling performers, underworld crime bosses, and used car salesmen. Their primary concern is money and trade, and they will go to great lengths to make a profit, even if some legs have to get broken in the process. The Travelers believe that trade in and of itself is a worthwhile goal, as it allows people to trade what they have for what they need, and the Travelers want some portion of that transaction. While most Traveler operations are concerned with trading, entertainment, or servicing the various vices that survived the apocalypse, they also have more than a few less pleasant activities. Assassination, extortion, and flat-out robbery are all part of Traveler operations. Travelers avoid standup fights where possible since they are rarely profitable, preferring a knife in the back or a silenced pistol to a fight where their enemies can see them coming. Through trade and their own handiwork, the Travelers are well equipped with a variety of new and salvaged equipment.


Read the Fallen Earth Journal.

Lord of the Rings Online : Get a Free In Game Gift!

Posted Nov 05, 2008 by Craig McGregor and Turbine have partnered on a special offer just for our community! We have been given special gift keys which will enable players to claim an in-game free item: Hauberk of the Mithril Guard!

You can check out images of this item below:


When you are ready to get your free gift for Lord of the Rings Online just click here!


EVE Online : Quantum Rise Launches Nov 11

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

CCP has announced that Quantum Rise, the ninth expansion for EVE Online will launch on November 11th, and they have posted a full least of new features and improvements on EVE's official site.

Reykjavik, Iceland – November 4, 2008 – CCP, one of the world’s leading independent game developers, announced November 11, 2008 as the launch date for the final deployment in the two-part staged release of EVE Online: Quantum Rise, the ninth free expansion for EVE Online. EVE Online players have already begun to enjoy the performance-enhancing improvements of the StacklessIO and EVE64 initiatives which were introduced in an earlier phase of the expansion’s release, and both of which have set the stage for truly limitless combat. Several times in recent weeks, over 1,000 players have participated in single-system battles with extremely minimal lag thanks to these new industry-leading advancements.

These previously unannounced features will debut in EVE Online: Quantum Rise:

· The introduction of In-game Subscription Services. You can now convert your 60-day EVE Time Codes (ETCs) into two 30-day items in game. These “30-Day Pilot’s Licenses” can be traded freely through all regular means (via market or contract or directly between players) and can be activated at any time. This feature will be available on November 11th or shortly thereafter

· Assembly Array upgrades for those wanting to produce on a grand scale

· Alchemy allows moon materials to shift the whole landscape of Tech 2 production

· UI changes include a moveable HUD, module recharge timers and weapon grouping

· More efficient bomb production. Producers get more boom for their materials.

· Upgrades to the Trinity Premium graphics content for the ubiquitous stargates of New Eden

· A rebalancing of ship speeds for vessels of all sizes to rediscover their combat viability, making player vs. player strategy and tactics more important than ever

· 10 new beautifully haunting music tracks by EVE soundtrack composer RealX

Already revealed features of Quantum Rise include the ability for corporations to create and distribute their own custom medals for whatever accomplishments they see fit to bestow on their members. Pilots will find a newly-designed certificate system provides a quick and verifiable way to prove their worth in gunnery, trading or countless other professions. The shipyards of New Eden have been busy rebalancing industrial ships and are almost ready to undergo production of the mighty capital ship, the Orca. For easier navigation, all ships will feature autopilot avoidance options and a few new routes will open up in New Eden.

Read more here.

EverQuest II : Map System Overhaul for GU 50

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

The EverQuest II official site has been updated with a look at at the game's new map system that will be implemented with game update 50.

With GU 50, we'll see The Shadow Odyssey go live. But that isn't all there will be on November 18th. One of the new features that everyone will get is the new map system!

The map system has been completely reworked and there's a new main screen with a fresh new look. All of the overland maps have been redone as well! The various city scenes are more detailed than ever before.

There's also a new POI (point of interest) directory. It works with outside POI's as well, and this will be beneficial to folks who use add on's such as EQ2Maps. You'll be able to drop custom POI's into your map directory and have them appear. Your POI will also blink on the main map, and set a waypoint while in the same zone.

Read more here.

General : New Hires at 38 Studios

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

38 Studios has announced that they have hired Aubrey Hodges as director of audio and Irena Pereira as senior UI designer.

Maynard, MA – November 4, 2008 - 38 Studios, a pioneering entertainment company dedicated to delivering a broad spectrum of immersive products, today announced that Aubrey Hodges and Irena Pereira have joined 38 Studios as director of audio and senior UI (user interface) designer, respectively.

With his music and sound design heard in more than 180 video games, Composer and Sound Designer Aubrey Hodges is an audio pioneer in the video and computer game industry. Hodges is credited as among the very first to use MIDI in a video game, the first to use sound effects in an online game and among the first to use General Midi in a video game. He also is cited as the innovator of ambient music design for games with his groundbreaking work on the Doom and Quake series. Before joining 38 Studios, Hodges spent five years as an audio director at EA-Tiburon, home of the popular Madden franchise; and before that as audio director, composer and sound designer for Midway Home Entertainment for ten years. Hodges began his career in audio for videogames at Sierra Online in 1991. His music and audio credits span classic series such as King's Quest, Space Quest, Quest for Glory, and Conquests of the Longbow to some of the most popular video game series including NFL Blitz and Madden NFL. In his new role, Hodges will report directly to 38 Studios CEO and President Brett Close.

Senior UI Designer Irena Pereira comes to 38 Studios from Blizzard Entertainment, where she spent over two years working on the interface design and development for World of Warcraft and its expansions The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Pereira also worked at game studio Artifact Entertainment where she was responsible for interface design, technical documentation, tools development, and web site design; and at Verant Interactive. Her experience extends beyond MMOG development to include interface development and web design for online companies Hollywood Stock Exchange, Homestore Inc, and LowerMyBills. Pereira will report to Design Director Jason Roberts.

"38 Studios has been able to attract phenomenal talent, and these hires continue that trend," Close said. "Smart interface design and rich audio are key components of the 38 Studios product vision, and Irena and Aubrey have extensive records of exceptional success in these areas."

Read more here.

World of Kung Fu : New Major Update

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

VestGame Entertainment has announced that World of Kung Fu will be receiving a major update that will add new quests, mounts, mounts, and skills, along with several new game systems including the invasion system.

[Shanghai, China, November 4th, 2008] VestGame Entertainment has announced a major upgrade to World of Kung Fu, the popular 3D MMO set in ancient China. The latest upgrade will see the addition of several major new systems, as well as new quests for higher level players, new mounts, and skill enhancements for all weapon classes.

The most significant new system in this upgrade is the Invasion System. Players will now be able to battle foreign enemies in one of two new event based scenarios. The first involves an invasion by hostile forces from outside the Middle Kingdom, and the other involves country-to-country battles that take place within. Both scenarios allow players the chance to gain reputation and other benefits such as game gold and items from the item mall.

Another system making its debut is the Transform System. This allows players to collect “transform cards” which enable them to transform into marvelous creatures and exciting special characters, such as the Monkey King. Players who undergo transformation get special new attacks and abilities while in the transformed state.

New mounts available to players include the Zhu Que (Giant Phoenix) and the ferocious fire lion known as Nian. Additional quests have been developed for levels 40-80 to enhance the enjoyment of more experienced players. Also, the weapons skills of all weapon classes have been improved and balanced. Nunchakus have been added to provide players with a quick attribute bonus.

A great many other, less visible gameplay elements have been tweaked and enhanced such as the item drop rate for slain monsters and changes to the tutor/apprentice system. The impetus for these changes was, as always, the World of Kung Fu team’s desire to provide the best possible gameplay experience for the large and growing worldwide community of World of Kung Fu players.

Read more here.

Zu Online : Cultivating a Top Pet

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks at Zu Online have released a guide to understanding and using the pet system in the game.

Pets’ popularity has reached an unprecedented extent in the role playing games released in 2008 by far. The pet system of Zu Online ( has annotated the essence of pets in MMORPGs by its creative features. There are three requirements to cultivate a Top Pet in Zu Online:

Pet Spells

Each pet spell is at rank 1 when it is learnt and can at most be upgraded to rank 9. Below are the details of the rank 9 pet spells.

1. Critical Strike: Increases the master’s Critical Strike chance. A Critical Strike deals 200% normal damage. At rank 9,it increases Critical Strike chance by 10%.

2. Garrote: Increases the master’s Garrote chance. A Garrote deals 150% normal damage. At rank 9,it increases Critical Strike chance by 10%.

3. Resistance: At rank 9, it increases the master’s chance to resist enemy’s attack by 20%.

4. Store Up: When it reaches rank 9, 33 slots of the pet’s backpack in total are activated by this spell.

5. Regeneration: At rank 9, it increases the master’s health restoration by 200%.

6. Rejuvenation: At rank 9, it increases the master’s mana restoration by 200%.

7. Resilience: At rank 9, it reflects 15% damage taken to the attacker.

8. Ride Speed: At rank 9, it increases the pet’s movement speed by 50%.

Awesome Initial Aptitudes

According to their initial Aptitudes, the pets in Zu Online are classified into primary pets(its Aptitudes are about 1500), junior pets (about 2000)and senior pets (about 2500). (Primary pets can be gained from monsters and quests or purchased from a Pet Master. Junior pets and senior pets can only be purchased from a Pet Master now.) The Aptitudes of a pet determine the amount of stats increase to its master. In a word, the pet is better is if its Aptitudes are higher.


Pet’s Savvy concerns how many spells the pet may learn. The pet whose Savvy is higher can learn more spells. A primary pet’s Savvy is 1 while junior or senior pet’s is 2. To raise a pet’s Savvy, it should be fed Savey Seeds. But pet’s Savvy can only reach 8 at most.

Read more here.

Eudemons : Introduction to the Celebrity Hall

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks at Eudemons Online have posted an overview of the Celebrity Hall, a special location only for the most powerful characters in the game.

Have you ever longed to be fighting against the best of the best in Eudemons Online? To be with people at your own level? To have that extra challenge and spring in your step? Then you need to double your efforts and head for Celebrity Hall! Be amongst the most feared and revered, and you'll even get a statue!

Being allowed into Celebrity Hall is an honor for only those who are worthy and courageous enough to belong among the elite. The Celebrity Hall is a new world for you to strive for; a new height to bring new meaning to your profound efforts.

The teleporter can send you to the Celebrity Hall whenever you would like. You couldn't tell from the name, but this is not a place for the weak or faint of heart. It is a place of carnage and chaos; a grand battle royal of epic proportions. Here, you have free reign to destroy whomever might be foolish enough to challenge you. Pity does not exist here, only victory.

Read more here.

Warhammer Online : Server Population Bonuses

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

In the wake of the availability of free server transfers in Warhammer Online, Mythic has announced that all players on the destination servers will receive a 20% bonus to experience and renown.

As many players begin adjusting to their new homes we wanted to help you and your new neighbors settle into the changes as easily as possible.

With this in mind all players on the previously announced destination servers will receive a 20% bonus to experience and renown when killing enemy monsters and players.

Read more here.

Champions Online : New Hire at Cryptic

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Keith Cross

Cryptic Studios has announced that they have hired Bill Roper to be the new Design Director on Champions Online.

Los Gatos, CA – November 3, 2008 – Cryptic Studios™, one of the leading independent developers of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), announced today that Bill Roper has joined the company as Design Director and will be working on Champions Online™.

“Bill brings a ton of creative energy to the Cryptic office and we’re thrilled to have him join our team,” said John Needham, Chief Executive Officer for Cryptic Studios. “His years of gaming and online experience are huge assets to all of our projects, and Bill will assist us in furthering our studio’s vision to create innovative, exciting MMO gameplay.”

“Cryptic has experienced huge growth over the past year and has exciting opportunities ahead of it,” said Bill Roper, Design Director, Cryptic Studios. “The company knows how to choose compelling IPs that have rich histories such as Champions and Star Trek. I’m looking forward to working with the team.”

Read more here.

Atlantica Online : Considering the Turn Based MMO, Part Two

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Jon Wood

Kim Tae Gon, Producer of Atlantica Online writes this second developer journal in our series for the game. In this journal, Kim tells us a little bit more about the company's decision to create a turn-based MMORPG.

For this developer’s journal I wanted to continue the discussion on turn-based games started last week. As I described the week before, turn-based games are an attractive form of play when you consider all the classic games out there that are turn-based. They definitely have strengths, but there are also some weaknesses.

So this week, I thought I would go through some of the pros and cons of turn-based games that we thought about as we created Atlantica. Hopefully, you might get a sense of how we came to decide to make Atlantica the way it is.

Atlantica Online Screenshot

Read the Atlantica Online Dev Journal

EVE Online : The Raw Power of the Harbinger

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Jon Wood EVE Online Correspondent Andrew Wallace writes this overview of the Harbinger warship and the best way to get the msot bang for your buck out of this vessel.

This is a story of a boy and his Harbinger, and possibly damage dealing setups. One of the fierce tier two battle cruisers, the Harbinger, is utterly Amarrian; a golden beast of a ship, with enough turret slots for a rack of seven lasers and space in the lows to fit damage boosting modules, as well as a bit of a tank.

I've flown this ship since its release in the Revelations update at the end of 2006, and I adore it. There is nothing I enjoy more than dropping out of warp and unleashing incandescent streams of laser death onto the enemy fleet. The damage potential of this ship is fairly disgusting and squeezing as much firepower out of it became something of an obsession as I started to perfect my gunnery skills; which leads me to the main thrust of this article: damage! So, despite me harping on about golden ships and lasers, this is a general article on getting the most firepower out of your damage ship, if you like that sort of thing.

Read the EVE Online article.

Earthrise: First Impact : Exclusive Music and Concept Art

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Jon Wood

Today, the folks from the upcoming post-apocalyptic MMORPG Earthrise have provided us with two new pieces from the upcoming game's soundtrack along with an interesting piece of conept art.

This first track, titled spiral fusion, begins with a slow, ominous beat that quickly escalates in pace and tone and moves on to capture an almost dance-like beat.


The second track from the folks at Earthrise is more subdued both in title and in sound. Breezefall has a choral flavour and seems to better reflect the mood in the piece of conept art provided.

Check out the Earthrise Art and Tracks

ACE Online : Episode 3 Gameplay Video

Posted Nov 04, 2008 by Jon Wood

Episode 3 Gameplay VideoThe folks from Wicked interactive have provided us with this new video sshowing off gameplay from their newest episode 3 update in their MMO ACE Online.

Watch the video here


D&D Online : Module 8: Prisoners of Prophecy Launches

Posted Nov 03, 2008 by Keith Cross

Turbine has announced the launch of Module 8: Prisoners of Prophecy, the latest major update for Dungeons and Dragons Online, which revamps the new player area, adds hirelings into the mix, and more.

Turbine, Inc. today announced the launch of the latest update for players of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE®: Stormreach® (DDO), Prisoners of Prophecy. This major update to DDO delivers a completely upgraded experience for new players, improves solo play with the introduction of Hirelings, upgrades the DDO engine to support DX-10 graphics technology, and adds more monsters, spells, magic items, and challenging dungeons. Prisoners of Prophecy continues Turbine’s commitment to delivering fun, engaging and exciting updates for players in its online worlds. This latest update provides a wealth of new features and experiences for players including:

Ø Enhanced New Player Experience: To support a more story-based and friendly introduction to the game and make DDO more accessible to players unfamiliar with the 3.5 Edition rules-set, we have created a completely new starter experience. Players will now have the option to create well-built characters based on their play style without needing to assign any stat or skill points, or select any feats or spells. Subsequent characters created on the account will have the option to skip the tutorial, and will gain relevant XP and rewards as if they had completed it.

Ø Introducing Hirelings: Hirelings is a huge new system designed to improve the solo play experience in DDO by letting players contract henchmen to help them in their adventures. Hirelings are player controlled NPC combatants with a given class, level and personality that can be contracted to aid a player in the dungeons of Stormreach. Players can contract with one Hireling of their level or lower for a few hours at a time, or until the adventure they are playing is complete. This massive new system will be introduced to players through a series of live in-game events after the launch of Prisoners of Prophecy.

Ø DX-10 Engine Upgrade: Players can now experience Stormreach like never before with major improvements to DDO’s graphics engine, including DX-10 support for upgraded shaders for water, particle effects and lighting for terrain.

Ø More D&D®!: A new wilderness area and several high-level dungeons await players who dare to meet the challenge of new monsters including Kobold Archmages, Frost Giants and a White Dragon.

Read more here.

Tabula Rasa : FPS View, Scopes, and New Camera Modes

Posted Nov 03, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks at Tabula Rasa have announced the addition of several new view modes in Tabula Rasa, including first person or fps view, scope views, mech cockpit view, and more.

Heck ya! It's Halloween and it's time for some tricks and treats arriving on a planet near you. First, I'll give a trick. If you eat a whole bag of candy, you are way more effective in combat. I just head-butted a Thrax soldier outside my office. Well, it could have been a co-worker dressed in a Thrax suit, but it serves him right.

Now for the treats! First, what is better than blasting some Bane with your trusty shotty? How about blasting some Bane with your trusty shotty in a first person view? With a FPS view, you can finally get all up-close and personal with your favorite lobster. Just wear your bib because things get pretty messy.

Read more here.

Age of Conan : Guild Interview Part One, North America

Posted Nov 03, 2008 by Jon Wood Age of Conan Correspondent Ben Avery recently spoke with members of two Age of Conan Guilds, on in North America and one in Europe, to get their opinions on a number of issues relevant to the game as it is now and since launch.

In Part One, Ben talks to Mental Block, from the North American guild Primal Instinct.

Age of Conan is fast approaching the 5 months old mark. It released amidst a huge wave of hype. Is the game currently living up to the hype from the minds of its current player base? Did that wave of hype crash down and drown everyone? Is the game the same as it was at release? Has it gotten worse or better?

These are some of the questions that I hope to bring answers to in today’s Age of Conan state of the game Guild Q&A. One of the main reasons for doing this is to get some perspective from the current player base that has been in since launch. I thought ‘what better way to do this than to ask directly’! It’s also important to ask the right questions to get a clearer perspective for those interested. I have chosen two guilds to start – one from the European servers and one from the North American continent servers. These guilds are active in game, are known on their servers and have some good insight. I hope this comes across as adequate and unbiased enough for the critics and a decent enough read for the casual browser. As the questions asked are to the leaders and guild members alike, it should portray a good representation of where we are up to today with Age of Conan. We have one large guild and one average sized, both from a PvP and PvE perspective. As time goes on I might be doing more of these to getter a better feel of the truer state of the game.

Check out Ben's interview.