According to a report over at Gamasutra, Mythic Entertainment, the developers of Warhammer Online have taken a major hit in EA's latest round of layoffs. A number of presumably now former Mythic employees' tweets are cited in the report, with one Katherine Pitta stating that as many as 80 employees or 40% of the Mythic Entertainment workforce was hit in today's layoffs.
This story is still classified as rumor, but we have contacted Mythic for confirmation. We should have some more information when EA's quarterly earnings report is released later today.
UPDATE: Lending some more credence to the report, Mythic's Josh Drescher tweets, "Since folks have asked, I am fine. Official stuff will follow, I'm sure. A tough day, nonetheless."
UPDATE #2: We have contacted Mythic, but they cannot make any comment at this time.
UPDATE #3: We can now confirm that the layoffs today have indeed occurred, as it has been revealed in EA's just released quarterly earnings report that 1500 jobs are to be cut by March 2010, with today's cuts included in that total.
While we have confirmation that layoffs have occurred, the extent to which Mythic Entertainment has been affected cannot, and that aspect of the story will have to remain as rumor until/if we can get confirmation on the exact figures.
MMORPG.com is pleased to present you with a new sweepstakes event! From now until Dec 9, 2009 we are taking entries into a sweepstakes where we will give away 8 copies of Dragon Age: Origins!
While Dragon Age: Origins is by no means a MMORPG, it is a very anticipated single player RPG game...and when game companies want to give us free games to hand out - we are of course happy to pass them out!
Note: This sweepstakes event is only available to residents of US/Canada.
Variety or the lack thereof is the topic of this week's column from Richard Aihoshi.
From a thematic standpoint, although I certainly have nothing against fantasy, it does seem over-weighted. Sure, we have plenty of variations, but when we strip things down to the basics, a fireball is a fireball is a fireball. What I'd far prefer to see is developer undertake much more exploration into other genres. And I don't just mean science fiction; even though there are still many popular properties that could potentially be adapted into compelling virtual worlds, I'm primarily referring to other possible categories.
A huge one that comes to mind immediately is history. It's not difficult to find titles based on the Three Kingdoms period in China. Actually, there are quite a few more in the market there than just the imports we see here. We can easily understand that this is so because we know they're created by companies primarily aiming at the enormous domestic audience. What's more difficult to explain is why all the similarly rich possibilities from other regions and cultures remain barely touched upon if not completely ignored.
Read it all here.
The November Version Update for Final Fantasy XI is now live! This latest game update introduces a number of major additions to Final Fantasy XI including new Wings of the Goddess quests, updates to the Mobiln Maze Mongers, a bevy of major job changes, and numerous other tweaks.
Also launching with today's update is the "A Shantotto Ascension" add-on scenario, so if you've pre-purchased the add-on you should be able to download and jump right into it!
Get all the details in the full patch notes available here!
Atlantica Online celebrated their one year anniversary last week with a number of festivities, and a number of contests to continue throughout the remainder of the month. Today, however, NDOORS Interactive is announcing another development for Atlantica Online: the launch of a new "Lite" client, that will allow new players to get right into the game quickly. The client comes in at a relatively lite 700MB and will download the remainder of the game data in the background.
Be warned, though, the "Lite" client can only support levels 1-20; so if you hit 20 before the rest of the game data downloads you might have some waiting to do!
Read the full announcement here.
Today, we ask Funcom's Craig Morrison about his philosophies on attempting to balance ranged and melee combat styles in an MMO.
I think before you look at the challenges specific to MMO combat in terms of balance between any two sets of character types you have to define what we are usually trying to achieve in terms of balance.
You might think it was easiest to define it very straightforwardly as 'every time I fight I have a 50/50 chance of winning or losing based my skill and approach' but when you actually push players about what many feel about gameplay the reality is that they would feel balance was better when they have a chance of losing, but that they should win more than lose. Most seem to tend towards wanting something like a 75/25 mix of winning to losing...so they recognize the need for, and want, a chance of losing, but they generally feel that its more fun when they win more often than they lose, as long as it isn't too much.
MMORPG.com's Garrett Fuller recently interviewed Dragon Age Origins Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw about the game, and its relationship to its multiplayer cousins, the MMOs.
For those who missed the launch of Dragon Age last week, it marked an important return for Bioware back into the world of fantasy RPG gaming. Recently, we sat down and talked to Mike Laidlaw, Lead Designer on the game and got his opinions on what MMO tools Dragon Age used to create a fun and familiar game. Mike also talked about what some MMOs can learn from Dragon Age and the plans Bioware has for the game's future.
Mike first commented on the response the game has gotten and how well it has been doing this week. Launch week is always busy, but one of the things Mike enjoys the most is seeing players go to the forums to post their own stories and experiences with the game. The response to all six different opening story lines has been very positive. Bioware is internally happy and Mike sees the players comparing their experiences as a great example of the game's depth.
Read Dragon Age and MMOs.
MMORPG.com Fallen Earth Correspondent Paul Cox writes this list of ten reasons that people should be playing Icarus Studios' new MMORPG.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed that many people are still up in the air about Fallen Earth. This article will attempt to shed some light on whether or not you're going to want to subscribe to this game. Here is a list of some of the good (yet sometimes controversial) things this game brings to the table.
1 - Fighting!
The combat system. The combat system is quite different from most popular MMOs out there currently. The combat system requires you to aim at your opponent like a first (or third) person shooter. Aiming affects both melee and ranged combat.
MMORPG.com has just been handed 2500 keys for the highly anticipated fantasy MMORPG "Allods Online" from Russian developer Astrum Nival. This game is published by GalaNet (gPotato) and their are just getting underway with their first closed beta test. Get your key now and start playing on November 10th!
Guild Software is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Vendetta Online with the release of a new trailer! This latest trailer is being featured over at Apple.com and has the distinct honor of being the first game trailer available in HD over at the site.
Check out the trailer here!
This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on a topic started by user Eronakis which poses the question: how many classes are appropriate for an MMORPG? The thread is entitled “Acceptable amount of classes in an mmorpg” and features a poll with ranges from 9 or lower, to 20+ classes. The topic is fairly straightforward, but responses in the thread indicate that most users definitely do have some pretty specific preferences in this regard.
Read the full Community Spotlight to find out what people are saying!
A new iPhone app for for the recently released post-apocalyptic MMOG, Fallen Earth, has been announced!
The new app will allow for players to log in to Fallen Earth through their iPhone's and perform a number of tasks:
...the application will allow Fallen Earth players to view their in-game character stats, mutations and trade skills as well as provide access to equipped and stored items. Players will also have the capacity to view maps for each of the three sectors in the 1,000 square kilometers of the game's landscape.
...Players will be able to manage their crafting queue, view recipes, craft items, buy and sell items at the Auction House as well as interact with friends, Clan members and other online players through multiple chat channels, mail and private messaging.
The app is scheduled for release in early 2010. Thanks go out to user Calundann for the tip!
MMORPG.com Free Realms Correspondent Pamela Blalock writes this look at the new soccer mini-game and offers tips on how to become a "soccer star."
There's nothing quite like tripping avatars and scoring on their goalie. That is what I have learned from my time with the soccer mini-game in Free Realms. I like to trip dudes and take the ball right out from under them. It is a tactic you will become quite familiar with while on your way to becoming a soccer star in Free Realms.
Mechanically, you can play as a soccer star relatively well. The controls are awkward though and they take some time getting accustomed to. The scheme seems like it would be much more at home on a controller than a keyboard. If you like Free Realms you will learn to live with it. If Free Realms is more of a passing fancy you might not want to deal with the uncomfortable control scheme.
Read Becoming a Soccer Star.
According to a report over at FFXIV fansite FFXIVCore, fans who purchase FFXIII will receive access to the FFXIV beta test. This information has appeared in a set of scans from Japanese magazine Shonen Jump.
Keep in mind that this story is currently classified as a rumor, and it has not been confirmed.
A recent post to the WAR Herald reveals that the Warhammer Online Endless Trial, which allows for players to play through Tier 1 for free, is now live! The launch of the new trial will automatically convert all current 10 Day trial users over to the new system, and also sees the introduction of a new streaming trial client.
Similar to the World of Warcraft trial download, players will only have to download a 1GB client with the rest of the data being streamed in as it's needed. This will allow players to jump in fairly quickly and get right into the skull crushing!
Read below for the restrictions of the Endless Trial taken from the WAR Endless Trial FAQ:
What are the restrictions on the Endless Trial?
- Endless Trial accounts are restricted to Tier 1 of the Empire versus Chaos pairing. This includes Tier 1 scenarios but does not include access to the Capital Cities or the other racial pairings within the game.
- Endless Trial accounts may receive mail and purchase from the auction house; however, they cannot send mail or create auctions.
- Endless Trial accounts are limited to designated servers. If you'd like to play with friends on other servers, you will need to purchase a retail copy of the game and transfer your character to their server (or create a new character on their server). All characters Rank 11 and under on purchased accounts have access to unlimited transfers, with a max of one transfer per day. Please note that you can only transfer characters to the same server type as the server you created your characters on (Core, Open RvR, and Roleplay). Please see the full server list here for details about each server, including server type. Alternatively, if you have a friend who is currently playing WAR, you can ask them for a Recruit-a-Friend code that will allow you to create a Recruit-a-Friend trial account which has access to all servers. Please see the Recruit-a-Friend section for more information.
The official announcement can be viewed here.
Thanks to user Msly007 for the tip!
MMORPG.com's Garrett Fuller recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Thomas Lee, the Senior Director of Gamepot USA about their most recent addition to our Game List, bright Shadow.
Tell us about Bright Shadow and what it brings to the MMO space.
Bright Shadow brings highly customizable characters, high-quality graphics, smooth gameplay, and a fairly deep combat system that combines group attacks, summons, transformations, Soul Power abilities, and Monster Card buffs as well as class-based skills to create fun, free experience for all players.
Ok, so that’s our standard answer. Getting more into it, Bright Shadow is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and places an emphasis on the player customizing their gameplay with their friends. We have thousands of items, hundreds of monsters, a plethora of quests, party buffs, guild skills and a vast world for players to adventure in.
On top of that, we’re also adding new content from our side, so players can look forward to some exciting content we have planned.
Read the First Introductory Q&A.
The Imperial Agent has been revealed as the sixth class for Star Wars: The Old Republic at a recent European press event. Today, the new class has been officially confirmed on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums, with its HoloNet entry to be published next week.
In addition to today's confirmation, IncGamers has the very first set of screenshots of the Imperial Agent, which you can view here.
Below you'll find the official description of the Imperial Agent by Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Manager Sean Dahlberg:
The Imperial Agent is heavily inspired by several classic Star Wars characters such as Zam Wessel and Grand Moff Tarkin. Imperial Agents work behind the scenes to get the work of the Empire done. Specializing in high-tech gear, the Imperial Agent always has the right tools at the right time. They use abilities of subversion and subterfuge to infiltrate and assassinate enemies of the Sith Empire with deadly efficiency. Players who choose to be Imperial Agents in The Old Republic (TOR) will see the underbelly of the Empire in a whole new light.
This leaves two more classes to be unveiled. What do you think they will be? And what do you think of the Imperial Agent? Let us know in the comments below!
Jaime Skelton returns this week with a look at loot systems in MMOs and their effectiveness amongst players.
World of Warcraft players are generally aware that the newest patch will introduce a new LFG tool, one that forces the Need Before Greed option on any pick-up groups put together through the tool. The Need Before Greed loot option is being changed accordingly to new rule sets, in which in order to roll need, it must be the primary armor type of the class (no mail for paladins, etc.) and must be appropriately statted (no spellpower gear for melee classes.) This naturally upset a portion of the player base, particularly hybrids.
In discussing the change, Ghostcrawler said, "Looting to some extent is always going to have a heavily social component. There's only so much we can do (or should do) to try and 'solve' that problem for players."
The crab is right. Ever since multi-player games have had treasure, loot has been a sensitive social issue among players. Thrust that delicate component into a massive game in which social interaction plays a huge part, and there is no denying that trouble will happen constantly. Feelings get hurt, and not only do personal reputations get hurt, but even the reputations of friends and guilds can get dragged into the mix. I doubt there's a single one of us that hasn't at one point or another been part of loot drama.
MMORPG.com's Garrett Fuller spoke with Mythic's Josh Drescher and Jeff Skalski about patch 1.3.2, how it went and what we can expect in the future of WAR.
Yesterday we sat down with Josh Drescher and Jeff Skalski to discuss Warhammer Online's changes after Patch 1.3.2 was put into effect. The game has seen its ups and downs in 2009 and looks to make a come back as we near 2010. Josh and Jeff explain some of the issues the game has had as well as offer solutions for the future.
In discussing Patch 1.3.2 Josh and Jeff explained that performance has been the biggest boost within the game. Many of the performance issues were solved with the patch and the game has been moving better than ever. Josh mentioned that they keep a close eye on performance and constantly look to improve it. They have the performance now at a good base line to be able to work on other areas and get them set up. The team admitted it was the performance that was holding them back from making certain changes, now that they have it in check, they can move forward with other ideas.
Read Looking Back on 1.3.2.