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Pirates of the Burning Sea : The Balancing Act

Posted Jun 12, 2008 by Keith Cross

The most recent Devlog from the folks at Pirates of the Burning Sea looks at the art of item balancing, and some of the changes that will be made in version 1.5 of the game.

Since moving from the content department to design, I’ve been tasked with maintaining balance among the various outfittings available for your ship or avatar. As a result, I’ve modified the majority of items in the game to one degree or another. Most of these changes are minor, but they are also far-reaching. In this devlog, I’d like to explain why I made these changes and how they’re going to improve your game experience.

Balancing all the hundreds of items in our game was a daunting task. To get a handle on it, I had to break the process down into discreet goals. We have a formula for evaluating items by assigning a point value, and my first goal was to identify those that had values well outside of the range for their level. While some players may reap the benefits of these items, they have a number of damaging effects on the game as a whole.

The most obvious problem is that it’s no fun to be sunk by a player simply because they have managed to stack a number of overpowered pieces of outfitting to achieve absurd stat bonuses. These items tend to generate a “golden path” so that you must have them equipped in order to be competitive in PvP. The consequence of these “must have” items is that all other items become “must not have.” Outfitting your ship is not so much about making choices based on strategy or play-style as it is about discovering and obtaining those few select pieces of gear. Instead, we’d much prefer that all items in your level band are useful. There should be an endless number of interesting and powerful combinations when outfitting your ship, not a single “golden path.”

Read more here.

World of Warcraft : Impact of Activision Blizzard

Posted Jun 12, 2008 by Keith Cross

Gamasutra has taken an interesting and in-depth look the Activision Blizzard merger, its affect on their gaming titles, and on the games industry.

The surprise announcement of the impending merger of Activision and Vivendi Games that was announced in December 2007 caused shockwaves throughout the industry that are still being felt now, in mid-2008, as the deal rolls towards completion.

The prospective company (still pending approval for its existence from stockholders and various government agencies) has made even further waves with other recent moves, such upcoming CEO Bobby Kotick floating concepts such as Blizzard being used to push Activision franchises such as Guitar Hero into Asian markets and the decision to leave the Entertainment Software Association (and as a result not taking part in this year's E3).

Read more here.

Zu Online : Silver Coin Event

Posted Jun 12, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG will be holding an event in Zu Online on June 14th with the aim of getting as many players online at he same time as possible, with a reward of 10 times the number of players online in silver coins.

Zu Online team will offer its players 10 times as many silver coins as there are players online from 1:00pm to 2:00pm on June 14th.

That’s to say the more players get online at that time, the more silver coins the players may win. Silver coins will be given at 2:00 pm, June 16th.

Read more here.

EverQuest : Beginners Scenario

Posted Jun 12, 2008 by Keith Cross

As part of the Living Legacy promotion for the EverQuest games, a beginners scenario has been added to help new and returning players learn to play Legends of Norrath and earn some loot at the same time.

Legends of Norrath™ is taking part in celebrating the Living Legacy campaign with a brand new beginner's scenario that serves up loot cards as rewards! Defeat a shadowy meance in this all-new beginner's scenario and earn loot! This scenario is offered free of charge to all EverQuest players, and you will be provided with all you need to take it on and win the loot cards! What do you win?

Read more here.

General : Get a Beta Key for Ghost Online

Posted Jun 12, 2008 by Craig McGregor has just been given a lot of beta keys for the upcoming 2D MMORPG from Mgame - "Ghost Online".  The actual closed beta phase will begin on June 17, 2008 and end on June 24, 2008.  You can get your beta key right here and now!

All you need to get your beta key is a free account.  CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED!

EVE Online : Dawn of the Empyrean Age

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

CCP has officially announced the launch of Empyrean Age, the eighth free expansion to EVE Online.  The Empyrean Age marks a drastic change in the backstory and political landscape of EVE with the outbreak of war between the game's major factions.

Reykjavik, Iceland - June 11, 2008 - CCP, one of the world's leading independent game developers, today announced the launch of the eighth free expansion for EVE Online, its popular massively multi-player online game (MMOG). EVE Online: Empyrean Age destroys the peace of New Eden as long suppressed political tensions between the four major Empires of EVE boil over into direct conflict. Stalwart starship pilots join the newly mustered militias and make solitary strikes deep within enemy territory. By choosing sides in this epic war, players have the power to direct the course of the conflict. New players can quickly immerse themselves in the EVE universe by diving into large-scale factional battles.

The events leading to the outbreak of war in the expansion are based on the science-fiction novel, EVE: The Empyrean Age, utilizing a rare and dynamic creative style where an MMO and traditional literature mirror each other's development. Written by EVE novelist Tony Gonzales, EVE: The Empyrean Age will be released in the UK by ORION Books on June 19, 2008 with worldwide distribution to follow.

"Factional Warfare has been on the wish list for a while and we're excited to be able to introduce it in this expansion, giving players a new framework to engage in roleplaying and PvP," said Noah Ward, lead designer for CCP. "The focus is on accessibility and fun. The features in Empyrean Age will appeal to players on many different levels: a tightly integrated storyline, social camaraderie, focused combat and battle statistics."

The dawn of the Empyrean Age entails the following new features:
- Factional Militias and Ranks - The militias serve to organize each government's war effort. All militia members will share a chat channel to allow them to quickly coordinate strategy. The ranking system rewards talented pilots by granting titles and recognition within their chosen militia.
- Factional Warfare Agents - More than 260 new militia agents coordinate the activities of militia pilots and assign missions inside enemy territory.
- Statistics - Pilots can track their own warfare victories and kill statistics, as well as those of their corporation and militia. In addition, the galactic map has new options to show system control status and to detect the presence of hostile militia forces.
- System Occupancy - Occupancy is gained by winning conflicts in contested complexes and indicates that the militia is succeeding in capturing and holding valuable territory for their empire.
- Combat Zones - Starship pilots will find a variety of combat zones in low security space. Each of the systems within a combat zone contains a System Control Bunker which coordinates all activity within that system's Factional Warfare Complexes. Once a militia defeats a certain number of complexes, they are authorized to attack the bunker. A victory against the Control Bunker shifts control of the system to the victorious militia.
- Factional Warfare Complexes - Militia pilots that successfully scan for a hidden deadspace complex and hold it uncontested for a set amount of time will claim it for their faction, and be rewarded with corporate standing as well as more tangible benefits.
- World Shaping - The confines of settled space cannot contain a war of this scale, causing the fighting to spill over into a new region. Named "Black Rise," this new region contains 49 new star systems, 80 new agents and nearly 40 stations, many of which are already sworn to one faction or another.

Read more here.

EVE Online : Empyrean Age Screens

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Jon Wood

With EVE Online's Empyrean Age summer expansion now doing its thing on the live servers, the folks at CCP have provided us with these new screenshots from the addition.

Check out all eight images here.

Age of Conan : Editorial: Anatomy of a Launch - Part 2

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Jon Wood

New writer Mathew Reuther pens this look back at the Age of Conan launch from his own perspective.

Early Bird Gets the Shaft

With the logistical delays a new problem has arisen. There is a substantial group of pre-order customers who have been involved in the Early Access program yet did not receive a retail key in a timely manner. This has culminated in the freezing of an untold number of accounts on the 27th. Despite red flags going up two days prior to the end of the Early Access period (when people knew their copies would not arrive in time) it took until after access was actually denied before a single word was heard from Funcom. By the time European Early Access customers received word that they would be given until the end of May to enter retail keys many had already canceled their orders through their credit card companies (which can have an impact on future dealings with the pre-order retailers in question), some picking up retail games and others simply deciding not to play the game.

Read the second part here.

Myth War : Version 2.0 Highlights

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has prepared a list of highlights for version 2.0 of Myth War Online.

Myth War 2.0 Online is a MMORPG brought to you by IGG. After a period of frantic hard work, the MythWar 2.0 Closed Beta is expected to be launched very soon.

Today, the MW team will introduce certain details to ensure everything goes smoothly during the test period and offer all players a better gaming experience.

Features of Myth War 2.0:

  1. New Character designs.
  2. New Boss designs.
  3. More delicate graphic scenes.
  4. Reshaped maps.
  5. The unique rebirth system makes the second rebirth true.
  6. Practical Improvement and Splitting system.
  7. Special system: Marriage and Brothers system.
  8. The new system: Worship the Power.
  9. The popular Mine War event and Siege War.
  10. Unique but abundant quest system.
  11. The captivating Magic Box system.
  12. The Luxury Holy Set system.

Read more here.

Florensia : Closed Beta 3 Starts

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks at Florensia have announced the start of Florensia third round of closed beta testing.

Dear bravers, adventurers, fighters and dreamers -

we proudly announce the beginning of the closed beta 3 of Florensia. The server Lux Plena is now open and we hope to see many of you ingame! The closed beta 3 will last around one week. Although a week later than expected, we hope you're still with us and ready to start testing. Please don't be too sad if you couldn't get a key - after the closed beta 3, further changes will be applied and afterwards, you will be able to enjoy the open beta of the game. For the open beta, you won't need a key any more and you can just log in anytime and enjoy the game. Further information about the open beta will follow after the end of the closed beta 3.

Read more here.

Star Wars Galaxies : Teesquared Technical Report

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Star Wars Galaxies official site has been updated with another edition of the Teesquared Technical Report, which looks at SWG from a programmers point of view.

Time flies when you're working on Star Wars Galaxies. It's time again for another Teesquared Technical Report, so here we go! There is a lot of fun stuff going on in Programmer Land these days, so there is much to cover.

House of Commons Chat

First off, I want to thank everyone again for attending the Programmer House of Commons chat on Stratics. You all asked some great questions and it was fun having the opportunity to answer them. We had a little incident with DevH at the start but luckily AdeptStrain had a handle on it.

[18:58] <@DevH> Testing
[18:59] * @AdeptStrain reboots DevH
[18:59] <@AdeptStrain> ..crazy robots

I'm going to cover a couple questions in more detail.

[19:22] <@Sprite> *Saromus* Does Star Wars Galaxies use a Licensed Game Engine or does it have a Proprietary Engine?
[19:23] <@Bogafett> The SWG engine was written from scratch. There was no tech available to handle what SWG provides for both the client/server.

Bogafett was our mystery guest at the chat. He was one of the original developers and is currently working on another game for SOE. As he says, the SWG engine was written from scratch and it was written using the programming language C++. In fact, there are more than 2 millions lines of C/C++ that make up the client and server. With that said, you can understand why our minimum requirement of any programmer is a strong understanding of C++. We use two different C++ compilers. For client development on Windows, we use Microsoft Visual C++ 2005. For server development on Linux, we use GCC.

Read more here.

Age of Conan : Armory Update

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

Funcom has announced that new features have been added to the Age of Conan Armory, including user-editable maps and space to add screenshots of your exploits throughout Hyboria.

The Age of Conan Armory now features a comprehensive Playfield Database, with user-editable Maps and Screenshots.

Playfield Database and Mapping Features

  • A stylish, user-friendly design, approved by Mitra.
  • Pan and zoom maps at great detail.
  • Edit maps and share the locations of your discoveries.
  • View playfield connections and levels.
  • Submit screenshots of your daring adventures throughout Hyboria.
  • Add comments to playfields, with tips for finding the greatest challenges and rewards.

Read more here.

EverQuest II : LoN Competitions: Monthly Sprints

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

SOE has announced Monthly Sprints, a new form of competition for players of Legends of Norrath, the online card game playable in EverQuest and EverQuest II.

SOE is offering an exciting new tournament format for all Legends of Norrath™ players that allows you to better your skills, climb in the rankings and earn free loot! Best of all, these new events are FREE to you!

Announcing the Legends of Norrath Monthly Sprints!

Monthly Sprints work like this:

  • Every weeknight at alternating times (listed below), a FREE four-round Legends of Norrath Sprint tournament will be held in the Tournaments Lobby.
  • Entrants in the tournament will receive Sprint points based on participation and number of wins.
  • Cumulative rankings will be posted after each event on the Sprint Leaderboard.

Read more here.

Voyage Century Online : Update Preview

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has announced details of the content and features of the next update for Voyage Century Online.

After a series of game testing, IGG announced that the following 12 brand new functions will probably be released in Voyage Century during this update. Today we’d pleased to talk to you a little bit about them.

Stay tuned for the latest news!

  1. Hurricane Island Instance
  2. Purified and Refined Equipment
  3. Auto track
  4. E-Book's Functions
  7. Stalls and Items Inquiry
  8. VCO Equipment Seeing
  9. VCO Chat Function
  10. New Bosses Coming Soon
  11. Treasure Hunting on Open Seas
  12. Auto Planting Introduction

Read more here.

Shadow of Legend : Free World Chat

Posted Jun 11, 2008 by Keith Cross

Smartcell has announced that they will be opening up world chat in Shadow of Legend for the purpose of taking questions and suggestions on improving the game.

As you know, among all the chat channels available in Shadow of Legend, world chat is the only channel that you have to pay an insignificant fee to chat in.

However, Focus Group must continue, and to keep participation strong, SmartCell is opening up World Chat for FREE for this Wednesday, June 10, and this Wednesday only.

[GM]Grand_Master will be in the game moderating Focus Group and will be taking your questions and suggestions for improving Shadow of Legend the game.

Event: FREE World Chat

When: Wednesday, June 10, 2008. 11:00 am – 1:00 pm PST.

Where: in-game Shadow of Legend, world chat channel

[GM]Grand_Master will also be working to bring free world chats to the usual Monday Focus Groups.

Read more here.

EVE Online : Empyrean Age Begins

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Keith Cross

CCP has announced the successful launch of Empyrean Age, the latest free content expansion for EVE Online, which sees war breaking out between the factions of the EVE universe.

War has come to EVE Online

EVE Online: Empyrean Age has been successfully deployed on Tranquility and we’re now open for business! We invite you to explore the new region "Black Rise" or try the new feature Factional Warfare, to fight for glory and fame in the service of your faction.

Read more here.

Earthrise: First Impact : Newsletter, Issue 2

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Keith Cross

Masthead studios has sent out issue two of the monthly Earthrise Newsletter.

Greetings from the Community Corner!

   Let's talk about guilds first this month - lots of guilds have sent emissaries from other games over to stake their claim in Earthrise and its recruitment season as we head into summer. Citizen Imper1um has painstakingly compiled a list of organizations into an "Unofficial Guild Index" post stuffed full of information and ready to grow right along with the community. Is your up and coming guild on this list? If not, you might want to consider it as this post is rapidly becoming the place to go for one stop guild information.

   Maris` topic of death and dying is getting a lot of discussion lately, but it was the recent question of the week on physics that had many of the community jumping in delight.

Read more here.

Star Wars Galaxies : Chapter 10 Puzzles

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks at Star Wars Galaxies have posted a dev diary which looks the adition of puzzles to the process of gaining collections in Chapter 10.

Hello everyone! Jeff "Jaskell" Haskell back again. For this dev diary, I'd like to talk about creating the puzzles that are part of the new Meatlump theme park coming in Chapter 10.

In the past, some of the collectables as well as quest objects only required the player to click on an object to receive an update, so for Chapter 10 I wanted to try to switch things up a little by associating a simple puzzle with a few collection objects. Instead of just finding and clicking these objects, the player will initiate a custom UI that will require a certain amount of interaction to "win."

One particular puzzle/collection I would like to highlight for this diary is the Meatlump Bomb Defusing UI, as I think it is one of the more complex systems added in Chapter 10. In the beginning it started out with what would seem like a simple set of tasks. The puzzle design had the player cutting wires as the bomb timer was counting down. Unfortunately, no UI existed that would support wire cutting, so this gave me the excuse to learn the SWG UI builder to add a new UI that would. This turned out to be a significant challenge.

Read more here.

Warhammer Online : Amazon CE Pre-Order Codes Don't Expire

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Keith Cross

EA Mythic has clarified an issue involving the expiration date listed for pre-order codes from collector's editions which were pre-ordered through  The codes were originally listed with an expiry date of June 10th, but EA Mythic says that the CE pre-order codes don't have an expiration date.

It has come to our attention that those of you who have pre-ordered from were given an expiration date of June 10, 2008 for entering your codes.

Please note: CE Pre-Order codes do not expire.

The Open Beta code may be redeemed at anytime leading up to and during the Open Beta phase. Our account services will provide you with the means to enter your Head Start and Item codes prior to the opening of the Head Start program, at this time we ask you continue to keep those codes in a safe place for later use.

The Pre-Order FAQ will be updated to reflect this as well.

Read more here.

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Devlog: Art and Games

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Keith Cross

The latest dev diary on the Pirates of the Burning Sea official site was written with aspiring artists in mind, and takes a look at what it means to be a professional artist and the concept of the artist's vision.

The content of this devlog is aimed at aspiring artists and art directors. Be warned: it won’t discuss our game directly, but instead concentrates on more abstract, but larger issues behind the creation of art for games in general.

As a teacher at the Art Institute of Seattle, my goal has always been to help each of my students discover their individual artistic “voice”. When I entered college at the Rhode Island School of Design as an illustration major, I thought my goal was to learn how to draw, say, Spiderman at a professional level. However, what I eventually discovered there was something radically different and revolutionary to my way of thinking about art. The goal in art, I discovered, is not to learn to mimic what others are already doing (and the way they do it), but to figure out what strengths one naturally has in order to develop them into a personal and unique vision.

Read more here.

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