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Age of Conan : Last Bastion Machinima Director Q&A

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Jon Wood

Recently, we brought you news of an Age of Conan machinima project called The Last BAstion. Today, MMORPG.com AoC Correspondent Garrett Perkins brings us an interview with the director of that series.

For anyone who doesn't know The Last Bastion - The Chronicles of OSD is a new machinima series of epic proportions. Using the characters, models and stories of a prominent role playing guild in Age of Conan; the Order of the Silver Dragons, it tells the story of their origins and present strife through the eyes of multiple characters. A member of OSD Zsolaith (real name: Zoltan Paul Nagy) put together this huge undertaking in story telling and machinima to create one of the most ambitious machinima movies ever created. Recently I was able to get a few questions in with the brains behind the series to learn the amazing story behind The Last Bastion as well as getting to learn a bit more about what goes into making such a big production.

Read the Last Bastion Machinima Director Q&A

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Expands Staff, Expands Game

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Michael Bitton

The folks at Flying Lab Studios are doing a lot of expanding lately! The company is adding more staff, and has also announced the first expansion for Pirates of the Burning Sea. The new expansion, "Power and Prestige", will allow players to take on the role of Port Governor, in what sounds like a bit of sim-style gaming, where players control the development of a port.

The expansion will be offered as a free download to all players and is set to release in Q2 2010. Until then, check out this interview over at ZAM for more details.

Star Trek Online : To Use Skill-based Progression

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Star Trek Online will not use levels for progression, but the developers at Cryptic Studios have instead opted for a skill-based progression system. The details of which have been described in this latest edition of "Ask Cryptic!" posted on the game's official website.

The developers describe the progression as an inverted triangle of sorts, with characters beginning with broad skills, which then narrows to a point as you continue to select more specialized skills.

Players will be able to progress down a path of five ranks at launch, and they are:

  • Lieutenant
  • Lieutenant Commander
  • Commander
  • Captain
  • Admiral

More details on the skill system below:

Star Trek Online is a skill-based game, meaning the experience you receive for completing missions and finishing episodes awards you skill points, which you use to directly improve the skills available to you. There’s a set number of skills available to you, depending on your rank. For instance, there’s a group of broad skills available at the Lieutenant rank; when you reach Lieutenant Commander, more refined skills become available to you.

The skills available in the early game affect the skills you take later on, and provide blanket bonuses to the more refined skills you select. Again, think of that inverted triangle.

For example, an Engineering officer has the option at lower ranks to decide between focusing on Maintenance or Modification. (He could also generalize in both, if he were to choose to do so.) Let’s say he decided to work exclusively on Modification, and maxes his Lieutenant Modification skill. When he becomes a Lieutenant Commander, new, more refined skills will become available. By the time the officer reaches the rank of Commander, he can choose to spend his skill points by specializing in one of three branches in his Engineering career.

Read more here.

CrimeCraft : Vogster Closes Chicago Offices

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Michael Bitton

In a rumor story appearing over at GiantBomb yesterday, it was reported that CrimeCraft developer Vogster Entertainment may have shut down. The report was quickly debunked with a sign of life by the CrimeCraft Community Manager, stating, "Hey guys, CrimeCraft is still here and so are we! There have been some changes, but it's nothing that will effect CrimeCraft except to give us a chance to make it better." As it would turn out, however, the rumor was only partially incorrect.

Vogster Entertainment has indeed made some cuts and restructured their resources, resulting in the shut down of the company's Chicago studio.

Vogster Entertainment provides some explanation in the following issued press release:

Vogster Entertainment Announces Resource Reallocation

NEW YORK, NY, September 17, 2009 – Vogster Entertainment, LLC, an international innovator in video game design, today announced a restructuring to focus its resources toward the enhancement and expansion of content for their recently launched CrimeCraft shooter-MMO hybrid. With two titles completed in the last three months, the company has made significant staffing changes as it transitions from launch team to live team in the ongoing support of CrimeCraft. Vogster’s New York-area headquarters remains fully operational and committed to the development and production of existing and future titles.

“Vogster has seen a number of releases this year. As an independent developer, we need to be very strategic in our use of available resources and shift from already launched titles to support the ongoing development and growth of CrimeCraft,” stated Daniel Prousline, vice president of development at Vogster. “We regret the necessary staffing changes and the talented employees that this impacts, but it is an unavoidable step in moving to the operational stage of CrimeCraft and optimizing for the development of yet to be announced titles.”

CrimeCraft will see a number of significant content additions in the coming year, in addition to a series of soon to be revealed updates and major announcements which will take place at an upcoming San Francisco press event.

Via GiantBomb.

Champions Online : Major Economy Changes Coming

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Massive changes to the economy are coming to Champions Online, as revealed in a new letter to the community published last night to the game's official website.

The developers have heard your calls for reduced retcon pricing, and the letter explains that the reason they haven't come through with a significant reduction just yet was due to the state of flux the economy has been in. Over the last 17 days, the developers have been hammering out their planned changes to the economy of the game and simply did not want to end up having to readjust retcon pricing to be more expensive after the fact, if it were deemed necessary.

So how's the economy changing? Well for one, they are going to near double the amount of white drops found in the game. As a result of this, they will also be flattening the sell values of items on the vendors, which will have the effect of increasing the value of the white drops on the low end, but slightly reduce the value of the higher rarity drops on the high end. This is being done so as to equalize the resource flow to players, but instead of skewing it to high end items, much of it will come from the volume of white drop vendor sales.

Those of you out there that are thinking, "That's their plan? Giving us more money by making us sell items" Bah!" Fear not! Cryptic Studios will also be boosting the resources dropped from enemies and doled out from mission rewards.

The resulting retcon pricing changes should be "much gentler" on your wallet, but the developers do still intend for a substantial retcon to be a costly endeavor fitting the theme of the game. The idea is you shouldn't have to sell your kidney on the black market to retcon back a few steps is the likely intention.

Wrapping things up, another free retcon will be issued when these economy changes go live, so be sure to experiment with screwing up your character in the meanwhile if you've burned your first one, and from what I understand these free retcon's do not stack.

The original article is available here.

Aion : GameGuard Goes Bye-Bye

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Michael Bitton

The Aion official website has been updated with details on Aion's launch version, and one bit that stands out in particular is NCsoft's dropping of GameGuard from the title. Realizing the overall hindrance GameGuard's presence is causing users due to beta feedback, NCsoft has done the right thing by their fans and dropped the tech until they can figure out how to "effectively utilize GameGuard within Aion in the future".

GameGuard is often found in free-to-play/Asian MMOGs in order to curb cheating, but tends to provide more of a headache to legitimate users than it may be worth.

Another notable change coming to Aion at launch is the raise of the level cap from 45 to 50.

The original announcement is available here.

Did GameGuard drive you nuts? If so, on a scale of 1-10 with seven being the highest, how happy are you NCsoft has dropped the tech? Let us know in the comments!

Global Agenda : Hands-On Preview

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Jon Wood

MMORPG.com's Carolyn Koh had the opportunity recently to sit down for a play test demo of Hi-Rez Studios' upcoming shooter MMO Global Agenda.

Global Agenda

"Team Fortress on Speed!" was how my compatriot described his hands-on play session with Global Agenda. I do not do well with FPS games being that most of them give me vertigo. I had seen Global Agenda and played through the tutorial at E3 and thusly hauled a gamer bud with me to PAX to play the game while I took notes. This was his first look at Global Agenda and he was still talking about it through the next weekend when I saw him again at a house warming party.

Although I spent all of my in-game time at E3 indoors, most of the maps were outdoors although some had some in-door bits, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did NOT give me vertigo. Although the bits of maneuvering inside a building did make me a little queasy, it was nowhere as bad as games such as the aforementioned TF2. The game Fury came to mind when I first saw Global Agenda. It was a game that MMORPG.com had given a graphics award to one E3 which subsequently crashed and burned due to unnecessarily complicated leveling through complex fantasy skills and builds. Global Agenda has much of the same game play mechanic behind it; Match-made, team based PvP on several different maps. That is where the similarity ends as Global Agenda is a futuristic sci-fi game with PvE as well as PvP components to it. With much simpler weapon systems and skill trees as compared to Fury, it was easy to get into and did not lack depth in the classes I had seen thus far - Mechanic and now Assault.

Read the Hands-On Preview

Fallen Earth : Previewing After the Plague

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Jon Wood

MMORPG.com's Vitaliy Dikker writes this preview of the soon upcoming MMO from Icarus Studios, Fallen Earth which launches on Sept 22nd.

Fallen Earth is an MMO with a post apocalyptic setting on the planet Earth. A large scale global nuclear war has broken out after a virus has infected majority of a population somewhere in Asia. Because it caused unusual muscle contractions that made people dance, it was named after the Hindu goddess Shiva. Only 1 in 100,000 people have managed to survive this event. Now the land is desolated, death is in the air and mutants roam free.

You enter the world of Fallen Earth as a clone that was brought back from the dead by a LifeNet scientist. She is the one who is helping you escape the Hoover Dam complex, which incidentally is a cleverly disguised tutorial in the shape of your very first quest. Unfortunately the original functional facilities have been destroyed by Alec Masters, who was later hanged by one of six game factions named CHOTA (Children of The Apocalypse). And so you are actually a clone without the customary given gift of immortality, since your DNA is damaged. From the very beginning you learn that you are actually dying. As you manage to escape the Hoover Dam, the next active mission given to you is all about stopping your demise. The entire game plot and the storyline unfold from here on.

Read Previewing After the Plague

Dragon Oath : Closed Beta Key Handout!

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Craig McGregor

MMORPG.com and ChangYou.com (US) Inc. have teamed up to giveaway Dragon Oath Closed Beta keys! Throughout 30 days of Closed Beta period, all participants will experience the reason why Dragon Oath has over 800,000 concurrent users with 30 million active players in Asia!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR CLOSED BETA KEY

Champions Online : State of the Game: Sept 15, 2009

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Bill Roper is back with this latest edition of the State of the Game letter. Mr. Roper discusses several hot button community issues and concerns, as well as some of the content we can expect to see in the near future.

(Bill Roper's shoes.)

As far as content goes, three new repeatable missions will be added to Monster Island, and will make their appearance on the test server next week. The new missions will consist of: The Manimal Lab, The Lost Caves, and The Hidden Base.

Improvements to the teaming and the team UI are also coming, and they are sure to be some crowd pleasers. Among them, the ability to see the state of team members' missions (even if you don't have them), and rewards for participating in teammates' missions that you don't actually have.

Roper also responds to the issue of mailing items into the void. I've personally run into this issue and lost a few items this way. Fortunately, fixes to the mail system are currently on test server and this issue should hopefully be resolved soon. They are also looking into getting tech so that players can mail resources to each other, which is currently unsupported.

Mr. Roper also goes on to make a commitment to addressing the "balance of power" by bringing overpowered abilities in line and boosting up abilities that are performing under par. This commitment to balance applies to both PvE and PvP and he encourages users to continue to post constructive feedback on the forums.

Some more details on the upcoming Celestial powerset set to debut with next month's Blood Moon update were also revealed:

Celestial Power Set

Along with some incredible events and rewards, there’s a new power set coming out with the Blood Moon event. The Celestial set is designed to provide assistance to allies and destruction to enemies. The power effects are amazing and the versatility of the set makes it both compelling as a single-focus set and also as supplementary powers to other builds. We’re going to be doing a special feature on the website in the upcoming weeks showing off the powers, so stay tuned for a detailed look.

Rounding out the rest of the letter is news that they are looking into getting the tech to allow for players to color their powers along the grayscale (black, white), solving the issue of annoying duels in Club Caprice and the Power House, and the ability to skip the tutorial (jump for joy!).

Read the full State of the Game here.

EVE Online : Dominion: New Planet Graphics Video

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Michael Bitton

The first bits of Dominion have were pushed to the EVE Online test server yesterday, and among them is a planet featuring the new planet graphics that will come as part of Dominion.

YouTuber Flamewave 357 has put together a brief video showing off the excellent new eye-candy.

Check out the video here. Preliminary patch notes are also available, and you can find them here.

Warhammer Online : Hickman on WAR's Biggest Mistakes

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Speaking at GDC, Mythic Executive Producer Jeff Hickman detailed some of the biggest mistakes Mythic made with Warhammer Online.

Mr. Hickman spoke about the major mistakes that haunted the developer for over a year, with the first of which being challenge of play. On this mistake Hickman states:

"There's a big difference between easy play and ease of use. And one of the lessons that we thought we learned from ourselves and other games, was that it's important to have ease of use, and it's also important to hit the right balance between easy gameplay, challenging gameplay, and too difficult. We thought we hit that, but Warhammer, in PVE, in the beginning, is too easy. It doesn't make you thrilled to do it."

The second issue ties into the first issue that the game was in fact, too easy. The developers built many social tools for the game, but there wasn't much of a reason to use them given the ease of play.

The third major mistake was that of the game's economy, or lack thereof. As many players can attest to, there simply isn't much to buy with your hard earned gold in Warhammer Online, and this fact has been a great detriment to Warhammer's success. Hickman elaborates on the issue, stating that a game's economy brings people together:

"Our economy... we just missed the mark. If you look at the reasoning behind the economy, you'll see things like, 'Hey, we're not going to let gold farmers in our game.' 'We're going to try to make sure we have controlled inflation.' We had all the best reasons in our game, but what it caused us to do was build a game where economy is not important enough. Economy brings people together."

The rest of the talk focused on a host of topics, ranging from the importance and future of digital distribution, some of the things Warhammer got right, an emphasis on the fact MMOGs should be designed as a service from the get go, and the issue of localization.

For all that and more, check out the full article over at Gamasutra.

World of Warcraft : Banishing Soul Shards

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Jon Wood

MMORPG.com WoW Correspondent Sean Cooper, a Warlock player, writes this article on Soul Shards. Specifically how he feels they have been mis-used in the past and how Cataclysm is fixing to make it right.

As a long time player of the Warlock class, I, as well as other Warlocks, have found myself annoyed by the soul shard system. In the early days, the annoyance stemmed from having our bags full of the little pink gems. We players cried out for changes, and changes were promised. Would we be getting more uses for the shards? What about the ability to stack them? No! Our beloved class was changed in the form of special soul bags that held only soul shards, albeit a larger number of them. "This was it?" we thought. After months to years we got special ammo pouches.

Future changes were hinted at, but throughout the different iterations of WoW, we Warlocks and our little pink friends could do nothing but farm to fill our ever-increasing-in-size bags. Eventually we learned that we would be able to farm multiple shards through an improved version of "Drain Soul", but our shards would be restricted to 32 at a time. This is where we stand today.

Read Banishing Soul Shards

Aion : Hey Look, I've Got Wings!

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Jon Wood

MMORPG.com Aion Correspondent John Price writes this very basic user's guide to wings in NCsoft's Aion, giving new players tips to flying and gliding their way to adventure.

They're those feathered beauties plastered to your shoulder blades that magically sprout forth from the twisting aether once you have ascended past level ten. Apparently, you had them all along and just forgot they were there, which is understandable because when they're not in use they're nowhere to be seen. Here a few tips, tricks, and musings that can help you, the blossoming little Daeva that you are, keep from tumbling out of the nest and landing flat on your face.

Your wings are obviously one of the selling points of the game, and as such, it's advisable to get as comfortable with the controls as humanly possible so that you too can take to the skies and dogfight with the best of them. The controls, predictably, are quite customizable and you, the industrious tweaker that we all know you are, should feel more than welcome to change them completely. Page Up and Page Down are the default key bindings for take offs and landings and R & F are the defaults for rise and fall. From the moment I started playing the game I felt that rise and fall were much more fluid if done with the mouse alone by holding down the right mouse key, something the tutorials made no attempt to mention. Therefore, I switched around those two key bindings and now take off with R and land with F and have basically discarded the rise and fall bindings.

Read Hey Look, I've Got Wings!

General : More Lawsuits!

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Paltalk strikes again! In a report over at Boston Globe, we've learned that Paltalk Holdings has filed suit against MMOG bigwigs Turbine, Sony Corp, Blizzard, Jagex, and NCsoft for patent infringement.

What's the charge, Officer? Well, apparently, Paltalk Holdings purchased a patent from HearMe in 2002 that covers "technologies for sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment". Paltalks angle is that the companies named in the suit are violating their patent due to the data-sharing technologies being used in games like Lord of the Rings Online, or World of Warcraft.

This story wouldn't be a huge deal, given how ridiculous it is, if not for the fact it has been tried before by Paltalk. First, in 2006, against a little company called Microsoft, over the technology being used in Halo 3. Microsoft settled with Paltak mid-trial, which concedes some validity to Paltalks claims, setting precedent and ensuring it will be tough for companies like Turbine or NCsoft to challenge them.

Via The Boston Globe.

Taikodom : An Introduction to Taikodom

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Jon Wood

At the Austin Game Developer's Conference, Garrett Fuller spoke with Taikodom's Tarquinio Teles about the upcoming Brazilian-made MMO.

When you think of Brazil, you do not instantly think of video games. You think of soccer and carnival and amazing barbecue. Tarquinio Teles is trying to change that image. We got a chance to sit with Tarq and take a look at his game Taikodom here at AGDC. The game is live right now in Brazil and will soon be going global as part of Gamerfirst with K2 Network. Taikodom is a space fighter game with all the bells and whistles. Not only does the game look cool, this guy even has a book series and graphic novel ready to go with launch.

Taikodom takes place in the twenty third century. You have been woken up after years of hibernation and look to begin your career as a space pilot. There are two factions in outer space, the Spacers and the Belters. The Spacers are a bit more industrial, looking at expansion in a more economic way. The Belters are pure fighter pilots with fast ships and wild weapons. These two factions operate in an ever expanding universe with lots of options to explore.

Read An Introduction to Taikodom

Star Trek Online : Hands-On Preview

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Jon Wood

Carolyn Koh had the chance recently to get her hands on a demo of Cryptic's Star Trek Online. Today, she recounts her impressions.

Screenshot

If they say that a picture paints a thousand words, then hands-on gameplay must be ten times that. I had interviewed Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich a number of times about Star Trek Online, and frankly, together with a number of my fellow journalists, were in a “wait and see” frame of mind about the game. Could Cryptic really take what seemed to be an old tired TV series and create a fresh gaming experience out of it? Would it appeal to fans and also to gamers who knew close to nothing about the original TV series? I had always enjoyed the Star Trek series. How would Cryptic port the essence of Star Trek into an MMO? We already knew the basics. They set it in the year 2409, 30 years after Star Trek: Nemesis to allow it to be familiar enough to fans, and yet be able to write their own story based on the Star Trek lore and canon.

At PAX this year, Cryptic was providing hands-on game-play demos. We flew a short mission in the iconic Enterprise against a few Klingon Birds of Prey, small nimble fighters that made us feel like a lumbering freighter. The experience brought out the Star Trek “fangirl” in me as phrases such as “Launch rear photon torpedoes!” and “Thrusters on full!” as well as “Divert power to rear shields” leapt to my lips but were hardily and barely suppressed (perhaps a few did escape) as we performed the functions in game. A young girl did, excitedly unabashed, as Craig turned the controls over and we got some hands-on time.

Read the Hands-On Preview

Dungeon Runners : Shutting Down on New Year's Eve

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Michael Bitton

Come January 1st, 2010 Dungeon Runners will be shutting down. In a letter to the community on the official Dungeon Runners website, DR Producer & Lead Programmer Stephen Nichols informs us in a brutally honest, and yes, even slightly humorous letter that Dungeon Runners is simply not "cutting the mustard" and will be shut down.

Mr. Nichols also describes how the teams plans to resuscitate the game were unable to pan out due to the fact they were both expensive and risky; it also didn't help that two of their five developers were lost recently.

To compensate Dungeon Runners players, NCsoft is going to award all Dungeon Runners players (as of 9/16/09) with a 30-day game card, and digital copies of City of Heroes Architect Edition and Guild Wars Prophecies.

Dungeon Runners will also see some changes between now and "End Time" as Mr. Nichols put it, with XP rates to be raised significantly (5x), Mythic loot to drop more frequently, and a reduction in cost for King's Coin vendors.

Oh, and Townston will be nuked when the game shut's down.

Dungeon Runners was a unique, often satirical Diablo-esque MMORPG, spoofing the genre with things like quest text being full of nonsensical gibberish, absolutely hilarious item names and rarity classifications, and creatures such as "Bling Gnomes" which follow you around converting junk into gold for you. Of course, there's also the aforementioned generically named town, Townston.

Truly a sad day for MMOGs! We tip our hats to the developers of Dungeon Runners and wish them all the best going forward!

The announcement can be viewed here.

Have you played Dungeon Runners, or even heard of the game? Does this news come as a surprise to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

PlanetSide : Planetside Re-Review

Posted Sep 17, 2009 by Jon Wood

MMORPG.com's Chris Higgins takes another look at SOE's Planetside in this week's review, a six year old MMOFPS that still has the power to get the job done.

Planetside went live in May 2003 and after six years, the war still rages on. If you are not familiar with Planetside, it is the closest thing to an online war you will ever see. Most online FPS games have maps and time limits to achieve goals. However in this game, it is all about gaining ground by taking over bases. Each faction has a base which cannot be conquered; from there these factions fan out taking one base at a time. Each base must be connected back to your main base which creates a lattice of base connections. At the end of the day, control of the bases is tallied up and a victor is declared. Then all the bases are reset to neutral and war begins again.

The action is on par with any other online FPS on the market but I like this one better because it really feels like a war vs. ten players on a map for five minutes. There are a lot more things that make Planetside stand out above all the other online FPS games out there. This includes not only land vehicles but also a variety of aerial vehicles. It also has a certification system which allows players to not only customize their characters but re-specialize if they should get tired of the same old combat role.

Read the Planetside Re-Review

General : Beta Keys For Battleswarm!

Posted Sep 16, 2009 by Craig McGregor

MMORPG.com has been given beta access codes for Battleswarm - a new RTS/FPS hybrid game that places RTS players head to head against FPS players in unique genre-busting gaming experience! Get your beta key now!

GET YOUR BETA KEY AT THIS LINK!

 

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