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Granado Espada Online : Jon-Enee Merriex Dev Journal

Posted May 04, 2007 by Jon Wood

Jon-Enee Merriex, a Game Master for K2 Network's Sword of the New World, stops by to give us this developer journal highlighting the game's "Multi-Character Control" feature.

MCC allows a player to take control of three different characters at once. The player becomes responsible for leveling all three characters, including upgrading their skills, stances and equipment. MCC also delivers amazing gameplay variety. If you want to be a healer, you can do that. If you want to be a tank, you can do just that. If you want to become a damage dealer, you can do that, too. If you want to be more balanced with a little bit of everything, you have that opportunity as well.

The best part of MCC though has to be that no matter what, you are never really locked into any specific job or function. And, you don't have to spend tons of time or gold heading back to a class trainer to change your build. Instead. you can just head back to your family's quarters and change your characters. In internal testing, if there is a group of us and we're all playing on our solo builds, it usually takes less than a minute to determine what classes to bring and completely regroup for squad play.

Read the whole Developer Journal here.

City of Heroes : Accounts Reactivated Until Sunday

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

To promote the release of Issue 9: Breakthrough for City of Heroes and City of Villains, NCSoft will be reactivating old accounts that are in good standing, allowing former players to play for free until Sunday May 6th.

Have you played City of Heroes or City of Villains previously? Do you follow the game but are not subscribed? Are you interested to check out the new free expansion, Issue 9? Well now you can!

In celebration of the launch of Issue 9: Breakthrough, we have reactivated the accounts of our former players in good standing through late Sunday night (May 6th, 8:59PM PST / 11:59PM EST). Spread the word to your supergroup or guild mates and online friends who might not be playing CoH that now is the time to come back and check out the great new Issue 9, for FREE!

Welcome back to these Heroes and Villains and we hope that everyone has a great "City of" weekend!

Get the details here.

EverQuest II : New Fan Site

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

Norrath News, a new fan site for EverQuest 2 was launched this week. The site promises to provide up to date news and information, as well as exclusive interviews and hardware reviews.

What is Norrath News? This site is one that will have constant communications with SOE Everquest II staff as well as community managers and members all across Norrath. We will provide up to date news, interviews, and product information like no other site around.

What does Norrath News provide? We will provide the playerbase with up to date information about Everquest II as well as exclusive interviews and product reviews. We also provide an area on our forums for troubleshooting. These troubleshooting forums are for the players to post problems they are having in game. We will submit the top ten problems to SOE staff for review/fix. The forums are to be used not only for troubleshooting, but also as a community gathering to help one another.

The product reviews will be over equipment for your computer that will enhance gameplay. From memory to cases, our reviews will come directly from the product manufacturer. Our goal is to provide our players with the best reviews for the best products. If there are any product you would like to see on our site, please post it in the forums and we will investigate.

Another benefit to this site is the quick reporting of botters. Constantly in game there have been incidents with bot teams who flood the market with farmed equipment and ruin the economy for the sales of platinum. These are totally against the EULA and should be reported immediately with screenshots/movies. If you have a problem with a bot team, you can anonymously report these teams directly to us. Go to our contact form and send in the report. However you must email the screenshots/movies to us directly at news@norrathnews.com. The report will be sent to SOE staff for investigation.

To visit Norrath News click here.

D&D Online : D&D and Friends

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

Dungeons and Dragons Online has made some changes to the friends panel. Improvements include increased levels of customization, the ability to see a friend's class and level and more powerful sorting functions.

The first thing you will likely notice about the new Friends panel is that the information you see for each friend now looks a lot like what you find in the Who panel. When viewing your friends list you will see all the relevant information about your friend: race, gender, class, level, guild, and party status (when they are online). Looking for a rogue? You can now sort your friends list for each of these categories.

Unlike the Who panel where you can enter a comment about yourself for others to see, the Friends panel provides a custom comment entry where you can describe your friend (as another characters alt, their playstyle, anything you like). Simply select the friend you would like to write a comment about, enter a comment into the comment text field at the bottom of the panel, and click the update button. The comment will now appear in the entry for the selected friend.

The basic functions of the friends list remain: you can add a friend by entering their name in the text field at the top of the panel and clicking the 'Add' button. Or you can target the player in the game world, which will automatically fill in the text entry field with the players name. At the bottom of the friends list are three buttons: 'Remove' to remove a friend from the list, 'Invite' to send a request to your friend to join your party, and a new 'Tell' button to send a tell to your friend.

Get all of the details here.

Guild Wars : State of the Game

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

In this article on the Guild Wars official site, Christian Brellisford dissects the winning tactics of a top ranked guild, and lays them bare so that the rest of us may learn.

In today's article I observe a top guild and shamelessly dissect their build. I detail why they chose their skills, talk about the opponent's guild hall choice, and discuss strategic maneuvers. While this is useful for people just starting PvP, regulars of Observer Mode may find this analysis quite familiar, and even comforting.

Current Metagame

The current metagame is fluidly shifting. Recent balance changes have induced rethinking of previous skill choices. However, even with major changes to Spirit of Failure and Necromancer skills such as Price of Failure, Hex builds are still ubiquitous. Also, physical damage dealers like Warriors, Rangers, Paragons, and Dervishes are quite common in bunches for both gimmick and balanced builds.

The recent buffs to the conjure skills have also empowered melee characters. Specifically, a lot of teams are running various conjure skills on sword Warriors. The ability to use Sun and Moon Slash with a conjure adds quite a bit of extra damage against a team not prepared with proper removals or armor buffs.

These metagame conventions are followed by a great guild from Japan called Supernova Jpn [SpNv]. They recently fought against a top guild from Europe called Bambis Dont Say [Meow]. Both guilds have competed in tournaments and have experience under pressure. At the time of this writing, they also sat right next to each other on the ladder, making for an interesting and tightly-played match.

Read the full article here.

Vanguard : Join the Bug Hunt and Win a Custom Title

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

An interesting contest has been posted on the official site for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. To encourage players to test the new fellowship system on their test server, they are offering a custom made title for the first three players to find a reproducible bug.

Here is your chance to win a custom title of your choosing! The fellowship system is now on the Test Server and we would like to invite players to come break it for us. In fact, for the first three reproducible bugs sent to us, the submitting player will get to choose a title for their character on a LIVE server. Chosen titles must be appropriate and in accordance to the naming policy, of course, but other than that - it is all up to you!

Learn more about the contest and the fellowship system here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Exploring Middle Earth: Angmar Moot

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

From time to time, the folks over at Turbine give us all a look at some of the unique places they have created for Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. This time around it's Aughaire, the Meeting-place, the Gaelic inspired tent city where the tribes of the Hillmen gather to trade and maintain relations with other tribes.

In years past, when Arthedain and Cardolan strove to drive back the forces of Angmar, the Men of Rhudaur, under the leadership of an evil chieftain of the Hillmen, fell under the sway of the Witch-king of Angmar. As the years passed, the Hillmen were displaced northward by the better-trained and "civilized" Men of Angmar in preparation for a final war against the North-kingdom of Arthedain. After the defeat of the Witch-king's forces and the near-annihilation of the Angmarim, the Hillmen in the north gradually departed from the dark path laid down for them by the Witch-king and returned to their tribal ways.

Now, the Hillmen have become nomads, wandering the frozen wastes and hills of Angmar, content to hunt the great herds of aurochs, unconcerned with the doings of the strange folk who dwell in stone cities. Yet the clans still recognize the need to maintain relations with each other, in order to avert bloodshed as one clan infringes on the territory of another. In order to facilitate peaceful relations between their clans, the nomads established a neutral colony, a great tent city they named Aughaire, the Meeting-place. Here, the clans trade in furs, meats and produce, medicines, and slaves. A clan judge also resides here, an elder who mediates peaceful resolutions to disputes between rival clans.

Read more on Aughaire and its lore here.

World of Warcraft : Battle with Blizzard

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

On Friday May 4th, Blizzard will be enabling the battleground matchmaking system on their public test realms. To kick off the new system, World of Warcraft players will be given the chance to test their mettle against Blizzard employees and community managers as they will be on hand to take on any teams who dare to challenge them.

On Friday, May 4, we're going to be enabling the battleground matchmaking system on the public test realms (PTRs). The matchmaking system will help match teams against each other based on their gear and level of organization. To usher in this new feature and help aid in testing, we're going to be sending in World of Warcraft community managers and other Blizzard employees to take on any teams willing to challenge us. Come onto the PvP test realm on Friday, May 4, beginning at 2:00 PM PDT, with your level-70 characters and queue for the Warsong Gulch battleground.

For more details click here.

Fury : Origin Myth Part 4: Age of Heroes

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

Auran has released part 4 of the origin myth for Fury, titled the Age of Heroes. In this chapter, we learn about the rise in might of reincarnated heroes called the chosen, and their well intentioned but hubristic use of magic that brought the lands of Altaia to the brink of destruction.

Miraculous though it was, resurrection did not come without a price. As the years of strife went on, the souls of resurrected Heroes were subtly altered due to their contact with the unnatural magic of resurrection. This magic inexorably bonded these souls with the four elements of the world: Air, Water, Fire, and Nature. These souls, now fused with elements, were bound to living world and thus, could never leave it.

A Hero's soul, if not resurrected, did not go on to the afterlife, but wandered the land of living, devoid of a corporeal form. These ethereal souls would wander Altaia until by some unknown agency they were reborn in the form of new individuals.

The reborn had no memories of their past lives, only the inherent knowledge that they were different, special. Their altered souls gave them a natural affinity towards the elements and an almost uncanny control over magic. Throughout the ages, these altered souls experienced lifetime after lifetime, often changing races, societal roles and even genders. However, one thing remained constant: The reborn always led lives of great influence.

Read the origin myths here.

Shot Online : 4th United Cup Tournament

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

The 4th United Cup Tournament for Shot Online has been announced and this time around it's the United States vs. the European Union. In addition Shot-Online has also announced that it will be having a sales event to correspond with the 4th United Cup.

San Jose, CA May 2nd, 2006 - Shot-Online announced today the beginning of the 4th United Cup. The event will be held from 5/2/07 until 5/11/07. The United Cup is a region-specific event that Shot-Online offers and will feature players from the United States competing against players from the European Union. The top 10 players from each team will compete in a team match against the other team.

At the end of this event; the winners will receive a rare cap.

"The 4th United Cup is a great event because it embodies the true competitive spirit of Shot-Online", said Chris Yamauchi, PM of Shot-Online

Read about The United Cup here.

Read about sales event here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Monsters of Middle Earth

Posted May 03, 2007 by Keith Cross

The developers of Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar have been kind enough, from time to time, to show off one of their newly created inhabitants of Middle Earth. This time around it's the bat winged denizens of Angmar, the Merrevail.

In the First Age, in Angband, there were many creatures bred and twisted by darkness. In later Ages, the Dark Lord Sauron bred from these abominations new creatures with which to make war upon Middle-earth. Among these new monsters are the Merrevail.

A Morroval appears to be a cross between a bat and a mortal woman, but if the blood of Man ever ran within its veins, it has become utterly corrupt and evil. These creatures are not mere beasts, acting strictly upon instinct. They are instead cunning and skilful in the use of arms. It is rumored that they may have some powers beyond the mundane, as well. The Merrevail dwell in the ruined realm of Angmar, in service to the Iron Crown and the Steward of Angmar.

See more on the Merrevail here.

Age of Conan : Dev Profile Q&A: Haluk Diriker

Posted May 03, 2007 by Jon Wood

The folks over at Funcom's Age of Conan have provided us with a new Developer Profile Q&A. This time around, AI Designer Haluk Diriker answers our questions as we get to know the folks behind their highly anticipated game.

MMORPG.com:

Tell us a little about your childhood. How did school and where you live influence your choice to join the video game community?

Haluk Diriker:

My family moved around a lot due to my father's profession. I think I lived in 3 different cities before I was sent back to my home town to live with my grandparents. It was decided that all the moving was interfering with my education.

It all paid well for me in the end. I was a hyperactive kid and my grandparents couldn't run after me the whole day, so I was awarded with an Atari 2600 and the handhelds of the time: Gamewatches. That's when games really entered my life.

Read the whole article here.

World of Warcraft : Video Contest

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

Blizzard has announced that they will be teaming with NVIDIA, Machinima.com, and The Ataris hold a music video contest. After the top 10 videos have been selected, the winners will be voted for by the World of Warcraft community.

Are you ready to rock? The Ataris, Blizzard, NVIDIA, and Machinima.com are proud to present an exciting new contest where you can show off your music video skills in World of Warcraft. We will be selecting 10 lucky machinima music videos and putting them into the hands of the World of Warcraft community to vote on their top three winners. Movie creators will be able to choose one of three new exciting songs from the Ataris' new album, Welcome the Night.

Get the full contest details here.

City of Heroes : Issue 9: Breakthrough Released

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

Issue 9: Breakthrough, the latest free expansion for City of Heroes and City of Villains has been released. This issue features a new invention system, the high-level Statesman's Task Force for heroes, and more.

We are thrilled to announce the release of Issue 9: Breakthrough, for City of Heroes and City of Villains!

Breakthrough is the ninth free expansion to City of Heroes since its release in April 2004. Issue 9 adds a whole new layer of game play to City of Heroes and City of Villains with the introduction of the highly-anticipated Invention System. Heroes and villains can collect "loot" in the form of Salvage and Recipes, and use it to craft new Enhancements, costume pieces, or temporary powers!

I9 also brings you Consignment Houses (Wentworth's Consignment House for heroes and the Black Market for villains), a new Hamidon Encounter for both sides, and the high-level Statesman's Task Force for heroes.

Read more here.

Tabula Rasa : Tabula Rasa Enters Closed Beta

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

Tabula Rasa, Richard Garriott's much anticipated sci-fi MMO title has announced that they have entered the closed beta phase of production.

Austin, Texas, May 2, 2007--NCsoft® today announced that closed beta testing is beginning for the company's highly anticipated online computer game, Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa™. The start of closed beta marks the game's final development stages as Tabula Rasa approaches an anticipated launch this fall in North America and Europe.

Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) role playing PC game that places players in an epic sci-fi story where they will be challenged by dynamic and fast-paced adventures on alien worlds.

Garriott's signature creative vision introduces several fresh features to the MMO genre such as a character cloning system, role-playing on the battlefield and a mystical "Logos" language and powers system. They are the types of touches that players have come to expect over the years from a Richard Garriott game.

"This is an exciting time for the Tabula Rasa team," says Garriott, executive producer at NCsoft and the Austin, Texas-based Destination Games™ development team. "With closed beta testing now in progress, we're excited to hear more what our players think. With fast-action and tactical combat in an RPG setting, a deep and interesting fictional universe, and many feature innovations, we think we've created a game that represents the next generation of MMO games and will revolutionize the way people play online games."

Garriott is best known for creating the best-selling Ultima® computer game series, including the first commercially successful MMO game, Ultima Online. In 2006, he was presented with two industry honors for his work in the games industry. That year Garriott was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame and later was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Read the full story here.

General : Sanya Thomas Parts with EA Mythic

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

Dana Massey of the WarCry Network recently conducted an interview with Sanya Thomas, formerly Director of Community Relations for EA Mythic, where they discuss her recent departure from EA Mythic, her experiences as a community manager, and her plans for the immediate future.

WarCry: When you began at Mythic, prior to Dark Age of Camelot's launch, you were one of the - if not the - first community managers. Now it's a full blown profession people can get an education for. Tell us about how you see community management, its evolution and your role in it.

Sanya Thomas: Oh, I wasn't the first. Jon Hanna was the Ur-CM. And Gordon Wrinn was already famous before anyone ever heard of me. But I definitely have the title of longest-lasting. It would have been six years in June.

Somewhere, I have a copy of a message board post that says "she won't last six months."

Originally, community work was reactive. Something happened, and some poor schmuck was assigned to hit the boards and respond. Or worse, it was considered marketing, and not even GOOD marketing - carefully controlled information leached of all life by someone who wants to "control the message." And either way, the community manager was to blame if players didn't like what they heard. At a lot of companies, it's still no different. Even companies that start well sometimes morph into a more marketing/reactive pose.

I think my greatest contribution was I demonstrated that it doesn't have to be that way. I used my real name, and shared actual information. I felt that a community is a living entity that cannot be controlled, and deserves respect.

If you hire someone off the board who "seems really nice" and pay him minimum wage, you will get what you deserve. Community work is a professional specialty, with standards of communication, turnaround time, media responsiveness, and more. There are known benchmarks for message board personnel requirements, beta cycles, and professional behavior. There are techniques that can be mastered, assuming the basic skills are in place.

Good community is a little marketing, a little CS, and a little old-fashioned mud-wrestling on behalf of your players. It's important to work with the whole team to achieve a consistent message, of course, but at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the community weenie to stand up for players, for player feedback, and for realistic expectations. If that means a few bruises (from all sides), so be it.

I could go on for hours about this. I usually do, when I've been drinking in Austin with my fellow comrades in arms. (Comrades. How cool is that? Back when I was walking to school uphill through the snow, there were a tiny handful of people who knew what the hot seat felt like. There are dozens of us now, and we don't have to inflate our numbers by counting silly marketing stunts as "community.")

I'll just add that the Herald and the Herald's content will, I hope, go down as my legacy. An official place where you could see your stats and the stats of other players, and get first hand news that didn't sound like a shovelful of peppy? In 2001 there was no such thing, not on the scale or tone that we achieved with the Herald. (Originally we thought we'd just use www.darkageofcamelot.com - but it soon became apparent that we needed that URL to be very smooth and professional in tone. Hence www.camelotherald.com.)

What I did on the Herald was professional, in that it was entirely considered and intentional. Every good writer can work in any number of different "voices," and the voice of the Herald was meant to be casual and friendly. But not smooth, not over-produced, not "official."

I wish I could take the credit for the Herald, but honestly, the site design was as much Scott Jennings as it was me. We had similar ideas and feelings about The Right Way To Treat People, and The Importance Of Talking Honestly To Customers. And if we're being honest, Showing Off Your Epeen Is Fun, Admit It.

Little known fact: The original version of the Herald was Scott's blog software. Yes. It was built onto the Lum The Mad skeleton. That cracks me up to this day.

Read The full story here.

ArchLord : Double Drop Days

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

This weekend Archlord will be holding a double item drop event where monsters will drop twice as much loot. The event runs from Saturday May 5th to Monday May 7th.

Double Drop Weekend!

This Saturday 5th May 9am (GMT +1) till Monday 7th May ArchLord will be hosting Double Drops all weekend, across all servers!

Now is the time to log in and get ready! Start taking on those monsters and see if you'll be lucky enough to get those rare items you've been after, or maybe you just want to raise some funds... you'll be able to do it all this weekend!

Read more about the event here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Hope and Dread

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

In this developer log, Keth, Lead Content Designer for Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar details the origins and mechanics of the Dread system.

The Mechanics of Hope and Dread

The initial inspiration for the system was what I was calling the "evil-o-meter." I just imagined getting near some source of great evil, such as the Witch-king, and watching a needle peg all the way to right. And it's hard to explain, but imagining that in my mind made the situation that much more intense and cool. For some reason, that completely artificial mechanism added an important layer to the scene. Sure, we try to convey evil through our art, sound cues and other sources, but it just seemed really awesome to me to really tell you, the player, that, "HEY, THIS GUY IS EVIL!"

Of course, some sort of Geiger counter of evil isn't appropriate to our game world, so we convey that you are near sources of evil through a change in the game's music, portions of the User Interface (UI) changing, and the world itself seeming darker and more oppressive. I think it's pretty dramatic and cool. As we've already talked about, the books aren't all about evil and dread -- hope is just as important a concept, so our UI reflects that as well.

All right, so now that you'll know when you're near evil or good, what exactly are the effects of hope and dread on your character? As I mentioned above, those emotions had a definite impact on the characters in the books, so they should have an impact on your character as well. Our first step was to essentially add an attribute of sorts which reflects the character's mood. The Mood attribute ranges between -10 and +10. A -10 Mood represents the depths of despair and hopelessness, while a +10 represents the heights of hope and jubilation. So what effect does mood have on your character? I'm glad you asked!

Read the complete article here.

General : Colony Studios Opens

Posted May 02, 2007 by Keith Cross

Michael Wallis, CEO and co-founder of the newly opened Colony Studios has officially announced the creation of their MMO production house made up of veteran game designers. Colony Studios' first MMO is currently scheduled for a late 2009 release and is said to be a space based sci-fi game.

RENO, NEVADA - APRIL 30, 2007 -- Colony Studios has joined the list of new MMO developer studios with one significant advantage - the team members have contributed significantly to the successes of the most popular MMOs including World of Warcraft, EVE Online, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest, and Ultima Online.

Veteran MMO developer Michael Wallis, CEO of Colony Studios, believes his team has more per capita experience working on hit MMO titles than any team of its size ever assembled.

"Our collective contributions to a significant number of hit MMOs give us a strong advantage," says Wallis. "Most dev teams - including Colony's - have gone through the process of learning what doesn't work in game development, but our team members have also been intimately involved with creating what does work in several successful MMOs and that combination will serve us well. Our challenge is, of course, to use our experience and talent correctly to create an MMO that players will enjoy."

Colony Studios' MMO is based on its own IP and focuses on a dynamic, living world which won't be developed as a "safe" MMO, meaning it won't be a World of Warcraft clone with a new IP skin. Colony Studio's goal is not to be afraid to take chances outside the normal MMO design and to breathe new life into what is often described as a somewhat stagnant increasingly generic genre.

"Our MMO, which will offer far more than a linear storyline, will provide a ton of history and backstory, but the players will consistently influence the content," says Wallis. "The bottom line is we've launched MMOs before, and our experience lets us anticipate bumps in the road and steer clear of them. The fact that we've been through it before means things are much less likely to fall through the cracks."

Colony Studios' first MMO is currently scheduled for a late 2009 release.

Read more about Colony Studios here.

Spellborn : Studio Visit Part One: Introduction

Posted May 02, 2007 by Jon Wood

Recently, Managing Editor Jon Wood visited the offices of The Chronicles of Spellborn in The Netherlands. Today, we kick off a series of articles from that trip with an introduction to TCoS and some of the innovative features that are promised from this upcoming MMORPG.

Last week, I was invited to visit the offices of The Chronicles of Spellborn in The Hague, The Netherlands. Over the next few weeks, MMORPG.com will be running a series of features on my visit, and The Chronicles of Spellborn itself. I thought, in knowing that, that it might be a good idea to start the series with a kind of "getting to know you" introduction.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the game's offices and met with Marco van Haren, the Marketing and PR manager for the game. What I found, frankly, surprised me.

For many, this will be your first introduction to TCoS. Whenever I have the opportunity to learn something new about a game that I don't know much about, I try to find something special and unique about it. Generally speaking, that's a good place to start. In the case of The Chronicles of Spellborn, it seemed to me as though they were trying to take all of the conventions that we know in MMORPGs and turn them on their ears.

Read the whole article here.

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