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Auto Assault : In Testing/In Development

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Jon Wood

Auto Assault hs released some information into the Testing/In Development section of their official website. The info tells us just exactly what they're working on testing for the next patch:


We've updated our In Testing/In Development section with a detailed list of things we are currently testing for the next patch and what's being worked on in the near future. Note: There are some important crafting and inventory changes for the upcoming patch, so please check it out!

For more on AA, click here.

Also, if you oplay this game and live in the states of Texas, California, Arizona or Minnesota, read this!

Guild Wars : Scheduled Maintenance

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Jon Wood

The friendly folks over at Guild Wars are reminding us of some scheduled maintenance that will take things down early tomorrow morning:


The Guild Wars servers will be undergoing scheduled maintenance early Thursday morning PST. Please read Network Updates for more information.

For more on Guild Wars, click here.

World of Warcraft : Patch

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Jon Wood

As many of you out there are probably aware, Blizzard has released a new patch for its popular MMORPG, World of WarCraft. By clicking on the links below, you can have a look at what you can expect after patching.


The latest World of Warcraft content patch has arrived, containing many new additions and improvements to the game, such as...

You can check out the full patch notes here.

For more on WoW, click here.

General : Stargate Worlds GDC Preview

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Dana Massey

We continue to trickle in the GDC previews with a record of Jon Wood's conversation with Joe Ybarra, the VP of Product Development currently hard at work on Stargate. He revealed several interesting design ideas and team additions, including Zeb Cook, formerly of City of Villains.

At this stage of production (pre-production), all of the decisions for the game have not been made, their team, which they hope will reach nearly 60. Ybarra provided us with a number of firm details as well as their thoughts and hopes for the game. What he did say, was that this game is not going to be "orcs in space", and will offer something unique that is true to the Stargate franchise.

The game itself will be based around 3 major factions. The first are the Free People. They're the good guys on the show, the Humans, the Asgard, the Tok'ra, are examples of these, basically the forces of good. The second faction involved in the game will be the Control People, those who seek to enslave and rule. The System Lords and other Goa'Uld seek to rule by fear and power, providing an excellent contrast to the Free People, a constant struggle. If this wasn't enough, the third group is known as The Entropy Group. Those who seek only to hurt and to destroy, the robotic Replicators personify this ideal. On top of this, the developers are looking to give players the ability to play a wide variety of races. The Asgard, for example, are a race that players have been asking for. MGM has given the ok on this, and it is the current plan to include them as playable. Joe also mentioned the possibility of including the symbiotes as a playable race. This would give players the opportunity to shift hosts and to make the decision of whether to be Tok'Ra or Goa'Uld in their behaviors. Giving the players what he called "betrayal ideas".

You can read this article here.

FreeWorld : Q&A: Re-Debut

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Dana Massey

Most of you have heard of FreeWorld, a small MMORPG in development for several years at MindSurge Entertainment. Recently, they contacted us with some odd news. They'd thrown the game out!

What does this mean? FreeWorld: Portal Apocalypse. This is not a sequel. This is not a redesign. This is basically a whole new game from the same company. We explore what this means in this new Q&A with CEO Clyde Bielss and have re-debuted the game on our list. Just what is FreeWorld?

Clyde Bielss: I guess the question here would be, “What WAS FreeWorld?” We have publicly announced the cancellation of the original FreeWorld and the birth of the 100% new MMO “FreeWorld: Apocalypse Portal“. This new version, though it still holds the FreeWorld name, is not a sequel to the old game; it’s a completely new game. We have taken everything from the old game, tossed it aside and started from scratch. This new MMO will have some similarities to the first FreeWorld, but even as we speak the engine is being redesigned from the ground up to improve graphic quality and game play. Everything from the combat mechanics and monster AI to the skills and quest systems are being rethought and implemented with new ideas. We hope to have a test phase for this new build starting in the next few months.

You can read the article here.

Tabula Rasa : GDC Preview, Part Two

Posted Mar 29, 2006 by Dana Massey

Today is the second half of our Tabula Rasa preview. Today, Garrett summarizes the going on when he and a few others had a chance to talk to Richard face-to-face after his lecture.

Moving to more direct gameplay issues, the battlefields in Tabula Rasa will change constantly. They plan to have a lot of strategy for players to think about. Bases will have way points, hospitals, defenses and quests that can be all quickly taken away from one side if the base is overrun. Richard made a great point about PvP in the game which was that shared space will be used for battles, while instanced areas will be used for solo content. He also remarked that each world has its own unique physical goods. Travel will be done through way points or wormholes, not light speed. The first world is finished and ready to go. Each expansion will be by world. Basically players solve a world and move on to the next one.

You can read part two here.

World of Warcraft : Blizzard Being Sued

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood has reported that Blizzard is being sued for blocking an eBayer who was trying to see his own unofficial guide to the game. We've given you a part of the story, read the whole thing by following the link below:


Makers of the wildly popular "World of Warcraft" online game now face a lawsuit from an eBay seller who claims he was improperly barred from selling copies of his own unofficial gaming guide.

Filed Thursday in a California federal court, the complaint (click here for PDF) alleges that Blizzard Entertainment, its parent company Vivendi Universal, and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) were wrong to order eBay to terminate auctions of "The Ultimate World of Warcraft Leveling & Gold Guide," a book penned by 24-year-old Brian Kopp of Bronson, Fla.

The multiplayer online game of wizards, warriors and monsters has now attracted a following of 6 million subscribers worldwide since it debuted in 2004--among them, active virtual guilds.

During several months beginning last August, Kopp sold several hundred copies of his guide, which contains tips on playing the game and accumulating points, at roughly $15 apiece. Weeks after his first auction went live, Blizzard, Vivendi, and the ESA began sending repeated takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), asking eBay to yank the auctions because of copyright and trademark infringement concerns. The auction giant's general policy is to halt auctions when it receives such complaints and to suspend a user's account after it racks up a certain number of warnings.

Kopp filed counternotices protesting the infringement claims. Because the companies did not respond to the documents within 14 days, eBay was free under the DMCA to reinstate his auctions, which it did. But by November, eBay had accumulated enough takedown warnings from the companies to warrant suspending Kopp's account. He restarted his sales under a new username, which quickly earned suspension, too.

The companies went on to threaten copyright and trademark infringement action against Kopp. In one message quoted in the complaint, a Blizzard executive said Kopp could not lawfully sell a guide that "attempts to trade off the substantial goodwill and recognition that Blizzard has built up in connection with its World of Warcraft product." He also dismissed Kopps' claims that his book was solely meant for "educational" value, saying it clearly had a commercial purpose.

Read it all, here.

Trials of Ascension : Dev Journal: Skills and Stats

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

There's a new developer journal over at Trials of Ascension. This one has to do with the skill and stat system that the developers had been keeping closed lipped on. As usual, we've provided you with a sample of the goodness, just follow the link below for the rest:


Greetings, ToA fans! Spring is in the air here in ToA-land, and with it you can see all kinds of things flying through the air. Rain, birds, clouds of dandelion seeds, bits of vaulted information... err, wait a minute...

All jesting aside, ToA's skill and stat system is something that we've been keeping tightly locked away, but since it's also something that undergoes regular review and tweaking, it makes for an excellent dev journal subject. And since we know just how much everyone is chomping at the bit for some information - *any* information - we're going to let a few little details slip through that securely guarded vault door. The recently-posted FAQ update describes some of the basic ideas behind the skill system, of course, so this journal will try to expand on what's presented there rather than simply restating the already-known.

As you'd expect, a character's effectiveness in a skill is heavily dependent on the degree to which they've studied it. Hundreds of hours of experimentation with new techniques will certainly put you well ahead of a complete novice, but an important element of the skill system is that there are inherently declining returns to this: A more-skilled character will always have an advantage, but the extent of that advantage declines steadily as the character's expertise improves. To use a completely arbitrary example: Someone with 100 hours of practice at it will certainly do better when using a particular refinement than someone with 50 hours of practice, but in most cases they won't be doing anywhere near twice as well at it. Of course, this also depends on the difficulty of the task in question. As the FAQ explains, being highly-skilled isn't much of an advantage when you're performing a trivially-easy task, but a novice who tries to perform difficult tasks is usually going to make a mess (or at least produce very shoddy goods), unless they're very lucky or have some pretty serious natural talents (or synergies).

A character's stats also factor into how successful someone is in using a skill. Which stats affect a given refinement and by how much varies from refinement to refinement - including differences in which stats affect each refinement within a skill. For example, different maneuvers with a given type of weapon may rely upon different stats. The "Biting the Hand" maneuver described in one of the Scrollspires is heavily-dependent on the character's Agility and Perception, whereas trying to stun and knock your opponent back with a "Slam" maneuver is much more reliant on Strength - even though both of these maneuvers fall under the "Light Hafted" combat skill!

Read it all, here.

General : Game Preview Ethics

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

While not directly MMO related, Kotaku has run an interesting series of stories on the ethics of previews in the gaming media. A couple weeks ago they opened a large can of worms with this article.

Today, they've followed it up with some direct evidence of how game companies purchased article placement on IGN/GameSpy and GameSpot. Here is a sample:

This source sent me some invoices for a game studio client. (For good measure, I faxed copies to my Gawker editors.) Several were from Gamespot, and while most of the items referred to legitimate ads, a couple mentioned something called “Front Door rotation”— or what Gamespot staffers refer to as a “gumball”. Gumballs are those thumbnail screenshots you see on the front page of Gamespot, when you visit the site— clicking on these takes you to an article about the game.

In the Gamespot invoice I looked at, a gumball for two weeks cost the media buyer’s client over $7000.

You can read the full article here.

Second Life : New Funding

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

I found the following article over at WarCry, and thought that you guys might find it interesting. It announces an influx of funding to the free-form world MMORPG, Second Life.


Linden Lab, the publisher of the popular virtual world "Second Life," announced Tuesday an $11 million round of funding led by Globespan Capital Partners.

The new funding, which comes on the heels of an $8 million round in October 2004, came from Globespan as well as founder Jeff Bezos, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, the Omidyar Network and Catamount Ventures.

"Second Life" is one of today's most talked-about virtual worlds, and currently has more than 165,000 users. It is an open-ended "metaverse" that allows anyone to join and participate for free and to create and own any kind of clothing, vehicles, buildings or other objects at no cost. The company makes its money by charging players use fees for land they buy and build on.

For more on Second Life, click here.

Shadowbane : Breaking News: Wolfpack Closing

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

Wolfpack Studios - the developers of Shadowbane - is closing.

This according to sources at the development house who were recently informed that their jobs were being terminated. The last day for Wolfpack staff is May 15th.

Parent company UBISoft is said to instead be redirecting their company's focus to next-gen platforms.

At this time, there is no word on what this will mean for the future of Shadowbane itself. The game just hit its three-year anniversary and was recently offered free to all users.

In total, approximately 25 people at the Austin, TX studio have been left without work. will continue to bring you information as this story develops.

(Update 7:47PM EST: Sean Dahlberg, the Community Manager at Wolfpack, made the following post on his blog that confirms our original report. There have also been developer posts to a similar effect on the official Shadowbane forums.)

EVE Online : GDC : Kali Preview

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

Noah C. Ward, a designer on the next EVE expansion, let us in on a few secrets from this popular Icelandic MMORPG. We learned about the faction system planned for Kali, the current subscriber numbers and their planned graphic overhaul.

Noah Ward of CCP Games is building an expanded PvP experience for the game’s next expansion, codenamed Kali”.

The designer, who joined CCP Games in August of 2004, has helped put together the factional warfare system that is the headline of Kali.

It comes at a time of record popularity for the online space-MMORPG. Noah recalled subscriber numbers in the forty-thousands when he first hit Iceland. Since then, this beta-tester turned designer has seen their customer base triple, currently at over 120,000 paying players.

You can read the full article here.

Tabula Rasa : GDC Preview, Part One

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

Richard Garriott has been hard at work on several incarnations of Tabula Rasa over the last few years. At GDC, Garrett Fuller took in a lecture he gave on the development of the game. This was followed by a sit-down interview. Today, we bring you part one: the panel.

On Thursday morning at GDC, Richard Garriott gave a seminar about the history and future of Tabula Rasa. The seminar was one of the more popular. Richard is a legend in the MMO community so it was great to hear the struggles and triumphs the team on Tabula Rasa has gone through. Part two of this article will focus on the sit down interview I did with Richard after the seminar.

One of the main points that Tabula Rasa is trying to give individuals is the special feeling you get from solo player games. Rich’s point that MMOs are simply about numbers of players takes away from a persons individual experience. The other important element that Tabula Rasa is trying to implement is a system where both Asian and western players can join the same game with very few barriers in language or culture.

You can read the full report here.

General : GDC Panel: The Rant

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

In this panel, some industry veterans get together to explain what they think is wrong with the game industry. Always a load of fun, Jon Wood was there to take it all in and filed this report.

One of the highlights of getting to visit the Game Developer's Conference has been getting to hear the opinions of various game developers on subjects across the board. It's an opportunity that any gamer would enjoy, and gives us an indication of where the industry as a whole is heading. Of all of the talks and seminars that took place over the week, perhaps the most anticipated was the Game Developer's Rant. Where else would you get to listen to industry experts really let loose with the things that are bothering them about making games, and the people who do it. The name of the rant session? Burn Baby, Burn!

The event was supposed to kick off with Frank Lantz, the co-founder and creative director of area/code, but he decided to give up the first part of his rant to his friend, Robin. Robin gave us a brief, but useful rant about what's next in video games, to her mind, judging by what she had seen so far at this conference, the next thing in games is: "hot babes". She went on to show a number of different female stereotypes that show up in games and in game promotion. The rant itself was sarcastic, meant to ask present developers to think about that way that women are being represented, or even being drawn into this industry.

You can read the report here.

Hero's Journey : Dev Journal & Screens

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

Stephanie Shaver, a designer with Simutronics, returned for her bi-weekly article here exclusively on This week she looks at some classes from their upcoming MMORPG. We also have two exclusive screenshots from the game.

We have two big public deadlines this year. GDC (Game Developer's Conference) and E3 Expo. By the time you read this, GDC will have passed, and we'll be slipping into war plans for E3. I'll probably be witness to numerous meetings where we make a list of what we need to do and who needs to do it, milestones that must be met, milestones that should be met, and stuff we'll get back to when the crazy season passes.

I suspect that as the weeks go by, you may notice two things with these articles of mine: either they'll be a) less funny as I quote passages from Heart of Darkness or b) more funny as I quote passages from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

You can read the journal here.

Warhammer Online : New Cinematic Trailer

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

Mythic's Warhammer Online has released a new Age of Reckoning cinematic trailer for our amusement and viewing pleasure. They are hosting this new video on their new website:


We are proud to present an exclusive Sneak Peek of the exciting Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning cinematic trailer currently in production. The video is being created by Venice, CA based Blur Studios, the company behind the fantastic Warhammer® 40,000: Dawn of War™ opening video. You will need Flash 8 to view the movie. Enjoy!

View the Movie

For more WAR, click here.

Gods and Heroes : 36 Screenshots to Gallery

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

We have just posted 36 screenshots from Perpetual's MMORPG, Gods and Heroes. YOu can find them in our screenshot gallery, here.

The Matrix Online : Update 42 Notes

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

The Matrix online has released some update notes for Update 42. As usual, we have provided a small sampling of the update, if you'd like to read it all, just follow the link below:


Featured Changes

  • Organization Archivists in the Slums now sell a mission to earn an RSI Attribute (Stat) Hack.
  • Clicking Withdraw now keeps attempting a Withdraw each combat round until successful or another Tactic is clicked.
  • Withdrawing from Interlock is now a contested roll.
  • Enhanced items that used to buff Stats now have different buffs (generally Ability Influences).
  • Second hotbar has been added. (Note: Use Ctrl + # for hotkeys in the second hotbar.)
  • Combat tactics are now in the Actions panel and can be used from the hotbar.
  • Eight combat Styles have been added that give bonuses to using different types of Abilities.
  • Melee Free Attacks can now be performed by selecting a combat Style in the Free Attack hotbar slot.
  • Different weapon types now have different rates of fire.

Read it all, here.

The Matrix Online : Combat Revision 2.0 in an Oyster Shell

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

The Matrix Online has released "Combat Revision 2.0 in an Oyster-Shell", a fairly detailed document that tells us what to expect in the upcoming update. As usual, we have provided a small sample of a much larger document, to read it all, follow the link below:


From a Player Perspective
Want to see Combat Revision 2.0 changes from a player perspective? Check out Symmetric's An Introduction to Combat Revision 2.0 over at Radio MegaCity. (Adobe Acrobat Reader Reqired)

Keep reading below for a top-line view of the changes.

Removal of Zero-Sum Combat
With Combat Revision 2.0 in place, their is no longer one winner and one loser during each round of Interlock. Each round now results in either one hit and one miss, two hits, or two misses.

The only exception to this is when a special attack is launched during Interlock. If the special attack succeeds, it will trump the other player's attack, so only one player will take damage that round.

Read it all, here.

Guild Wars : Factions Preview Over

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Jon Wood

Guild Wars has ended their Factions Preview Event at midnight on the 27th of March. The event was apparently a success, ending in the desired "wave of death and destruction". 


In a wave of death and destruction wrought by Kuunavang, a tragic victim of the plague that pervades all of Cantha, the Factions Preview Event came to an end at Midnight this morning. We want to express our thanks to Guild Wars fans—old and new—for their tremendous support of the event. Watch for our FPE movie next week, and we'll see you all on April 28th!

For more on Guild Wars, click here.

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