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General : The State of Security in Today's MMOs

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross is running an article that examines the current stat of security in today's MMOs.

Security researchers Greg Hoglund and Gary McGraw poked around in World of Warcraft and other online games, finding vulnerabilities and exploiting the system using online bots and rootkit-like techniques to evade detection. Their adventures in online game security became fodder for the book, Exploiting Online Games.

SecurityFocus contributor Federico Biancuzzi tracked down McGraw to learn more about the state of security in modern video games, asking about cheating and anti-cheating systems, how the market for cheats, exploits, and digital objects is growing, what we could learn from the design of these huge systems, and how game developers react to submissions of security vulnerabilities.

Read more here.

Read the full article here.

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Coundown to Launch Screen - 5 Days

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

Flying Lab Software is launching Pirates of the Burning Sea 5 days from now on January 22nd. To celebrate this, the company has provided us with an exclusive screenshot for each of the days remaining before launch.



More on PotBS here.

Dark Age of Camelot : Romantic Fiction Wanted

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

The folks over at Dark Age of Camelot have announced that they are looking for fans to write romantic fiction based in Dark Age of Camelot for their newsletter next month.

February has been declared the month of love for our next issue of the newsletter, and we need your help to make it extra-special. If you have an especially romantic tale that you've written based in Dark Age of Camelot, then now's your chance to have it read by players everywhere!

Here are our guidelines for the fan fiction. This round's theme is: Romance. Please send your entry in using this form, and select Tales by the Hearth from the drop-down menu.

  • All works should be specifically associated with Dark Age of Camelot its Lore, and its characters.
  • Submissions can be in the form of a story or a poem, and should be set in a winter theme for our winter newsletter.
  • Submissions will not exceed 1,250 words.
  • Any submitted writing will become the property of EA/Mythic.
  • The author agrees to work with the Herald team to edit their work if needed. If your story is chosen, we'll contact you and work with you to make any necessary edits.
  • Those who have submitted in the past may re-submit work that a) is their own original work b) not previously published on any site not associated with Dark Age of Camelot.

Get all the details here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Exploring Middle Earth

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Lord of the Rings Online Lorebook has been updated with a look at another location in Middle Earth, Ram Dúath, an entrance to Angmar.

Far to the north of the Shire – indeed, far to the north of Bree-land and the North Downs – lies a range of black, craggy mountains that bars passage from the North Downs into Angmar beyond. This range is called the Ram Dúath. Over the course of history it has served as a fortification of the Witch-king’s realm, and as a cage in which to pen his servants after his defeat. The Rangers of the North keep an eye ever trained on the mouths of its passes, watching for trouble from the cursed lands beyond.

The passage through the Ram Dúath is maze-like and treacherous, a den to drakes and other fell creatures, as well as home to the strange Earth-kin, gentle giants who hunt the aurochs of the North Downs. Recently, armies out of Angmar have begun to descend through the Ram Dúath, threatening the North Downs and the rest of Eriador beyond.

Read more here.

General : Interview: NCsoft President, Chris Chung

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

Community Manager Laura Genender recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris Chung, the new President of NCsoft. He fills us in on the future, both near and far, of NCsoft's wide range of products.

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Chung, newly appointed President of NCSoft North America. Assuming the position previously held by Robert Garriott, Chung is more than qualified with plenty of NCSoft and other experience in the tech industry.

Chung entered the industry in 2003 as the business manager for ArenaNet, the company behind GuildWars. Chung did a brief stint as Vice President of NCSoft’s Publishing Unit in South Korea, then came back to the North America team. Since 2004, Chris has served as Vice President of game publishing for NCSoft North America.

During our talk I was able to get the scoop on the NCSoft game line up: how the last year went, and what’s planned for the future!

Read more here.

Angels Online : Exclusive Screenshots

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has sent over several exclusive screenshots from Angels Online.

See all of the screenshots here.

Angels Online : Map Guide

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has posted a Map Guide for Angels Online, which includes numerous maps of the Angels Online world.

Angels Online is a MMORPG operated by IGG. From the closed beta, the Angels Online team continues to offer more details of the game for players all the time. Today they provide the highly-useful Map Guide.

The Map Guide, which includes all maps of the Angel Lyceum and the four main cities, is a guide book for beginners. Players can find information on monsters, locations of BOSS and NPC, and locations of needed material for players of productive career. Players can login the official IGG website, click the Map Guide icon, and then choose a main city or the following maps of different cities to find related information on monsters and materials.

For example, if players need information on Dawn Harbor of Aurora City, they can check the Dawn Harbor map.

Read more here.

Zu Online : Fire Calamity Introduction

Posted Jan 17, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has released an introduction to the Fire Calamity in Zu Online, one of the trials on the path to becoming a senior immortal.

This time the team of Zu Online would like to introduce the Fire Calamity to all Zu players.

Once our Junior Immortals have reached level 120+ they will get the chance to try and get passed the Fire Calamity. This means that they can choose to keep the status quo or to try and improve their status here in Zu World.

Only the Masters can guarantee that they take this challenge away from the prying eyes of Demons. So it's best to consult with him before they accept the challenge. The Master will tell the location of the Trueflame Furnace, where the challenge will take place and will pass on a special item to present to the Skill Trainer.

Whilst it has become clear that they must go to the Trueflame Furnace, they must first collect some essential items, namely; the Frost Psychic Buddhist Mirror, the Purple Flaming Star, the Magic Water Aura Dew, the Broken Mystic Taichi and the Antique Juju Ash. Each of these items is held by one of the Faction Masters, so they must visit each one by turn to collect them.

Once the sacred items are handed to the Skill Trainer, he will then help to enter the Trueflame Furnace. On the way they will notice that there are three trees bearing flaming fruit, these should be collected so that when they reach the middle of the Furnace roof, they can be presented to the Furnace Immortal and make an exchange for the Trueflame Bolus. But take care the way there runs amok with demons and random rotating fire balls! Once the player has passed this hurdle the real challenge will begin...

However it is not only enough to just get passed this challenge they must then take the Trueflame Bolus to the Skill Trainer. Who will transform it into a fire ball that he will then fuse with the player's body. After that they must go quickly find the Flame God who is the only one who can release their spirit fire from within.

The player will be surprised to discover that the Flame God is in fact the Furnace Immortal that they previously met. He will help to release the inner fire from their body. We cannot lie to our dear players, it will be extremely painful and may very well bring them to the brink of exhaustion but persevere and all will be well. After that they must journey to Bonefire Ridge to find the Flame Beast who will help to transform the inner fire into a source of power.

Only then after facing this demanding Calamity can they be considered as Senior Immortals. The Skill Trainer will be waiting with big rewards for those who make the grade!

Read more here.

General : NASA Considering Educational MMO

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

The MMO market is ever expanding, and an unlikely developer has decided to throw their hat in the ring.  NASA has announced that they are investigating the development of an educational MMO designed to promote technology, mathematics, and the sciences.

The NASA Learning Technologies (LT) project supports the development of projects that deliver NASA content through innovative applications of technologies to enhance education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Research and development are at the core of the LT mission. LT seeks to enhance formal and informal education in STEM fields with the goal of increasing the number of students in those fields of study and is currently investigating the development of a NASA-based massively multiplayer online educational game (MMO).

Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive multiplayer online gaming and social virtual world, initially popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as education and training venues. There is increasing recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful “hands-on” tools for teaching a range of complex subjects. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity, making it easier to grasp complex concepts and transfer this understanding quickly to practical problems. MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building and cooperation, and adaptation to rapid change.

Read more here.

Tabula Rasa : New Screenshots

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

Seven new images have been added to our Tabula Rasa screenshot gallery.

To view the full size images, and to see the rest of the new screens, visit our gallery here.

General : New Podcast

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Latest Edition of the Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

This week on the podcast, co-hosts Jon Wood and Keith Cross discuss the results of the MMORPG Reader's Choice Awards, the recent announcement that P2 (formerly Perpetual Entertainment) no longer has the license for Star Trek Online, and where that license may be heading.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Guild Wars : Rebel Rising Guild Interview

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Guild Wars official site has been updated with an interview with Rebel Rising [rawr], the first guild to win three monthly Automatic Tournaments, in the Guild Wars $100,000 Tournament Series.

Guild History

Awowa and Three Pounds were originally in Treacherous Empire [Te], but left after considerable drama surrounding [Te]'s last tournament appearance. What they sought to accomplish with [rawr] was to create a guild where people would look at their own mistakes and work hard to improve. Along the way, they picked up Polly from Illicit Awakening [iA], and then advertised for players. Interested players completed an application, and the information was fed into a database for easier analysis. However, the criterion Awowa and Three Pounds used to select players was based more on gut feeling than player experience. They wanted players who were knowledgeable and had sufficient skill level, but they were mostly looking for players who were not arrogant and wanted to improve. They went through all of the applications, personally talking to applicants and checking their references.

A lot of players came and went in the first few months, and the road was rough. From day one, Awowa and Three Pounds told players that the guild would probably play horribly at the start, but after some time it would definitely improve. In fact, it took several months for the guild to reach the top 500 on the GvG ladder. In order to improve, players remained consistently active in GvGs and the guild's forums, and played in RA, TA, and even PvE to learn how various Skills interacted. Players also actively played as guests with other guilds.

Read more here.

World of Warcraft : Burning Crusade Turns One

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Burning Crusade turned one year old today.  On January 16th, 2007, the World of Warcraft expansion was launched in a whirl wind of fan fervor, awards, and broken sales records.

It was one year ago, today, that the blood elves and draenei joined the armies of Azeroth, and the Dark Portal was opened to the beautiful and terrifying vistas of Outland. On January 16, 2007, The Burning Crusade was released and sold almost 2.4 million copies worldwide in its first 24 hours of release, winning multiple awards from industry representatives. Since that time, World of Warcraft has reached the epic milestone of 9 million subscribers worldwide, and players have discovered the might of the Burning Legion, fought against the allies of Illidan in Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep, and even faced down the Betrayer himself in the Black Temple.

For those who have not yet had the chance to venture into the perils of Outland, a free trial of the Burning Crusade is available for download. For players yet to experience World of Warcraft, a free trial of the original game is also available.

Read more here.

Stargate Worlds : Chris Klug Speaks

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

Stargate Worlds creative director Chris Klug has posted a few words on the SGW forums and official site in the wake of the game's recently released trailer.

Up until recently Chris has rarely posted, but now he is back and going full-throttle! Klug started his own thread on the discussion of the trailer with an intricate, involved post to fans.

"Cheyenne is passionate about building a game we all want to play (both you and us), a game that feels every minute like you’re inside an episode of SG-1 or Atlantis," said Klug. "That is the most important thing to us and to me, day-in and day-out. To that end, we have and will continue to bring new ideas to the Stargate universe." (You can read the rest of the post here).

Here's a snippet of some of his more recent offerings, born out of comments from fans ...

"We have to ask ourselves: what would make the story that SG-35 lived (for example) as interesting as the story that SG-1 lived. The bad guys have to be as challenging; the stakes have to be as high; the drama has to be as gut wrenching. The assumption we must make is that these stories happened, it was just that you didn't hear about them.

Read more here.

Vanguard : Devs Defined

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

The Vanguard official site has been updated with an article which describes the various roles inside a game development studio.

Developer is a term that is often tossed around, but rarely ever defined. We have Dev Chats, Dev trackers, Dev Diaries, and an assortment of people who actually develop the expansive world within Vanguard. If you ever find yourself unfamiliar with who does what around here, then read on to get a glimpse of what each department does, and how they help to keep this great game growing!

Developer is an easy term that can cover just about anyone who develops a game, but within the Vanguard development there are teams of people who perfect their individual crafts, and with the aid of other departments, help make Telon an exciting, challenging world that is always evolving.

These are the people who are responsible for the spirit behind the game! From concept to live, these are the folks who dream up the world of Telon, and then work with the other developers to implement things in game, such as classes, dungeons, quests, cities, lore, etc.

Read more here.

EverQuest II : Becoming Trakanon

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

SOE has announced that starting on Friday, players will be able to take on the role of Trakanon and take on 4 other players in the Trakanon raid that was introduced in Forsworn, the first expansion set for Legends of Norrath.

The release of Forsworn, the first expansion set for Legends of Norrath, introduced players to the Trakanon raid, where multiple players would team up to take on a powerful Trakanon computer opponent. Now players will be able to become Trakanon himself and decimate four opponents at the same time! Starting at 2:00pm PST on January 18th, and running through 11:59pm PST on February 17th, players will be able to kill monsters within EverQuest® and EverQuest® II and have a chance to loot cards for their Trakanon Raid Deck.

Read more here.

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Countdown to Launch Screen - 6 Days

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Jon Wood

Flying Lab Software is launching Pirates of the Burning Sea 6 days from now on January 22nd. To celebrate this, the company has provided us with an exclusive screenshot for each of the days remaining before launch.





More on PotBS here.

Jumpgate Evolution : AI System: Nuts & Bolts

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Jon Wood

Steve Hartmeyer, a programmer on NetDevil's upcoming Jumpgate Evolution, files this Dev Journal on the game's AI system.

We've spoken a great deal in interviews and other articles about just how excited we are about Jumpgate Evolution's AI system. It has rapidly gone from being a system intended to solve one or two things, to becoming the tool of choice to address all sorts of interrelated game issues. Although we try to maintain perspective and recognize that employing the AI system is not always the proper solution to a problem, this is truly a case where the excited kid inside each of us tends to burst out and enthuse, "We can make the AI do that! Wouldn't that be great?" It's simply the case that our AI system is turning out to be very capable and versatile, so it's extremely tempting to make quite extensive use of it.

Read the whole thing here.

General : Free Realms CES Report

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Jon Wood's Carolyn Koh reports from CES on Free Realms, SOE's microtransactions game for Tweens to Teens.

Free Realms is SoE’s foray into the Tween to Teens market and the world of micro-transactions. It’s an MMOG with virtual world elements. It’s fun and games, growing roses and grooming penguins, playing ninja and building tree-houses – what do I mean by that? Free Realms has four different game-play components to it. There’s the combat aspect, building, pets and mini-games. Targeted at families rather than just the 8 through 17, Free Realms promises broad content and depth of content. Their goal is to have parents playing with their kids. To have enough content to hold someone for 3 minutes as well as 3 hours in short easily handled chunks of time.

SoE had a video of some actual game-play at CES showing us all the different aspects of the game. To begin with, they will have two playable races. Humans and Fairies. Fairy? I queried. Laura Neviaux, Director of Global Brand Marketing at SoE showed us the buff, punky boy fairy that was developed with input from young boys and teens. “We created this look from a lot of input, to get the type of Fairy that young teens would play.” She started off by showing the FaceBook™ style Free Realms profile that many young people are familiar with these days. Here, the player can check their pets, their jobs, “To Do List,” collections (earned trophies), friends, other social networking interactive windows and parental controls.

Read more here.

Voyage Century Online : Bonus Weekends

Posted Jan 15, 2008 by Keith Cross

IGG has announced that players will now earn 30% bonus experience on the weekends while killing monsters in Voyage Century.


The Voyage Century Online ( ) is giving the players the chance to level up more quickly in the weekend.

Since the new version of VCO was released on Dec. 10th, “how to seize Hurricane Island” has become a heated topic. Many players have been bothered by this thorny issue, and few players have been able to enter the island and look for treasure.

Some invaluable gems, powerful gear, and useful items just lie on the island quietly, and instead of taking them away, many players can only drool. In order to let more players share the treasure on the island, VCO has decided to offer 30% experience bonus when players kill monsters on the weekend every week. Players will soon be approaching the treasure!

Read more here.

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