The official World of Warcraft site is reporting a new PVE realm 'Moonrunner' being launched.
|Due to the tremendous response to the opening of Moonrunner, we are happy to introduce another PvE realm - Greymane! Thanks to all our PvE realm fans, and we hope you enjoy. All new realms are tagged with the "New" label on the realm-selection list to make them easy to spot. Happy adventuring, and see you online!|
Thank you to NCSoft and NetDevil for making this possible!
Erich Von Hase has penned a debut editorial for MMORPG.com. In this article he discusses "why we play these games".
| If you’re visiting this website as a player, you’ve probably got a little bit of an interest in figuring out why this cycle is so common. People like to read up on the real reasons we do the things that we do, especially when we find out that we are not unique in doing them. However, there is another group that has a much more vested interest in why you keep paying to play MMOGs, and that is the community of developers. Their livelihood depends on your desire to keep your account active. Surprisingly, few players understand the lengths that successful developers go to to get players into and keep them in that subscribing ‘Fascination’ stage. As you’re about to find out, this article is about a lot more than just player sympathy. I’m going to explain how it all works.
Let’s start with the history of MMOGs. In the early 1970’s a guy named Gary Gygax invented a little game called Dungeons & Dragons, which became responsible for pathetic grades all over high schools and colleges for the next two decades. The game, although an entirely imaginary table top and dice sort of thing, encouraged players to pretend they were someone else, such as a heroic knight or wizard, and weave the tale of their lives with a group of friends. So many people became so engrossed in playing this game that ministers declared it satanic. Truly, it was a phenomenon, and it sold millions and millions of books. But even then, the formula was not quite perfected. It still had two more elements to be added.
You can read his full editorial here.
Our staff writer Laura Genender had the opportunity to spend the last few weeks inside the beta test for Irth Online - the fantasy MMORPG being developed by Magic Hat Software. She has completed her preview of the game so far. A snippet from the article is below:
Combat procedure is pretty standard for an MMO, with a few good original tweaks — and a few bad ones. For instance, whenever the player is hit their screen flashes red. This effect is pretty cool as long as you are not hit very often, but if you have two or three monsters attacking you it becomes a real eyesore. One solution to this (and to the loss of hit points in general) is to use spells such as Nuke or Divine Touch to kite monsters. Cast a spell on your target, turn around and run a bit, then turn and cast another spell. Most of the monsters in the game are your speed or a tiny bit slower.
Another good reason to use spells is combat distance with melee weapons. Getting close enough to a monster to melee it feels like parallel parking a car while blindfolded, and if you or the target moves you have to start all over again. The next hurdle to overcome is actually hitting the monster. As mentioned above, even when fighting easy creatures like puppies, goats, and cows new players will find themselves racking up more misses than hits.
To read her full preview, click here.
The official Star Trek Online website is active with a new developer blog from Daron Stinnett. In this article he discusses the infrastructure of STO.
|One of the first questions we pondered for Star Trek Online was the nature of our audience. We knew the design would vary based on the answer to that question. Would we design a detailed simulation for the hard core fan? Or create an open-ended world that allowed for individual freedom that would be more appealing to a wide audience? This is especially important issue given the structured quality of Starfleet. While the idea of serving aboard an authoritative starship might be appealing to some, we knew that some would find that experience too confining.|
You can read it all here.
Flying Labs Executive Producer Russell Williams has panned his second journal for the site. The first Wednesday of every month, we bring you a new article from Russell. This month, he looks at their preperation for a major milestone. In addition to the journal, we also carry two brand new screenshots.
| Since I last wrote, we finished our previous milestone and have started a new one. Our milestones are usually 6-8 weeks, but this one is a bit shorter. The reason for this is PAX (pennyarcadeexpo.com), the game show in Seattle being run by the Penny Arcade guys. We’re looking forward to meeting our fans who’ve been coming by the forums, and we’ll be out in force staffing our demo stations. This is the first time that we’ve shown the game to the general public, and this milestone is all about finishing off the basics and putting a nice sheen of polish on top of it.
As part of that effort, we’re revamping the UI. We initially started with some dev art for the prototype, and have been experimenting with different visual looks while we’ve been refining the functionality. Now that we know what we want, we can spend the time on putting in the visual look without fear that we might later change and have to throw away work. For those of you who saw the game at E3, the new UI is more period-appropriate, and is a lot “gamier” than our old UI, while still being cleaner.
Gamesrouter.com would like to announce that they are going to be holding a large gamers festival in the UK from August 5-7, 2005 at Wovley Caravan Park. The event is called LAG-FFS which stands for Leisure and Gaming - Festivals For Summer).
At the event there will be Live Bands, Karaoke, DJ Entertainment, Bouncy castles for the kids and lots of RL social fun!
Tickets are £25 per adult and £15 per child, 5 and under are free.
For more information you should visit the official site at this link.
Nathan Knaack is the Lead Creative Writer, Game Designer and Community Manager for "The Chronicle" by Rapid Reality. Today he debuts a new developer journal series, which includes three renders, when he examines one of their game's defining features: the concept of main and regular characters.
|For years now MMORPG developers have been coming up with new and inventive ways of appealing to both the casual and hardcore gamer, from splitting them up into their own designated servers to putting artificial-feeling restraints on advancement to ensure that they’re never far apart. While these solutions are technically feasible, they do little to perpetuate the overall immersion of the game, further distancing the players from the world they exist in. For example, dividing players up into distinct servers that specifically target their gameplay style tends to give you niche worlds where just about everyone acts the same way, does the same things, and packs into the same areas. Good luck getting into any decent arena on a high population PvP server, and try understanding anyone on a role-playing server that speaks in the near-ubiquitous perversion of the language sometimes called Ye Olde Gamere Englishe. With the community so divided, some servers can seem empty while others have lengthy queues.|
You can read the entire journal here.
Thank you to Melissa and the Simutronics team for their support of this series!
SOE has announced that player guilds, as a whole, can now move to exchange-enabled servers using the /movelog command.
|/Movelogs are again available for player guilds wishing to move to Exchange-enabled servers. Details on how to use the /movelog command can be found here. This service will only be available August 1st and 2nd. Guilds that have used the /movelog command will be transferred August 3rd.
Players wishing to transfer their characters and inventory may do so, at no additional cost, using the Character Transfer Service Promo until August 3rd. After this period, any players who want to move characters will need to use the standard Character Transfer Service and pay any applicable fees. Characters moved with the standards service will be stripped of all tradable items and coin.
It is very important to note that character transfers to Exchange-enabled servers are permanent, meaning that once a character is transferred they may not, under any circumstances, be transferred to any non-Exchange-enabled servers.
You can read about it here.
The wait is over for a lucky selection of D&D Online fans. Alpha invites have gone out and a small number of people are probably quite happy. For the rest, the waiting continues.
|We’re pleased to announce that we’ve sent out the first round of Alpha acceptance e-mails. Our internal Alpha has gone very well, improving by leaps and bounds on an almost daily basis, and now it’s time to take the next step: giving you, the public, your first real look at Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Stormreach. This project has been in development for over two years now, and we’re very excited to share our hard work with you.
So keep an eye on your inbox for your Alpha acceptance letter. If you haven’t registered, it’s not too late to sign up for future phases. Be sure to visit http://beta.turbine.com/signup to fill out your application. Don’t forget to sign up for the ddo.com forums as well to get the latest information about the game!
One important note: if you have a spam blocker, make sure that it is set to allow messages from turbine.com and turbinegames.com so that you don’t miss your acceptance.
If you do not receive an invitation at this time, don’t worry - we will be adding participants continually as we prepare to launch.
To those invited to the Alpha, we would like to say:
Welcome to Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach! Gather your parties and get ready for adventure in the world of Eberron!
Richard Garriott of NCSoft and Destination Games took the time to sit down and answer our barrage of questions on Tabula Rasa, his latest project in development. The legendary designer behind the Ultima series goes in a radically different route with this project and we uncover just where that leads him.
| MMORPG.com: Your game seeks to marry the character growth of an RPG with the action of a shooter. Can you explain how this works in a practical sense and why you chose this route?
Richard Garriott: While TR wants the sense of tension of a shooter we are not trying to make an arcade game. We do not want arcade style combat where personal dexterity wins the day. We are still a game about attributes and advancement. We have a sticky targeting system that makes shooting at a target hopefully easy, and then it’s a die roll to determine outcome, just as in a traditional MMP. But each foe has unique movement, armament and AI approaches to deal with, so opponents are far more interesting than the traditional stand and see who has the best DOT (damage over time) that most MMP’s have at their core. With that said, there are a few shooter mechanics thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. One of my favorites is movement penalties for accuracy which is even different for each weapon. So in one case you may have a rocket launcher or sniper rifle that would require the character to stay very still for a certain amount of time in order to achieve maximum effect, while in another case you might have a flame thrower where the player can run around with almost no penalty to accuracy.
Take a moment and read the full interview here.
Word has been passed along that "Undercover 2: Merc Wars", a mobile MMOG has been released to the commercial market.
Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ is the all-new sequel to Undercover, the ground-breaking mobile MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) that took wireless gaming to new grounds in 2003. Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ again sets the stage for mobile gaming fun with real-time massively multiplayer action, rich graphics and sound FX, deep game mechanics and a cool live-location game mode, which unlocks extra features that use players’ real physical location.
YDreams has signed licensing agreements with major Portuguese media partners for TV and print content based on the game universe. An animated series, a comic strip and a TV program are already in development. The company is currently negotiating publishing agreements for Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ in over 25 countries.
In Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ thousands of players take on the role of mercenaries trying to make it on the streets of a violent, dangerous post-war scenario. While adventuring together on a persistent mobile game world, players can build unique characters, form clans with friends, conquer and defend territory, challenge enemies, engage in awesome real-time graphic combat and take on epic missions and campaigns that will take them to the streets of New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Singapore and hundreds of other real cities. As players progress in the game, they can acquire multiple skills, specialize in one of several professions, build powerful alliances, buy, sell and trade a large variety of gadgets and items.
The game uses accurate street maps for over 25 countries, provided by Navteq. Players can travel the world looking for real streets and landmarks, meeting clan members for international coups, challenging enemy clans, exploring unknown locations and facing danger in awesome, real-time multiplayer action on their phones.
Another cool feature is the optional live-location mode – players with a Bluetooth-enabled GPS device or whose carriers have location services can use live-location gameplay, which unlocks special defense systems, high-precision weapons and allows players to setup real-world teleports, which allow free and immediate transportation across the globe and can also be rented to generate extra cash. YDreams will be constantly introducing new game features, story elements, campaigns, missions, items and characters that players can discover and have fun with.
Try Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ for free!
Players can download a free trial version of Undercover 2: Merc Wars™ by accessing www.undercover2.com on the web or directly from their phone browser. The fully playable version is also available for download and subscription at operator mobile portals and via premium SMS in several countries (please check www.undercover2.com for more information about availability and phone models currently supported).
When the free trial is over, gamers can upgrade to a monthly subscription (€3 per month for unlimited gameplay), keeping the character enhancements made so far. Players have a choice of subscription period (1 to 6 months) and payment method: in-game payment, SMS, credit card, paypal or MBNet. Operators might charge for GPRS traffic (online charges vary according to operator plans).
About YDreams Entertainment
YDreams Entertainment is a pioneering Portuguese developer and publisher of mobile games. The company, founded in 2000, has published several titles, including Bluetooth-based multiplayer hack’n’slash Lex Ferrum and 2003 hit Undercover, the world’s first mobile MMOG with a graphical interface which made use of real player location. For more information, please visit www.ydreams.com.
Star Wars Galaxies Community Manager Chris Baker sent along a recap of Publish 20 as well as a preview of Publish 21, soon to hit the live SWG servers. Included are several screenshots.
|As always, the Star Wars Galaxies experience continues to grow. Recently, the team instituted Publish 20, highlighted by the addition of two new elite enemy creatures and further implemented feedback attained from June’s Star Wars Galaxies Fan Fest in Anaheim. Meanwhile, Publish 21 goes live next week, complete with another installment to the epic Syren Quest story and some welcome new abilities for all pets of creature handlers.
With the debuts of the finned blaggart and the mutant acklay, Publish 20 introduced two new enemy creatures for advanced players. Found on Endor, the finned blaggart slithers its way toward you with one thing on its mind – lunch. Also, the acklays of the Geonosian bio labs on Yavin IV have found their way to the surface – but not without becoming part of a little experimenting themselves! Now more powerful than ever, these mutant acklays are one of the toughest of Yavin IV’s antagonists. And you thought Obi-Wan had his work cut out for him in Episode II’s arena scene!
In addition to new enemies, more Fan Fest feedback was also implemented into the game (on top of the nearly 40 found in Publish 19!). Special attention was paid to entertainers, who were granted a new kung-fu-style dance called the Bundunki, a new song and more. A few other examples: Dying in space no longer adds wounds, you can now group your droids in space, and group members no longer add to a Jedi’s visibility.
Coming this Tuesday, Publish 21 continues the Syren Quest story arc with part 4 of the epic adventure. This installment takes you to the Martano Estate on Rori, where Tierce Martano himself is being held captive in his own home. Can you rescue him?
Other quests will be included, as well. Likewise, older ones will be revisited with welcome updates.
Creature handlers also have a reason to be happy. When Publish 21 hits, they’ll have the chance to train their pets with new abilities, such as boosts to power, melee attacks and defense. Better yet, you can transfer their abilities to other pets as well.
David Eckelberry is the Lead Game Systems Designer for Turbine Entertainment's Dungeons & Dragons Online. Today, he answers five questions from Staff Writer David Souza about the upcoming MMORPG. This is the second in a bi-weekly series of Q&As with the development team.
| MMORPG.com: With the real time combat system you are implementing, how do you plan to include feats like Cleave and Power Attack?
David Eckelberry: Tackling some feats is easy, especially when the pen-and-paper implementation is directly transferable to our medium. Power Attack, for example, doesn’t need any real change. It’s a mode the player goes into; while in this mode, the character hits less often, but does more damage when he hits. No problem. A lot of feats meet this sort of direct application.
But some don’t. DD Online’s combat system doesn’t make use of some pen-and-paper elements, largely thanks to being an online role-playing game. We aren’t turn-based, we don’t have “rounds” of combat, and thus Cleave can’t give you an extra attack in a round that you down a foe. When examining feats such as these, my goal is to produce the intent of the original feat (or skill or effect), while making the necessary adaptation for good videogame play. In the specific example of Cleave, use of this feat allows the character to make an area effect melee attack in a small arc in front of the character.
Thank you David. Readers can check out all five questions here.
The nine Matrix Online worlds will be merged into only three. This is probably the first large move in the era of SOE. Unlike typical mergers, all three servers coming together will then enter a brand new world, as named by the community.
|The Matrix Online is a game that, ultimately, is about community; for that reason we want to see that players can meet easily and join together in-game for fun and friendship. Recently, members of the community have noted that it can be difficult to find other players in The Matrix: Mega City. The current level of population density can limit opportunities for socializing with other players which are such a key part of our worlds.|
You can read all the details here.
The Chronicles of Spellborn (TheChroniclesOfSpellborn.com) has been added to our game list. This exciting new MMORPG in development from Khaeon Games is due out in the first half of 2006.
| What differentiates ‘The Chronicles of Spellborn’ from other MMORPG's?
Having your own virtual identity from the start and to grow this identity meaningful by:
The Shadowbane Development Section has been updated to reflect what will be included in the August Content Patch that is scheduled to go to the Game Servers early August as well as features and content we are looking to include in the months after. An excerpt from this update is below:
Chat System Improvements - Various chat system improvements will be implemented to include a new Global and Class-Specific chat channels; note that you must belong to that Class to be able to access the Chat Channel (for example, a Ranger can only view and talk on the Ranger Channel). With this update, modifications have been made to the ignore list so it will now persist as well as a minor update to the death messages so they will be broadcast worldwide (note that this feature is easy to turn on and off). Loreplay Server - A new server will be brought online that will contain limits on what Races and Classes can join a Guild Charter and only allowing guilds of the same Guild Charter Type to swear fealty to each other (meaning a High Court can only swear fealty to other High Courts). Furthermore, restrictions will be in place only allowing Nation Members to group together and disallowing the casting of peaceful powers on members of different Guild Charter Types (For example, a member of a Noble House can only cast peaceful powers on individuals in their Nation or in another Nation that is based on a Noble House guild charter). This server will not be brought online with the August Content Patch but will begin evaluation in the testing environment in the weeks after the August Patch is placed on the game servers.
The following is scheduled for the August Content Patch:
Chat System Improvements - Various chat system improvements will be implemented to include a new Global and Class-Specific chat channels; note that you must belong to that Class to be able to access the Chat Channel (for example, a Ranger can only view and talk on the Ranger Channel). With this update, modifications have been made to the ignore list so it will now persist as well as a minor update to the death messages so they will be broadcast worldwide (note that this feature is easy to turn on and off).
Loreplay Server - A new server will be brought online that will contain limits on what Races and Classes can join a Guild Charter and only allowing guilds of the same Guild Charter Type to swear fealty to each other (meaning a High Court can only swear fealty to other High Courts). Furthermore, restrictions will be in place only allowing Nation Members to group together and disallowing the casting of peaceful powers on members of different Guild Charter Types (For example, a member of a Noble House can only cast peaceful powers on individuals in their Nation or in another Nation that is based on a Noble House guild charter). This server will not be brought online with the August Content Patch but will begin evaluation in the testing environment in the weeks after the August Patch is placed on the game servers.
You can view the entire Development Section here
Kerry Fraser-Robinson, the President of RedBedlam, has provided us with some comments about the recent screenshots.
|Don't worry - there are of course more faces and there will be many more before the test has finished. Remember we don't do screenshots like most developers do. These are not carefully selected screenshots intended to show off - these are just grabs of what we've been doing recently. B)
So if you don't see something in the pics that doesn't necessarily mean we haven't got it. ;)
You can see the thread here.
Guest Writer Tim Dale has written a nice editorial on stories in MMORPGs. The article traces the evolution of this medium and his opinions on where it is headed.
| The quest; the force that drives all great sagas, the opening problem that cries out for resolution. All great stories in the grand fantasy tradition revolve around the heroic deed, the overcoming of great obstacles and threats to the happy world and life of the hero - indeed, often it is the quest against the great enemy that creates and defines the hero of the piece, which in turn defines and invigorates the story - without a challenge, or a conflict against adversity, there is very little left to call a story at all.
The Lord of The Rings, above, is a classic example of the traditional high fantasy epic - an overpowering enemy stands poised to take over the world, and only an unlikely hero undertaking a perilous journey can stop it. Reading the book, and others in the genre, we can tag along for the ride, share in the perils of Frodo and companions, and watch as they are finally triumphant.
You can read the full article here.