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Second Life : Art Institute Opens Second Life Campus

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by

The Art Institute Online opens a student campus in Second Life. The student campus will be the fourm for a new Business Communications course. Reading this story, I really wish they had this when I was in college.

The Art Institute Online, a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has opened a student campus in Second Life, a virtual online community, which will be the forum for a new Business Communications course. The faculty, realizing the potential for a rewarding learning experience, credits student interest in Second Life as the source for the course's development.

Developed by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, Second Life is a rapidly growing and constantly changing 3D MUVE (multi-user virtual environment) where residents can discover a world of exploration, socializing, creativity, self-expression, and learning. The online society uses real-time 3D streaming technology and runs on proprietary software that students can download from the Second Life web site at

Second Life allows The Art Institute Online students and faculty to create avatars - or cartoon-like characters - that interact with one another and are controlled via keyboard and mouse. The course will be primarily asynchronous and students will have the opportunity to communicate in an environment that lends itself to socialization.

The course will involve both constructivism (learning by doing) and simulation-based learning. By providing real-world objects, structures, and scenarios, student 'players' will be able to apply knowledge of business processes and techniques associated with the real world to this virtual environment.

"An environment such as this takes advantage of lateral and community-based learning," said Jeannie Novak, Academic Program Director, Game Art & Design/Media Arts & Animation at The Art Institute Online. "We are always striving to create that within our current 2D online courses and this certainly takes lateral learning to the next level."

"We are very excited to be a part of something so revolutionary," said Kate Kelleher, VP of The Art Institute Online. "Our venture into Second Life is a wonderful complement to our creative online education and is sure to provide our students with an innovative and quality learning experience."

Instructors say the Second Life class experience is particularly enhanced for online learners. In Second Life, classmates and instructors don't just communicate in chat rooms; they can actually see one another -- or, at least, digital alter egos -- on screen.

"Students will always know they're taking a course," said Novak. "But they'll be playing a game in the process, which is what serious gaming is all about."

The Art Institute Online joins other colleges and universities that have set up campuses on virtual islands, where classes meet and students interact in real time. "I believe The Art Institute Online is truly revolutionizing online learning by developing this innovative course," said Novak.

Read more here.

Vanguard : Player-Crafted Ships Footage

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by Ben Krueger

Here's a new video featuring player crafted ships!

Player-Crafted Ships Footage
Sony Online Entertainment and Sigil Games Online released new video footage today of the seafaring crafts available in the recently released massively multiplayer online role-playing game, "Vanguard: Saga of Heroes." Watch as several varieties of ornate player-crafted vessels glide across the calm waters in and around the picturesque port towns of Telon in this minute-long video.

You can view more videos here

General : Curt Schilling Names New Leader At GMG

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by

Curt Schilling announces new leader of his entertainment development company. Brett Close is appointed President.

GMG, LLC, a company dedicated to producing innovative, massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), is proud to announce the appointment of Brett Close as company president. Close has had a substantial influence on the gaming industry by bringing exceptionally successful products to market for Midway, Electronic Arts, and VR1 Entertainment, while at the same time changing the game design environment to encourage work-life balance.

"The caliber of talent within GMG is rivaled only by the strength of our ever-expanding roster of strategic partners," Close said from corporate headquarters today. "GMG's exceptional quality of life is critical to sustaining this talent. The unique convergence of these energies will translate into groundbreaking entertainment, which is what this company is all about. I'm eager to showcase our culture and products."

Among the numerous products Close has delivered are Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, Medal of Honor: Frontline , and Nightcaster: Defeat the Darkness for Xbox launch . This dynamic leader is assembling an impressive team and has everyone fired up with passion for their product.

"World Championship teams have, at their core, the world's best leaders," says Curt Schilling, GMG founder and CEO. "Brett brings a resume of results and achievement to GMG. My commitment right now must be on the field helping the Red Sox win another World Championship, and to do that to the best of my ability I need to know that the person in charge possesses the same thoughts, beliefs, integrity, and accountability that I feel I do, and Brett does just that. The challenge here is in becoming the best in the world, and Brett Close as our president gives us an incredible opportunity to do just that."

Close's first announcement is the appointment of Mary Kirchoff as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development. A game industry veteran, Kirchoff was responsible for the branding, business development, and publishing of many popular titles at Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, including the Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance brands. In addition to discovering best-selling author R.A. Salvatore in 1987, she has authored twelve best-selling fantasy novels.

"Curt and Brett have assembled a dream team of experienced, extremely creative people of the highest integrity," says Kirchoff. "I've been on some pretty amazing game development teams, but GMG is an opportunity of a lifetime. I'm honored and excited to contribute to all that will unfold."

Close also welcomes Chaz Sutherland as Art Director. Sutherland comes to the company from Shiny Entertainment and has most recently worked on Matrix: Path of Neo, Medal of Honor : Rising Sun , and Allied Assault: Spearhead , Golden Eye 2 as a Visual Effects artist and visual effects animator. He's also provided concept art and assisted in environments with games as far back as the Nightcaster series for the Xbox.

Employees will be working from the company's Maynard , MA headquarters.

Read more here.

General : Casual Play: World vs. Game...

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by Jon Wood

Steve Wison returns with his Weekly Casual Play column. This week, Steve weighs in on the world vs. game debate with a look back at his experiences in the original Ultima Online.

From a casual play perspective it's hard to imagine a worse game than what Ultima Online delivered a decade ago. It's also surprising that from that terrible genesis we have some of the great games we do today, along with the promise of more to come. Even games touted as being by and for the hardcore player, like Vanguard, have moved far away from the horrible experience that was UO.

Read the whole column here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Exploring Middle Earth: Tuckborough

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by

Lord Of the Rings gives a look at Tuckborough.

In the area of the Westfarthing known as Tookland, the most prominent village is Tuckborough. Those who reside here amongst the hills, trees, and meadows, as the name of the village might suggest, are mostly Tooks, or cousins, relatives, or close acquaintances of Tooks, and are a friendly lot who welcome visitors from all parts of Middle-earth. It is here that travelers will find the Great Smials of the Tooks, an underground dwelling of immense proportions, and one which is still growing to this day, with a seemingly endless series of rooms and tunnels which have been continuously excavated for nearly 400 years.

Tuckborough is located at the western end of the Stock Road, as it makes its way across the Green Hill Country from Woodhall in the Eastfarthing. Hills perfect for Hobbit-holes feature prominently to the village's north and east, while to the west and south, the lands flatten considerably into broad meadows and green farms toward Michel Delving, Hardbottle, and the Shire's outlying villages.

Roads to and from Tuckborough are not many, so those who wish to travel to this region of the Shire had best be ready for some cross-country hiking, which will likely include steep hills thick with trees and rolling valleys with swiftly flowing streams, although such travel in this peaceful part of Middle-earth tends to be a decidedly pleasant journey.

Read more here.

World of Warcraft : Arena Tournament Begins Feb. 16th

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by

World of Warcraft Arena Tournament to begin tomorrow, Friday, February 16th.

We're pleased to announce our plans for the inaugural World of Warcraft Arena Tournament, scheduled to begin on February 16 in Europe and North America and March 3 in Korea. World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade players in these regions who consider themselves to be among the best in the game at player-vs.-player (PvP) combat will soon be able to prove it to the rest of the world. Will you and the rest of your team be up to the challenge? If so, gather your cohorts and begin preparing for the largest World of Warcraft competition ever held.

Read more here.

General : Bigfoot Networks Introduces Killer K1

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by

Bigfoot Networks introduces the Killer K1.

Bigfoot Networks, Inc., a research and development company, today introduced the Killer™ K1, a new, more affordable version of its flagship gaming product, the KillerTM NIC. The Killer K1 is available for a limited time from selected e-tailers for a price as low as $149.99 after rebates. Powered by Lag and Latency Reduction (LLR™) Technology, Killer K1 uses Bigfoot Network's 333 MHz Network Processing Unit (NPU) and 64 Megabytes of dedicated DDR RAM to offer gamers a faster online gaming experience.

"We often hear gamers saying that they believe in the power of LLR Technology but that the Killer NIC is too expensive for their budget," said Harlan Beverly, co-founder and CEO of Bigfoot Networks. "The new Killer K1 is exactly what they are asking for - LLR Technology at a price they can afford. Killer K1 offers the same great gaming performance of the Killer NIC and works with all games including popular titles like World of Warcraft and Battlefield 2."

Unlike the original Killer NIC, the Killer K1 does not require a heat sink and does not come standard with Flexible Network Architecture (FNA™) enabled. This means the FNA BitTorrent clients and firewalls and other cool FNApps designed to run on the Killer NIC will not work with the Killer K1 out of the box. Gamers who purchase the Killer K1 can at any time purchase a $30 upgrade from to enable the Flexible Network Architecture and start running FNApps on their Killer.

Additional Killer K1 technical specifications are as follows:

• 10/100/1000 PCI Network Interface Card

• 333 MHz Network Processing Unit

• 64MB RAM

• Full NIC functionality

Read more here.

World of Warcraft : ZBoard Burning Crusade Keyboard Review

Posted Feb 15, 2007 by Jon Wood

News Editor Garrett Fuller takes a look at the new Zboard keyset for World of Warcraft's expansion, The Burning Crusade.

Building keyboards specifically designed for gaming is a great idea for PC players. I have used the standard mouse/keyboard play style for many years playing Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft. Getting the chance to review the ZBoard Burning Crusade Limited Edition was really my first step away from a regular keyboard into a board designed strictly for gaming. Please understand, when a player has put five years into a play style; it is very difficult to ask them to change. What I found is that the ZBoard helped my game play a lot. It made things faster and easier in certain instances, however I am still adjusting after three weeks of using the new hardware. It is hard to break old habits after five years.

You can read the whole article here.

General : NCSoft Talks About Online Love Stories

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by

NCSoft announces in game Valentine's Day events and looks at stories of true love among players. Proof that the Internet really is part of our real lives.

Valentines Day events are being hosted in many of NCsoft's massively multiplayer online game worlds, while real love between players has become almost common place.

Some of the Valentines Day events being hosted in NCsoft's online worlds include the following:

In the post- apocalyptic world of Auto Assault, the game is holding the "Valentines Day Massacre" where causing destruction is rewarded with higher loot rewards.

In Lineage II, the "Change of Heart" event pits players against Sprockets the Cat in a high-stakes game of "rock, paper, scissors."

In City of Heroes and City of Villains the "Pocket D Jubilee" allows heroes and villains to join forces in an adventure that rewards them with a heart-patterned costume set.

But one of the most compelling aspects of online gaming is the social aspects which bring players together from all over the world for exciting shared adventures. These shared adventures sometimes bring players close together resulting in long-lasting friendships or even love. In City of Heroes and City of Villains, many couples have been brought together from their online adventures and end up getting married in real life. Additionally, in-game weddings are not uncommon and the game includes a tuxedo costume piece for male characters so they can be appropriately dressed for such events.

Yesterday, players from City of Heroes/Villains were asked to tell there stories of playing the game then meeting in real-life and starting a relationship, and here are some sampling results:

Valentines Day wedding

"I got married on Valentines day 2005 to my wonderful husband! We met in-game back in September of 2004 thanks to our awesome friend we met in game (City of Heroes) as well. It was funny because at that time he was playing a female character as most men do."

Love from England

"We met on City of Heroes in around April of 2005 via our super group. We began talking online, and then in voice chat and finally over the phone. We decided to meet up in real life, so he flew to visit me from America (I lived in England) in September that year. He visited again in November and proposed. We were married last year, June 2nd in America. I just had my immigration interview this January and am now a permanent resident of America and living over here with him."

We should date!

"Almost 2 years ago I met the woman I'm now engaged to. Back then, all we were to each other was The CelticDefender and I'cisse (in City of Heroes). But we started talking and eventually moved from private messages to real life scenarios and feelings over the phone. One day, while I was running a Council mission, I'll be darned if she didn't just blurt out "We should totally date!" I had a small crush on her back then, but it blossomed into what we have to this day. Since then, I up and moved 1700 miles across the country to be with her and we couldn't be happier."

Match made in Paragon

"Around a year ago on the Pinnacle Server I met my boyfriend on a random pick up team. After six months of knowing each other we realized that we really love each other, so he moved from Arizona to be with me, and we've never been happier. All of our friends say 'It's a match made in Paragon.'"

Half naked blond

"I met my wife here on City of Heroes in June of 2004. I was playing my empathy defender with my cousin, who was using a scrapper. We decided to get another person to help level quicker. I looked around and saw a blaster by the name of Pink Jewel. The character was a half naked blonde. We hit it off pretty well. From that point on we pretty much teamed exclusively, and November 22, 2006 we got married. We live together now in Alabama. We still play the game together and had an in-game wedding for our friends."

Read more here.

Gods and Heroes : Screenshots and Movie

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by Jon Wood

The folks over at Perpetual have released some new screenshots for their upcoming MMORPG, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising.

You can visit our Gods & Heroes Gallery here.

Along with the screenshots a new combat footage movie has been released!

Combat Footage
Here's a video showcasing more of Gods and Heroes combat footage.

You can view more videos here

Runescape : Mini-Games Updated

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by

RuneScape updates Barbarian Assault Minigame.

The Barbarian Assault minigame has received a small update today. Those who have been successfully defeating the vile Penance creatures will be pleased to hear that Commander Connad is now offering even greater rewards than before for anyone who feels brave enough to risk their points in his high-level gamble.

The barbarians are also offering a new way to cash in points to advance your level in the four roles. At the end of a wave, the message scroll now features a button that will let you exchange points for a higher level in the role you have just played. This lets you advance your level without leaving your team-mates to visit Commander Connad.

In addition to these changes, the Sorceress's apprentice is now refusing to let people take pets into the Sorceress's Garden.

Read more here.

Eudemons : Patch 1047 Released

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by

Eudemons Online releases Patch 1047.

We are happy to announce the release of patch 1047. With this patch, you can enjoy the new features and changes as below:

Valentine`s Day Event

Added the contents for Valentine`s Day event. You can start this event on Feb 14, 2007 at 00:01AM PST (GMT-8).

Read more here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Beta Journal Views Woodsman Profession

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by

Lord of the Rings Online weekly Beta Journal looks at the Woodsman crafting skill.

I have wanted to play a Hunter ever since I first saw the highlight of it on the LOTRO public Forums. I decided upon Woodsman for Crafting mainly due to how well it seemed to fit the needs of a Hunter and it indeed does fit very well. As a Human, I started in Archet, and as soon as I reached Combe, I accepted an appointment into Apprenticeship as a Woodsman.

I started immediately with the Forester profession and began to collect Rowan wood as I completed the Quests in the East Bree-Land area. I found progression from basic Apprentice, to Journeyman easy, and then to Expert as well. Mastery of the Ranks went well, and I am at present working on Expert Forester level. At this point I am accomplishing the Quests in the vicinity of the Forsaken Inn, so I do not yet have access to any wood that would allow me to advance Forester any further than I have. I have noticed that since I began Forestry, it would seem that my Axe retains its edge a bit better than before, maybe it's just my imagination. I found that the distribution of the Wood Nodes to be about right, a few less in the Marshes and a few more in the Forests would make more sense, but otherwise the Wood nodes are good. The amount of wood received after cutting the wood being the result of a "roll" of the dice is reasonable in my humble opinion; I think it does reflect real life to a point.

I have also set my hands to Farming. I have grown some nice Onions and Cabbage, but I really enjoy growing the Hobbit Weed, and have a taste for the Longbottom Leaf variety. At the present time I will not be progressing any farther with Farming, as my Forestry and Woodworking are occupying all the time in-game that I am not completing Quests. I suspect that as time goes on I will be able to work out a deal with a Cook to do the cooking of what I grow, but right now I have been very busy mastering my Woodworking. I do see the importance of the inter-dependency built into the LOTRO Crafting System, and I see where this feature will strengthen the player community.

Now for the Woodworking main profession itself. As soon as I had learned how to treat Rowan, I began Woodworking. I made some standard Rowan Bows, and then continued working until attaining Journeyman status. I then acquired a recipe for "Campfire Materials" that has helped in progressing as an Apprentice Woodworker, and it has provided a needed product for sale. I have also acquired recipes for "Stout Ash Bow", Stout Ash Spear", and "Stout Ash Crossbow". So far I have concentrated on the crafting of "Stout Ash Bows" as there seems to be a little bit of a market need for them, and I as of yet have not met a Metalsmith from whom I can get the bronze, Iron, and steel Blades and other items needed to fashion the Ash Spears and Crossbows. I am continuing to search for a Craftsman that works with smithing weapons as I have now received training to utilize a Spear in Combat, and I am eager to face my foes with a Spear of my own creation.

I love making fine Bows and other items of wood, and have placed some of what I have made up for sale at the Auction Hall, but I can honestly say that my Crafting Profession has been so far almost pure investment, and I have seen little profit as of yet. I have been able to make items that members of my Kinship have needed, so that helps make the financial loss a little easier to take.

At present time we Crafters can not repair items for others, and I feel that at least we should be able to put our skills to good use to help in the upkeep of Armor, Weapons, Jewelry, etc. If Crafting is changed at all, the ability to repair items for other players should be added. As an MMO Player that enjoys Crafting, I will continue to test the Crafting system in LOTRO, and see how it develops as beta continues.

Read more here.

D&D Online : New Spells For Level 13 And 14

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by

Dungeons and Dragons Online announces new spells for level 13 and 14.

Samera announced the new spells for levels 13 and 14 today. Yes. You heard us right. Levels 13 and 14. Click Here for the announcement.

Read more here.

General : Will it Work With Vista?

Posted Feb 14, 2007 by Jon Wood

Jeremy Starley takes a look at what the new Window's Vista effects the average MMORPG gamer by telling us about his own experiences with the new Microsoft OS.

As we all know - or should know, unless we happen to live under a rock - Microsoft recently gave birth to a shiny, burbling baby operating system: Windows Vista. Ooh, look at it, it's pretty. And it's also pretty frustrating if you don't know what to expect.

Yes, installing a new OS is always an adventure. Sometimes that adventure ends happily ever after with a nice sunset-lit hand-holding session, but more often it seems to end with our hero being de-boned for a quick dinner with the local troll family. Have no fear, I'm here with a torch to fend off those nasty OS trolls and get you up and gaming with Windows Vista.

Read the whole report here.

Granado Espada Online : Elephant Ent. And K2 Ink Publishing Deal

Posted Feb 13, 2007 by

Elephant Entertainment and K2 Network sign retail publishing agreement for "Sword of the New World: Granado Espada."

Korea's most popular and highly acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), Granado Espada, is coming to retail throughout North America and Europe this summer under the its newly announced name of Sword of the New World: Granado Espada, courtesy of Elephant Entertainment.

Winner of the 2006 Grand Award for Best Game in Korea, Sword of the New World is being made available at retail through an agreement between Elephant Entertainment and leading online game publisher, K2 Network.

"With a game of this pedigree and potential, publishing a retail complement to the online counterpart is an ideal way to expand availability for consumers," said Wim Stocks, CEO and president of Elephant Entertainment. "Sword of the New World has several innovative and exciting design elements that combined will set a new precedent for MMORPGs, and we are pleased to be working with K2 Network in bringing it to the North American and European retail markets."

In support of the retail boxed version, Elephant Entertainment and K2 Network are implementing several retailer-specific pre-sell and launch programs, as well as an array of consumer promotions that are designed to enhance the online experience.

Adds Joshua Hong, CEO of K2 Network: "Whether purchasing online or via retail, consumers will receive one of the most captivating MMORPGs to date as Sword of the New World brings stunning beauty and innovation to the category."

Read more here.

Lineage 2 : Valentine's Day Event Details

Posted Feb 13, 2007 by

Lineage II offers details on Valentine's Day Event.

The Lineage II team announced a super amorous Valentine's Festival! Nobody goes away empty handed. All participants who do not win a game receive a consolation prize.

The Change of Heart event begins on February 14, and hearts will stop dropping on February 18. Below are details about the event:

Sprockets the Cat, the faithful servant of Dr. Chaos, is in the villages of Aden and Elmore to play a game with adventurers who collect and trade pieces of hearts. Nine different heart pieces will drop from monsters throughout the world. Collect one of each piece in order to try your chances at a rock, paper, scissors game with Sprockets the Cat.

After each round of the game, you will decide if you wish to continue playing or accept the prizes for the current round. When you lose, the game ends. Your prize is determined by how many times in a row you win. Losing will reduce the quality of your prize, so don't be afraid to quit while you're ahead!

Read more here.

EverQuest : The Buried Sea Expansion Goes Live

Posted Feb 13, 2007 by

Sony Online Entertainment launches The Buried Sea expansion for EverQuest.

Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), a global leader in the online games industry, today announced EverQuest® The Buried Sea™, the most recent expansion for the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), EverQuest, is now live. EverQuest The Buried Sea is available only via digital download, for the suggested retail price of U.S. $29.99 at

"The Buried Sea is the thirteenth expansion for EverQuest, which is coming up on its eighth anniversary next month, will not only provide players with new missions and content, but will continue to challenge players with two new worlds to explore," said Christopher E. Sturr, Senior Global Brand Manager, Sony Online Entertainment.

The Buried Sea introduces players to a new type of inventory slot called a Power Source which is used for new equipment available in the expansion, known as an Energeian Power Source. Energeian Power Sources are similar to a magical battery and come in a variety of types such as: fire, cold and light. Within the expansion, a new type of armor is available called Energeiac Armor which, while relatively basic by itself and suitable for a player to wear out in Norrath, is built to be powered by an Energeian Power Source and comes into its full power when that is the case. For example, when a fire-magic power source is equipped the armor gains offensive stats, increasing stamina, strength, and endurance but weakens the wearer's ability to resist cold-based attacks. Power sources can be changed out at any time, allowing the player to quickly customize their entire armor set to best match the conditions they are fighting in.

"In addition to the Energeian Power, players will also be actively involved in the gameplay of this expansion from creating their own guild banners to participating in ship-to-ship combat on the open seas against swash-buckling pirates," said Clint Worley, Producer, Sony Online Entertainment.

Read more here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Radagast The Brown

Posted Feb 13, 2007 by

He was not in the movies, but you can find him in game! Lord of the Rings Online gives us a look at Radagast the Brown.

Wandering from town to town, though most often found in the wilderness among the birds and beasts, Radagast the Brown appears to be an unassuming old man with a great love for the plants and wildlife of Middle-earth. While he does bear a deep affinity for the natural world, this hermit from east of the Misty Mountains is far more than his simple attire and quiet mannerisms convey. In truth, he is a powerful Wizard of the same order as Gandalf the Grey and Saruman the White, and Radagast's powers are mighty, indeed.

Although he dwells in Rhosgobel on the edge of Mirkwood Forest, Radagast has been seen throughout Eriador of late, following strange purposes that he keeps to himself. Travelers who encounter Radagast need not be alarmed, however, for he is no friend to the dark forces rising in deepest Angmar; rather, his intentions are good and his actions most often work to the betterment of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth ... or at least of the beasts who live alongside them. Much can be learned from Radagast, especially about the wilds of Middle-earth and all the living things found there.

Radagast is mentioned only occasionally in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, though it is clear that he is a Wizard of great power who has walked Middle-earth for centuries, much like Gandalf and Saruman. In The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, the design team at Turbine carefully approached the task of bringing Radagast to life, since he is indeed one of Middle-earth's most powerful characters, yet his powers, beyond the ability to speak with animals and to understand nature, are only vaguely identified, as is his overall role in the War of the Ring.

Read more here.

Guild Wars : State of the Game

Posted Feb 13, 2007 by

Guild Wars updates their State of the Game with a few changes and balancing developments.

The past few weeks have shown us a new strategy for balancing skills in Guild Wars. We have had the opportunity to test changes before they become permanent, allowing players to provide feedback into ongoing efforts for game balance.

Along with changes to Heroes' Ascent, there were changes to game mechanics and over 150 skills. Guild Wars has changed and evolved, and those changes promise to alter the GvG landscape and metagame for a very long time.

Mechanical Changes

Weakness's effect has changed so that not only does it reduce attack damage, it also reduces all of a character's attributes by one. This makes Weakness a useful Condition to apply to all character classes and not just physical attackers. Spike teams could face general damage reduction from AoE Weakness skills like Enfeebling Blood. Also, players using skills with a minimum attribute requirement like Gale may have to invest extra attribute points to safeguard against Weakness. In addition, this change effectively adds another worthwhile Condition teams will feel compelled to remove, thus boosting Condition pressure teams and the viability of Weakness-causing skills such as Enfeeble.

In another change, the evade mechanic has been removed from the game. Any skill that previously added an evade now counts as a block instead. This change won't have much of an impact on the overall game, but certain skills like Sun and Moon Slash and Irresistible Blow now have an inherent boost.

Skill Changes

The metagame is on the move, but with so many skill changes (over 150 in all) it's impossible at this early stage to accurately predict where it will go. But be assured that GvG teams will be forced to adapt. Some professions and skills saw enhancement, while a variety of popular skills suffered nerfs. No doubt this will have an immediate impact on Guild Battles.

Necromancers, for example, gained boosts to mediocre skills. A lot of minor Hexes got reductions in casting time, recharge time, and Energy cost. The Necromancer has now gained a stronger position in pressure builds because it can more effectively apply pressure and complement a team with AoE degeneration Hexes. Malaise and Wither were also modified. In the past a player could simply swap weapon sets and reach zero Energy to end these Hexes, but doing so now causes affected players to take damage.

The Ritualist profession also got a hefty boost. Most of the skill buffs improved the Channeling line. Channeling is the Ritualist's direct damage attribute, and strengthening it means players are now more likely to use Ritualists for damage rather than as pure support characters.

One significant change was made to the Ritualist's Bloodsong spell. This spell was moved from Communing to Channeling, and its recharge time and Energy cost were reduced. Consequently, Ritualists can now use Bloodsong to fuel damage skills that require a Spirit in range without having to spread themselves into two or more attribute lines.

Not all professions received as many buffs. A lot of Elementalist skills received rebalancing, but not all were positive. Water Magic skills like Frozen Burst, Shard Storm, and Water Trident saw improvement, while other popular skills were rebalanced to the point of possibly getting knocked out of the metagame. Blinding Surge costs more Energy, Searing Flames has a shorter Burning duration, and Gale's knock-down time decreased from three to two seconds.

Dervish Avatars have prevailed in Guild Battles and still carry their weight, but the avatars themselves don't last as long and now have a longer recharge time. The recharge remains separate from the 120-second skill disabling, but it means that if the avatar gets interrupted, the player has to wait longer before attempting to reactivate it. Thus, avatars may not be as appealing compared to other useful Dervish elites.

The new skill balances also affected Mesmers, both for good and ill. Notably, in the Domination line, many "Power" interrupts had their recharge times decreased, which may revive the interrupt Mesmer--to the frustration of Monks and casters. Also, Mantra of Recovery now costs less Energy, making it a more attractive choice for Mesmers seeking to quickly pump out their non-elite skills.

In contrast, two prevalent Mesmer skills are now less overpowering. Energy Surge retains its level of damage but has a smaller area of effect. Spiritual Pain got a similar nerf. Its conditional damage now only happens if the spell hits a Spirit. This has its uses, but is certainly not as game-defining. Previously, Mesmers were very effective at AoE damage, especially at Victory or Death. But these changes may force teams to rely on other forms of damage.

From a melee perspective, the balance changes did not directly affect Warriors much, other than the blocking effect. But they did gain nice buffs to Stances in the Tactics line. This could make these defensive Stances more appealing for characters like Monks looking to avoid enemy melee damage.

Monks went fairly unchanged in terms of common builds, but there were significant changes to the resurrect skills that secondary Monks use. Hard resurrect skills got a recharge nerf that makes them less repeatable. This has a large impact on Heroes as well as teams that rely on using these resurrect skills instead of Signets. If a team incurs many deaths in a brief period, they cannot depend on formerly spammable hard resurrect skills to save them. In such a situation, winning teams can seize the advantage much quicker and swing the momentum their way.

Some other skill changes to note: Shadow of Haste now has a longer recharge time than its duration, so teleporting teams may have to resort to other methods to get around or use Shadow of Haste with more discretion. Assassin attacks also got stronger; namely there are more attack chains that cause Deep Wound, an important Condition when trying to score kills.

New Ideas

As new ideas come from inventive players and guilds, we should see corresponding shifts in the metagame. There are now a lot more viable approaches to pressure builds that should open up new possibilities, but players have not yet explored all available options, so we will have to wait until the dust settles to see the long-term impact. Hopefully, however, this new system of testing and retesting balance changes will create a more stable metagame and a more balanced and diverse version of PvP in Guild Wars.

Read more here.

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