Today, MMORPG.com is pleased to bring you an interesting introductory interivew with Howard Marks, the CEO of Acclaim, publishers of the new martial arts MMORPG, 9 Dragons. Marks is interviewed by our own Lead Content Editor, Dana Massey and the two talk about everything from Acclaim's recent rebirth to the game's progression system.
MMORPG.com: 9 Dragons is new to our readers. Can you briefly introduce the game and its core defining features?
Howard Marks: I fell in love with 9Dragons because of its poetic atmosphere combined with outstanding graphics. I have always been a fan of martial arts since the days of Bruce Lee. When I saw this game, I was dying to get play it because it was so close in style to the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I always wanted to be a martial arts hero.
9 Dragons is a MMORPG that is placed in the historic times of the Ming Dynasty. The story in this game is part historical and part fantasy. I love this mix because it draws on a rich past with chivalry and honor while you have creative license to make the game fun.
This game’s strength is the use of martial arts combat in the gameplay and how your character grows in skills from novice to master during the game. The 9 Dragons are each a unique clan and you need to become a Dragon in order to save the future of China. The game takes the standard MMORPG gameplay and adds some cool and innovative features such the way a player evolves its fighting skills through training and experience.
Read the interview, here.
The Chronicles of Spellborn, by new developer Spellborn International, will bring gamers to a fantasy world rife with hidden secrets and adventures. This MMORPG's distinctive art style is powered by the Unreal 2.5 engine.
The third official trailer for The Chronicles of Spellborn can be downloaded at:
Windows Media File format:
MMORPG.com is pleased to announced the release of their latest "February" Podcast. This time around, Jon and Mike discuss Star Trek Online, Stargate Worlds and the merits of IP Games. Dana Massey sits down for an interview with EverQuest II's Community Manager, Ryan Shwayder.
Game/On is the official podcast of MMORPG.com, bringing you the best and latest information and talk within the MMO genre! Michael Hampden and MMORPG.com’s own Jon Wood host this monthly podcast which you can subscribe to via RSS feed, iTunes, iPodder, or PodcastPickle.com. Michael & Jon will discuss a variety of topics each month, as well as recapping the news from the latest games. They will also sit down one-on-one with big names from the gaming world to talk about their projects!
Get the Podcast, here.
Nathan's Monday articles return today with a look at Character Advancement in MMORPGs. Each week, Nathan puts forth his comments on the industry in the column we've dubbed "outside the box". Here is a sample from this week's article:
Everyone would probably agree that one of the main attractions to the MMORPG genre is the idea of advancing a character through varying degrees of rank, skill, equipment, and accomplishments. People enjoy the fact that most of the tasks they undertake, successful or not, will add at least a minor enhancement to their character’s abilities, something lasting that they’ll be able to use for the next challenge and/or the next time they log in. On the flip side, the most complained about aspect of MMORPGs is the “grind,” or the lengthy, tedious, often repetitive processes most games put their players through in order to achieve those goals. So then the topic of this week’s Outside the Box discussion is: How can an MMORPG allow players to advance in various areas, yet somehow not make them feel like they’re grinding?
You can read the full article here.
Flying Lab and Pirates of the Burning Sea have released a brand new Dev Log. This one comes from Bruce Sharp, and talks about the times and trials of town creation. As usual, we have presented a part of the log, and if you want to read the rest, you can click the link below:
Greetings from Flying Lab’s art department! There have been a lot of Artco developments of late, we’ve staffed up a bit, hired some of our interns, and hammered out our process for town production. I'd like to share a bit about our progress thus far, and talk a bit, if I may, about towns in general.
The styles for the European colonies that populate our Caribbean are a mixture of the research we found from actual European towns and their Caribbean counterparts. We’ve leaned more in the direction of Europe (especially with the French) than we have toward the actual colonies of the time. Historically, the colonies tended to be more anonymous in their identity and were often an eclectic cacophony of architectural styles, with few exceptions. However, we wanted harmony, identity, and a feeling of familiarity in our towns and cities: if you sign up to be British, we want you to feel like you are a part of that culture. As most of you know, the nations represented in our game are French, Spanish, British, and Pirate.
Read it all, here.
Blizzard's World of WarCraft has announced the release of the Gadgetzan Times, "the most informative and entertaining magazine in all of Azerothian history". Give a read... enjoy!
Hitting newstands around Azeroth once again is the latest, most informative and entertaining magazine in all of Azerothian history: the Gadgetzan Times! This month, Gadgetzan Times takes its readers into the mysterious world of the magi. Often confounding, frequently amusing, and always informative, the brave goblin reporters of the Gadgetzan Times bring you the latest and most comprehensive coverage of magi and magic!
Pick up your copy of the Gadgetzan Times today!
For more info on WoW, click here.
City of Heroes / City of Villains have released a brand new Player Events Calendar. This newest calendar is good from March 3rd, to March 10th:
Check out our weekly calendar of player run events! We will update this weekly to let you know what’s going on. Now you will know where to go for the hottest dance party, the biggest costume contest, or any other fabulous events goin down in the cities of Heroes and Villains!
If you would like to submit an event, please see this thread for instructions. Don’t forget to send us an email so we can update this calendar!
When: 3/7/06 at 8:00 pm CST
When: 3/7/06 at 10:00 pm EST
For more CoH, click here.
Now that they're well and into the groundbreaking introduction of PvP into the EverQuest II game, the developers have released a list of changes that have been made tot he system in order to keep it running smoothly.
A Week in the Life of EQII PvP
We'd like to start off by thanking everyone who's taken a chance to roll up a character on one of the EverQuest II PvP-ruleset servers; the response has been overwhelming to say the least! We're just as excited to be playing on the new servers as we hope all of you are. Chances are, over the last week or so you've grouped with one of us or taken part in killing us… over and over and over again.
Due to some of the things we've encountered while playing alongside you, as well as some of the feedback we've received in-game and on the forums, a few changes have been implemented over the past several days. Check out what's changed recently in EverQuest II Player-versus-Player Combat!
For more on EQII, click here.
Today, we release a brand new Q&A with the good people from Jumpgate. This time around, we talk to Steve Hartmeyer, one of the game's developers. To read the whole thing, just follow the link below!
Recently, we ran a developer journal written by Steve Hartmeyer, a developer on Jumpgate who may be better known as Istvan. It looked to the past. Now we compliment that with an interview that looks to the future of this space-flight MMORPG from the developers of Auto Assault.
MMORPG.com: Jumpgate has been around for some time. For those who never tried the game, can you tell us about the basic themes behind it?
Steve Hartmeyer: Jumpgate is an online spaceflight simulator, set in a far-future milieu where a spacefaring civilization is being rebuilt amid conflicts among the successor states and corporations. Gameplay is reminiscent of Elite or Privateer, in which players can choose combat or profit to make their mark, but unlike those single-player games, every ship in Jumpgate is another player.
Read it all, here.
The Matrix Online has released their latest "Through the Looking Glass" feature. This time around, they talk about the upcoming Update 42, and the inclusion of the Combat Revision 2.0 in that update. We only include a sample of the article here, but just follow the link below to get the whole scoop.
A Change in Plans
We are planning to release Combat Revision 2.0 as part of Update 42. As I said before, features have been locked down and the team is working on polishing the system and fixing bugs in order to release. While there are a number of issues to be completed, we're preparing to ship CR2.0 in Update 42.
Yes, you've heard that before. However, we've never been as close to finishing the update as we are now and other tasks await our attention. It's time for CR2.0 to get off our plates and into the Live game.
Normally, we release updates in the second week of the month. However, we're gathering some additional QA resources to help finish up and are going to take an extra week on Update 42. Update 42 is scheduled to release during the week beginning Monday, March 20. We'll keep you up-to-date on our progress as that week approaches.
The other main item in Update 42 is the Anniversary Event. Given the extra week we're spending before release, we are also going to push the Anniversary Event back by one week. I know many of you have already marked the event on your calandars and I'm sorry to make this change now. However, we never like running events on the weekend after a new update has been published. Beginning the event on Friday, March 31 gives us an extra week to resolve any issues that may occur after Update 42 goes live.
So, The Matrix Online First Anniversary Event will run from Friday, March 31 through Sunday, April 2, 2006. No, the irony of having our event over the April Fools Day weekend is not lost on us.
Get it all, here.
MMORPG.com has announced that the serialized novel, "Neverdie" will now be posted every second Sunday, moving from a weekly schedule to a bi-weekly schedule. In doing this, we hope to provide you with a better, richer story as it progresses.
Neverdie is a general fantasy story, and is not affiliated with any existing MMORPG. It is a story of good against evil, where a fallen angel seeks to re-capture the world of Terria through an ancient and foreboding prophecy.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the story so far, click here.
Stargate Worlds has announced that they will be using BigWorld Technology Suite as the platform for their recently announced game.
Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment Selects BigWorld Technology Suite for Stargate Worlds MMORPG
(Mesa, ARIZONA) - Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, a rising game development company, today announced that they have chosen the BigWorld Technology Suite as the platform for their ground-breaking new MMORPG, Stargate Worlds. This officially licensed MGM property is the first massively multiplayer game based on the Stargate series, and promises to deliver all of the SG-1 & Atlantis exploration, conflict and excitement to players around the world.
"We evaluated many client server solutions to aid us in creating a truly breakthrough next-generation MMO", said Joe Ybarra, Vice President of Product Development at Cheyenne Mountain. "But by far the best overall solution for us is BigWorld's powerful client/server engine and streamlined production toolset. We are excited to be teaming up with them on this project."
The BigWorld Technology Suite is an integrated set of tools, software and systems that provides all of the underlying technology and content development tools required to produce an MMOG. "The Stargate universe has evolved to be one of the most recognized Sci-fi brands in recent times," said Gavin Longhurst, Director of Business Development for BigWorld, "We are thrilled to see such an experienced and talented team as Cheyenne Mountain using BigWorld Technology to bring this visually stunning universe into the highly interactive, compelling online experience that fans and gamers want".
BigWorld Technology Suite provides operators and studios with a lower total time-to-build and cost of ownership through several innovations. The BigWorld Server architecture allows operators to run several games on a single server cluster, dramatically reducing the cost of running the game, while the enhanced Content Creation Pipeline reduces the time and cost of building and filling out the complex worlds required in next-generation games.
For more on Stargate Worlds, click here.
Well, it's the weekend, and what does that mean? It means another wonderful grab bag from Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. As usual, we present you a sampling here, you can view the rest by following the link below:
Q: What brought on the voice chat poll?
A: We knew anecdotally that many of our users were already using voice chat. It's not something we have endorsed because it creates problems for us in CS, and has an impact on gameplay that we're none too comfortable with, among many other reasons. In order to make good decisions about our future plans, we needed more facts. The poll will tell us how many people are really using it, as opposed to just griping on message boards about it. The feedback you all have been sending will tell us to some extent how you feel about it. The message board threads have been very interesting, and we appreciate your being part of these discussions. I especially thank those who have taken the time to send in a feedback form.
Q: Why can't European guilds enter your website contest?
A: For the same reason North American players cannot enter GOA's contests - our partners take care of European server denizens, and we focus on those playing on our servers.
That is not to say that I don't love seeing websites written by our players around the world. One of my all time favorite sites is by the famous Valmerwolf - www.valmerwolf.com. There's lots of great information there. Magnifico! Sure, much of this page is in Italian. But I found his various charts and tables to be very good. And since I hope to travel to Italy someday, it's a good excuse to learn some language skills. How do you say nerfbat in Italian?
To read it all, click here.
Blizzard and World of WarCraft have announced that their public test realms are now live. You can get involved through creating a character, using a pre-made character or copying a character over:
The public test realms are now live! Players can now try out all the changes and additions coming in content patch 1.10. The highlights of this patch include Priest class improvements, new dungeon armor sets, weather effects, and a host of other exciting features. View the 1.10 test realm patch notes here to learn more.
Players can participate in the test realms by creating a character, using a pre-made level 60 character, or copying their characters from existing realms to the test realms. To copy a pre-made character, visit our Test Realm Character Copy page. Character transfers to the test realm are available from 3:00 AM to 3:00 PM PST Monday through Friday. The test realm game client, which can be downloaded at the same page, is available for both PC and Mac.
Please be aware that the test realms are designed to allow us to test major content patches before they go public. Therefore, some changes may be introduced to the public test realms during the testing phase, before a patch goes live, and some changes may be introduced to the patch after the test realms have closed. To read more about the test realms, please review the Test Realm FAQ. We truly appreciate our players taking the time to help us test the latest changes to the game; thank you all!
For more on WoW, click here.
We try to get to the bottom of some issues in this new interview with the developers of Dark & Light. Garrett Fuller and Dana Massey ask some tough questions and the team answers.
| MMORPG.com: Settlers of Ganareth has simply let a lot of people down. You’ve fallen from top hyped game to #32. In the last Q&A you mentioned people were expecting Dark & Light when you were giving them Settlers of Ganareth. The response was less than positive. Do you have any other theories why so many people are disappointed?
Dark & Light Team: The first point is that most people think that SoG is a beta test of DnL. We certainly did a bad job of communicating once we reached this stage. SoG is a specific game event, totally independent from the DnL beta.
Second point, we had a lot of server troubles at the SOG launch, with lots of lag. We quickly patched the game after its release with two important patches. These patches were key for us, but really disappointing for our players as they didn’t bring real improvements to the game. Now our servers are much more stable and we encourage our registered players to come back and try again.
The third point is that players were disappointed by their first impression of SoG which included many bugs, content troubles and a not-very-intuitive interface. It took too much time to fix it, with patches that were too large.
These points did contribute to give a negative image of the game to our fans who’ve been waiting for DnL for a long time now. We sincerely apologize for these problems.
But if the starting of SoG was difficult, it didn’t impede players from conquering the first territories of Ganareth. All the 90 baronies of SoG are taken now, and fans are still playing to win a fight in these occupied baronies. We can only recommend that players to come back in SoG; even if the balance and content are not at the level of DnL, the recovered server stability promises many fun moments in Ganareth.
You can read the entire Q&A here.
LYON, FRANCE – 3 March 2006 – Atari announced that the English language version of Turbine’s DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™: Stormreach™, the first massively multiplayer online (“MMO”) role-playing game inspired by the legendary pen and paper game, has launched today in Europe. The localized German and French versions of the title are on schedule to launch on March 23rd and 24th respectively.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach is a unique experience where players must use their combat skills and wits to survive dangerous dungeons, fiendish traps and foes that punish the foolish. The game seamlessly combines the beautiful world of Eberron®, the classic D&D® v3.5 Edition rules, and the latest innovations in online technology into a breathtaking gaming experience like no other. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® is under license from the Hasbro Properties Group, the intellectual property development arm of Hasbro, Inc.
“DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach offers fresh and exciting gameplay that captures the true spirit of the D&D adventures that we grew up with,” said Jeffrey Anderson, president and CEO of Turbine, Inc. “We are confident that the game will appeal to MMO gamers and D&D fans alike.”
“With the European Limited Edition and the advance head start programme for France and Germany we’ve worked hard to give the fans something special at launch,” said Cyril Voiron, Marketing Director, Atari Europe. “DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach is a magnificent milestone in online role-playing games and the first time D&D has been realized in the massively multiplayer online realm.”
“Players around the world will appreciate Turbine’s faithful adaptation of D&D’s party-based adventures - a system that has made the pen and paper game a powerful brand for over 30 years,” said Jeff Burdeen, vice president for the Hasbro Properties Group.
In addition to the standard game, the European DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach LIMITED EDITION will be available at selected retailers from launch. Packaged in a high quality aged-effect presentation box, the limited edition contains the full game, a guest pass which allows the player to invite a friend to join them in Eberron for five days, two CD’s containing artwork and music from the game, an A3 full colour poster and two collectible miniature D&D figurines. The game case also contains a playable demo of Atari’s recent D&D PC title Dragonshard.
As a bonus for French and German fans waiting for the localized game, Atari, Codemasters and Turbine are offering pre-order customers in those countries an advance head start program allowing them early access into the fully localized version of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach. French and German players who pre-order the title can gain access into the live localized game and begin building up their character from March 17th, a week before the public launch date.
Developed by Turbine and published by Atari, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach is the first and only massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the world-renowned DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® brand franchise from Wizards of the Coast, Inc, a subsidiary of Hasbro.
EverQuest II has released their newest in the weekly series of Treasure Chests, where they take the time to point us at some interesting forum threads that we might want to take a look at:
For more on EQII, click here.
The people at The Chronicles of Spellborn have released a new TCoS movie that gives us an even more in-depth look at various placed throughout the game world:
Today we have released a new TCoS movie to some of the major games websites. The movie showcases many unseen locations of the game and will reveal more of what lies hidden..
You can find the movie on the websites listed below (more links will be added as soon as they are available).
For more TCoS, click here.
World of WarCraft and Blizzard have announced the release of a brand new WoW novel titled, Cycle of Hatred. The story take place three years after WarCraft III:
The new Warcraft novel Cycle of Hatred is now available! Cycle of Hatred's story takes place three years after the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The Burning Legion has been defeated, and the eastern regions of Kalimdor are now shared by two nations: the orcs of Durotar, led by their noble Warchief, Thrall; and the humans of Theramore, led by one of the most powerful mages alive - Lady Jaina Proudmoore. But the tentative peace between orcs and humans is starting to crumble. Random attacks against Durotar's holdings suggest that the humans have renewed their aggression towards the orcs. Now Jaina and Thrall must avert disaster before old hatreds are rekindled - and Kalimdor is plunged into another devastating war...
Check out this sneak peek at the first chapter of Cycle of Hatred, a new novel set in the Warcraft universe.
For more on WoW, click here.
Staying with Turbine and Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, they have released a brand new developer diary today. This one comes from Content Designer Allan "Orion" Maki. As usual, we present you with a small sample. Follow the link below to read the whole thing:
To solo or not to solo, that is the question. Is it nobler to suffer the sling stones and arrows of thine enemy whilst standing amongst his troops, without the sturdy shield or trusty arms of friends; or, is it best to form a wall of shields, linked by devotion and gilded by strength, to bolster the focus of my blade?
It's a good question. It's a hard question. It's a question with many answers.
It seems whenever you set out to design a massively multiplayer online game one question – one sticky, important question – finds its way into the discussions of designers and fans. This question draws hard battle lines, across which terrible words are exchanged, mothers' names are dragged through the mud, pets are sacrificed on altars of dark forces and hyperbole becomes the ultimate weapon of choice. It is a question that, at its very core, is somewhat of an oxymoron: 'Will your massively-multiplayer game support solo play?'
Different games have taken different approaches: some games have evoked social play through deep crafting systems, player-versus-player conflict, and group-centric endgame content. Other games have allowed extremely skilled solo players to become self-sufficient gods unto themselves. As with any organic entity – make no mistake, MMOs are organic entities – each MMO and the genre as a whole have evolved over time to incorporate the different personalities of players. Some players desire to detach themselves completely from the real world when playing their games, becoming lost in the actions of their avatars and disassociating themselves from human contact altogether. Others become the social butterfly that they cannot be in the 'real world.' Play styles are as varied as the number of players in the game world, and we as designers must do our best to accommodate them all. However, we are not super-human, nor are we graced with an endless amount of resources or time with which to construct our games. Instead, we have windows of opportunity to glimpse the current mood and mindset of our fans and determine the course of the single question, 'Can I solo in your game?'
To read the whole thing, click here.