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Shadowbane : Dev Profile: Sara Jensen

Posted Jul 18, 2005 by Dana Massey

Sara "Lietgardis" Jensen carries a unique challenge in game development. She is the Lead Designer, not the first, on Shadowbane, an MMORPG that has been on the market for quite a while. Her task is to keep the game fresh, yet still maintain the vision that originally attracted its subscribers. We took the time to discuss this and other challenges in a brief developer profile Q&A. As a woman in a leadership role at a game company, you are a rare. Please tell us a bit about the unique challenges you faced getting to the top of an industry often described as male-dominated.

Sara "Lietgardis" Jensen: We're not such a rarity anymore. The Women's Game Conference in Austin has been successful, and Sheri Graner Ray won the Community Contribution Award at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. I hear this year's GDC had the highest female attendance ever, and I noticed -- I had to wait in line for the bathroom for the first time!

The challenges you sometimes hear about women in the games industry are largely a thing of the past. I highly encourage other women interested in games to look into game development as a career.

You can read the full profile Q&A here.

Shot Online : Official Australian Launch

Posted Jul 15, 2005 by Dana Massey

OnGameNet has announced that their sports MMORPG Shot Online is now officially open for business down in Oceania.

OnGameNet Launches Shot Online

Australia, July 14th, 2005 - OnGameNet Pty Ltd today announced the commercialisation of Shot Online (Online RPG Golf Game).

OnGameNet are glad to announce the launch of Shot Online in Oceania and connecting it with the International Shot Online Service. Shot Online is an Online RPG golf game with innovative systems, capturing the swings and motions of professional golfers and applying them directly into the game itself. Shot Online also offers real ball movements that are greatly influenced by all kinds of natural factors and environments. These features, combined with a simple and easy to use interface, make the game great for golf enthusiasts, and easy to learn for those new to the game!

Cartoon Racer has been in beta testing for a month now. It is also due to be commercialised soon. The commercial version will come with major updates to the game including, options to customise your car, emoticons, extra race tracks and exciting new cars to choose from.

While these online games are commercialised, they will still remain free to play, only requiring a small payment if you wish to purchase special items in the game.

"OnGameNet have been expanding since the launch of Ragnarok Online just over a year ago now, with new online games and large updates for the new and previous games coming", states Andrew Wang, Marketing Manager of OnGameNet. "We are very excited that Australia and New Zealand players can now start to experience how Online Gaming is meant to be enjoyed, with fast connections, a large local community, better customer service and much easier payments".

OnGameNet is currently in the process of negotiations with other game companies, to complete a contract with hosting more Online Games in Oceania.

Shot Online and Cartoon Racer are available to play. For more information about OnGameNet Games please visit the official website at

Roma Victor : KFR on Our Forums

Posted Jul 15, 2005 by Dana Massey

Kerry Fraser-Robinson, the lead mind behind Roma Victor, has dropped by our new Roma Victor Discussion Forums to address profit and the motivation of RedBedlam.

Who is the more foolish - the fool or the fool who follows him? ;)

Actually RedBedlam does not have the profit-only motivation that nearly every other MMORPG developer does. I posted about this old chestnut here - it's really only a perception experienced by newcomers to the RV community. :)

I personally believe that making happy players is a better priority than the profit line. If we have enough happy players and the VERM is working fairly, then money shouldn't be a problem. Fortunately this view is shared by the entire management team at the company, as well as the Managing Director and majority shareholder - me.

Hello by the way - just thought I'd stop by and check out the new forums.

You can get in on the thread here.

D&D Online : Q&A #1

Posted Jul 15, 2005 by Dana Massey

Every couple weeks, someone from Turbine has agreed to be cornered by one of our writers for a brief question and answer session. Today, we debut this new series with five questions from Staff Writer Mike Jabbogy to Dungeons and Dragons Online Lead Designer Ken Troop. D&D has been around forever it seems. With the venture into the online world, is the focus on getting the table-top game people into the mmorpg arena, or adapting D&D to the mmorpg crowd?

Ken Troop: D&D Online is focused on creating a fun online RPG experience that you can play with your friends. We don’t compare ourselves to other MMPs – DDO takes you straight to your adventure (no endless running to get where you want to go), offers quest-based advancement (no sitting in the same place for hours grinding for XP), and creates a private adventure for you and your friends (no random interference or grief from strangers).

Our development touchstone has been to create an online experience that captures that essence of the classic tabletop adventure session. But it has to be a fun online experience. When a straight translation of the pen & paper rules would hamper our ability to provide a fun online experience, we work closely with Wizards of the Coast to come up with a modification that maintains the spirit of D&D while satisfying the demands of the online medium.

You can read the full interview here

EVE Online : Cold War Launches

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

CCP has put out a press release that discusses the smooth launch of "EVE Online: Cold War Edition" and touts the new features in this free upgrade to the popular space-MMORPG.

The Major Upgrade to EVE Online a Smashing Success

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND – July 14th, 2005 – CCP, an independent developer and publisher of massively multiplayer online games, today announced the highly successful and smooth launch of “EVE Online: Cold War Edition,” a massive content upgrade to its popular massively multiplayer title “EVE Online.” The launch of “EVE Online: Cold War Edition” signifies yet another huge milestone for the ambitious developer, being met with critical acclaim.

“This upgrade introduces a whole new beginning player experience and lessens the learning curve for newcomers.” said Magnus Bergsson, CMO of CCP Games. “The Cold War Edition introduces a completely new approach to introducing players to the game, making it very easy for a new player to get started.”

EVE Online is the largest single shard, non instanced, massively multiplayer world on the market today and has experienced continuous growth since its release. This release has further boosted subscriber numbers which are at an all time high.

EVE Online®: Cold War Edition puts the fragile peace sustaining the Empire territories at risk, as sovereignties secretly vie for advantage over their foes. Empires will unite to form pacts, old superhighways will be changed… a new world order is forming. Dozens of new passageways into the deep space regions will create unprecedented opportunities for both veteran and new pilots alike.

[ expand press release ]

General : Marvel XBox 360 MMORPG

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

GameSpot is reporting that Marvel has announced plans to create a new comic-book hero MMORPG exclusively for the XBox 360. The news comes from this year's Comic-Con in San Diego.

Today at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel Enterprises announced a deal that gives Microsoft exclusive worldwide rights to make massively multiplayer online role-playing games based on characters from its popular comic books.

You can read the whole article here.

Istaria : Design Update

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

Tulga Games has released a Design Preview for the upcoming months. The plan outlines what fans can expect to see enter the game as they move forward.

July Focus

The following items are the focus for the month of July 2005

  • Ancient Rite of Passage episodes 2 and 3.
    • Continued construction of "The Rift" and the new monsters and bosses that exist there.
  • The ability for a plot owner to delete a structure on thier plot and recieve Novian Resources in their inventory. This will allow for easier upgrading of buildings as well as the ability to move structures around plots for added fun and functionality.
  • Armor Dye Kits that will allow players to add dye to armor post item creation.
  • Weapon Dye Kits that will allow players to add dye to weapons post item creation.
  • Changing the Formulae for making Blighted Items to only require only 3 Blight Cores instead of 5 and allowing Players the ability to make Blight Cores from Blighted Essence.
  • Emblems awarded to Crafting Schools for reaching level 100.
  • Monster "Aggro" Tweaking

Click here to see their full plan.

Guild Wars : Update Notes

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

ArenaNet has released the latest patch notes for their July 13th update to the popular no monthly fee MMORPG.

  • Improved faction rewards in Arenas and the Tournament:
    • Arena Victory: 10 in Team/Competition Arenas, 5 in Shiverpeak Arena, 2 in Ascalon Arena
    • Arena Bonus for 5 Consecutive Victories: 10 in Team/Competition Arenas, 5 in Shiverpeak Arena, 2 in Ascalon Arena
    • Arena Bonus for Flawless Victory: 2 in Team/Competition Arenas, 1 in Shiverpeak Arena, 0 in Ascalon Arena
    • Tournament Victory: 20 in the first map, 40 in early missions, 60 in later missions, 80 in the Hall of Heroes
  • Corrected faction reward for kills in low level arenas, so that it now matches what was announced in the June 29 update notes.
  • Restored XP for PvP games. Players will now receive both Faction and XP for killing an opponent.
  • Improved Henchmen movement AI so that they more closely follow the player and avoid getting stuck.
  • Added Lina, a level 17 protection healer henchman, to all Crystal Desert outposts.
  • Improved staff damage and armor on protection healer henchmen to better match their level.
  • Improved minion formations and corrected a flaw that was occasionally preventing them from following or attacking.
  • Added new artwork for the Warrior’s ascended Gladiator’s Armor and Ranger’s ascended Druid’s Armor.
  • Fixed the following area-of-effect (AOE) spells so that they are no longer cancelled if the target dies while you are casting them: Chaos Storm, Deep Freeze, Desecrate Enchantments, Earthquake, Enfeebling Blood, Eruption, Feast of Corruption, Fireball, Ice Spikes, Maelstrom, Meteor, Meteor Storm, Panic, Phoenix, Plague Sending, Rodgort's Invocation, Rust, Searing Heat, Shadow of Fear, Soothing Images, Suffering.
  • Fixed Grenth's Balance so that it does not decrease the target's health by more than it increases your health.
  • Fixed wards, spirits, and wells so that players who are resurrected within the area of effect receive that spell's effect after resurrection.
  • Fixed bug which prevented the final boss in the Thunderhead Keep mission from dropping loot.
  • Updated boss monster spawns in Dunes of Despair, The Frost Gate, Deldrimor Bowl, and Traveler's Vale.
  • Updated or repaired flaws in the following quests: "Tower of Courage," "A Gift of Griffons," "Khobay the Betrayer," and "Undead Horde."
  • Updated monster locations in North Kryta Province and Fissure of Woe.
  • Updated Captain Greywind NPC to level 20 for continuity.
  • Added party configuration requirement so that parties containing henchmen or unascended players are now prevented from entering the Fissure of Woe and the Underworld.
Interface changes:
  • Added new trader interface.
  • Expanded friends list so that you can have up to 50 on your friends list and up to 10 on your ignore list.
  • Expanded maximum permitted length of guild announcement to 255 characters.
  • Improved vendor windows so they remember their last size and position.
  • Improved vendor windows so they show equipped items with a special symbol.
  • Improved information displayed in "/age" command.
  • Corrected the skill monitor and selection bar so that when they are inactive they no longer interfere with mouse interaction.
  • Corrected quest markers on the compass so they update properly after completing a quest.
  • Added tags to highlight fellow guild members in outposts.
  • Improved several error and warning messages, especially related to guild battle formation.
  • Updated icon for Flurry skill.
  • Fixed minor update bugs in party formation window.
  • Updated Korean and European translations.
  • Fixed miscellaneous rare crash bugs.

Sigonyth : Dev Journal #2

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

Dawid "Zolthar" Makowski returns for his second developer journal. In this month's article he discusses the perils of being an independent developer without the benefit of external funding.

The market is growing extremely fast, new games are being released almost every single day. Most of them pass unnoticed, only few of them manage to gain player attention for a significant time. Competition among developers, boosted with enormous amount of money as well as better and better hardware, results in higher game standards - every few of months the performance of published games is doubled.

In the past, you were able to produce a blockbuster, working alone or in a small group. All you needed was a good idea. Now, having the idea is simply not enough – production process, especially concerning MMOG market, requires a great deal of effort. What is more, players’ expectations are constantly growing bigger, and meeting their needs is a matter of flexibility and taking into concern every issue that comes along.

You can read the full article here.

Dark Age of Camelot : Mythic Reactivates Accounts

Posted Jul 14, 2005 by Dana Massey

Hot on the heels of word that Imperator has been indefinitely postponed, Mythic announces that cancelled Dark Age of Camelot accounts have all been re-activated for ten days. If you've been plotting a return to the game, you will find your account works, free of charge.


Retired "Dark Age of Camelot" Accounts Are Active and Characters Await Action in the War Between the Realms!

FAIRFAX, VA - July 14, 2005 – Mythic Entertainment, developer and publisher of massively multiplayer online games including "Dark Age of Camelot" and the recently announced "Warhammer" MMO, today announced the "Come Back to Camelot" Campaign, which invites past "Dark Age of Camelot" players to experience the game's upgrades and additions free of charge for ten days. From July 14th through the 24th, anyone with a retired account can log into the game, and their character will be waiting for them, just as they left it.

“The war between the Realms is still raging, and past players’ characters await – now is the time to get back into the game, and experience a new 'Dark Age of Camelot,'” said Jeff Hickman, executive producer for "Dark Age of Camelot." “Frequent upgrades, additions and response to community feedback mean that the game has been constantly improving. Plus, the addition of new 'Classic' servers lets players experience the rush of Realm vs. Realm(TM) combat without having to complete the 'Trials of Atlantis' to be competitive.”

[ expand press release ]

Imperator : Game Postponed

Posted Jul 13, 2005 by Dana Massey

Although the press release does not say cancelation, it sure sounded like it. Today Mythic Entertainment announced that Imperator has been postponed so that they team may focus on Warhammer Online and the next expansion to Dark Age of Camelot: "Darkness Rising".

The move will mean no personnel layoffs at the Fairfax based developer.


Company to focus development on "Warhammer" MMORPG and "Dark Age of Camelot"

FAIRFAX, VA – July 13, 2005 – Mythic Entertainment, developer and publisher of massively-multiplayer online role-playing games, today announced the production postponement of "Imperator," the sci-fi MMORPG previously scheduled for a June 2006 release. The decision was made after a complete internal review of the project status.

“This was the most difficult decision that we have ever had to make,” said Mark Jacobs, CEO and president of Mythic Entertainment. “However, our tremendous success with 'Dark Age of Camelot' set the standard for Mythic of releasing nothing less than triple-A games, and 'Imperator' was simply not meeting that standard.”

There are no personnel layoffs planned as a result of this decision. Staff will be reassigned to the ongoing development of "Dark Age of Camelot" including the next expansion, "Darkness Rising," scheduled for Q4 ’05. In addition some personnel have already been assigned to the new "Warhammer" MMORPG which Mythic announced at E3 in May 2005.

[ expand press release ]

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Player Modeled Ships

Posted Jul 13, 2005 by Dana Massey

Fly Labs has announced that they are now accepting player modeled ships for their upcoming pirate-themed MMORPG: Pirates of the Burning Sea. A bold move to include more player created content in games.

Pirates of the Burning Sea
To Support Player-Modeled Ships

(SEATTLE) Online game players with a talent for 3D modeling have a new way to play: in their own ship! Flying Lab Software is accepting player-created sailing ships for use in Pirates of the Burning Sea, their forthcoming massively multiplayer online game. Today the first such ship, a Dutch yacht modeled by Age of Sail enthusiast Marion “van Ghent” Edwards, is up on display at the Pirates of the Burning Sea website, along with an article by Edwards exploring the history and use of this vessel. In addition, Flying Lab has created a new discussion forum on its web site for those interested in contributing their own ship models to the game.

Only the best player-created ships will pass peer review and join the library of gorgeous ships already in the game. Flying Lab’s new ship-building community forum will provide a great opportunity for amateur modelers to improve their skills and collaborate in a supportive environment.

[ expand press release ]

Irth Worlds : Beta Phase Two Begins

Posted Jul 13, 2005 by Dana Massey

Magic Hat Software has passed along word that the one-month long Beta Phase Two starts today for Irth Online.


DEDHAM, MA – JULY 13, 2005 – Magic Hat Software ( announced today that the second Beta test for its MMORPG Irth Online begins today and is expected to run through August 12, 2005. Gamers are encouraged to apply for Beta 2 on the Irth Online website.

“We received over 400 suggestions from many thousands of Beta testers in the past three weeks since the start of our first Beta,” says Alan Chipura, Lead Game Designer. “Our tester community’s contributions were outstanding, and we’ve already incorporated many of them into Irth Online, as well as added lots of new content.”

During the first two weeks of the first Beta, the Irth Online team added new animations, male and female characters, and spells. Improvements were made to ground textures and action activity including the ability to actually cut down lumberjacking trees. Several new armors were incorporated such as Chains, Plates, and Scales made from Black Rock, Lava Rock, Copper, Gold, and Irthonium.

[ expand press release ]

Pirates of the Burning Sea : Dev Journal #1

Posted Jul 13, 2005 by Dana Massey

Pirates of the Burning Sea Executive Producer Russell Williams has penned the first in a series of monthly developer journals about the game. The first article focuses on the concept of "growth".

Hi, I’m Russell Williams, Executive Producer on Flying Lab’s Pirates of the Burning Sea ( The theme of this developer journal is growth. When we started working on the game, we knew we wanted to make a game that was different than the current crop, and whenever you’re creating something new, you have to be willing to experiment. Unfortunately, experimentation produces quite a bit of bad along with the good, and throwing away that work is always painful. But it’s even more painful if you have a full art team that’s been cranking away in a dead-end direction for half a year.

That’s why we started with a very small core group, about six people, working on the broad design of the game. We built the core elements of the game, prototyping the basic gameplay and systems, until we were sure we had a great game. Without having invested a great deal of time and money in dead end directions, it let us be ruthless in making the right decisions for the project, rather than marching down a path that was going to hold us back in the future.

You can read the entire journal and see the screenshots at this link.

General : Star Trek Online Website Launches

Posted Jul 12, 2005 by Dana Massey

Perpetual Entertainment today launched the official website for Star Trek Online. The new website includes an expanded official FAQ for the game and some brief dev blogs.

You can check it all out at

Dark Age of Camelot : New Classic Servers Released

Posted Jul 12, 2005 by Craig McGregor

Mythic Entertainment announced today that they have put the new "classic" servers live as part of their latest 1.77 patch.  Details below:

FAIRFAX, VA – JULY 12, 2005 – Mythic Entertainment, developer and publisher of massively-multiplayer online games, today released patch 1.77, featuring new "Classic" servers for "Dark Age of Camelot." Based on player feedback, Mythic created servers for the MMO game that exclude the challenges from the "Trials of Atlantis" expansion pack and feature "ranged buffs." The "Dark Age of Camelot" "Classic"July servers Gareth and Lamorak are live today.

Summary of New "Classic" Server features:

* No access to "Trials of Atlantis" zones, Artifacts or Master Levels

* "Trials of Atlantis" races available

* Ranged buffs implemented: All concentration buffs will have a range limit of 5,000 units, and will be available only to the buffer and his groupmates. Anyone outside of the group cannot receive concentration buffs.

* "/level 20" command is not available 

"It is our job to constantly improve the 'Dark Age of Camelot' experience for all players, and the alternate ruleset presented in this update is based on community feedback," said Jeff Hickman, executive producer for "Dark Age of Camelot." "We look forward to a continued dialog with the players, and to further tailoring the game to the community’s needs." 

For full patch details, please visit the Camelot Herald at patches.php.

Hero's Journey : Exclusive Q&A #3, Screens #11

Posted Jul 12, 2005 by Dana Massey

Simutronics Producer Melissa Meyer has taken the time to answer five more questions in our bi-weekly Q&A series. She has also provided us with two more exclusive screenshots in the 11th installment of our weekly screenshot series. [Renian]: Will there be quests in common areas (non-instanced)?

Melissa Meyer: There will be quests that occur in common areas, and there will be quests that start in common areas and wind up in instances. We also have special areas (such as Guild areas) that are somewhere between common and instanced in their nature, and quests take place there too.

The cool thing about instanced areas is that we can do a lot of neat things in them that are not practical in common areas. For example, in an instanced area you can design quests with defined start and victory conditions that don’t require that you account for hundreds of other people wandering through that have nothing to do with the adventure. Often a quest just makes more sense in a instance anyway… because it’s your party going on the adventure! In any case, our technology allows for the GameMasters to continuously create new quests of all types (even forms we’ve not considered yet).

You can read the full Q&A and view the screenshots here.

General : Themis Launches Magazine

Posted Jul 12, 2005 by Dana Massey

The Themis Group is best known for their MMORPG marketing and community management on titles like Anarchy Online, Jumpgate, The Saga of Ryzom and the now defunct Wish. Today they announced a new venture, the Escapist Magazine. An online magazine that deals with gaming culture.

Themis Group Launches The Escapist

A New Online Magazine Geared Toward Gamer Culture

Durham, NC – July 12, 2005 –Themis Group Inc., publisher of The Themis Report, is pleased to announce the launch of The Escapist ( The Escapist is a new online magazine covering gamers, the gaming industry, and the elusive gaming culture.

The premiere issue, now available, features such well-known authors as Tycho Brahe (, Kieron Gillen (, and John Tynes ( Upcoming issues will include work by Tom Chick, Allen Varney (, Jim Rossignol ( and other top writers from in and outside the game industry. The Escapist will run weekly with a main edition published on Tuesday and a weekend extra edition on Friday.

“We have amassed a top-notch group of writers to help us bring The Escapist to fruition,” said Julianne Greer, Executive Editor. “It has been an extreme pleasure working with all of them and I look forward to continuing to produce The Escapist with this talented and diverse group.”

[ expand press release ]

The Matrix Online : Station All-Access

Posted Jul 12, 2005 by Dana Massey

In an interview on GameSpot, SOE Head John Smedley revealed that the Matrix Online would soon join the Station All-Access Pass.

GS: NPD says 40,000 units of the game sold since its March launch. How can you correct those slim sales stats?

JS: The first thing we're going to do is add MXO to Station Access, our "all for one" $21.99 subscription plan. We will also be exposing the game to nearly 800,000 MMO players as we begin messaging out to our community about the game.

You can read the full interview over on GameSpot.

General : Our Zboard Giveaway Contest!

Posted Jul 11, 2005 by Craig McGregor is proud to announce another new and exclusive contest for our members!  From now until August 10, 2005 at 9PM we will be taking entries from our members to win one of 3 Zboard keyboards complete with a World of Warcraft keyset!

As with all of our contests, the more days that you login to - the greater your chances of winning a prize!

Ready to enter?  Click here now!

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