Brianna 'Bree' Royce

Editor-in-Chief

Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game.

Working As Intended and Ask Mo are her pet op-ed columns, but she also pens Daily Grinds and compiles both Massively Overthinking and the Week in Review. You can hear her ramble about MMOs every week on the Massively OP podcast. If you're nice, she'll even talk about something other than Star Wars Galaxies.

Personal blog: Skycandy
Twitter: @nbrianna
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH

Wild Terra is free to play all weekend

Who doesn’t love free things? How about free isometric MMO sandboxes? Wild Terra is putting itself in the free bin for the weekend as it runs an open stress test, nullifying its usual $14.99 early access buy-in. And you’re invited!

Studio Juvty Worlds notes that would-be testers can download the client or simply play in their Chrome/Opera browsers. “Actively testing the game, you’ll get a reward – game currency and Steam keys,” promise the devs. “Report any errors or problems found in Wild Terra.”

Most recently, the game played host to an in-game player wedding and patched spawn rates, planting systems, HUD, and auction bugs.

The event runs until July 24th, at which point servers will be wiped, the pricetag returns, and your carriage turns into a pumpkin.

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Path of Exile’s microtransaction system is finally live

After multiple false starts over the summer, Path of Exile has finally patched in its new microtransaction system as of last night.

“In the new Microtransaction System, we’ve completely done away with the old Microtransaction Stash and have replaced with a new one that lets you sort and manage your microtransactions in a much cleaner way. The microtransactions are equipped to their own slots so that you can swap your items around at will without having to reclaim/reapply microtransactions constantly. You can also equip microtransactions from other characters with a click.”

“The microtransaction system in this 2.6.3 patch is fully up to date,” Grinding Gear’s Chris Wilson says. “The one on the Beta 3.0.0 wave 3 realm is missing some recent minor bug fixes, so if you see weirdness on Beta, that’s why. It’ll be up to date by release. If you try to reclaim microtransactions between the two realms, it will work, but may display incorrect character and league names. Your consumable microtransactions on Beta (like Fireworks and Skin Transfers) are your real ones and are actually consumed if you use them.”

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Diablo III’s 11th season is now live with new class gear for the Necro

Season 11 is now live in Diablo III, which means a brand-new opportunity to start a fresh grind for loot and expies. In its release blog last night, Blizzard touted new minipets, new portraits, new stash tab unlocks, and a new rotation of Conquests. The main prize, however, is the class sets players can earn for completing this season’s journey requirements, including a class set for the still relatively fresh Necromancer class.

“Now that the Priests of Rathma are active in Sanctuary, you can play through the Season Journey as the Necromancer and complete the free Class Set: the Bones of Rathma. Of course, this prize isn’t just for Necromancers. Every class will receive Haedrig’s Gift—a free Class Set—for completing the Season Journey Chapters 2, 3, and 4. Barbarians can earn the Wrath of the Wastes set, Crusaders can earn Roland’s Legacy, Demon Hunters can earn the Unhallowed Essence set, Monks can earn the Raiment of a Thousand Storms set, Witch Doctors can earn the Helltooth Harness set, and Wizards can earn Tal Rasha’s Elements.”

To get started, either create a seasonal hero or rebirth an older toon to start him or her from scratch (but don’t worry – you won’t lose loot permanently!).

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Let’s go space shopping in this week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse

We’ve been chatting about game economies this week here at Massively OP, so it’s a happy coincidence than this week’s episode of Around the Verse features Star Citizen’s shopping kiosks and commodities system in detail. Heck yeah, space shopping.

“The kiosk is going to be the user’s interface to purchase things or sell them within the game that are not physically within the shop in the case, purchasing or things in their inventory, things from their ship all selling with be done through the kiosk,” explain studio reps. There’s also a nifty discussion on the difficulties of scaling the economy to support the sale of “super tiny and inconsequentially priced [items] all the way up to […] massive battlecruisers.” As for recipes,

“Recipe in the context of Star Citizen is somewhat similar to a crafting recipe in other MMOs. It defines the types of commodities and resources that go into manufacturing a given item like a laser cannon or even a ship. The way that we use recipes and the way that you may find them in another game is that those recipes generally aren’t used directly by the players, instead they’re used by the design team to really sculpt the types of goods that are bought and sold in a location in the world and that’s to make that location feel correct. So if it’s a factory that it buys and sells the kinds of things that you would expect from that location.”

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The Daily Grind: What’s your ideal ‘retirement’ MMORPG?

Wednesday, my husband and I were chatting about the big stories of the day, including the Star Citizen piece that racked up a bajillion comments, not counting all the deleted ones. I was explaining that some people have put thousands of dollars into this hope of a game, which skews how setbacks are perceived, when he remarked, “Oh, it’s their retirement.”

He didn’t mean people were investing their retirement savings into CIG, of course, although I’m sure somebody is doing just that. He meant they’re investing their retirement dreams in virtual spaceships. Those future players don’t really care that the game isn’t finished now and probably isn’t going to be feature complete for many more years. They’re thinking long-term: This is the game they want to “retire” to in a more vague and distant future, and it’ll be ready for them when they’re ready for it. Star Citizen is their cabin by the lake, their shack by the sea, their tent on Tatooine.

I’m most of a lifetime away from retirement, so I’ve never really thought about what I might want to play if I ever get to be a kid again only with money, outside of joking about wanting VR in the old folks’ home. But I have my weak spots: If someone promised me SWG 2 would be ready in a couple decades, I’d start planning my character now.

Have you got a “retirement MMO” picked out? What’s your ideal retirement MMORPG?

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Massively Overthinking: Building a better MMORPG economy

We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.

“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”

I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.

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Next Day Survival debuts, plus H1Z1, Hellion, Black Death, and Life is Feudal survivalbox news

ARK and Conan aren’t the only survivalboxes in town — in fact, several of the modern contenders in the subgenre have updates and videos this week demonstrating their progress.

Today, we’ll start with Next Day: Survival, a new game to our coverage here on Massively OP and one that’s just hit early access today. It’s touting its storyline, questing, “sophisticated crafting system,” car restoration system, repitation, and multiple game modes, including pure PvE and a single-player mode.

Next Day: Survival is a multi-player survival game with elements of RPG. Its action takes place in an imaginary country within the Eastern Europe, a large part of whose territory is contaminated with toxic fog. The player’s main task is to survive, to develop his game character’s skills, and to interact with the surrounding world, other players, and non-player characters (NPCs). In the course of the game, the character earns a reputation, which gives him the chance to join various factions of survivors, each with their own features and limitations.”

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Anti-grind MMO Fractured introduces its playable races, including vampires and bear-kin

Last month, we introduced our readers to Fractured, yet another SpatialOS MMO currently under construction since this past January. Its chief claims to fame include planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat — and most interestingly to players bored of stock MMO tropes — no grind and no forced PvP.

This week, the team behind the game, Dynamight Studios, has released what it’s calling a feature spotlight on one of its “design pillars” — character races — arguing that the “potential of the concept has never been exploited in full” by the genre.

Dynamight CEO Jacopo Gallelli contends that “races have been used to add variety to combat, questlines and, at best, environments” in MMOs, but that “no one has ever strived to employ them to immerse players in a different culture and society, and to make them feel that they are playing a whole different game if their character is a Demon instead of a Human.”

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Dark and Light has officially launched into early access

Following multiple development delays, weird PR moves, gorgeous screenshot dumps, and a month of closed beta, decade-old MMORPG sandbox Dark and Light has finally resurrected into its early access soft launch form here in the west today. Thanks to the current discount, it’ll run you just under $25.

Snail Games is clear that this is a true early access title. “We already know that we’re going to run into a lot of bugs, crashes, localization issues, and more,” says the company. “Did you die from punching a blade of grass? Did your tamed creatures stage a massive revolt out of nowhere? Did an NPC tell you ‘I AM ERROR?’ Is the Bestiary straight-up lying to you about how many creatures are in the game? We want to know about it.”

As usual, we’ve rounded up our coverage to date so you can look back at the twisting road this game’s taken to be born again!

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SuperData’s new report suggests multiplayer console gamers are more susceptible to DLC and RMT than ever

Gamers talk a big talk about horse armor DLC and pay-to-win and the evils of cash shops, but y’all keep buying anyway.

That’s according to gaming research analysis firm SuperData, which today released an excerpt from its pricey report on digital console revenue for 2017. More than half of all digital console revenue this year, the firm says, will come from “additional content” like DLC and cash-shop microtransactions. That number is half again as high for the top-earning console games from the last few years.

Fully “39% of first-year additional content revenue for all titles is made in the first 3-to-6 months, leaving game publishers with a tight time frame to release new content,” argues SuperData. “Digital console consumers are hungry for more content as soon as they are done with the core gameplay. Most single player games have a gameplay timeframe between 10-to-40 hours within their single-player mode. It is not hard to see why over a third of console players believe that publishers should release content every 3-to-6 months. Over a fourth of them believe additional content should be released at least once a month. Publishers are warned to be wary of releasing content too close to the release date, since consumers see that tactic as profiting off content that should otherwise have been released with the full game.”

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Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott backs Neverdie’s ‘etherium blockchain gaming’ venture

I often joke with our readers that Massively OP is not an MMO uptime monitor, but darn if we don’t feel like a Richard Garriott uptime monitor lately — love him or hate him, the man is on one hell of a PR tour for his book and Portalarium’s crowdfunding. So what’s one of the founding fathers of the MMORPG genre and the current boss at Shroud of the Avatar doing today? Boosting Neverdie Studios.

So let’s back up. Remember back in 2005 when when a Project Entropia player bought an asteroid in the game for $100,000 and then flipped it a few years later for more than six times that, ultimately setting a Guinness record and claiming to be the “first gamer to make a million dollars inside a virtual world”? That player was Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, and Neverdie Studios is his real-world secure bitcoin-like-trading venture promoting “Etherium Blockchain Gaming,” which amounts to peer-to-peer online money trading and is of particular to interest to online gaming studios. The company has apparently already raised $2 million in a pre-sale and has now launched an “initial coin offering” (ICO) whereby people can invest in the tech.

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Citadel: Forged With Fire patches up, plans weekend beta excursion

Citadel: Forged With Fire has been a whirlwind of activity since its sudden early access announcement last week, and it’s not letting up, as now it’s plotting what looks to be a closed beta round beginning this Saturday, July 22nd. Blue Isle Studios points players toward its official beta signup page and promises it’s releasing “tens of thousands of keys.”

What will you be testing if you get in? Why, the contents of the game’s first public patch notes, which address AI, spell balance, maps, and VOIP.

“We noticed most players encountered issues with our NPC behavior. Enemies would give chase to players infinitely, and the only option to deal with them was to jump in a pool of water and snipe them from safety. To fix this, we’ve made a number of changes to our NPC AI, which should hopefully resolve this issue. Spell balance was another thing we decided to take a look at coming out of last weekend. Players expected spells to be more powerful, so we went ahead and gave them some significant buffs. Additionally, we also addressed some audio and graphical issues that may have occurred (I’m looking at you Haste). In addition to the above, we made some key changes to building and map presentation, and added a few small things here and there to make some confusing things a little more obvious. Oh, and we added VOIP!”

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Guild Wars 2: One Path Ends speculation and the Black Lion Hunters Contract

Hear that buzz? It’s Guild Wars 2 gearing up for its third season finale next week… and then, ultimately, pushing into uncharted territory with its second expansion. With the episode’s latest trailer fresh in our minds, let’s take a peek at what else is going on in the game this week.

It goes without saying, there’s gonna be speculation and spoilers.

First up? Let’s start with the teaser vid posted yesterday.

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