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

Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs explains CSE’s Beta 1 ‘hard crunch’

City State Entertainment has announced on its livestream that it’s entering a “hard crunch” mode to deliver RvR-centric crowdfunded MMORPG Camelot Unchained according to backer expectations.

Ahead of the stream, CSE’s Mark Jacobs told Massively OP that developers had already been working under an optional soft crunch and that now they’ll be working 12 hours a day, five days a week to get beta 1 out on schedule without a delay. We spoke to him about the need for crunch and the impact it’ll have on the developers.

Massively OP: “Crunch” is pretty much looked on as a really horrible awful no-good thing in this industry — a word uttered with disdain, usually in the same sentence as “EA” or some other unloved overlordy publisher. I know you guys want to get the beta out and not disappoint backers, but aren’t you worried that the backers will actually be more concerned by the need for crunch than for a minor delay?

Mark Jacobs: Nobody likes to crunch less than me, but we believe that our Backers deserve our best efforts to open up Beta 1 according to the current schedule. The bottom line is that we don’t want to disappoint our Backers with another delay, and we are going to do everything we can to avoid that disappointment. The team is performing great, and now is the time to level that performance up to a heroic level. Our Backers deserve that effort, and we won’t let them down by not making that effort. We might fail, but we are going to do everything we can do to avoid that outcome.

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WildStar’s PvP plan means server consolidation on PvE worlds

WildStar Game Director Chad “Pappy” Moore has big plans for reigniting the PvP flame in the beleaguered sci-fi MMO. “Increasingly over time the majority of WildStar players prefer to play on PvE servers,” he says, leaving the PvP servers in a dire state.

The solution? Well, it boils down to de facto server merges and PvP incentives. “We’ll be bringing all players together on the PvE servers (Entity for NA, and Jabbit for EU),” explains Moore; those voluntary merges will occur by way of a fresh round of free transfers that begins today.

The studio had added new servers following WildStar’s free-to-play transition last fall but merged them back into the separate PvE and PvP megaservers by December. Following this move, it appears the game will no longer offer PvP servers.

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Scarlet Blade will sunset next month

We’re genuinely sorry to report that Aeria Games has announced an impending closure for the notoriously suggestive MMORPG Scarlet Blade. Aeria broke the sad news earlier today:

Scarlet Blade is about to turn 3 years old. Unfortunately, the last year has been especially tough for our femmes fatales due to technical issues such as server instabilities and minimal content updates. The last big content update was almost patched a year ago, and received a lot of mixed feedback. Around this time the developer of Scarlet Blade had to heavily cut down on its resources due to economical reasons. Sadly, this change resulted in long waiting times for new content and fixes for service instabilities.

The peak of those issues happened during December, when a technical issue prevented us from patching a content update and had to be rolled back. Since then it has been impossible for us and our developer to find the root of this issue. With missing content updates and continuing server instabilities, we are having a difficult time delivering a quality experience to you. Therefore we have decided with a heavy heart to discontinue service for Scarlet Blade, effective March 31, 2016.”

Aeria says players’ accounts will be reimbursed for all purchases made in 2016 with funds that can be spent in other Aeria games. In fact, players are encouraged to migrate to Echo of Soul, where they will receive what Aeria is calling a “huge Veteran Item Package,” including an advanced level 35 character.

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The Division releases 60 FPS trailer, doom simulator ‘Collapse’

Let’s get that Division hype rolling! Ubisoft has posted a new trailer showcasing the game’s visual quality in 60 frames per second. Not impressed by graphics porn? How about simulation porn? Ubisoft has also released a browser-based simulator minigame called Collapse intended to demo the speed at which a virus can destroy society. Grim! The trailer’s below. Let us know how you fare in Collapse!

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Turbine cancels plans for EU-based LOTRO datacenter

Turbine Executive Producer Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters has bad news for Lord of the Rings Online players in Europe: Your game servers aren’t moving to Amsterdam as promised after all, meaning they’ll stay in New Jersey alongside the North American servers.

“Now that we have been in the new datacenter in New Jersey on the new hardware for several weeks now, we have learned a lot about how our service works with domestic and international ISPs,” she writes on the official forums. “Early efforts at tuning have been showing progress, leading to measurable improvement in latency for both US and EU players. Based on this early information we believe that players will be best served by us focusing on improvements to the new datacenter, rather than moving the EU servers to Amsterdam.”

Turbine says it is focusing it efforts on a new routing system that will improve performance for players in both regions.

Source: Official forums. Thanks, Todd!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

Last week on the Massively OP Podcast, we tried to answer a question from long-time listener Spagomat, who told us he keeps going back to older MMORPGs because newer ones just feel like the same design tropes playing out, over and over again. “It feels as if the genre has discovered a collection of design boundaries over time and can’t figure out how to surmount them,” he lamented.

“So I was wondering if you could lay out, say, a list of the top-10 design innovations of the past 3-5 years. Whether well-known and influential or tried in some small game and mostly undiscovered, anything you could say has changed the landscape, or could be a seed for change in the future.”

While Justin and I came up with a few, some of them were definitely older than five years, like level-nullification, and others aren’t catching on as well as we might want, like co-op harvesting nodes. Can you guys do better? What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

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Preview Blade & Soul’s Warlock class in a new overview trailer

NCsoft is hyping Blade & Soul’s upcoming Warlock class with a fresh video today.

“The Warlock is Blade & Soul’s second dedicated ranged class with great power but considerable fragility. Many of their powerful abilities have significant casting times and long cooldowns, requiring one of two strategies to be employed: keep enemies at bay or incapacitated long enough to be able to cast the high damage abilities again, or reduce cooldown times through expert timing of other abilities.”

The most iconic aspect of a Warlock is their ability to summon a Thrall as an ally on the field. This Thrall lasts for only a short period of time, but can be useful in engaging an opponent while the Warlock is busy setting up the scene for their next big performance.”

Get your hands on the class on March 2nd when the action-combat MMORPG launches its Unchained update. In the meantime, the vid’s below.

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6.4 million people propelled The Division’s beta to a new console record

The Division set a record this weekend for the biggest beta in a new-brand, current-gen console game.

Ubisoft told blog readers today that more than 6.4 million people showed up to test the game during its open beta.

“On average, players spent around 5 hours as an activated sleeper agent journeying through The Division’s open world. The Dark Zone proved to be particularly popular, with players spending around 2-hours in the PVP zone, with almost 50% of agents turning Rogue in the process. Fun fact: over 63 309 800 contaminated items were successfully extracted out of the Dark Zone.”

The game is still scheduled for a March 8th launch on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Source: Ubi.com

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Giveaway: Grab a Cabal Online booster key in honor of its Steam launch

Classic Cabal Online launched on Steam this past week, reintroducing gamers to the 2005 title.

Nearly a thousand years after its devastation, the CABAL leader Faust prophesized the rise of an evil force that would, once again, ruin the land of Nevareth.

That evil has finally come. With only eight surviving members of the CABAL, it is now up to the champions of Nevarath to face the waves of minions that have invaded the world and uncover the truth behind them. Players will join millions in the battle over the sprawling and diverse lands of Nevareth, a stunning world that blurs the line between fantasy and science fiction. Featuring time-limited dungeons, blazing and fluid combat, challenging puzzles, an enthralling story, and a constant stream of new game content, CABAL Online invites MMO players to go forth and become a champion of Nevareth.

ESTsoft has granted Massively OP 500 keys for blessing beads, a premium seven-day item that gives the user access to premium channels, GPS teleportation for fast travel, 25% bonus boosts to EXP, skill EXP, drop rate, WEXP, pet EXP, and AXP, and a 200% boost to currency gains. The beads also cause T-Points to accumulate over time and unlock three additional craft request slots. It’s gonna be a good seven days is what we’re saying. And now we’re handing those keys out to you!

Clicky the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to take home one of these keys.

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ARPG Grim Dawn is about to emerge from early access

If you’ve been watching multiplayer action RPG Grim Dawn since it joined the Steam early access program back at the end of 2013 as we have, then February is a big month for you: The game is preparing to say farewell to early access forever.

Crate Entertainment, whose developers are probably best known for multiplayer ARPG Titan Quest, have announced that today’s patch will be the last before the game leaves early access and becomes a fully launched game.

Build 31 is now in the final stretch of testing, its release impending. This is it, the last big build before we prepare Grim Dawn to leave Early Access behind and graduate to Full-Release status.

You may be wondering, what does impending really mean? Well, we’re not even going to make you scroll down to the bottom of this post. Wonder no more as Build 31 is…coming…later…today! With our biggest changelog ever, this one is one update you will not want to miss.

The game was officially deemed feature complete at the end of 2015.

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The Secret World’s subscriber badge reward unwittingly provokes dismay

The Secret World’s recent membership status tweaks have more than a few players up in arms. A 450+ post thread on the official forums chronicles the argument: Funcom has added in-game badges as a reward for subscribers. Seems like a nice perk, right?

The trouble is, some players argue, that displaying the badge isn’t optional, which means that players are being forced to display their contribution and status to everyone in the game and cannot keep their finances private. “Having a permanent name plate is counter productive, discriminatory and crass,” writes one player. “It segregates players into haves and have-nots [and] breaks immersion by dragging a little bit of the real world into my escape from the real world.” Players also suggest that they aren’t thrilled being turned into walking advertisements for the subscription. Affected subbers have requested that the badge be toggleable, though Funcom hasn’t yet responded.

It’s not quite a RealID fiasco in the making, but it’s evidently a concern. What do you think about MMO studios implementing “rewards” like this?

Source: Official forums. Thanks, ThreeSpeed.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMORPG boss fight?

World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade was very definitely not my favorite WoW expansion, but it had some fantastic dungeons. Karazhan leaps to mind as being a superb small-raid experience, and of the many boss encounters it offered, the Opera Event stands in my memory as being one of my favorite boss fights ever.

While it’s a bit of a cakewalk for the modern character (as evidenced by the fact that Eliot got this screenshot for me last week, solo — thanks Eliot!), back then the Opera Event was challenging, randomly offering your group one of three encounters as part of the play: spoofs on Romeo and Juliet, Little Red Riding Hood, and my favorite, The Wizard of Oz. The last was a boss fight that rewarded exceptional crowd control as you took out Dorothee, Tito, Roar, Strawman, Tinhead, and The Crone. The loot was themed to match too.

So there’s my favorite, or at least most memorable, MMORPG boss fight — a boss fight with multiple bosses. What’s yours?

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MMO Week in Review: Black Desert and ArcheAge cash-shop rage (February 21, 2016)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

Cash-shop crises blew up in MMO land this week. We put up a Leaderboard poll this weekend about the growing resentment toward Black Desert’s proposed cash shop being expressed on Reddit and in the official forums; the debate is still raging over whether we should all be raging. And then ArcheAge sparked a new drama by introducing a form of stat-boosting costumes with a form of maintenance and decay built in under the RP guise of doing laundry. Is it always about money? Yes, pretty much.

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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