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

BlizzCon 2015 opening ceremony recap, Warcraft movie trailer

BlizzCon 2015 kicks off with its opening ceremony at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) today, and Massively OP liveblogged the festivities down in the comments. Now that it’s over, we’ve updated the end of this post with the highlights.

The opening ceremony is being streamed for free, even if you don’t have a virtual ticket, and you can watch it yourself on the BlizzCon site or on Blizzard’s Twitch channel. Many of the other panels do require a virtual ticket, so stay tuned for additional liveblogs and news posts tonight and tomorrow as we cover those.

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Activision-Blizzard opens movie and TV studio

On this morning’s investor call, Activision-Blizzard announced a new endeavor for the company: its very own movie and TV studio.

Activision Blizzard Studios will be headed up by former Disney exec Nick van Dyk and focus first on an animated TV show called Skylanders Academy and “a robust cinematic universe based on the Call of Duty franchise,” with a target date of 2018 or 2019.

Van Dyk told investors, “Activision Blizzard Studios has the unique advantage of starting with a library of world-class intellectual property that includes some of the largest franchises which have not yet been developed in film and television. […] Activision Blizzard Studios is not just an exciting new business for our company, it is a synergistic complement to our core business. Our movies and shows will benefit from the remarkable IP created in our games and will further increase the awareness of, engagement with, and passion for our franchises.”

Source: Activision via GI.biz

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Black Desert’s North American website and forums launch

Black Desert’s English-language website has just gone live. It’s a bit bare right now, though Daum is hyping videos from Paris Games Week.

The site includes user registration and newsletter signups, but official forums have been slightly delayed. On Reddit, Daum CMs told players,

There is always that last minute bug. I see our devs are working hard to bring back the new forums online. If they manage to rapidly squish the bug, I’ll high five them for you! I’ll post again here once I have an update about the forums.

Source: Official site via Reddit. Thanks, Leiloni!

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NCsoft names California mobile studio ‘Iron Tiger’

Last spring, NCsoft made known its plans to focus heavily on western investment and iterate on its existing franchises. Those plans included a new mobile studio outside of San Francisco, and today, confirming news released in its investor conference call earlier this week, the company has now released that studio’s name:

NCSOFT West is accelerating and the launch of Iron Tiger is a key step in enabling us to develop extraordinary and innovative games more rapidly and across more platforms. […] We are looking for the best and brightest minds in all of gaming to become part of the Iron Tiger and NCSOFT West teams.

Iron Tiger Studios is staffing up to support three distinct game development teams as well as a self-contained mobile publishing group. The studio will grow to more than 100 new employees over the next year. Its location in San Mateo, situated between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, is ideally suited to be convenient to the area’s top technology and gaming talent.

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The Daily Grind: What are your hopes for BlizzCon 2015?

BlizzCon 2015 begins later today, and I have to admit that I’m nervous. Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm aren’t exactly my cup of summoned water, and I don’t really care about the Warcraft movie except in that it bolsters the MMO industry, but Diablo is a franchise near and dear to my heart, and I’m one of a handful of staffers at MOP who’ve played and loved World of Warcraft through its long history.

Guys, I even liked Mists of Pandaria.

But Draenor didn’t do anything for me, and I dread that Legion might suck. I want it to not suck, both as a player who’d like to go back and as an MMO writer. WoW is treated as a bellwether for the health of the western MMO industry, and I want to see WoW’s numbers going back up — and staying there — not crashing down again if Legion is lackluster.

That’s my hope for BlizzCon: Let Legion be awesome.

How about you? What are your hopes for BlizzCon? What do you want to see the most? And what do you actually expect?

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Massively Overthinking: What to do when your MMO grows stale

Earlier this year, Kotaku ran a piece on how to make your favorite games feel new again once they’ve gotten a bit stale. Since Kotaku cover lots of games, its suggestions included things that don’t necessarily apply to most MMOs, like running without a minimap or refusing to level up, but there are also some widely applicable ideas like challenging yourself to a permadeath character or streaming your gameplay in front of an audience.

What do you do in your favorite MMO when it starts to feel a bit stale? How do you recharge and refresh the game for yourself? These are the questions I posed to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Grab an Otherland Steam key from Drago and MOP

Sci-fi MMORPG Otherland most recently made blog headlines when it denied accusations that it solicited or purchased what appear to be suspicious reviews on Steam. So how would you like a chance to play the game yourself, for free, and form your own opinion?

Drago Entertainment has given us 50 Steam keys that unlock the $19.99 standard edition of Otherland on Steam, and we’re passing them along to you today. Click onward for a key!

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TERA teases the Brawler class slated for December’s Knockout update

Action-MMO TERA is getting a brand-new class in its next update: the Brawler. En Masse summarized the class in a press release today:

“The brawler packs a serious punch and can go toe-to-toe with the biggest bosses in the game. The new hit counter is the key to the brawler’s ‘punch and parry’ fighting style, making her an incredibly powerful tank. And when her rage meter builds up, she can unleash devastating combos with her massive ‘powerfist’ gauntlets.”

The so-called Knockout update is also set to include new endgame armor (tier 8 and 9) as well as two new dungeons: “the pirate-infested Kalivan’s Dreadnaught and the haunted Forsaken Island, where players can earn and use all that new gear.” Expect the patch to land in December for North American players, and check out new screenshots and a teaser vid of the Brawler in action below.

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Funcom’s bondholders unanimously agree to defer Funcom’s debts

Back in October, Funcom asked its bondholders to defer its debts another year, summoning those holders to a meeting to vote on a proposal that would “provide cash relief to Funcom N.V. in 2015 to allow for sufficient working capital.”

In light of that, these must be sweet words to read:

The bondholders’ meeting regarding convertible bond issue number ISIN NO 001 063043.7, summoned by Nordic Trustee ASA on behalf of Funcom N.V. was held today, 26 October 2015.

The meeting adopted all of the proposed resolutions.

In fact, it was unanimous.

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NCsoft promises Lineage Eternal’s closed beta testing next year

Over the summer, NCsoft was conducting small-scale focus-group testing for Lineage Eternal, another sequel for the bafflingly popular and profitable Lineage MMORPG. In fact, two more such tests were planned for this year. But in NCsoft’s recent earnings call, the company revealed that the full beta won’t begin until next year:

Lineage Eternal will also undergo the full-scaling testing from the first half of next year.

In response to an investor question about LE’s testing, NCsoft clarified that it’s the closed beta testing that has been pushed to next year and that the company is adjusting to the market in the meantime. The post-CBT schedule is anticipated to be much shorter. Direct questions from a Morgan Stanley rep about the global nature of the test and game went unanswered.

Expect more news from G-Star later on this month.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the healthiest living MMO?

Back in June, Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti wrote an article listing what he considered the 10 healthiest MMOs, a subject that quickly proved controversial, in part because the definition of “healthy” is so hard to pin down. “There are a lot of variables to consider,” he wrote. “I researched several angles, including player tracking services, frequency of patches, financial reports, and even how often each game pops up on blogs.”

To some people, an MMO’s health may not matter all that much: They’re going to play what they want to play right now, the future (and other people) be damned. Others worry endlessly that the game they are investing time into may not be around in a year and strongly prefer to be in a “safe” game with apparent longevity, even if it’s not necessarily their favorite game.

How much does a game’s health matter to you? How do you go about determining the health level of an online game? And what’s the healthiest living MMO?

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Otherland devs deny buying positive Steam reviews

Drago Entertainment has today denied allegations that it paid for positive Otherland reviews on Steam.

Website MMOs.com accused the developer of directly paying for fake reviews, suggesting the company is “trying to boost sales in an incredibly shady way” and “trying anything and everything to get people to try the game.” “[I]f you’re going to try to trick your customers into buying your game[,] you might as well spend a little bit more and get your fake reviews written by native English speakers,” wrote the site, calling for Steam to take down the reviews.

On the Steam forums, Drago acknowledged the suspicious reviews but denied responsibility for them:

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