Justin Olivetti

Senior Reporter

A casual gamer and long-time MMO fan, Justin is often heard yelling, "Player housing for all!" in the Massively Overpowered offices. In addition to news, he tackles LOTRO Legendarium for LOTRO, The Perfect Ten, Jukebox Heroes, the retrospective Game Archaeologist series, One Shots, and the Massively OP podcast.

Personal blog: BioBreak
Twitter: @sypster

Fans can win prizes during War Thunder’s e-sports tournament

Usually when I hear “professional e-sports tournament” I tune out, mostly because three of those words hold no personal interest or applicability. However, it might behoove the non-professional among us to check out War Thunder’s Thunder League, as fans can win prizes as well as the teams participating.

Viewers of every tournament stream have a chance to win one of many in-game prizes, including a premium account. The best access to potential prizes ain’t free, however. To get these, you’ll need to buy a “dog tag” which increases your chances of winning the draw. Additionally, dog tag holders can complete tasks given to them by tournament teams to secure camo skins and a special tank and plane.

Check out the Thunder League trailer after the jump.

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Dogma: Eternal Night fails its Kickstarter campaign

Vampires, blood, and underworld horror weren’t enough to propel Dogma: Eternal Night to its Kickstarter campaign goal. The title fell well short of its $100,000 goal, racking up a little over $35,000 from 435 backers over the past month.

Prelude Games Factory vowed to keep working on the project, saying that it would be asking for donations on its own site: “Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve the minimum goal as planned. But it doesn’t mean that we stop developing our project. We still have a large fan community and we are sure that we will fulfil our dream with your help. Soon (maybe today) we will launch our own crowdfunding campaign on our website.”

Dogma (formerly Project Dogmat) is clearly attempting to capitalize on the interest that fans had for the now-canceled World of Darkness. It remains to be seen if the project can move forward with grassroots support.

Source: Kickstarter

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The Game Archaeologist: Asheron’s Call 2

MMO sequels are funny animals. Sequels (along with prequels and “reimaginings”) are ingrained into the entertainment industry so deep that it makes sense that MMO studios would follow suit. And yet these types of games — with their ever-growing nature and heavy involvement with loyal playerbases — are not always conducive to such projects. More often than not, a sequel to an online game becomes its predecessor’s main competition, which is not a desirable outcome for the studio.

Perhaps back in the early 2000s, studios simply didn’t know better. There’s good evidence that the typical “hit video games need a sequel” mindset ran rampant across the industry, from the multiple attempts at Ultima Online 2 to the release of the don’t-call-it-a-sequel sequel of EverQuest II. Perhaps developers didn’t realize that MMO players didn’t necessarily want to be uprooted and moved to a new game every few years.

While sequels, spin-offs and remakes are still present, the genre learned a hard lesson with Asheron’s Call 2: Fallen Kings in the first half of the decade. Asheron’s Call was a minor success for Microsoft and Turbine, and a sequel — with vastly improved graphics and deeper gameplay — seemed like a logical next step. Unfortunately, it was a Greek tragedy in the making, destined for a short but memorable life in our world.

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The Daily Grind: Would you play an animal in an MMO?

It’s not every MMO that straight-up gives you the option to play as a run-of-the-mill animal (albeit one with human intelligence). Sure, there are plenty of anthropomorphized critters who take on enough people-like looks and characteristics as to not be off-putting to geek sensitivities. I’m not even talking about furries (or Furbies), but instead MMOs that give you the option to run around, fight, and even quest as an animal.

Lord of the Rings Online has the self-explanatory “chicken play.” Project Gorgon can transform you into a cow, pig, or some other beast with its own leveling track. Horizons had the whole “playable dragon” thing, although that might be stretching this topic a tad. And there are a half-dozen or so smaller projects that take on this approach as the core of the game.

So what do you think: If given a choice, would you play an animal in an MMO? Is that an interesting concept for you? For bonus points, what animal would you be?

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Jukebox Heroes: The 2015 Online VGM Awards

With another year coming to a close, I thought it would be an opportune time to go back and give out flippant awards to some of the MMO and MOBA soundtracks that released in 2015. Not every game gets an official album release, of course, but if there was a new game on the scene, rest assured that I was all over its music.

So read on for six awards that celebrate the highs and, yes, lows of the video game scores this year!

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Star Citizen pushes out Alpha 2.1, promises ‘date driven’ patch schedule

While other studio teams are powering down for the holidays, it looks as though Star Citizen’s crew is keeping up the pace. The team just put out Alpha 2.1 today, bringing with it the flyable Freelancer base and Sabre fighter, as well as several fixes for the Crusader region. Alpha 2.0 has seen over 80,000 players explore it since its December 11th release.

Chris Roberts posted an end-of-the-year pep talk for fans, thanking them for their support and helping to raise over $102M for the game. He also promised that future patches would adhere to a tighter schedule than before.

“Going forward we will be changing our patch release strategy to be less feature driven and more date driven. Our goal is to release a new update every month (so January’s would be SC Alpha 2.2),” he wrote. “We feel like this strategy will be better for both development and the community at large. It will ensure constant updates and patches and a good flow of features. But as we’re not defining which features make a particular release, we won’t be in a situation like we were earlier this year where the delays on the FPS development in Star Citizen ended up blocking game updates for the community.”

Source: Star Citizen #1, #2. Thanks to Darkwalker for the tip!

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RIFT gives a week of patron access to everyone

To celebrate the holidays — and promote its newest patch — RIFT is giving everyone patron access for seven days.

Patron access is RIFT’s subscription service that comes with several bonuses, not the least of which is the game’s new affinity system. Trion Worlds points out that all patron players who log in will rack up affinity points every day.

This promotion applies to anyone who logs in between Christmas and the 27th, which will then tag those accounts for the seven days of patron access.

Source: Trion Worlds

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Hearthstone dev tackles the issue of card consistency

Being able to clearly understand what a card does and how it can be used is the subject of a new designer insights video from Hearthstone.

Lead Designer Ben Brode explains how an online game differs a little from a physical one in this regard: “Consistency is wildly important in physical card games. Because in a physical card game the only clue you have as to how a card works is the text that is on it. So if the card doesn’t do what it says, you just can’t play the game. You would need a judge following you around, telling you what to do. In a digital card game there is basically a judge following you around, telling you what to do.”

Check out the full dev video blog on the subject after the break.

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Skyforge shows the aftermath of its pantheon wars, announces holiday contest

Skyforge’s Pantheon Wars are gradually coming to a close, taking no prisoner and sparing no hurt feelings. The Allods Team is already preparing for the bloody coda, Tessa Temple Battles, and prepped a dev blog to talk about this staged conflict.

Tessa Temple Battles are 10v10 fights between warring pantheons that each control a celestial temple for the goal of (seriously) boosting the in-game space program. Rumor has it that gladiator bouts is how NASA got us to the moon back in the ’60s.

The Skyforge team is also hosting a creative community winter contest in which it’s challenging the community to express its love for the game through any (legal) holiday method possible. Lots of in-game and real-world prizes are at stake, so… get baking?

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Istaria celebrates its 12th anniversary with a patch

Istaria — the MMO that will forever be linked to its former title of Horizons with any mention of it, making one wonder why the name change was needed — just blew out the candles on its 12th birthday cake. Believe it or not, this game has been chugging along since 2003!

So what did Istaria and its community wish for on this occasion? Apparently, a spiffy anniversary patch! This week’s update isn’t huge, but considering that this is one of those games that gets a patch once every six months or so, it’s something to celebrate.

The anniversary patch introduced new combat pets, brought back the winter festival, and added more travel scrolls. There’s also a large assortment of streamlining, bug fixes, and small features (such as allowing players to preview what grow-up dragons will look like).

Source: Istaria. Thanks, Johnny!

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Lineage 2 kicks off new European classic server

Heading back to the past is sometimes possible when an MMO decides that there’s enough interest to start up a classic server. NCsoft obviously does in regard to Lineage 2, as it’s finally turned on the early access switch for its Lineage 2 classic EU server.

The classic server returns to an earlier version of Lineage 2 that is decidedly more hardcore and challenging than the current edition. It includes clan wars, the classic trading system, PvP everywhere, and harsh penalties for dying.

Early access for the classic server is restricted to those who purchased one of the pre-order packs. Full access will commence on December 29th.

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Retro-themed EverEmber Online launches today

Just because an MMO is launching in 2015 doesn’t mean that it is necessarily some ultra-gorgeous, physics engine-happy affair. Sometimes games look to the past rather than the present for inspiration, which is where we find EverEmber Online as it releases today.

Looking as though it would be perfectly at home on the Super Nintendo, EverEmber Online combines old-school looks and a hefty dose of charm. This MMO presents players with an open-ended sandbox with no guided quests. “If you are in the mood for an old school MMORPG similar to that of RuneScape and Ultima Online, then this is your type of game!” the team posted. “You are free to travel around, explore, fight, meet new people, and progress through the ranks.”

The developers said that the launch will coincide with the start of an in-game holiday event.

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