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

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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Shroud of the Avatar talks about its early 2016 plans

As it heads into the new year, Shroud of the Avatar has grand plans in store for the first few months. In its most recent newsletter, Portalarium discusses what’s coming in the first quarter of 2016.

In addition to pumping out monthly updates, Shroud of the Avatar is gearing up for what looks to be an important summer milestone: “The focus of the first quarter of 2016 is to get us as close to alpha/feature-complete as possible as soon as we can. However we are balancing that alpha goal with polish, performance, and service hardening to prepare for our final wipe as soon as mid-summer.”

If you’re in Shroud of the Avatar and looking for something to do over the holidays, there’s always the new grand tour to get a spiffy new hat. Check out the guide below!

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Eternal Crusade shows off the frozen Pegasus Station

The new hotness in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is definitely the Pegasus Station map. This industrial base is set in the frozen arctic and is apparently quite the piece of prime real estate. From the looks of it, Pegasus Station has plenty of tactical vantage points and exciting terrain to make for violent battles.

You can check out the Pegasus Station trailer after the jump followed by a dev chat that covers the station and other current happenings in Eternal Crusade.

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Raptor Claus pays a special visit to ARK: Survival Evolved

“Now I have a machine gun-toting T-Rex. Ho ho ho.”

This might well be the holiday sentiment of ARK: Survival Evolved, especially now that it’s getting into the spirit of the season. The title pulled the trigger on another holiday event, with this one casting the island into a winter wonderland.

In addition to cheery decorations, the winter wonderland event will provide goodies in the form of a sky-flying Raptor Claus tossing gifts down below. There are also rewards to be gained by collecting coal, and an end-of-the-year Survival of the Fittest showdown.

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The Repopulation temporarily suspends development

The unfortunate saga of The Repopulation continues this week, as Above & Beyond Technologies announced that it was pulling the plug on the alpha servers — at least for the time being.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce today that development The Repopulation has been temporarily suspended and alpha servers are expected to go offline on Wednesday, December 23rd,” the game’s lead developer posted. “As most of you are already aware, Idea Fabrik (the creators of Hero Engine) has been going through some turmoil over the past month which has caused us to temporarily suspend sales of the game. Servers have remained online, but their ongoing costs are preventing us from keeping them online indefinitely. As a result, The Repopulation’s alpha servers will be going offline on Wednesday until this situation is resolved.”

Above & Beyond said that this did not signal the end of the game but admitted that it might be a while before everything gets sorted out. The idea is to save money by shutting the servers down while Hero Engine hopefully gets fixed, then bringing The Repopulation back online once that happens.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best holiday content?

You might have noticed that we’re currently awash in seasonal festivities, not just in the real world but in MMOs as well. Christmas is the second of two holidays (Halloween being the other) that get some sort of special event in most online games.

That had me thinking of how underappreciated some of these events are when it comes to awards and accolades. Developers have to put in a ton of work for these holidays, most of which are only seen for a brief window every year. Wouldn’t it be nice to give them props for this effort?

So which MMO do you think has the best holiday content? I’m not just limiting it to the current season or even a particular event but am opening up the floor for discussion on which game does holidays the best. Want to cite specific favorite events? I won’t stop you!

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ELOA pushes out its first ‘expansion’

Elite Lord of Alliance has done its utmost to make us trip over its name, and now that its first major content patch is out, it’s working hard to confuse us even more. “First Expansion” or “Part 1” is now out, and if you can get past these weird titles, then you might find quite a bit to do in this hack-and-slash title.

Today’s update raises the level cap from 36 to 40, giving players four more levels to explore. Additionally, ELOA has added a high-level monster journal, the Crying Land zone, two level 40 dungeons, and the expected assortment of new quests, titles, and achievements to master.

Read up on the patch notes and show those monsters who’s the boss (the answer is Tony Danza).

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 43: End-of-the-year roundtable

As 2015 comes to a close, the Massively Overpowered team crams into the recording booth to share their own thoughts on the year and our annual awards. It’s a rollicking good time with 450% of your RDA dose of outspoken personalities!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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The Division’s RPG experience is all about the gear

If and when The Division releases, expect to find a game that’s just as driven by its gear as, say, Destiny. In a brief interview with IGN, Massive Associate Creative Director Julian Gerighty affirmed that most of the RPG mechanics will revolve around the weapons and armor you carry.

“The key to our RPG experience are the choices around weapons, skills, talents and mods,” he noted. “Do you want to build yourself out as a particularly lethal long range sniper agent who is able to push forward in that one challenging late game mission or are you going to step in the shoes of a healer with your group to make sure that your entire squad makes it?”

Gerighty touted several aspects of The Division’s experience, including dynamic weather, an open-ended storytelling system, the player’s base of operations, and the Dark Zone’s PvP. The team also put out a podcast that discussed the different interlocking systems and what players will be doing in the endgame. Check out a video summary of the highlights of this podcast after the break.

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