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The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Perfect World Entertainment gives Blacklight: Retribution back to its developer

Usually, when we talk about a company giving up a game that it is publishing, it includes phrases like “shutdown.” But that’s not what’s happening with Blacklight: Retribution. Perfect World Entertainment has been publishing the game for several years, and now it is quite amicably releasing the rights back to developer Hardsuit Labs to allow that team to serve as publisher and developer both.

PWE is working with Hardsuit Labs to transfer relevant account details so that players won’t have to start over from scratch. Hardsuit Labs is planning on bringing the game to Steam, as well, with more information due out in the following days. Keep your eyes on the site and watch for more migration information; we’ll just be happy that this change of publisher is happening without any blood or shutdowns along the way.

Source: Perfect World Entertainment press release

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Pantheon shows off the process of making a city with its latest video

If you wanted to catch the newest Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen stream live, we’re sorry to inform you that you’re too late. It already happened. But luckily, you can watch the archived video down below, and it should provide you with nearly an hour of viewing pleasure. Assuming that you derive pleasure from watching a city get put together, but let’s face it, who wouldn’t find that pretty cool?

Yes, the stream brings together the creative director (Chris Perkins), the lead concept artist (Jared Pullen), and of course the director of communications (Ben Dean) to explore the process of making the capital city of Thronefast. The city in the video is in an early state, but that’s part of the enjoyment; you get to see the concept art and see the initial models for areas that will later be filled with rushing water (instead of blocky gray masses). Check out the full video just below.

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Steam continues reviews system tinkering to thwart spam

Steam has been doubling down on addressing review problems lately, starting with its attempt to counter review bombing. This has been a good thing, but it has led to a new sort of bombing, flagging several reviews as “helpful” or “not helpful” to afford extra weight to the positive or negative readings. So the storefront is bringing out new adjustments to help make reviews more fair, starting by affording less weight to users who flag huge numbers of reviews for a single game “helpful” or “not helpful.”

How the reviews are displayed on the store page will also change; rather than showing the highest-rated reviews, the overall proportions shown will match the overall rating of the game. So if the title has a 70% Positive rating, seven of the helpful reviews will be shown on the page. The hope is that this will, again, prevent players from launching personal crusades just to diminish a game’s presence; time will tell how successful these measures are.

Source: Steam via Gamasutra

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Lord of the Rings Online makes Mordor and High Elves available for points

Some people would rather spend points on expansions and races in Lord of the Rings Online rather than parting with real money. Good news for those who waited for just that: Both the High Elf race and Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor are both now available in the game’s store for points! The expansion will run you 2495 points, while the race is 1000 points. Perfect if you have the points but just didn’t have access to the latest flavor of elf, then.

But wait, there’s more! The game does indeed have Black Friday sales running through Cyber Monday, offering players 75% off on Virtue bundles and 50% off on both complete crafting tiers and select housing bundles. So you’ve got lots of stuff vying for your time and money there; it’ll be up to you what is most valuable. You could always wait to get a new style of elf, after all.

Source: Official Site; thanks to BalsBigBrother for the tip!

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Hyperspace Beacon: What potential lockbox gambling laws could mean for SWTOR

Late yesterday I read these words Google-translated from Belgian news site VTM: “The Minister of Justice wants to prohibit purchases in video games if you don’t know exactly what you’re purchasing.” Yes, he means lootboxes, or what MMO players usually call lockboxes. These words stem from the growing controversy of lockboxes in video games. Gamers might argue that pay-to-win boxes are the real problem, but to an outsider, there really isn’t a way to distinguish pay-to-win from other lootboxes, and so here we are.

Because Star Wars: Battlefront II was the target of the latest lockbox controversy, I wondered what it would mean for EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has long been criticized for it’s handling of lockboxes and cash shop. The simple answer is that it probably will not affect the game much at all because as I understand it, SWTOR follows most of the existing gambling regulations for Belgium. BioWare or Electronic Arts would just have to file for an online gambling license.

Is this just the beginning, though? What if other European countries follow suit and started calling lockboxes and lootboxes gambling?

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is coming to China with Tencent adjustments

Chinese players will soon also be allowed to play a video game about locking yourself in a box where you can scavenge for weapons and destroy your fellow players. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is being officially released in China by Tencent, partnering with Bluehole Studios to release local servers in the country and ban cheaters. Tencent has also stated that it will make adjustments to content in order to ensure that the game meets Chinese cultural standards.

You may recall that this came after some suspicion that the game would be unable to pass the Chinese censorship board, which described the title as “[deviating] from the values of socialism and is deemed harmful to young consumers.” Obviously, this didn’t turn out to block the title from its ultimate release, which makes sense considering the aggressive player growth in the country. Exactly what adjustments Tencent will make in order to appease censorship remains to be announced.

Source: PC Gamer

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Perfect Ten: MMO things to be thankful about this year

It’s kind of hard to be thankful this year. Sure, some good things have happened this year, but we also have some things that, to put it politely, are unqualified messes. There’s everything around Star Wars: Battlefront II. There’s the shuttering of Master x Master and Marvel Heroes (the latter I actually flagged a year ago as being robust and healthy). There are titles like Lord of the Rings Online and ARK: Survival Evolved that have doubled down on methods to enrage players. And last but certainly not least, there’s still no sign of a sequel to the Warcraft film.

That one might be a grey area, actually.

But the year hasn’t been devoid of light, and there’s still stuff to be thankful for. So rather than being bitter and cranky about it, I want to focus on what we do have to be thankful for even while I hope for better in the future. Let’s talk about some stuff that’s good to be thankful for, even if it doesn’t tickle your particular fancy, and be a little more hopeful.

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World of Warcraft previews the Burning Throne

Next week, players can start entering the raid that closes out the first storyline ever explored in the World of Warcraft universe. The raid on Antorus, the Burning Throne, is a strike against the heart of the Burning Legion, a chance to fight the forces of Sargeras that have been assaulting Azeroth ever since the first Warcraft. So it seems only right that there will be a couple of familiar faces within the raid, as pointed out within the new raid preview. This is the big drag-out battle, and it’s going to be a big one.

While you wait for a little while longer for the fight to start, of course, you can enjoy a few quick hotfixes that address set bonus issues for every class and spec and make sure anniversary world bosses offer you more artifact power instead of gold. There’s also a minor fix to the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, useful for those farming old appearances. Hey, not everything needs to be the next world-ending conflict, right?

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Belgium seeks to ban lockboxes as gambling, plus Hawaii and France weigh in

Capping off the Great Star Wars Battlefront II Fiasco of November, Belgium’s Gambling Commission and the Dutch Gaming Authority both began investigating lootboxes/lockboxes to determine whether they constitute gambling and necessitate appropriate regulation. Now, the former has issued its ruling, and unlike the gaming-industry bodies ESRB and PEGI, it didn’t add to the BS smokescreen.

Indeed, the Belgian Kanspel Committee has indeed ruled that the practice is a serious problem. “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling,” it declares. Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Greens told VTM that he aims to have gambling mechanics stricken from games entirely, banned outright, throughout Europe. “But that takes time.”

The US state of Hawaii has joined in the fray too, as state representatives have lambasted EA’s “predatory behavior,” calling the game a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money.” Is it just one state? Maybe not.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO tips do you wish you had known when you were a newbie?

One of the factors that keeps me from trying out more MMORPGs than I do is that there’s a certain element of anxiety that comes with jumping into these expansive games and trying to figure out what’s what. I hate the feeling that I’m doing something wrong from the get-go or ignoring activities that could help me down the line.

That’s why I try to do my homework and look for advice lists and guides that share what MMO veterans wish that they had known when they first started out in a game. It might seem obvious to an experienced player the right steps that should be taken, but we were all newbies once and remember what it was like to play in that fog of excitement and confusion.

Looking at your current main MMO(s), what tips do you wish you had known when you were first starting out? Let’s see if we can help out others with that advise today!

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ArcheAge kicks off a festival of cooking

The Festival has arrived in ArcheAge. What’s it a festival about? Good question. Most festivals have a title of some sort, like “the harvest festival” or “the cooking festival.” Just calling it “the Festival” makes it sound like the villagers are mumbling about the Festival and how it will please the Old One. Luckily, it seems to just be your regular cooking festival, at least insofar as you can call any festival in which you can earn a shield shaped like a frying pan with an egg “regular.”

Yes, players can earn cooking-themed weapon skins, along with home decor, achievements, and special buffs. Take part in festival daily quests and timed quests for a variety of crafting and gathering chores, feed hungry cats, and cook special festival dishes. There’s something of a food-based holiday coming up later this week for players in the United States, so hopefully you’ll still have the appetite for a bit more cooking.

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World of Warcraft kicks off Pilgrim’s Bounty while time-locking its anniversary transmog

Here’s the good news: World of Warcraft has turned on Pilgrim’s Bounty once again, which means that you can jump through some holiday achievement hoops and get yourself a title and pet. If that’s something you urgently require, it’s here! This event is more helpful than most as a way to powerlevel your cooking, so if you need to do that, your ship has come in. Or if you really love flinging food at people, that’s on the table as well. (Literally on the table in major cities.)

Here’s the dumb news: World of Warcraft’s developers have revealed at this point that the Bronze-Tinted Sunglasses, the big new cosmetic item that was released with the anniversary event, can only be used for transmog during the anniversary. If you bought them so that you could finally be wearing something approaching glasses on your character, sorry about the 200 badges you spent on them.

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Phantasy Star Online 2 website quietly shutters

Players hoping for Phantasy Star Online 2 in the west have been holding onto a thin sliver of hope for five years now. Back in 2012, it seemed like a sure thing, but subsequently fans have basically been taunted and teased by the prospect of the game which has never, ever seemed to get any closer to releasing here. Heck, it’s never even been explicitly stated why it isn’t being released over here. But now, perhaps, the final indignity has been suffered, as the game’s official website has silently shut down.

Is there any hope remaining for the game? We’re going to go ahead and say “no,” because there hasn’t been much hope for a very long time now. The good news, such as it is, is that the game still has no region locks in place, but the reality is that it just seems to have been announced and then quietly forgotten. So long, PSO2’s website.

Source: Reddit

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