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Jacobs on destroying Camelot Unchained structures and more

Mark Jacobs is back with a Friday afternoon update for Camelot Unchained. In it, he says that players will soon be able to destroy structures with spells, after which they will break and fall apart (the structures, that is, not the spells or the players).

Jacobs also says that the dev team hit 58 items on CU’s user stories page, including 15 new cards. A full list of changes and improvements is available via the source link below, along with more information about hirings, a tease for the next stretch goal, tidbits about the game’s UI, and some new art.

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Cabal II soft-launches on July 2 with no wipe

It’s a double dose of good news for Cabal II fans today, as ESTsoft not only announced the game’s open beta launch date but also confirmed that there will not be a wipe when it happens.

Cabal II will officially soft-launch into a global open beta on July 2nd. The free-to-play fantasy title promises a return to “the classic days” of MMORPG with skill-based combat, PvP battlefields, and an interesting mini-dungeon spawning system.

You can sign up for Cabal II’s open beta right now!

Source: ESTsoft press release.
An earlier version of this post mistakenly suggested that the game was already in open beta; in fact, it is in closed beta; the open beta begins with the worldwide launch on July 2nd.

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Das Tal’s Kickstarter fails, but development continues

Das Tal’s Kickstarter has ended without meeting its €50,000 goal, but it’s not game over for the indie PvP sandbox.

Thanking fans for the nearly €33,000 pledged in crowdfunding, Fairytale Distillery says it plans to reflect on player feedback and “restructure how [it] communicate[s] [its] game to the public” going forward:

Das Tal will continue with development. That is the simplest way to put it. The Kickstarter was never our one and only path, and we would not have kicked it off so early if we were risking everything. We plan to jump straight back into a development push that will see the game improve at a faster rate than it was even during Kickstarter, as we had basically all team members doing at least a little publicity work.

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How Hearthstone challenges mobile free-to-play assumptions

Hearthstone is a successful title on phones and tablets. It’s successful all around. And yet if you look within the field of mobile free-to-play titles, it breaks a lot of the “accepted” rules about how you have to monetize these titles. An article on Gamasutra takes the time to analyze how its different assumptions about progression and rewards produce a different game environment that generally feels more welcoming and rewarding for players.

The short version is that Hearthstone uses just a single currency for both paying and free players, but your progress at earning that currency drops off sharply if you’ve already done your new quest for the day. However, you still have the option of playing, earning, and advancing via ranked play despite that restriction, so purchases feel more convenient and satisfying without being mandatory. Check out the full article if you can’t get enough examination of the mobile free-to-play model and want a close analysis.

Source: Gamasutra

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The MMO industry mourns the passing of Christopher Lee

If you haven’t heard the news already, then we’re sorry to report that Star Wars and Lord of the Rings actor Christopher Lee has died at age 93. He was certainly a mesmerizing personality on screen, particularly as a villain.

One of Lee’s roles was doing the voice work for EverQuest II faction leader Lucan D’Lere. Former EQII lead Scott Hartsman mentioned this in his condolences on Twitter: “Very sad. An amazing talent. We were lucky to have him voice a main character in EQ2. Added a ton of class.”

Lord of the Rings Online posted a picture of Lee as Saruman from the films, saying, “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Christopher Lee today. He will be missed.”

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Perfect Ten: The top 10 healthiest live MMOs

One question that consistently pops up across the MMO gaming circuit is, “What are the most popular/healthy/active MMOs out there?” Every time I see this question, I sympathize with the concern behind asking it. For some players, finding a game that not only exists but is hopping and has the greatest potential for a future is of paramount concern.

Massively OP reader Duffy suggested that we cover this very topic when he asked, “Which MMOs are struggling and which seem to be rolling in gravy? Do MMOs in general do very well or are most just able to keep the lights on?”

It’s a difficult question to answer off-the-cuff because there are a lot of variables to consider. Instead, I researched several angles, including player tracking services, frequency of patches, financial reports, and even how often each game pops up on blogs. While the following isn’t definitive, I feel strongly that the following 10 games are the healthiest live MMOs on the western market right now.

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Pantheon reveals its Dark Myr race

The Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen devs have revealed a new race on the fantasy MMO’s forums. The Dark Myr “hail from the planet Issul,” according to a lengthy lore snippet that details the race’s origins as well as its present status in the game’s Frail Age. Based on the associated concept art, it’s a safe bet that Pantheon’s Myr will have some sort of aquatic capabilities, as well!

Source: Forums; thanks Reht!

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ARK: Survival Evolved has already sold 400,000 copies

On the surface, you could think of ARK: Survival Evolved as one step removed from zombie survival games except it has dinosaurs instead. But the game is a great deal deeper and more involved than that, explaining why it has already sold 400,000 copies for $10 million in revenue. Yes, this little game is doing quite well for itself; studio co-founder Jesse Rapczak states that the game has seen peak concurrency numbers around 64,000 players.

The lengthy interview confirms that the game’s sales thus far have covered the initial development costs, although Rapczak is reluctant to claim “profit” when there’s still more development to manage. He also discusses early access as a concept and mentions that it’s the sort of business decision that makes sense only when the game is fundamentally finished already. Check out the full interview for more details on the game’s man-eat-dinosaur development process and the future of the title.

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Not So Massively: Heroes of the Storm launches, Infinite Crisis gives up

It’s been a week of mixed feelings in the land of MOBAs, with the thrill of a new game launch juxtaposed against the background of another’s impending closure. Heroes of the Storm officially launched with a series of events and celebrated with the release of new tank hero Johanna from Diablo III. Turbine announced that its DC Comics based MOBA Infinite Crisis will be officially shutting its doors on August 14th, just a few short months after launch. SMITE‘s furry little squirrel god Ratatoskr officially made his way out of the test server and into the wild, and Dota 2‘s compendium reached $12.5 million as players pump hundreds of dollars into it in attempts to win rare cosmetic skins.

League of Legends revealed plans to overhaul its user interface and revamp the skillshot code to eliminate hitbox bugs, and LoL commentator Martin “Deficio” Lynge was suspended pending an investigation of his deep connections with a pro team. Destiny increased the drop rate of Treasure Keys in patch 1.2.0.2 and fixed an exploit players were using to loot Ether Chests multiple times. And Path of Exile revealed that several new low-level unique items will be coming out with its upcoming expansion, The Awakening.

Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!

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X-Wing spiritual successor Starfighter Inc. fails to fund

You can’t win them all, kid. And while $226,000 is an impressive chunk of money to raise for a game, it wasn’t enough to launch Starfighter Inc. into development.

The spiritual successor to the popular X-Wing space shooter, Starfighter Inc. was attempting to utilize Kickstarter as a fundraising platform to raise a quarter of a million dollars. Even though it had a strong start and was eyeing stretch goals early on, Starfighter still fell thousands short of hitting the mark.

The good news is that Impeller Studios doesn’t look to be giving up on the project, encouraging fans to stay tuned: “We’ll update the front page later today and send an announcement on our partners as well as the roadmap via the newsletter this week.”

Source: Kickstarter. Thanks to Vikingr for the tip!

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Bethesda outlines your first five hours in Elder Scrolls Online

Bethesda has published a new blog post that sums up a player’s first five hours in Elder Scrolls Online. As you might expect, there’s not a lot here that’s helpful to existing fans or experienced PC players, but if you’re new and/or considering an ESO sojourn on your console, you can get a good overview of what awaits you by reading the blurb.

“One thing you should know,” Bethesda says, “is that Tamriel is huge. Seriously, huge. And it contains some places that are really, really nasty. Some quests, even early on, may send you into those nasty areas… and nothing will artificially prevent you from going there, even if you’ve just started the game.”

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Das Tal is halfway to funding on Kickstarter with two days left

The halfway mark for funding is an important milestone for any Kickstarter campaign, but whether it’s a good sign or a darker one depends a lot upon when you hit it. Das Tal has hit its halfway mark for funding, but there are only two more days as of this writing for the campaign to finish up. That’s not a whole lot of time to raise the other half of funding for a successful push.

Fans and backers have been kept up to date with regular updates from the development team. The team has talked about using fan creativity to help bring ideas into the game, posted the future roadmap for the game from here on out, and implored the community to rally during this final push for funding. As a reminder, the game is opening its doors to everyone on June 9th for those who’d like to see the game in action before funding or not.

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The Game Archaeologist: The Matrix Online

It’s not every year that a movie comes along that captures the pop culture zeitgeist so powerfully and so quickly as The Matrix did. I recall lugging a few college friends along to see this back in 1999 — having heard only a few sparse details about it beforehand — and coming out of the theater feeling as if we we’d been electrified. The bold mix of science fiction, martial arts, philosophy, action, and leather ensembles became the smash hit of the year, and a franchise was born.

And while we had great hopes that this would be this generation’s Star Wars, The Matrix ultimately proved to be a lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon, impossible to recapture once unleashed. Sequels, animated shorts, video games, comic books — none rose to the height of the original film, and eventually the franchise petered out.

During this period, an odd duck of an MMO was born: The Matrix Online. When you think about it, an online virtual world where people log in and fight against programs was a really short hop from the movie series. MxO, as it was abbreviated, was an audacious game with unique features, story-centric gameplay, and a sci-fi bent in a field of fantasy competitors, and while it only lasted four years, it was enough to make a lasting impression for its community. Today, we’re going to revisit the 1s and 0s of The Matrix Online to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

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