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Starr Long on story focus and Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 20

Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 20 is accessible right now, assuming you’re a backer at the First Responder level and above, or that you attended the recent Classic Game Fest.

Producer Starr Long has penned a lengthy instruction post that’s a good read for anyone new to the fantasy title’s community, which Long says “continues to be the most amazing community” he has ever worked with. Release 20 is one of SotA’s biggest patches to date, and it includes “a wealth of new content” that moves the fantasy sandbox closer to alpha, according to Long.

He also mentions that Portalarium will be visibly ramping up its focus on SotA’s story, now that many of the game mechanics are in place. “We have to build the entire simulation first and then put the narrative over that foundation, so the story has had to wait until that time,” Long explains.

Source: Release 20 instructions

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Heroes & Generals releases anniversary infographic, claims 5.5 million users

A year ago this month, Heroes & Generals launched on Steam. To celebrate the anniversary, developer Reto-Moto has released a huge infographic featuring a boat load of stuff that’s been added to the World War II shooter over the past 12 months.

When I say stuff, I mean combat badges, scopes, dozens of new weapons and vehicles, the forward airfield map, officer and general characters, and more. In terms of numbers, Reto-Moto claims 5.5 million users for its free-to-play title and it says that it has crushed 2,296 bugs since the Steam launch.

Get your scroll wheel ready and click past the cut for the graphic!

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WoW Factor: Speculating on WoW’s next expansion

On August 6th, we now know, we’ll be hearing the name and some details on the next World of Warcraft expansion. What we don’t know is what that expansion will actually contain. The space after this expansion is a blanker space than usual, with lots of possible directions and an absolute dearth of information indicating what direction the story will go in from here.

More to the point, the next expansion is going to be judged pretty harshly simply by virtue of coming immediately after an expansion best described as “maybe worse than Cataclysm.” It’s an uphill battle all around. Now that we know for certain that we will be hearing about the next expansion in a little over a week, let’s look a little bit at what we might be exploring in the next expansion in both story and mechanical terms.

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Windows 10 and your favorite MMORPGs

If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 this week, congratulations! You’re brave! You might be in for a week of tech headaches and busted games!

Tech support across multiple games and studios is recommending that you fully update your graphics drivers first and foremost. Nvidia and AMD have released new drivers in the last few days to support Win10’s support for DirectX 12. “NVIDIA has been working closely with Microsoft on the development of Windows 10 and DirectX 12,” blared the tech giant’s website yesterday. “Coinciding with the arrival of Windows 10, this Game Ready driver includes the latest tweaks, bug fixes, and optimizations to ensure you have the best possible gaming experience.” Yeah, you need ’em.

  • World of Warcraft users are reporting FPS drops, mouse and camera issues, and screen tearing. (Switching from windowed to full-screen and back again seems to be resolving a lot of problems.)
  • Trion is confident in its preparedness: “As of today (July 27), and barring any last-minute changes made by Microsoft, all Trion games are ready for Windows 10 release,” Brasse told RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance fans. Players with problems are advised to update their drivers.
  • Final Fantasy XIV is less confident. “We are currently performing operation verifications so that Final Fantasy XIV can be played on Microsoft Windows 10, the next OS to be officially released by Microsoft on Jul. 29, 2015,” posted the studio earlier last week. “The verification process is scheduled to be completed in mid-August, but if any issues should occur, more time will be required for verification. We will make an announcement when Final Fantasy XIV officially begins to support Windows 10.”

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The Daily Grind: How much money have you spent on MMOs this month?

I bought EverQuest II’s latest expansion yesterday, and along with my SOE Statio… er, my Daybreak All-Access pass and my Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription, that brings my total MMO expenditures for the month of July to USD $75.00.

That’s 75 bucks for unlimited access to five triple-A MMORPGs, any one of which could easily fill up 200 hours of my month if I let it. My point is that MMOs are one of the cheapest hobbies around, even if you pay multiple subs and buy $45 expansion packs.

What about you, MOP readers? How much money have you spent on MMOs this month, and how much entertainment value have you gotten for your money?

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Marvel Heroes 2016 rebranding is in the works

Remember when Marvel Heroes was just Marvel Heroes? I mean, it still kind of is, at least around these parts where no one refers to it by its official Marvel Heroes 2015 title. Apparently an annualized rebranding is part of the game’s long-term plan, though, according to a GameSauce interview with Gazillion boss David Brevik.

“It’s kind of a common practice for annualized products,” Brevik explains, “so we took that and said we’ll rebrand it as Marvel Heroes 2015 and get new reviews, and we were able to raise our Metacritic score from a 58 to an 81, which proved that all of our hard work and effort had really gone a long way, making the product much better. And it garnered a bunch of new attention, and a whole bunch of new audience.”

Brevik goes on to the say that unlike last year, the 2016 rebranding won’t happen on the game’s anniversary, but it will have a big patch associated with it. There’s much more to the interview, too, so click through the link below if you’re interested.

Source: GameSauce

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With Your Destiny and Asta close down

We truly do hate to be the bearers of bad news, especially when that news has to do with the demise of an MMO. It’s doubly unfortunate to have to report on the sunset of two free-to-play titles this past week: Asta and With Your Destiny.

T3Fun’s With Your Destiny recently announced that it was closing its doors, and yesterday the title shuttered both its servers and the website. The Norse mythology MMO had been in operation since 2003. Currently, any attempt to find the With Your Destiny page will send you to T3Fun’s site instead.

Asta: The War of Tears and Winds, which was billed as the Asian World of Warcraft when first released, is shutting down its South Korean servers next month following a couple of years of stalled development.

Source: MMO Culture. Thanks to Mitch and Winterskorn for the tips!

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Chronicles of Elyria features aging, death, and destructible environments

Chronicles of Elyria is a thing, and a thing that features character aging, character death, and a fully destructible environment, at that.

The game’s website says that the fantasy title is “fearless in its design,” and while said website probably isn’t the most objective judge, we must admit that making a game for 2015’s MMO audience with “a closed economy, finite resources, and non-repeatable quests” takes stones.

Chronicles of Elyria’s FAQ says that to an adventuring character, the game is “mostly an AARPG,” while building a town leans toward sim-like gameplay and running a duchy dips into RTS gameplay. Oh, and the whole thing is skill-based, so there’s that.

Source: Official site; thanks Zenaphex!

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CIG fields questions on Star Citizen’s P-52 Merlin

Got questions about Star Citizen’s P-52 Merlin spaceship? Cloud Imperium has answers from technical designer Matt Sherman, who collected a bunch of queries from the game’s forums and has published them in a Q&A format on the crowdfunded space sim’s website.

The Merlin is basically a snubfighter, meaning that it lacks quantum or jump capabilities and is in effect tethered to a mothership or a base instead of being able to travel across an entire system. If you have a bigger long-range ship, though, you may be able to take a Merlin with you, as Sherman says that Star Citizen’s Constellation, 890J, Carrack, Idris, and Javelin ships are currently slated to carry snubfighters.

You can read the full Q&A at Star Citizen’s website.

Source: Merlin Q&A

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Black Desert publisher opens European office in Amsterdam

So when does the rest of the world get to try out Black Desert? We don’t know. But that day seems to be getting closer, as the game’s publisher Daum has just opened its new office in Amsterdam. No specific announcements have been made about how quickly we’ll go from the new office to localization, but you don’t open an office in Amsterdam just because you want an excuse to take a trip there.

Black Desert released in South Korea on July 14th of this year; while no specific testing or localization dates have been announced, the game has already seen a major update to its live version.

Source: Fan site; thanks to BlackParrot89 for the tip!

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FFXIV, SWTOR, and Guild Wars 2 fall in Raptr’s June rankings

Raptr has published its stats roundup for the month of June. It turns out that people are still playing games online. You can close your browser now, and thanks for the pageview.

Oh, you want details? League of Legends is still kicking everyone’s ass. ARK: Survival Evolved debuted in 12th place, and Heroes of the Storm landed in 8th place thanks to its formal launch. In the realm of pure MMOs, World of Warcraft jumped back into the top five in terms of relative playtime share, but its total playtime was down over May — no surprise there. Final Fantasy XIV fell two spots to 15, Star Wars: The Old Republic fell four spots to 18, and Guild Wars 2 dropped out of the top 20 altogether. “Dungeon Fighter Online made a surprise entrance into the top 20,” posts Raptr, crediting the game’s North American open beta.

As usual, this post comes with caveats that you will ignore on your way to shout about this post in the comment section. The stats represent only users of the Raptr service, and percentage playtime is calculated relative to other games, so it is possible for a game to sink in relative rankings while actually improving in overall playtime/players/income/health (and vice versa). Irritatingly, Raptr does not provide complete information on games’ total playtime except for the tidbits it mentions in the body of the article.

The top-20 infographic is below.

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Shards Online newsletter highlights revamps, player-run servers, and more

Shards Online’s latest newsletter says that July has been one of the most exciting months in the fantasy sandbox’s history. For starters, Citadel Studios “unleashed its army of pre-alpha admins,” who preceded to create plenty of community-run servers on the game’s official list. Project lead Derek Brinkmann also says that pre-alpha 3 is right around the corner, which means that Shards will be available to backers 24/7 and will feature minimal character wipes.

Today’s newsletter also highlights NPC merchant dialog, mob AI revamps, armor, body, and skin tone updates, and Shards‘ newly finished arena which will be available in the August 1st playtest.

Source: Newsletter

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Guns of Icarus boss talks PvE, factions, new ships, and more

Last week I checked in with indie airship battler Guns of Icarus, and I figured why not check in with the dev team at Muse while I was at it. CEO Howard Tsao graciously fielded my questions about GoI’s upcoming PvE mode, and he filled us in on everything from enemy AI to factional gameplay to new airships that are coming soon.

Join us past the cut for the full interview.

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