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EverQuest Next severs ties with Storybricks

Daybreak continues to trim its asset portfolio, as the former SOE studio has cut loose artificial intelligence software company Storybricks from the EverQuest Next project.

“We are not working with Storybricks any more,” Senior Producer Terry Michaels said on a livestream chat yesterday. “We made the decision that it was in the best interest of the game to take that work in-house. They did a lot of work for us and we’ll be utilizing that. It’s not like that work is lost.”

The team said that it is “still committed” to making strong AI happen in the game.

[Source: Livestream chat. Thanks to Ranging Berserker for the tip!]

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Trials of Ascension attempts another Kickstarter campaign

Permadeath, corpse looting, and no mini-map: Will this be tempting enough to get the community on board with donations? Trials of Ascension hopes so, as the fantasy sandbox has launched a new Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising $600,000 for further development. The team says that it already has a product worth backing: “We have a playable prototype on very stable network code along with a solid server infrastructure.”

Forged Chaos undoubtedly hopes to overcome its failure from its 2013 Kickstarter campaign. After only pulling in $86,835 out of a $750,000 goal, the studio canceled the campaign and switched to an open donation system.

If all goes well with the campaign, Trials of Ascension is looking at alpha and beta tests in 2016 and a planned 2017 launch.

[Source: Kickstarter, old Kickstarter]

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Working As Intended: ‘Multiplex monotony’ and the death of the mid-budget MMORPG

Back in December, film editor and author Jason Bailey wrote a piece on Flavorwire called How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA. He spins a tale of the booming movie industry of the ’80s and ’90s, when mid-budget films were commercially feasible and commonplace. By the turn of the century, however, the movie industry had bisected itself; studios stopped committing resources to mid-budget films, “betting big on would-be blockbusters” instead and generating a hard-scrabble indie scene in their wake. As Bailey’s title suggests, that dramatic shift uprooted a generation of brilliant filmmakers and cheapened the art of films and filmmaking for everyone.

It’s no stretch to say we’re witnessing the same phenomenon in the world of MMORPGs.

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Defiance switches up leads while ArcheAge and RIFT elaborate on game worlds

Trick Dempsey is out as Defiance’s creative lead, but he’s pleased to pass the project on to his successor: Carble Cheung. Cheung has been with the team since 2013 and has grand plans for Defiance going forward. “Speaking of the future: ‘YES!’ we are planning for Season 3 and beyond,” he said. “This includes updates to arkfalls, sieges, expeditions, and more.”

In other Trion Worlds news, ArcheAge posted a dev diary about the Ayanad Library and RIFT spent time interviewing Lead Content Designer Julia Fleming. Fleming did drop a not-so-subtle hint about one change coming with Patch 3.2: “One of the Senior Designers (Tacitus) and I have been talking a lot about improving some of the INSTANT aspects of the game, especially those related to ADVENTURE. He’s got some interesting plans on how to make the current system more engaging for players of all levels — and a few surprises as well.”

[Source: Defiance, ArcheAge, RIFT. Thanks to Celestial for the tip!]

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Old School RuneScape releases permanent F2P servers

Originally released back in 2001 when the MMO genre was in its infancy, browser MMO RuneScape has endured through over a decade of development and two complete game reboots. Today’s RuneScape bears little resemblance to the game many of us grew up with, and naturally not everyone thinks the game has been changed for the better. In an effort to please players of all kinds, developer Jagex has experimented over the years with re-opening old versions of the game in a limited fashion through a handful of retro servers.

The most successful of these experiments is Old School RuneScape, a relaunch of 2004’s RuneScape 2 release that boasts healthy player numbers and celebrates its second birthday this Sunday. Jagex has always had to charge a monthly membership fee for access to the game in order to keep the servers running and pay for support staff, but that’s all changed as of today!

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The Daily Grind: Are you optimistic about WildStar’s future?

I’m sure this won’t serve as a grand surprise to anyone reading this, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of WildStar ever since we saw NCsoft’s financials last week. While it’s all well and good to try and cast the news as a positive by pointing out that it’s nearing the range of City of Heroes in terms of revenue, it behooves us to remember that CoH was unceremoniously shut down. Considering the hostile takeover NCsoft is facing, I think it’s enough to start one seriously thinking about the future.

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EVE Online tests potentially revolutionary tutorial replacement

Throughout its over 10-year life span, EVE Online has always been regarded as having an insane learning curve. New players are dropped into the sandbox at the deep end, confronted by a complicated user interface and gameplay that is very different to anything else in the MMO genre. A common refrain among players is the fact that they had to try the game two or three times before it finally clicked, meaning the new game experience could use some improvement. The developers at CCP Games have made huge strides in overhauling the user interface in recent years, and the game’s tutorial has been overhauled several times, but they’re not finished yet.

At last year’s EVE Online Fanfest, developers revealed the early stages of a potentially revolutionary new feature called Opportunities that they hoped would eventually replace the in-game tutorial with a more immersive experience. It was little more than a vague concept at Fanfest 2014, but this week the first prototype of the finished gameplay has made its way into public testing. Players who log into EVE‘s test server Singularity will find the feature available for testing and can provide feedback on the test server forums. Read on for a brief breakdown of how the new feature works.

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Trion Worlds weathers DDoS assault

If you’ve been having a hard time logging into one of Trion Worlds’ games today, you can thank DDoS instigators for that.

On both the ArcheAge and Defiance forums, the team said that Trion’s servers are currently under attack. “The North American servers are experiencing crashes due to a DDoS attack pointed at our Dallas center,” the team posted. “This instability is unrelated to this morning’s maintenance. We’re in the process of getting the affected servers back online.”

[Source: ArcheAge forums, Defiance forums]

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World of Tanks takes aim at Xbox One

World of Tanks may prove to be one of the most unstoppable online gaming invasions of the past five years, as the WWII sim has dominated practically every platform to which it’s been ported. Now Wargaming has its sights set on a plum prize indeed: Xbox One.

Wargaming said that it will be bringing World of Tanks to the console some time this year. As an added bonus, both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions will feature cross-platform play and share its community.

Speaking of World of Tanks, here’s an interesting factoid: Paradox Interactive passed up on publishing the megahit title in the past, citing a lack of money at the time and an uncertainty over the business model. How much do you think the company regrets it now?

[Source: IGN, GamesIndustry.biz; Via: VG247]

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Leaderboard: Which Daybreak MMO is most vulnerable?

Are you over the Daybreak Game Company layoffs shock yet? Nope, neither am I. But my shock is compounded by dread over the fate of the studio’s games. While Daybreak has reassured players that it’s still got teams working on most of its MMOs (and I myself argued yesterday that most of the games are probably safe), some of the studio’s titles seem more vulnerable than others, especially given last year’s infamous purge. Of course, getting H1Z1, PlanetSide 2, and Landmark players to agree on who’s in the most trouble is a daunting task. Let’s put it to a vote in our shiny new poll: Which Daybreak title’s future seems the most in jeopardy to you?

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Pantheon devs want your feedback

The Pantheon dev team has turned the tables on its fanbase in a new community Q&A. Developers — including Chief Creative Officer Brad McQuaid, Lead Programmer Daniel Krenn, and others — want to know a bit more about player preferences, and their survey covers questions including adventure zone themes, independent vs. restricted crafting, and more.

“We would really like to see some genuine answers to get a better idea of what you all want and expect to see in Pantheon to help us going forward,” the team says.

[Source: Community survey. Thanks Paganrites!]

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NCsoft buys Netmarble stock to block hostile takeover by Nexon

How do you prevent a hostile takeover? In NCsoft‘s case, you buy something. Specifically, you buy a large portion of shares from Netmarble while also engaging in a large-scale swap of stock between the two companies to provide a buffer against Nexon‘s moves toward a hostile takeover. The deal in question involved a purchase of $345 million worth of Netmarble shares along with a stock swap worth roughly $635 million, providing a larger financial hurdle for Nexon to jump if it still wants to take NCsoft by force.

Nexon is currently the largest single shareholder in NCsoft and recently put forth a list of demands for the company. A hostile takeover is still possible during NCsoft’s next shareholder meeting in March.

[Source: MMO Culture, Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

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MOBAs dominate Raptr’s January rankings as WoW playtime falls

According to a Raptr press release posted today, MOBA League of Legends dominated the service’s January rankings with just under 20% of total playtime share. World of Warcraft held onto second place with not quite 11% of total playtime share, but it “lost 5.28% of play time in January compared to December.”

DOTA 2, SMITE, and Hearthstone scored well; Diablo III, in particular, saw its playtime rise 77.27% percent month-over-month, likely a result of the 2.12 patch.

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