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Daybreak teams reassure MMO players, deflect DDoS attacks

More assurances are coming your way from Daybreak Games, this time from reps of each of the studio’s games.

“Absolutely nothing” has changed, according to a Greg “SOELegion” Henninger post on the H1Z1 forums. “We’re properly staffed to move forward with our current development strategy. We’ll continue to be a transparent development team and we’ll continue on our promise and commitment to making this a player-driven game,” he writes before going on to mention a revised male player model and a female avatar “in the works.”

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The EFF wants to exempt some emulated game servers from copyright laws

How many times have you dusted off an old game you used to love to play online, only to find that the official servers have long since been shut down? It’s an unfortunate fact that unprofitable online games frequently get the axe, often leaving it to the games’ communities to try to put together an unofficial server. Dozens of early multiplayer games now have emulated servers and even player-made patches, all in an effort to keep the games we love alive, but technically those servers are breaking copyright law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced this week that it’s pushing for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would make it legal for players to run their own emulated servers in cases of a game’s abandonment by developers. The proposal would also make it legal to eliminate any server-based DRM in lawfully acquired copies of a game in cases where the DRM server has been shut down.

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The Soapbox: Has F2P worked for SOE?

The MassivelyOP staff was discussing the SOE Daybreak armageddon recently, and given the total absence of public data relating to who or what was ultimately responsible for the wide-ranging job cuts, we were forced to speculate. Some believe the company stretched itself too thin across its vast MMORPG portfolio. Others opined that everything from early access to SOE’s parent corp struggles to EverQuest Next and Landmark being in some sort of theoretical development hell were at fault.

Personally, I see the firm giving away expensive content — i.e., F2P — as the larger problem.

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Daybreak’s John Smedley: EverQuest Next is going to be ‘more than ok’

Worried about this week’s mass firings of Daybreak employees and wondering what might happen to both Landmark and EverQuest Next? The studio has a few words of reassurance for you on that front.

“[EverQuest Next] has the largest development team at SOE. It is going to be more than OK,” Daybreak President John Smedley tweeted yesterday. In another response, Smedley said, “The EverQuest franchise is our lifeblood and we treat it with the respect it deserves.”

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Elder Scrolls’ road ahead is paved with virtual currency

Elder Scrolls Online game director Matt Firor has posted a lengthy Road Ahead update on the game’s website. He touches on loyalty rewards (including a special mount for players who have been around since the beginning), console release questions and transfer issues, and — oh goodie — the upcoming cash shop.

Yes, virtual currency is coming to Tamriel when the title switches business models in a couple of months, and Firor trots out the usual “customization and convenience” lines when discussing the stuff currently slated for the item mall. He also mentions ESO Plus, which is the membership level that will net you 1500 funny monies per month along with DLC packs and leveling bonuses.

[Source: Road Ahead – Feb.]

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Nexon pressures NCsoft as largest shareholder

While Nexon and NCsoft may be competing developers in the MMO space, business has made strange and hostile bedfellows of both.

After purchasing enough shares to become NCsoft’s largest shareholder last year at 15.1%, Nexon is attempting to put pressure on its rival to conform to certain demands. However, tensions are running high as NCsoft is pushing back against those proposals.

Last week, Nexon issued a proposal to NCsoft with an unspecified deadline to allow Nexon to appoint a board member, sell certain non-core assets, disclose wages for unregistered board members, and adopt an electronic voting system for shareholders, among other demands. NCsoft responded to the proposal although the specifics of the response were not revealed.

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Former PS2 producer: ‘Don’t hate on Daybreak’

After yesterday’s news it’s understandable that fans of Daybreak Games‘ software lineup might be somewhere between nervous and upset. Former PlanetSide 2 producer David Carey took to Reddit yesterday to caution against some of those feelings, stating that neither Daybreak nor Columbus Nova (the investment group backing the former Sony Online Entertainment) deserves the ire or animosity of players. Carey explains that far from being the villains of the piece, both groups are simply doing what they should be, upsetting though it may be.

“The fact is, there are no (or at least, extremely few) permanent gaming jobs,” says Carey, saying that while several people lost their jobs, many of them will be in new jobs in very short order. High turnover is simply one of the perils of the industry, he argues; Columbus Nova and the shakeup of what was once SOE was necessary, something that the ur-studio had needed for quite some time. He goes on to state that if you enjoy the games, you should continue subscribing and playing rather than place blame at a company’s feet.

[Source: Reddit, Via: EQ2Wire]

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The Soapbox: Facing an industry of change

Right now I believe that we are on a threshold of change in the MMO industry, and it feels a little uncertain and a lot scary.

While there are MMOs being made and developed as you read this, it seems as though there are less of the traditional big-budget titles with highly recognizable IPs and more indie projects that are operating outside of the normal paradigm. We have games that are funded entirely through fan support. We have spiritual successors instead of sequels. We have MMOs that are also single-player titles. We have devs over here jumping on the Minecraft wagon, devs over there trying to get a piece of the League of Legends phenomenon, and devs designing for a specific audience rather than a general one.

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Listen to a Star Wars Galaxies and Earth & Beyond ‘post-mortem’

If you’re looking for a blast to the past of science fiction MMOs, then clear your schedule for an hour of enlightening talk by industry vets Raph Koster and Chris Klug.

Koster and Klug compare their experiences and approaches with working on Star Wars Galaxies and Earth & Beyond, respectively, in an older panel from 2004 called SciFi MMPs: Lessons Learned. In the talk, the two discuss key game mechanics and how they forged new ideas in the burgeoning MMO space.

Koster posted a link to the lecture on his blog along with a series of slides that were used for the SWG portion of the talk. While the panel was recorded while both games were operating, Koster says that he considers it “the closest thing to a post-mortem for Star Wars Galaxies or Earth & Beyond out there.”

[Source: SciFi MMPs: Lessons Learned]

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Star Trek Online changes executive producers

Star Trek Online has a new captain helming its ship, as Stephen D’Angelo has stepped down as executive producer and long-time STO dev Stephen Ricossa has filled the vacancy. D’Angelo will now be Cryptic’s chief technology officer in charge of overseeing “several internal projects.”

Ricossa introduced himself as a life-long Star Trek fan and teased one big upcoming change to the game: Sector walls will be coming down in Season 10, leaving a single map per quadrant instead of several segmented ones.

In other STO news, the team unveiled its work on Tier 6 command battlecruisers that will be coming “soon” to the game store. These battlecruisers will not only have a commander engineering/command hybrid specialist bridge officer seat but access to a new inspiration mechanic. An inspiration meter is filled by using bridge officer abilities, and once it’s full, captains can activate one of three powerful abilities for their entire group.

[Source: A change in command, Tier 6 command ships]

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Daybreak layoffs hit Landmark, EverQuest Next, H1Z1, more

Well, here’s a news post I didn’t want to write. SOE Daybreak Games has laid off popular Global Community Relations lead Linda Carlson as well as EverQuest franchise lead Dave Georgeson as part of a staff “realignment” that comes in the wake of the studio’s sale to a holding company last week.

“I have been released from the best and most challenging job I have ever had, ” Carlson posted on Facebook. “I thank you all for being part of that incredible experience. Too many people to thank personally, but know that I am extraordinarily grateful and very curious where life takes me now.”

Carlson started at SOE six years ago after making waves with her fansite TheBrasse.com. Georgeson also confirmed his release via Twitter: “Yeah, I’m sorry folks but it’s true. LM, eqn, eq and eqii are no longer guided by moi. Other dreamers will steer now.” Daybreak released an official statement on the SOE forums; we’ve included it below.

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NCsoft financials paint a grim picture for WildStar

The good news for fans of NCsoft’s game catalogue is that the company as a whole is doing well. The most recent earnings report was released today, and it shows an increase in income compared to the same timeframe last year as well as stable figures for nearly all of its games. Lineage and Lineage II continue to do well, while Guild Wars 2, Aion, and Blade & Soul all maintain respectable profits for the company. And Lineage Eternal is still slated for beta this year, with launch moved from 2017 to 2016 (there’s something that never happens).

You might notice that the company’s most recent launch, WildStar, is not on that list. And that’s because it’s continued to go down in sales, dropping from nearly $15 million in sales during Q3 2014 to only $5 million during Q4 2014. This places the game precariously close to the threshold where City of Heroes fell when it was shut down, making the future of Nexus seem that much more uncertain. You can check out the full financials yourself if you’d like. If you’d rather just play the game, you can do that too: There’s a new 10-day trial on offer.

[Source: NCsoft earnings release; thanks to dirtyklingon for the tip.]

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