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Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how needing to babysit toxic turds slows down game dev for everyone

“I’m Jeff from the Overwatch team,” the outrageously famous Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan says in this week’s Overwatch developer video. I get a kick out of it when he does that. In fact, he’s back again to talk about “the rising tide of toxicity” in the game. Because it’s a day that ends in Y, and that’s what Blizzard does on days that ends in Y: talk about toxicity.

Kaplan says the PC reporting feature is now on console, in spite of its imperfections, but he says more is coming, including a pilot program for providing feedback on resolved reports that actually result in disciplinary action. He promises your reports actually matter: Almost half a million accounts have been disciplined, a third of a million “a direct result of players’ using the reporting system.”

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SMITE and Paladins players raise $76K for hurricane relief efforts

SMITE and Paladins studio Hi-Rez is thanking players today for their efforts in raising funds for the victims of the 2017 hurricane season.

“​Earlier this month SMITE and Paladins players around the world contributed to the efforts to support those that have been affected by the devastation left in wake of Hurricane Harvey. Hi-Rez Studios hosted special promotions for its online games SMITE and Paladins where players could purchase in-game cosmetic items with a portion of the proceeds going to hurricane relief. Together the online communities for these two games raised $76,000 which Hi-Rez has donated to the Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts.”

The money raised is a sliver of the $1,401,749 Hi-Rez and its players have earmarked for charity since 2012. “The Atlanta based studio is grateful to its players for contributing to
charitable efforts that help others in need,” the PR says.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 135: PAX in the P.M.

On this week’s show, MJ arrives to give her report on PAX West and how much swag she smuggled back on the plane. Bree and Justin touch base with the major news stories of the week, including Destiny 2’s launch, ArcheAge’s mergers, and WildStar’s housing happiness.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Worlds Adrift dev Bossa Studios picks up $10M in investor funding

Worlds Adrift developer Bossa Studios just got a massive influx of cash – 10 million bucks – thanks to a Series A investment round backed by multiple UK investment firms. Representatives of the largest investor, Atomica, will join Bossa’s board.

“This new round of funding will be used to cement the future success of the studio, supporting its recruitment of top talent that will help define Bossa’s strategic focus on AI, User Generated Content and Open Development, as the studio also prepares to launch Worlds Adrift to the public, the first ever game to be built on Improbable’s SpatialOS platform.”

Bossa isn’t known for just its MMO development on Worlds Adrift, of course; you probably also know it from Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread. Closed beta is ongoing; signups are still live on the official site, or you can pick up one of the new founder packs that just went live last week.

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Pearl Abyss is building four more MMOs as Black Desert swells to 7.65M registered users

We’ve been tracking Black Desert developer Pearl Abyss’ path to IPO since last spring, when multiple Korean outlets began reporting that the company sought a listing on the Korean stock exchange this coming fall. A few weeks ago, the company’s IPO press conference let loose a few more tidbits MMO players might be intrigued to learn. As parsed from Invenglobal’s translation, here are the highlights:

  • Black Desert took four years to make and currently operates in 100 countries. “The total RU [registered users] is more than 7.65 million based on July 2017, and the total sales are approximately ₩340b [$301M].”
  • As of the end of July 2017, PA has sold 530K copies of the game through Steam, amounting to $1.3M in sales. “The title was placed No. 2 of the total sales on Steam on June 20th.” (There’s a section that notes the game cost only ₩1.2b ($1M) to make, “a relatively small cost […] compared to other MMORPGs,” but we assume they’re talking about just the engine specifically there.)

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The Daily Grind: Why are you not into virtual reality?

Massively OP reader and commenter Sally Bowls pointed us to a brief post on Axios in which a VR consultant and former Oculus employee opines on why VR isn’t catching on as well as you’d expect, and the reason isn’t money. In fact, she suggests the reason is that consumers are simply too addicted to other compelling content — specifically, smartphones and social media. While gaming and education are the platform’s chief uses, most people just don’t want to put down their damn phones long enough to become engrossed by something that takes up their full physical and mental attention.

“[VR] has to be a really compelling reason to get you to give up all that,” she explained at the Mobile Future Forward conference last week. “There aren’t just a ton of those reasons just yet.”

MOP’s audience is chiefly MMO gamers who skew toward virtual worlds already, so maybe we’re not a perfect test case, but I still wondered whether the consultant is right. If you’re not into VR, why not, specifically? Is it, as suggested, that you’d just rather be doing something more connected but also more popcorny through lighter-weight technology altogether?

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FTC settles CS:GO Lotto influencer corruption complaint

It’s not enough for the CS:GO community to bleed players to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds; nope, this week it’s taking another blow in the form of legal action against CS:GO YouTubers and profiteers.

You’ll recall that Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell ran afoul of both Valve and the law last year, when the Washington State Gambling Commission began cracking down on Valve for allegedly facilitating gambling via a skin API that allowed websites like CS:GO Lotto to use skins as gambling currency, netting the site a billion bucks last year. Indeed, there was even a class action RICO lawsuit filed against both Valve and several CS:GO gambling website owners, including Martin and Cassell, though that suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.

That wasn’t the end of it, however; last week, the FTC settled its case against the CS:GO Lotto duo for failing to disclose that they owned the website while promoting it through various seemingly unrelated influencer platforms, particularly YouTube, both its own platforms and paid influencers’ platforms.

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Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts is ‘fed up’ with giving 3.0 release estimates

Eurogamer’s just published a long Gamescom interview with Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts on Star Citizen, and anybody concerned about the state of 3.0 and its long delay and missed windows should probably give it a read — it may not change your mind, but it’s the gospel from the boss’ mouth. Also it’s significantly more entertaining than debating space poop.

Roberts first won’t agree that the 3.0 alpha, when we finally see it, constitutes beta. “With 3.0, the game is moving into a phase akin to Early Access,” he says, as “3.0 is the first time you’ll have some of the basic game loops and mechanics,” the first slice of the game with “proper persistence for your character, ship and items in terms of what their state is, their location is.” Terms like beta and early access, he says, are “just labels.”

“People still think of the old way [of making games], like my past games. We’d talk about a game for years, we’d show it, but no one would have their hands on it ’til it was out. There was an obsession with ‘when will it get released’. Even with those [traditional boxed] games now, they get patched, they add things, make things better over time.”

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Runes of Magic prepares to merge servers in the US and Europe this month

Runes of Magic fans, get ready: Server merges are on the way.

Gameforge says it’s merging all of its English, German, American and Polish servers later this month — not all into one server, but there will be fewer overall when it’s over. It looks as if half the servers are going away, with one left for the US, one left for English-speakers in Europe, one for Poland, and four for the German language players. The French and Spanish combo server will remain as it is.

“We’re currently getting everything ready for the change – there’s nothing which you need to do,” Gameforges assures players. “If you have logged in over the past few months, your account will be moved to the new server automatically when the time comes. Full details to follow!”

We last checked in with Runes of Magic last spring; in the interim, the MMO has been focused chiefly on events, including a crafting festival and fairytale festival.

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Make My MMO: Everybody poops in Star Citizen (September 9, 2017)

Remember a few weeks ago when Star Citizen confirmed survival mechanics like eating and sleeping? Welp, add pooping to the list. This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Around the Verse focused on the game’s stamina system, which touches on the character’s needs and risks and notifications about them, including “getting drunk, needing to go to the toilet, all the little things that can affect the player temporarily, and then we can expand this to go even to stuff like long-term diseases, depressurization sickness, radiation sickness – all these things that won’t be something the player can get rid of instantly.”

Meanwhile, the three City of Heroes spiritual successors teamed up for a panel at PAX, Shroud of the Avatar honored a player’s father, Dual Universe hit 10K backers, Dogma: Eternal Night implemented combat, and Chronicles of Elyria demoed jousting, plus so many goodies from PAX! Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Skysaga might not be completely down and out

Many players, including some of those here at Massively OP, were crushed to hear last month that the colorful MMO Skysaga had to shut down development due to its publisher pulling out of the deal. While the game wasn’t canceled outright, it certainly looked dire for the project, and developer Radiant Worlds said that it had to lay off a great deal of its staff.

But is there hope for the beleaguered title? While it is wise to be wary of false hope, there might be a glimmer of a path forward for Skysaga. Yesterday, the team posed a cryptic note to the game’s Facebook page, saying, “Please note that the beta pre-registration and few website functions will be temporarily disabled as we are working on some changes.” The official site also changed its beta registration banner to a note that stated, “Stay tuned for more updates!”

The community is understandably confused, anxious, and cautiously excited, begging the studio to come out and share more information. We’re going to keep our ear to the ground on this one and cross our fingers that Skysaga has found a way to continue development even after being dealt that critical financial blow.

Source: Facebook. Thanks Saryent!

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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMOs of 2017’s PAX West

PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.

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One of the last Asheron’s Call emulators vanished last night

When Asheron’s Call shut down last winter following the spinoff of Standing Stone Games from Turbine, one of the few hopes the community had to cling to was the player-run emulator. Now, it appears those hopes have ended too.

Last night, Redditors began reporting an outage of what is known as the Megaduck emulator following a brief and unexplained system blast. Lest you suspect it’s merely tech issues or someone forgot to turn it back on again, players have further reported that the two administrators of the emulator have vanished and apparently deleted the websites and file hosting for the emulator as well.

It’s all led players to suspect a Turbine-emitted cease-and-desist order, although we cannot confirm that rumor. As we’ve previously pointed out, it’s still not clear exactly why the Asheron’s Call franchise wasn’t part of the spinoff deal; neither Turbine nor Standing Stone would comment at the time. Turbine has moved increasingly into the mobile space but nevertheless renewed the Asheron’s Call domains through 2022 in May – months after the sunset.

There is another emulator for the game, Fenntide, though it’s apparently struggling under the influx of newbies too.

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