If you are looking for a bridge between you and the sometimes dense (but quite popular) works of J.R.R. Tolkien, then you could do no better than to sit at the feet of the Tolkien Professor. Dr. Corey Olsen
has been teaching about Tolkien and his collective works for years, providing understanding and fostering discussion in a way that is always interesting and accessible.
Recently, Olsen started up a new course at Signum University (where he is both the founder and president) called "Explore the Lord of the Rings on Location." This free, public course meets every week for a lecture through a chapter in Tolkien's famous trilogy, followed by a "field trip" in Lord of the Rings Online to locations mentioned. It's been a highly publicized event so far, with Standing Stone even creating a special lecture hall in Bree for the series. Interested parties can attend in person in the game, watch via Twitch, or catch up with afterward on the series' YouTube channel.
We caught up with Dr. Olsen to talk about the making of the course, the history behind his university, and his interaction with the long-running MMORPG.
One of the most requested and most delayed requests by the Lord of the Rings Online
community over the years is a revamp to the game's limited housing system. While a complete overhaul isn't happening right now, the good news is that Standing Stone
is starting to test some big improvements
that will allow players more freedom in placing housing decor.
The main change in this upcoming patch is an adjustable housing hook system that sounds similar to what's used in SWTOR: "You can now adjust the precise location of interior housing decorations once they are placed in a hook. The decoration hook UI now includes four scroll bars that allow decorations to be rotated as before, but also to be moved east/west, north/south, and up/down. Exterior housing decorations continue to only allow rotation."
The test server patch also includes additional chat channels and premium housing writs to facilitate the transfer of the newer houses.
Those still licking their wounds over the years-old demise of the World of Darkness CCP MMO can howl with delight that IP-owner Paradox Interactive is further exploring the franchise in an upcoming werewolf title.
Paradox announced this week that it is facilitating the creation of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse adaptation. The game sounds like a single-player experience, as the gamer will take on the role of a werewolf warrior attempting to "save the world with fang and claw."
Cyanide Studio is handling the actual development of the game, which will come out on both consoles and PC. It may not be the game that MMO fans had hoped to see, but it is still nice to see Paradox utilizing the license in some way, shape, or wereform.
CCP Games sold White Wolf and its IPs to Paradox Interactive back in October 2015 following a failed attempt at producing a World of Darkness MMORPG.
The good news for fans of The Repopulation is that the game is coming back online. The bad news is... well, it's completely changed hands, with Idea Fabrik (owners of the Hero Engine) taking the game and making it their own. Will it be as good as it could have been? Will it release and be stable? We just don't know right now. But it's coming back. The owners are also starting just by bringing the alpha back online, lest you expect a whole new game out of the gate.
And there's more beta news! Oh, boy, is there ever more beta news.
And yes, there's a list, and it's just below. Did we miss something in there? Let us know down in the comments. Do you want to share your opinions on this week's beta news? Do so in the comments. Sharing feelings about betas? That's what the comment section is for, folks, don't let us stop you.
The initial build of World of Warcraft patch 7.2 is up for testing now, but be fairly warned: It's not all of the patch. It's not even necessarily a majority of the patch; as confirmed by community manager Lore, the main focus right now is stability and testing the new Demon Invasions, which means that players can expect to see many further iterations before the patch goes live. There's an entire chunk of stuff coming with the Broken Shore, after all.
You can peruse the patch notes for this first build now just the same; they include some nice additions like a "Sets" tab for transmog collections, higher item scaling for World Quests, and more options for gaining reputation from Emissaries past Exalted. You can also take a look at some of the new models already in the patch, including new class mounts of various hues and a long-overdue new model for Trade Prince Gallywix.
In 2017, Dungeons and Dragons Online
will officially add its third campaign setting to its melting pot with Ravenloft. Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini wrote in his producer's letter
that the "fan favorite" setting would come later this year as the game's third expansion along with sentient weapons.
Ravenloft is only a part of DDO's grand plans for the year. Ciccolini said that the fun will begin with Update 34 (which contains a new dungeon and the reaper difficulty level), the game's 11th anniversary event, Update 35 (which will add the playable Dragonborn race), and Update 36 (which will return to the Forgotten Realms). The expansion and a further update will wrap up the team's plans for 2017.
We spoke with Ciccolini and the team at Standing Stone Games this week about DDO and the studio transition. Standing Stone said that the Ravenloft expansion "could include new playable race or races as well."
Emerging from the efforts of Fox Innovation Lab, a new games studio called FoxNext has arisen.
Fox announced the new studio this week, saying that it will consolidate current gaming efforts while pursuing new titles. These include "virtual and augmented reality productions," such as Fox Innovation's 2016 The Martian VR Experience and upcoming projects based on the Aliens and Planet of the Apes franchises. Salil Mehta has been named president of FoxNext.
"Extending our storytelling to new platforms in new ways is a constant focus for us as we look to build more touch points with consumers every day. Building on the momentum we’ve already seen in this area via the Fox Innovation Lab, FoxNext represents a natural next step in defining our long-term vision in this arena," commented Twentieth Century Fox Film CEO Stacey Snider.
Former PC Games editor and EverQuest senior game designer Josh Augustine announced yesterday that he's made a move to a position on a different MMORPG: World of Warcraft.
"I'm overjoyed to announce that I'm joining the World of Warcraft quest design team at Blizzard," Augustine wrote on Twitter. "One of my life goals and a huge honor!"
Augustine previously worked on several of SOE and Daybreak's titles during his tenure at the studio, including the original EverQuest, the ill-fated EverQuest Next, and Landmark.
Can I get you a drink while you wait for Path of Exile
to land on Xbox One
as recently announced? Awesome. How about some water
"Late last year we introduced our Physics Programmer, Alex, in a developer interview where we discussed the new cloth physics system he had been working on. In addition to this new system, Alex has also been working on creating a new water simulation system. We are still in the very early phases of the development of this but we're excited to share a preview of the work we've done so far."
GGG says it's "planning to make it configurable to work on a wide variety of systems" and for "all platforms with the 3.0.0 expansion later this year." You can watch the super-short teaser video with its oddly tense background music below. Water.
Quantic Foundry, the gaming analytics consulting firm we've been following since late 2015 thanks to its Gamer Motivation Model, has a new blog post out this week that purports to break down participation rate in various gaming genres, including MMOs, by gender.
Parsed from 270,000 self-submitted surveys gamers have submitted to date -- 18.5% of which are from women -- Quantic's data appear to reinforce some of the basic stereotypes in gaming: two-thirds of match 3 gamers are women, almost all tactical shooter fans are dudebros, women play more high-fantasy MMOs than sci-fi MMOs, that sort of thing. But there are some interesting surprises. For example, a smaller percentage of World of Warcraft players are women than the genre numbers on the whole.
"23% of World of Warcraft gamers are women. This is substantially lower than the group average (36%). A lot of game researchers (Nic and I included) focused on studying WoW as an exemplar of online gaming, but it looks like WoW was not only an outlier in terms of market success, but also in terms of its demographics relative to other games in the genre."
Last night, MJ and I were nervous about scheduling her Marvel Heroes
stream -- would the game really be back up and functional when it had gone down only six hours before for its so-called "biggest update ever
"? Turns out our fears were unwarranted; the game was back up earlier than planned.
If you haven't been in yet, you're gonna want to check out what's changed. Gazillion has two new videos, one on powers and one on talents, and MJ's posted her stream from last night, in which she scoped out how her own toons have transformed. Let us know how it's playing for you -- last night players were frustrated over brand-new inventory issues, so be warned you might be playing the loot shuffle game when you next log in before you can get to kicking butt.
The third closed beta for Revelation Online
is running, and you can test out the game's cash shop right now if you're in the testing. But maybe you'd like to spend some money on the game while it's testing? Aside
from buying a Founder's Pack, or possibly in addition to it. Because the game wants you to spend a bit more money, and it's enticing you to do so by... giving you money
It's a very simple promotion at the core. Spend money for cash shop currency now while the game is in beta, and you can spend it freely within the cash shop in this test phase. Since the servers will be wiped, all of that money will be refunded to you after this test, but 15% extra on top of what you would normally get. So you get the money back and more besides, which is a pretty good deal if there's stuff you already know you want to buy when the game goes live.
Do you have any qualms about playing with dead things in video games? How about playing a dead thing itself? Crowfall will offer both opportunities with its necromancy crafting profession.
"Crowfall's vision for necromancy is not the same as traditional fantasy RPGs, where you raise pets from the dead and force them to do your bidding," the team explained. "While that does sound pretty cool, necromancy in Crowfall is more about digging up desiccated body parts, restoring them, and combining them in such a way to make a playable character class."
Necromancers will assemble ingredients and harvest body parts to work on the assembly of a new "vessel" for their own or others' use. As it is the only way to jump into the skin of an archetype that has superior and customized stats than the default selection, the devs anticipate necromancy to be a profession in constant high demand.