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Star Citizen's Around the Verse on the benefits of the 'mega map'

Try saying "mega map" 10 times fast! This week's Around the Verse does indeed cover the heck out of Star Citizen's mega map. Lead Gameplay Programmer Rob Johnson says that the intent of the mega map is to eliminate -- or at least reduce -- the annoyance of loading screens.

"We load the Mega Map as we would a standard map. The Mega Map itself is empty, but once the Mega Map is loaded, we actually start to fill the Mega Map with content of various game modes, fire, and object containers. So, we would load the Mega Map, which is empty; load the front end, which is a set of object containers; [and] load the front-end game rules, which tells the game how to work in that game mode. The user would then pick a new game mode to play. At that point we throw away all the object containers. We throw away the game mode, [then] load in the Free Fly game mode and the Dying Star object containers, but we do that via streaming rather than a complete level load, so we are able to shave the vast majority of the load time down to a few seconds rather than long enough to warrant a load screen."

ATV also catches up with the LA studio's work on ship production, multifunction displays, the room system, and the "entity owner manager" -- critical for the persistent experience. Listen up below.

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Super Adventure Box returns to Guild Wars 2 next week!

Every time my 5-year-old sees the extra portal in Guild Wars 2's Rata Sum, I have to tell him it's for Super Adventure Box and that it's currently closed. He's always sad. But next week, I can tell him it's open! ArenaNet's announced that SAB is indeed returning:

"It’s that time of year—dust off your best jumping boots, take up your pointy stick, and get ready to experience Tyria’s most cutting-edge technological edutainment system: Moto’s Super Adventure Box! Explore a whole new virtual world in beautifully-rendered, three-dimensional graphics. Go on an epic quest to save Princess Miya. Prove your strength against wizards, assassins, and giant frogs. And if all of that sounds a little too tame for you, prepare to die (repeatedly) in the punishing Tribulation Mode!"

It is not currently clear whether any new stages and new cosmetic weapons will be available, but it's a good bet. The festival begins March 30th and runs until April 20th.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda launches its first multiplayer weekend event

While the player character is working hard to do the heavy lifting of finding a new home in Mass Effect: Andromeda, players support the single-player game by gathering supplies and rewards in the multiplayer component. The first special multiplayer event is already here, tasking players with taking part in the APEX missions to find missing scouts in the hopes of uncovering valuable Krogan assistance. That means a new limited-time map through Monday.

Players who undertake the "Drack's Missing Scouts" mission will land at Firebase Paradox, featuring powerful Remnant artifacts being sought by the Kett for players to obtain. There's also a new character and weapon available in item packs. The Krogan Gladiator is a biotic with a penchant for her hammer, and the Ruzad shotgun is a slow-firing heavy-impact shotgun that may as well be the poster firearm for Krogan military philosophy. Check out the trailer just below, and see if it enhances your first weekend of scouring the Heleus Cluster for a new home.

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NCsoft rep says bringing City of Heroes toons to Master x Master was his 'passion project'

We've been speaking with NCsoft West off the record this week, agitating for publicly printable answers on the Master X Master decision to implement City of Heroes characters (to the loud outrage of disgruntled City of Heroes players). But apparently we won't have to, as some of the answers have been published today.

Lorehound quotes NCsoft MXM Brand Manager Sean Orlikowski as saying that adding Statesman to the MOBA was his personal "passion project for the last two years."

"I saw it as a way to incorporate a character from a beloved title into our universe. Myself and the producer for MXM were both big fans of City of Heroes (I was more on the CoV side, myself) and we worked together to make sure we got his skills, look, and even his VO right since he’d only ever been voiced for a single sentence of a single trailer in the past. The bottom line for me was that nearly all of NCSOFT’s properties were being represented in the game; Aion, Blade & Soul, Lineage II, WildStar, Guild Wars 2, even Death Knight from the original Lineage MMO are in the game. I wanted the West to have proper representation, so we started brainstorming ideas for Western characters to add to Rytlock and Mondo Zax who were already in development. I made the argument for Statesman because the MXM universe offered a way he could be prominent again, and the rest is history."

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Meet City of Titans' six heroic archetypes

Thanks to some website spring cleaning, City of Titans made a previously hidden article visible to the masses. This particular page outlines the upcoming superhero MMO's six archetypes, their mottos, and the general playstyle that each will offer.

City of Heroes veterans may be familiar with some of the archetypes here, although some offer slightly different twists. There is the Stalwart, a tank that can take large amounts of damage; the Enforcer, a melee DPS type; the Guardian, a tough paladin-like role; the Ranger, which deals out damage from a long way off; the Commander, which fiddles with crowd control and enemy manipulation; and the Operator, a pet-controlling mastermind.

Each archetype then branches out into three subtypes, such as the Centurion, the Warden, or the Ringleader. Simple math tells us that City of Titans is aiming for at least 18 different classes in its final product.

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Warframe counts 30M registered players on its 4th birthday, basically adds bards

Happy fourth birthday, Warframe! It may not be a traditional MMORPG, but it's still one of those rare online MMOs that's actually doing better several years in than it was at launch: Digital Extremes is touting 30 million registered users. Actually almost 31 million! (That's up about five million just since the end of last year.)

To celebrate the occasion, the studio is rolling out the Octavia's Anthem update, complete with a new warframe, cosmetic outfit capture tools, new weapons, and the new music-themed questline:

"Octavia's Anthem has Warframe players journeying through an original, lore-driven quest in search of the musically enchanted Octavia Warframe. Along with Octavia comes the introduction of a simple-to-use musical instrument that enables players to compose original songs and synchronize them to their weapons to rhythmically dominate the enemy. Music isn't just a tool of destruction in this update -- players can create musical arrangements in cooperation with other Tenno and trade songs. For story buffs and lore fans, a newly written web comic, entitled What Remains, explores material well in advance of Octavia's Anthem."

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Marvel Heroes quietly dishes out compensation for December whoopsie

This one is going to take a little explaining. Apparently, last December someone made a mistake on Gazillion's side where Marvel Heroes players ended up getting extra stash tabs (and then couldn't use them). The players were told to delete the mistakenly awarded tabs and that they would be compensated for the flub.

Without advance notice, that compensation snuck into the game today. Players logged in to find that some of them had 600 or even 1,200 eternity splinters waiting for them as a bonus reward. Some of the affected players, however, only received 200 ES so far. Confusion ensued until a player huddle sorted out what happened.

Gazillion took to Reddit ito comment on the compensation. "So the total amount players will receive if they should receive compensation is 1,200 ES. Players who logged in on X-Mas Day and received the stash item qualifies. Thanks for your patience guys."

Source: Official forums #1, #2, Reddit. Thanks Kalamari and Rain!

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Blizzard is raising prices for World of Warcraft and Hearthstone players in the EU

If you're playing World of Warcraft or Hearthstone overseas, know that a partial fee hike is in your future.

While subs to WoW and the WoW Token will remain as they are, the cost of admittedly already expensive services like faction swaps, name changes, and server transfers will increase in some cases by up to 25%.

A quick look at the math shows that the prices are now more in line with what U.S. players were already paying. Changes take effect on April 5th.

Blizzard told players it was making the "changes based on regional market conditions." PC Gamer calls it "likely a reaction to post-Brexit exchange rates that have gutted the value of the pound" and not helped the low euro. Let's throw in some color too: Reddit is less kind, calling it "profiteering," "absolutely disgusting," and "insanity."

The studio announced EU price increases for Hearthstone packs earlier this month.

Source: Blizzard, PC Gamer, Reddit. Thanks, Cotic!

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Massively Overthinking: The City of Heroes Master X Master debacle

On Tuesday, NCsoft announced that it plans to introduce Statesman, from the long-sunsetted City of Heroes, as a playable character in its MOBA, Master x Master.

Complications ensued, as anyone familiar with the history of MMORPGs can probably imagine.

For this week's Overthinking, I asked our team of writers -- both those who loved CoH and those who never much played it -- what they think about the whole ordeal. Are gamers right to be angry? What exactly is NCsoft thinking? Have we seen the end of any hope of the game being resurrected or sold, or should we infer just the opposite?

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Skyforge sends you to the moon to fight in low-G

One of the advantages of creating a sci-fi MMORPG is that there's little stopping you if you want to send your players to other celestial bodies. Skyforge is doing this with its upcoming Thea update, launching players from Aelion to one of its three moons.

It won't be a walk in the park when you get there. Thea is a low-gravity environment plagued by numerous meteorite storms... but there are rewards to be had here as well. In addition to several types of quests to keep players busy, Thea offers the opportunity to mine a resource that can unlock a brand-new talent for each class.

Another interesting feature of Thea is that it will keep challenges and rewards appropriate for any character that travels there. You do have to attain your divine form as a prerequisite, but other than that, there's nothing stopping you from living out your fantasies as an astronaut making that giant leap for divinekind.

Source: Skyforge

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Neverwinter breaks out Steam trading cards

Did you have a trading card collection when you were a kid? I went along with the crowd buying baseball cards, even though I didn't much care for sports or pictures of sweaty men looking constipated while swinging sticks. It got a lot more fun when Magic: The Gathering came around, fortunately.

Those who enjoy accumulating as many virtual trading cards on Steam as they can will be happy to hear that Neverwinter has come out with its own set of cards. These eight character cards feature characters from the game and can be used to craft badges or traded with other players. These cards are also your path to a better life through additional backgrounds and emoticons.

If you need a whole explanation of what Steam trading cards are and what they do (and this author did), there's a whole page on that.

Source: Steam

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CCP's live-action EVE Online ARG looks like the best thing at this year's EVE Fanfest

Got your tix for EVE Online's EVE Fanfest 2017? Ready to set aside your in-game enmity and play nice with your fellow gamers for a few days -- or not, depending on what sort of corp you're in? Decided cowering in your house watching streams is the wiser choice?

Good news for you then no matter which way you roll: CCP has released a detailed blog post today laying out the structure of this year's event. Expect the usual round of keynotes, panels, debates, and player presentations, plus beer, a check-in with the Project Discovery scientists, a 2v2 single elimination tourney, more beer, tours for people who got dragged along and want to see Iceland's beauty, and beer. But the best bit looks to be a genuinely cool live-action game called The YC119 Kyonoke Inquest:

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World of Warcraft's Patch 7.2 is coming next week

The hour is nearly upon us and we, we are not prepared. But we are pretty eager! This afternoon, World of Warcraft announced that Patch 7.2: The Tomb of Sargeras will be launching next Tuesday, March 28th.

This comes after a flurry of testing and dev diaries covering the patch's big features. Among these features are the new Broken Shore zone, the Cathedral of Eternal Night dungeon, challenge artifact skins, rebalanced legendaries, new traits, more order hall research options, and of course, a way to regain our flight privileges in this expansion cycle.

What isn't coming next week, however, is the titular Tomb of Sargeras raid, which will open at a later (unspecified) date. PvP season two is set to end on the 28th, with season three starting up right after. Check out the patch trailer after the break!

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