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Hyperspace Beacon: 10 things you need to know about SWTOR’s Chiss

Star Wars: The Old Republic will launch its sixth major update since Knights of the Eternal Throne at the end of November. It will include an additional operation boss fight and another flashpoint to continue the Alliance traitor storyline. And even though the update is well over a month away, we know that storyline will continue on the Chiss-occupied world of Copero, once again tying author Timothy Zahn to the game.

But who are the Chiss, and why are they so important to the Star Wars universe? Besides being the species of the Imperial badass Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Chiss are very much a mystery to the galaxy at large. However, thanks to the many books, comic books, and video games, we do know a thing or three about this secretive species. Here are 10 things that you need to know before jumping into the new content.

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Stephan Frost’s Nexon project gains former Amazon gameplay engineer

The handrubbing intrigue over Stephan Frost’s mysterious project at Nexon ramped up this week with the announcement of another member that has signed up with the untitled game.

“Senior Gameplay Engineer Gabe Paramo joined the crew at Nexon OC today. I’m excited to get to work with this guy again,” Frost announced on Twitter yesterday.

According to Paramo’s LinkedIn profile, he came to Nexon from Double Helix Studios at Amazon where he had been working in various roles since 2008.

Frost raised a few eyebrows last month when he left his seemingly cushy position as a World of Warcraft senior design producer to take up shop with Nexon as the creative and game director of a new and unannounced title.

Source: Twitter

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Guild Wars 2’s AMA covers mounts, raids, maps, and the state of class balance

The ArenaNet devs descended on the Guild Wars 2 over the weekend for what looks like one of the game’s biggest AMAs to date (but one with surprisingly thin info, at least if you were hoping for a huge revelation). Here are the highlights:

  • No details on raid wing 5 yet. The team reiterates it’s not working on difficulty tiers for raids. “We’re hard at work on the next raid and development is going well.”
  • There’s apparently nobody working on guilds (so no current plans to develop further) and no dungeon team attached to the expansion.
  • The studio said among its chief story goals were tighter integration and not all cinematic moments happen in cutscenes. The choice to go darker and use fewer characters was also intentional.
  • Map-wide metas weren’t an intended part of the expansion, but maybe in the future. They’re watching to see what we do and will go from there.
  • Anet says it did indeed modify all the old maps in Tyria and Maguuma in order to add mounts.

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World of Warcraft Senior Producer Stephan Frost leaves Blizzard

One of the MMORPG industry’s more prominent designers is leaving one of the MMORPG industry’s more prominent games. On Friday, World of Warcraft Senior Design Producer Stephan Frost announced that he is departing from the title and the studio for an unnamed opportunity.

“Bittersweet day ahead of me today, it’s my last day at Blizzard,” Frost tweeted. “There’s a big opportunity I felt I had to take, but I’ll miss the people.”

Frost worked his way up to prominence at Carbine Studios, where he eventually became WildStar’s game design producer. He left in 2014, spent less than a year at Amazon Game Studios, and then joined up with Blizzard in 2015 where he became a senior producer on World of Warcraft.

In addition to game design, Frost is a voice actor (he did the WildStar “dev speak” videos) and the creator of a comic book called Mortifera.

Source: Twitter

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Amazon continues to flesh out its Lumberyard engine

As it will be powering MMOs like New World and Star Citizen, Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine deserves attention as it continues to be built and improved. Amazon released a development update to shed light on just how far Lumberyard has come and what is being worked on for the future.

“Simply put, our focus for the next few releases is to make Lumberyard easier, more powerful, and more modular,” the company said. “A lot has changed since we first launched the beta: We’ve replaced over 60% of the original codebase, switching out older, redundant systems (e.g. CryEntity) for more modern, performant ones (e.g. Component entity systems).”

Improvements on the way for Lumberyard include a new visual scripting language, a revised animation system, more integration with Amazon’s other tech (like Lex and Polly), the ability to store games in any location, better optimization, a new shader system, and Mac support.

Source: AWS

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Overwatch League adds Philly and Texas teams, will play at new Blizzard Arena

Blizzard continues raking in the big bucks for its grand vision of Overwatch League, adding three new teams to its roster this week: one from Philly and two from Texas. They’ll bring the final total to 12, where it will stay for its “inaugural season.” The new teams are:

Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
Team Envy (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base

They’ll join venture capitalists from all over the world, including reps and owners of Cloud9, the LA RamsNew England Patriots, New York Mets, Immortals, Misfits Gaming, NRG Esports, Netease, and Kabam, which superficially secures the League’s future on three continents.

Blizzard has further announced that the season is “just a few short months away” — in fact, preseason play will begin on December 6th, with the season beginning January 10th and concluding with playoffs in July of 2018. This year, at least, all pre- and regular-season games will be held at Blizzard’s shiny new e-sports arena in LA.

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Jukebox Heroes: Music from Destiny 2, LOTRO, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online

Apologies for being extensively absent from this column over the last few months! Every day the Massively OP offices are deluged with fan mail demanding, “Bring back Jukebox Heroes! Where is Jukebox Heroes? How can I survive without that epic MMO music to get me through the week?”

To which I can only mutter something about a classified mission to Paraguay, being adopted by a jaguar for six weeks, and subsequently finding myself co-starring with The Rock on his latest escapade. It’s all in the line of duty when you are an MMO reporter.

But I am back, and boy is there a lot of news to talk about this week! Let us catch up on the MMORPG music scene and see what is happening with Destiny 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online already!

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Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon introduces ‘open landscapes’ later this year

During its livestream earlier this afternoon, Digital Extremes formally unveiled Plains of Eidolon, Warframe’s next big expansion. As announced back at TennoCon, the expansion will add a touch of MMOishness to the shooter.

“For the first time in Warframe history, Tenno will have the freedom to explore, fight, journey and fly through the open Landscapes – Warframe’s first Open Zone – of Planet Earth in their own time, in their own way. Stepping into the rolling Plains of Eidolon, players will experience a rich landscape populated with both familiar and never-before seen creatures, enemies, a new Warframe, stunning vistas lit with a day/night cycle, and a gripping story told through interactive NPC characters who inhabit the bustling scavenger city of Cetus. In Plains of the Eidolon, players will set foot in a natural landscape with the freedom to explore it on their own terms.”

And yep, the expansion is indeed still on track to launch before the year is up. Check out the new trailer!

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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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Meta: Twitch’s SUBtember promo helps Massively OP stream!

Massively OP is a Twitch Partner, meaning that our supporters are able to subscribe to our Twitch streaming channel, which puts money directly into our pocket and supports our stream team’s live antics. In fact, if you’re an Amazon Prime participant with a linked Twitch account, you get one free sub every month, and some of you grant your freebie to us. And we love you for it!

If you don’t already sub to us on Twitch, however, and you’ve been wanting to, then Twitch’s SUBtember promotion would be a good time to do it. Until October 2nd, anyone who subs to any channel on Twitch for the first time at any tier will pay only half of the usual fee for that month – while the Partner channel receives the full benefit. In other words, you could sub for $2.50 and we’ll still get our full cut, and then you can blissfully surf without having to deal with ads while drinking the PSL you just bought with the money you saved.

If you don’t care at all about Twitch, no problem! You can still support Massively OP directly through Patreon, using our Amazon affiliate link, whitelisting our ads, or even just posting our best stuff to Reddit and social media. It all helps us stay online and actually pay our writers for their work. Thanks for your support!

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PAX West 2017: Hands-on with Amazon’s Breakaway

When I first went for my hands-on appointment to try out Amazon Game Studios‘ upcoming mythological sports brawler Breakaway at PAX West, I didn’t realize I would break Amazon! All I did was touch the B key as instructed, and everything went dark: The circuits blew. But once all the computers were back online, I was able to jump in and give the game a test run, and I am glad I did.

Unlike brawlers or arena shooters that are just, you know, shooting other people, this game focuses on the aspect of a sports game. While you can win the round by wiping all of your opponents at the same time, the two other win conditions involve the ball; either you score a goal or you keep the ball on the opponent’s side of the field when the four-minute timer runs out. Perhaps because of this sport team aspect, I got more interested in Breakaway and look forward to playing it more.

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World of Warcraft rockets to Argus in patch 7.3 today

At last year’s BlizzCon, when Blizzard first announced World of Warcraft fans would someday be trekking to Argus, it seemed so distant to many of us that the narrative that bubbled up was more about whether or not Blizz could keep up that sort of cadence, not OMG Argus how cool is that. But here we are, with 7.3 launching today, and even I have to toss in my OMGs, if only because it means we’re that much closer to the next big thing. Or possibly a long pause until the next expansion?

“Following recent events in the Broken Isles, a link has been created between Azeroth and Kil’jaeden’s homeworld of Argus, bringing the Burning Legion closer than ever to destroying Azeroth. In order to stop them once and for all, Illidan and Velen are taking the war directly to the surface of Argus, where they hope to join forces with Alleria, Turalyon, and the Army of the Light to launch an all-out assault on the Legion’s primary base of operations. Board the Vindicaar, a vessel that will serve as your mobile base of operations on Argus, as well as one of your few safe havens on the planet. As you explore Argus, you’ll visit new locations across the planet, experiencing the epic conclusion to the Legion storyline and unlocking new world quests and other content along the way.”

We’ve rounded up some of our 7.3 coverage to date down below along with the survival guide and cinematic trailers and patch notes. Are you diving in for the patch, or holding out for some “and beyond”?

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Everything you need to know about World of Warcraft 7.3: Shadows of Argus

In keeping with its bizarrely predictable pattern of releasing a major update every 77 days during the Legion expansion cycle, Blizzard is about ready to push World of Warcraft Patch 7.3 live on Tuesday, August 29th.

Reportedly the last major update before the next expansion, Shadows of Argus has a wealth of content that will be rolled out to players over the coming weeks. These offerings include a trio of zones on a completely new world, another way (yes, another way) to level up artifact weapons, improved spell animations for some classes, more stories, a new dungeon, and eventually a new endgame raid.

It’s a lot to wrap your head around, which is why the team assembled a helpful and informative survival guide so that you can hit the ground running when the patch goes live. You’ll also want to touch base with this article about the Netherlight Crucible to understand how this sytem will work. We’ve posted the story and patch trailers for you below.

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