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Choose My Adventure: Gearing up for Black Desert

I’m going to be honest with you, folks; the last Choose My Adventure installment left me feeling kind of depressed. It’s a shame to see a game that could have really been something else wind up as little more than a footnote, a shadow of what it could have been. So I’m actually really excited to start up Black Desert simply because that means I’m not going to have that personal connection. Heck, I didn’t expect the game to make it this long, and we gave it Game of the Year.

This is also the first game out of the prior few entries that I’ve never even tried to play before. I’m completely new to it. But I wanted to delay it until the Dark Knight was in the game, because I do tend to enjoy that playstyle. (And then making my characters anything other than grim-faced stoic bringers of death, but that’s a discussion for the roleplaying column I don’t write any longer.) So let’s talk a little bit about the game because that’s what we always do before the fireworks start.

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The Daily Grind: Are you excited about Secret World Legends?

I quite like the setting behind The Secret World, and the game had some very neat ideas about progression and character builds. For my money, that didn't make up for atrocious combat and somewhat lopsided balance issues, but it meant that I was quite excited to hear about Secret World Legends back when it was just "the relaunch for The Secret World."

Now, though? I don't know. The announcement seems like it lacks a lot of substantive statements like what the future is for The Secret World or what precisely differentiates the two; is Secret World Legends built more like a single-player game where you can invite friends? How much is shared online by default? Is content only coming to this version from now on? Yes, I've read the press releases and interviews multiple times, but there's still a lot of vagueness and implications that don't really deliver much in the way of firm answers.

I'm still cautiously optimistic, of course, because the idea of the base game with better combat is appealing, but there's a lot that is unfortunately unclear and offers space to worry and be confused. What about you, readers? Are you excited about Secret World Legends?

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #12-7

It's starting to get serious now.

As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I've been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn't have been surprised.

So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there's always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!

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Dark Age of Camelot developers are looking to clean up unused games and general balance

It sucks when you have a great idea for a character, but all of the names you'd like to use have been taken. That's a problem particularly affecting Dark Age of Camelot at this point, but the developers confirm in the latest community Q&A that the team is definitely considering freeing up unused names on unplayed or particularly old characters. The staff is also holding off on another Come Back to Camelot campaign until more balance concerns have been addressed, with a potential new rulest server in the works to give player population a shot in the arm.

The developers also addressed some mechanical questions, laying out the soft and hard caps for various stats and pointing out that many understood soft caps really do allow for more variation. There are also more hidden skills for some dual wielding lines, although those hidden skills shouldn't substantially alter damage dealt. Check out all of the answers for the full rundown.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic will finally allow us to switch factions

Long-time players of Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the next update 5.2: The War for Iokath, you will finally be able to switch factions. Insert disco horn here.

That's right: If you are a Republic character, you will finally be able to fight alongside the best people in the universe: the Sith Empire. And if you're a traitor to the Empress, you can fight alongside the Galactic Republic.

I also wanted to amplify another announcement about a couple of long-awaited companions. Republic Troopers, you will finally get your love interest Elara Dorne back, and Sith Warriors, you will finally be able to Force choke Malavai Quinn again, just as you always wanted.

I'll explain the details, my opinion, and show a teaser video on the matter below in this edition of Hyperspace Beacon.

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Today's Black Desert patch adds new voices, fogs up Kamasylvia release window

Don't like your voice in Black Desert? Time to change it! Kakao's patch today is live now and adds character voice customization -- 6 for dudes, 10 for dudettes. As part of the launch promo, Kakao is allowing everyone to change his or her toon's voice for just one loyalty point, though it's not clear yet what the cost will be after the event's end on April 5th has come and gone.

The patch also kicks off another attendance reward round, tweaks Knowledge and a few island names, unborks Dark Knight's inner eyelashes (really), and fixes that problem of the Dark Knight damage being improperly dealt "when attacking with a Javelin while riding an elephant," which is just one of the oddly specific things you can do in Black Desert.

Finally, Community Manager Aethon has clarified the release window for Kamasylvia, and by clarified, I mean rescinded entirely?

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The Daily Grind: What anticipated MMO expansion turned out to be a disappointment?

It's with a heavy heart that I have to admit that RIFT: Starfall Prophecy kind of let me down. I was really, genuinely looking forward to playing this expansion last fall, especially since I would get in on the ground floor at release. And while there were some great aspects of the release, such as the concept and some of the quest lines, the overall product felt half-baked and the combat became such a slog that I gave up three zones into it.

I'm sure this has happened to all of us at some point. We get really hyped and excited for an MMO expansion, drinking in all of the promise that the devs feed us... and then that anticipation is deflated by the actual release. It just doesn't live up to our standards or it has some major issues. You look at it and say, "Son, I am disappoint."

When you look back at your MMO gaming career, what expansion turned out to be a disappointment to you? What could have been done better by the dev team?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 110: Legends of Aria's Derek Brinkmann

Join us in welcoming today Citadel Studios' Project Lead Derek Brinkmann from Legends of Aria (fka Shards Online) for an hour-long interview about the game's rebranding, new MMO focus, and upcoming alpha tests!

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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SuperData February 2017: World of Tanks perks up, Hearthstone is sinking

Happy SuperData day! That's the monthly holiday when we pore over the market analysis report, freak out over something doing well, freak over something doing poorly, and then fight over definitions, the evils of trusting paywalled science, and why more MMOs aren't on the current list. This round, there's lots to bicker over -- but also some bits to celebrate in the February 2017 charts of top-grossing game titles.

On PC, while League of Legends, Crossfire, and Dungeon Fighter Online continue their top-three dominance, the rest of the roster has seen a bit of a shake-up, as Overwatch has fallen from #4 to #6 and World of Tanks has pushed past it as well as World of Warcraft. WoW's status is a tad confusing; last month, SuperData began reporting Western and Eastern WoW separately, even though it does not appear to be doing that for any other game. This month, it's omitted the West/East tags but still has two entries for WoW, so we're left to assume to top one is still West as it was last month.

On console, ARK: Survival Evolved has fallen from its #4 spot to #6. As always, we point out that ARK: Survival Evolved has yet to formally launch, and it's absurd that it's on this list at all, but fools and their money and all that.

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The Daily Grind: What's the most stable MMORPG (besides WoW) right now?

Massively OP reader Gail made an interesting observation in one of the City of Heroes Master x Master drama threads about what she called "corn flake games." A family she knew that ran a grocery store quibbled over how to stock it: One sister "always wanted to cram the cereal aisle with the latest cartoon character high sugar high profit fads." The other sister's refrain?

"'Corn flakes. People in this town buy corn flakes.' Corn flakes, while not hugely profitable, were steady dependable sellers. In the MMO market, CoH was a corn flake game. It wasn't going to magically turn into WoW overnight. It wasn't going to suddenly break out and take the gaming world by storm, though with the huge surge in superhero movies I wonder what some good advertising would have done. But it had a sizable group of steady customers who provided a stable profit. That's nothing to sneeze at."

That's precisely why the sunset was so baffling when most games would kill for a subscription playerbase of 100K: It was a steady earner. And it was and is surely not alone. What else do you think is a "corn flake" MMO? Or to put it another way: What's the most stable and dependable MMORPG (besides WoW) right now?

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World of Tanks players raised cash for kids during last year's War Child campaign

Wargaming announced today that World of Tanks players raised a huge sum of money for children in need last year. Last summer, the video game giant teamed up with War Child, a UK-based charity that focuses on children affected by local and global political conflict, to raise money for that cause.

"Late last year, Wargaming partnered with War Child for their Armistice Campaign. Players of World of Tanks were able to buy special emblems and packages to help raise money for children affected by conflict all over the world, with 100% of Wargaming’s share going directly to charity. Thanks to the community’s help and generosity, a donation of $84,800 went to War Child UK. Wargaming would like to thank all the players who donated to this great cause as every single penny raised was from the community."

Hear, hear and well done. Never let it be said that gamers have no heart!

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Path of Exile has 'a lot more expansions coming'

Pretty much every MMO player dreams of sitting his or her favorite developers down to get the honest and direct truth. While Grinding Gear Games isn't making house calls (yet), the dev team did make an effort to satisfy community curiosity by tackling an assortment of 30 submitted questions about Path of Exile.

There was some concern over the potential for a bug flood when the expansion drops this fall. GGG said that it's on top of it: "There's a lot changing in 3.0.0 so there's a lot of scope for problems to creep in unless we find them. To deal with this, we've expanded our QA team over the years and it's currently the largest it has ever been. In addition, we're running a beta for 3.0.0 specifically to find problems before they affect the live realm."

There was no confirmation regarding a launch date for the expansion, but the team did discuss lengthening the ignore list, trade improvements, the Xbox One launch, and controller support. The team also hinted that there are "a lot more" expansions being planned for the MMO.

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The Game Archaeologist: How DikuMUD shaped modern MMOs

Even though there are hundreds and thousands of MMOs spanning several decades, only a small handful were so incredibly influential that they changed the course of development for games from then on out. DikuMUD is one of these games, and it is responsible for more of what you experience in your current MMOs than you even know.

Of course, that doesn't mean everyone knows what DikuMUD is or how it shaped the MMOs that came out after it. You might have seen it used as a pejorative in enough comments that you know it is loathed by many gamers, but I find that there are varying degrees of ignorance about DikuMUD in the community. What is it, exactly? Why is it just the worst? And is it really the worst if we like the games that can point to this text-based MMO as a key ancestor?

Today we're going to dispel the mystery and myths of DikuMUD to lay it out there as it was and is today.

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