electronic arts

Megacorp known to MMO gamers primarily for its ownership of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA has previously been the steward of Mythic Entertainment (which in turn once controlled Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot) as well as The Sims Online, Warhammer Online, and Dawngate.

LOTRO starts testing player housing improvements

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.

Source: Patch notes

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Quantic Foundry's findings on WoW, SWTOR, and gender

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."

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Massively OP Interview: Standing Stone on LOTRO, DDO, and Daybreak

It's been quite a month since Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online announced that they were breaking off from Turbine as part of a new studio called Standing Stone Games and being published by none other than Daybreak Game Company. Players have had to deal with equal parts excitement and anxiety over this new course (with old developers). Does it bode for a brighter future, more of the same, or the beginning of the end for these beloved titles?

While Standing Stone has been communicative over the past month, we wanted to dig deeper into the decision to form the new studio, its relationship with Daybreak, and plans for both DDO and LOTRO going forward. To wit, we sat down with Standing Stone Executive Producer Rob "Severlin" Ciccolini, Lead Designer Ben "DrOctothorpe" Schneider, and Community Manager Jerry "Cordovan" Snook to discuss this major transition and its possible impact for these two MMO game worlds.

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Dark Age of Camelot continues to adjust pet classes

Beware Dark Age of Camelot pet classes: You may be merely slightly less omnipotent than before, thanks to this week's patch.

The team continues to fine-tune its pet classes after the last patch, which made sweeping improvements to them. After some evaluation, the devs concluded that some of the melee-pet roles were a little too powerful and have nerfed them. This means that, for instance, the Spiritmaster will only be able to get out 24 pets at a time instead of 32. Only.

"With [Patch] 1.122, we wanted there to be a real choice among the different pets with each pet type being useful and unique," Broadsword said. "In many ways this has been accomplished. However, the melee-DPS pets seem to be a bit too popular still. As we monitor this latest round of fixes, we are looking at some additional adjustments in the coming weeks that will help the other pet types' performance."

Source: Patch notes

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Creative director discusses a 'new adversary'

For the last five years and more, Star War: The Old Republic told the story of Tenebrae, a Sith of humble origins who rose to great power and ultimately corruption. Of course, there were other great stories along the way -- the eight player stories, and ultimately, the Outlander's story -- but even the story of Revan revolved around this hidden but powerful figure who was eventually unveiled as the Sith Emperor.

At the end of last year, I talked to Producer Ben Irving and Creative Director Charles Boyd about the past five years of SWTOR and about what the future holds for the game. It turned out to be a wonderful, frank interview. I learned many things that I didn't know about Irving and his introduction to BioWare, which I mentioned a post last year. But I also learned some fun facts about the future of the SWTOR story.

Without spoiling too much, I think it's safe to mention that Tenebrae's story wraps up in a nice little bow at the end of Knights of the Eternal Throne. I spoke to Boyd about the challenges of closing up a long, pivotal story and where the writers go from there. And one of the things he mentioned is a "new adversary."

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Global Chat: Elder Scrolls Online renaissance

As I peruse a hundred or so community blog posts every day, it's fascinating to me to see what games the MMO blogosphere as a whole is playing and discussing. We sometimes end up flocking to certain titles based on recent announcements or because others are talking them up pretty heavily.

One game that's been getting a lot of mentions on blogs lately is Elder Scrolls Online, with players generally enthusiastic about how it's shaped up into a pretty decent MMO. "It's a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched," writes Occasional Hero. "Visually, I would probably rank it second behind Black Desert Online for the best-looking MMORPG out there," touts Endgame Variable.

Elder Scrolls Online not your thing? No worries; we have articles covering The Secret World, LOTRO, RIFT, and more in today's community blog roundup!

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SWTOR bug drives enemy boss to commit suicide

Any MMO dungeon boss knows that it is only a matter of time before he, she, or it will be slaughtered by a pack of well-geared, highly trained adventurers. As inevitable as this may be, there is one NPC in Star Wars: The Old Republic who has decided to take matters in his own hands and commit suicide before suffering the indignities of defeat.

According to the SWTOR team, this is both a bug and a potential exploit in one of the game's new uprisings: "There is currently an issue with the first boss, Lord Anril, where in certain situations he will instantly kill himself."

Obviously, by triggering the bug, players can progress through the uprising much faster than otherwise. The team isn't prosecuting exploiters due to the possibility of this happening on its own and the sheer popularity of this particular uprising. The bug will be fixed in an update on January 24th.

Source: Official forums. Thanks Shintar!

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One Shots: Tabula Rasa's 21-gun salute

Ralph the Wonder Llama kicks off today's community screenshot gallery with a salute to the late, great Tabula Rasa.

"Yes, Tabula Rasa ended up being rushed to market, and many of its features were pretty rough around the edges when the game first released, but this was 2008! Can you imagine what Tabula Rasa would have been like if it had survived and gotten a couple of expansions under its belt? The mind boggles. Here's a shot of my Grenadier at Foreas Base, taken just a few days before shutdown. You can't really tell with the helmet on, but I'm pretty sure my character is crying."

On that happy note, let's see what else you all have cooked up for us today!

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Massively Overthinking: Tab-target vs. action combat in MMORPGs

Massively OP patron Duane is kicking the new year off right: with a brawl over combat types in MMOs.

"Tab-target, action, or hybrid combat, for many MMO gamers the combat system, regardless of whether it is a well-made, is a deal maker or breaker," he writes -- I like to imagine he wrote it with a mischievous glint in his eye. "What is the superior combat system, and why is it superior (please give examples)? Let the battle-lines be drawn!"

I posed his question to the MOP writers for this week's Overthinking. Here we go!

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Ultima Online preps wedding content, suffers two-day Oceania rollback

It's wedding bells for Ultima Online. The classic fantasy MMO is putting together a housing package for its relatively new in-game cash shope that will allow players to throw the wedding day of their dreams. Of course, this being Ultima Online and all, part of the package is "magical cake batter." Mmm.

Apart from weddings, the team says that it is going full-bore on Publish 96 for February and Publish 97 following that. The former patch will allow for larger screen resolutions in the classic client, while latter update will contain the much-anticipated tamer pet revamp.

The team also addressed a recent rollback to its Oceania shard: "I would like to address the revert on Oceania. The fail-safes we have in place which are meant to notify us of an issue did not do so correctly. We are still investigating to determine the nature of the failure. We are sorry Oceania had a two-day revert and want to thank everyone for being so patient while we fixed the issue."

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The Stream Team: At SWTOR's Gravestone

Last time, Massively OP's Larry and MJ stumbled across the Gravestone, an impressive ship from SWTOR's past. While MJ 's Chiss helped Lana get water, she learned more about what has happened in the past five years. Now it's time to help Koth. What can she learn from him? That all depends on what choices you, the audience, make for her! Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. to continue the Choose My Alignment adventures in Knights of the Fallen Empire. There will also be a giveaway!

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

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Jukebox Heroes: Six MMOs that need official soundtrack releases

For an avid fan of video game soundtracks, and of MMO soundtracks in particular, the most frustrating aspect of collecting and listening to these scores is how shabbily the OST is often treated. For every game like World of Warcraft or Aion that gives great respect to its music by creating and selling albums, there are two or three titles that have never seen a single official release at all.

This is such a shame and an aggravation that I need to call some of these titles out this week. I need to wag my fanboy finger in their direction and ask, "What gives?" There's so much great music that is put into these ever-expanding games... and the fact that only a fraction of it is ever made widely available to the public to purchase and enjoy outside of the game is a loss (moreso if the game shuts down). I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the composers to see their work bottled up in a product that might go offline forever at any time.

Here are six such MMOs that drive me nuts every time I think about how awesome it would be if their studios would ever consent to an official soundtrack release.

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The struggles and successes of SWTOR

There's a new op-ed piece over at Gamasutra in which the author -- an occasional MMO player -- takes a critical look at Star Wars: The Old Republic five years into the game. Of particular interest to the author is SWTOR's recent expansions and the shift of this MMO's design and delivery.

"Its latest expansions are vintage BioWare storytelling that are worthy of being given the much-coveted title of KotOR 3," the author writes. "EA finally let BioWare be BioWare by allowing them to essentially build out a single-player RPG story in the middle of an MMO, complete with consequential moral choices, romance, and something approximating narrative depth. But this also represents a certain concession on BioWare’s part to the limitations of the genre."

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