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‘We all can be heroes:’ An interview with Star Trek Online’s Chase Masterson

With a dozen members of the all-star cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returning to reprise their roles for this June’s Star Trek Online: Victory is Life, one actress has the advantage over the others. Chase Masterson is back for at least her third stint in the MMO, having played fan favorite Leeta in past updates (including as a hologram and as a Mirror Universe villain).

With the heavy Deep Space Nine focus on the game’s third expansion, it’s good to see the reunion of a cast from a show that’s now 25(!) years old. Masterson has since gone on to act in many TV shows and movies, perform as a jazz singer, and found an anti-bullying organization called Pop Culture Hero that uses film, comics, and TV to take a stand against bullying in schools and communities.

We sat down with Masterson to talk about reprising the role of Leeta, the continuation of Deep Space Nine, the benefits of maturity, and how we all can be heroes.

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The Soapbox: Three augmented reality game problems (most) MMOs don’t have – and one thing they do so much better

I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Gosince it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.

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Police who killed innocent man during Call of Duty swatting incident won’t be charged

At the tail end of 2017, a Call of Duty swatting incident in Kansas took the life of a completely innocent man after police killed him following a fake tip to the wrong address.

As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress, using the address of what he apparently believed was one Call of Duty player intended as the focus of the ensuing police harassment, as provided by another player and played out live on Twitter. The address used, however, was apparently for a completely unrelated person, father of two Andrew Finch, who was subsequently shot and killed by police after opening his door. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and extradited to Kansas, having tweeted an admission of guilt and being suspected of multiple other incidents, including a bomb threat.

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Jukebox Heroes: Five great YouTube channels for MMO music

As a collector and reviewer of MMORPG soundtracks, I owe a great debt to fellow music lovers who take the time to somehow extract files from the game directories and make these tracks available to the world at large. YouTube has been an invaluable treasure trove of MMO music, thanks to these devoted fans, and I thought I would give some of them props today for their hard and continuing work.

While there are plenty of channels where you might see a person post a playlist at one point for a single game, there are a handful of YouTubers who see their mission to continually post new music for ongoing online games. Today we are going to look at five channels and the game soundtracks that they cover. We’re talking hours and hours of music at your fingertips here, so set aside your plans for the rest of the day and get listening!

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PAX East 2018: Ashes of Creation will launch alpha one this year

Ashes of Creation will hit alpha one by the end of the year, Intrepid Studios announced today during its panel at PAX East. The game slipped into a phase it’s calling “alpha zero” back in December.

“The first phase of this public test for all Alpha One level backers will focus primarily on combat, hosting large amounts of players for our siege and warfare systems,” says the studio. “Leading up until the start of Alpha 1, we will still be inviting more players into the Alpha Zero Friends & Family tests.”

Massively OP is at PAX East this week and slated to meet with Intrepid tomorrow, so stay tuned for more coverage, and check out the new PAX video below!

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Massively Overthinking: How do you maintain your health while binging MMORPGs?

Kotaku put out a piece this week on how to game without wrecking your body, something that’s probably bound to come up in the average MMORPG player’s life. It’s filled with basic tips like “drink water, ya moron” and “sit up straight” and “don’t eat garbage” and “look at stuff other than the screen” but there are also some useful tips in there like “stretch before you binge” – including your hips and wrists, which you might otherwise overlook.

For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to expound on two things: first, the most unhealthy video gaming moment or habit they’ve ever had, and second, one specific thing they do to keep themselves from completely destroying their bodies when their hobby has become their career.

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Wizard101 plans its 10-year anniversary while Pirate101 grooms Handsome Dan

With the 10th anniversary of Wizard101 approaching, the team at KingsIsle is squirreling itself away behind closed doors to plan a grand soiree. We don’t know the details of this party yet, but fans have the go-ahead to get excited about this “grand celebration.”

Over at sister game Pirate101, the team is adding “a little more flair” to the bulldog Handsome Dan and is promoting the 101 games Fansite Festival that’s taking place on April 15th around both games. You’ll want to check out the events page to see what the community is doing.

The KingsIsle team recently went to SXSW and had a lot of fun showing off its roster of games. Check it out after the break!

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GDC 2018: Depictions of violence and war in video games and Destiny’s Sword

I love stories. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I love stories not just for their raw entertainment value, but for their ability to teach. It’s not heavy-handed like being in class, but stories teach culture, customs, and character. We visit the past, the present, the future. We experience things through stories we might never get to experience for ourselves. War, I hope, is one of those things.

Andrew Barron, Director of Design at Bohemia Interactive Simulations, has seen war. And war stories. He’s also been in the game industry for awhile, both before and after his time as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He knows war, but he also knows war simulators. It’s actually his job to help build them. So when he says our games our violent, he knows what he’s saying, but the context for that may not be easily understood. However, once it is, you’ll see that not only do we have some games getting war “right,” but that there’s room for us to grow, and some people are already working on that in a way that sounds, well, fun.

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Massively Overthinking: How much money spent makes you an MMO whale?

Several conversations I saw after our report on the new RMT mounts in Guild Wars 2 got me thinking about how the MMO community uses the word whale. I had used the word to refer to the kind of person who buys a ton of RNG-based lockboxes to get every last one of the shiny bits and bobs within, but the reality is that anyone who pays a respectable flat fee for a purely cosmetic upgrade has also been hooked on some sort of fishing rod or other, even if it’s not a harpoon.

So let’s consider the numbers behind the terminology in this week’s Massively Overthinking. How much money spent makes you an MMO whale? Does it apply only to cosmetics or lockboxes? When does the “whale” term kick in for people who buy early access, collector editions, or 10 expansion boxes over the course of an MMO’s life? Are most gamers more properly dolphins or something in 2018?

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GDC 2018: ARK Park’s Snail Games on VR, science, and the future of the franchise

As you may recall, I was given just a little time to hit up Snail Games’ ARK Park a few days before I left for GDC 2018. I was able to make it to the games’ launch party, but as I’d already played the game, it was mostly useful for talking to people involved in its creation between speeches/demos. However, afterwards, I was allowed to pass some questions on to Snail Games Vice President Tianqi “Sky” Wu about bugs, science, and the future of ARK. We have some exclusive information about that last tip, but don’t worry, no chief engineers, computer programmers, or lawyers were harmed in the making of this game. Well, not physically, at least.

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Choose My Adventure: Frenzied slashing in Warframe

So, for this week’s antics in Warframe, I bought a frame.

“Shenanigans!” you cry. “The poll went against your buying a frame!” And it’s true, the poll did go against that… the week that I put up that poll. But there was no poll last week, and thus I declared executive privilege and went with the frame that I’d been eyeing for some time as a perfect compliment to my playstyle. Which, despite what many people have suggested, was not one of the most stealthy frames.

My reasoning, ultimately, was that there was no real way for me to reliably farm up the materials to build an additional frame and actually start playing with something else in the time I had remaining. Thus, rather than continuing to tool around with just the Excalibur, I felt that it behooved me to give another frame a shot so that I could at least realistically say whether having a different option altered my opinion about the game as a whole.

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GDC 2018: Yokozuna, big game data, and the future of MMO monetization

GDC isn’t E3. It isn’t PAX. It’s not even what I think stereotypical gamers can appreciate. But I think the Massively OP crowd is a different sort, and because of that, we can give you some content the other guys might not be talking to you about. Like data collection and monetization. They’re necessary evils, in that we armchair devs can generally see past mistakes rolled out again, but know those choices are being made in the pursuit of money.

So how do you make better games and money? Maybe try hiring some data scientists, not just to help with product testing and surveys, but with some awesome, AI-driven, deep learning tools. Like from Yokozuna Data, whose platform predicts individual player behavior. I was lucky enough to sit down with not only Design and Communication Lead Vitor Santos but Chief Data Scientist África Periáñez, whose research on churn prediction inspired me to contact the company about our interview in the first place!

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The gaming community rallies around EverQuest Next AI developer Dave Mark

A renowned game AI designer who worked on EverQuest Next and John Smedley’s Hero’s Song is the focal point of concern following an accident at this past week’s GDC.

Dave Mark was struck as a pedestrian by a car at the conference and has suffered brain bleeds, a pelvis fracture, a hip fracture, and possible brain damage. Mark’s friends set up a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of his travel, medical costs, and rehabilitation. It looks like the campaign has taken off, too, as it raised nearly $20,000 in its first day.

“Please help if you can,” tweeted Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster. “We are lucky to still have him with us, and recovery will be a long road.”

“Please help if you can. Dave is a wonderful guy with a beautiful family and he’s also one of the worlds leading experts on game AI. Send love and prayers his way,” said John Smedley.

Source: GoFundMe

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