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Valiance Online promises fans that it is ‘moving forward’

Fans that might look at Valiance Online’s development chart and wonder when, oh when alpha will ever arrive are being treated to a pep talk from the team today. A reality check was posted on the official forums for those finding that patience with this project is in short supply.

“Game development is not a science, especially for a small indie team,” the Valiance Online devs wrote. “The unexpected happens, like Unity suddenly deciding to make major changes to the engine with no warning, or members of the team being unavailable due to their ‘day job’ or family/medical issues and when you have a small team, just one member being ‘AFK’ affects progress a lot. This is why we have decided to not post dates for when things will be done because ‘stuff’ happens and we don’t have the resources like a larger studio might have to deal with it as quickly. That’s just how it is.”

The good news? Progress is being made, and the team is just as excited about getting to alpha status as its fans. “Regardless of whatever challenges or setbacks we face, we keep moving forward,” promised the team.

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MMO devs eulogize EverQuest II developer John Tessin

We’re sorry to report this evening the passing of an MMORPG genre veteran, John Tessin, who worked for SOE for 13 years, most extensively on EverQuest II.

John’s daughter told friends and family that he’d been suffering from cancer but that his death was nevertheless sudden. She asked for a small donation through GoFundMe to handle burial expenses not being covered by veteran’s benefits; as I write this, that fundraiser has already exceeded its ask thanks to the generosity of developers and gamers.

Big hugs go out to John’s family and colleagues from all of us at MOP.

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Black Desert kicks off a new Lauren family event

You’re going to have to forgive us, Black Desert fans, but we don’t know much about the Lauren family. We know that the game is kicking off a Lauren family event today, though, so we know they must be some sort of a big deal. Are these good guys? Do you like these people? Maybe you don’t know either. But you can still take their coins and use them for prize boxes, so perhaps it doesn’t actually matter in the long run.

It’s probably Grace Lauren. She would hand out random coins. We’re going with that. There, lore speculation over.

Players will receive 10 Lauren family coins every hour up to a max of 50 per day, and 30 of those coins will earn you a special Lauren family giftbox. Each giftbox contains one of several items, ranging from a small number of Memory Fragments to an Ogre Ring or a special weapon box. You’ll be able to earn a lot of these boxes during the event, too. So will you roll the dice and see what you get? Why not? It’s free stuff. Free stuff is always good.

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Crowfall posts another teaser for the reveal of teasers

What could Crowfall’s teasers for Teaser Week mean? Are they teasing new classes? New races? New combinations of same? Today’s teaser is just a group of images consisting of a short, hairy man, some weapons, and some landscapes. That could be a teaser for an upcoming camping trip with your uncle Todd, but probably not. (You may not even have an uncle Todd. We don’t know your family very well.)

Of course, speculation is running rampant, so you can feel free to engage in your own speculation down below. You might also want to take yesterday’s teaser into account. And hey, if you’d like to also bring in stuff like the Lead Masks incident and the UVB-76 broadcast, who are we to judge?

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Realm Zero seeks funds for its ‘evolving’ world vision

What can one man do with four years of spare time, a computer, and a fondness for video games? If you’re Hank Newman, you throw yourself into making your very own sandbox fantasy MMORPG called Realm Zero.

Billing itself as “an evolving online world,” Realm Zero’s focus seems to be on a player-created and -driven environment. Player houses and guild castles are a big part of this, as is the economy, agriculture, and crafting. There are also some expected MMO features, such as developing a character’s broad skillset, dungeon diving, and even treasure hunting.

While the game is currently in closed beta testing, Newman has launched his own Kickstarter campaign to raise $80,000 so that he can expand development and even hire others to help complete Realm Zero. “This project was originally started 4 years ago and has only been developed in my free time, totaling roughly 2,000 hours. The reason for the limited development time is due to maintaining a full-time job, in addition to finding time to spend with friends and family,” he said.

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Exploring TellTale’s Guardians of the Galaxy ‘crowd play’: A dual group dynamic

I have sort of an odd relationship with “story” in gaming. JRPGs really got me into gaming and inspired me to focus on my writing voice(s). Though the quality of narration in MMOs are just bad, some of my early experiences with the genre (particularly Asheron’s Call‘s GM driven story arcs that gave players a way to interact with lore as a group) opened up the possibility of group narratives, especially for those who roleplayed. In fact, as odd as it may sound, I think RP PvP in general showed me just how strong of a feature it can be for someone like me, from virtual Darkfall pirates trying to steal my boat to Star Wars: The Old Republic Jedi fighting for alignment while my bounty hunter simply struggles to make the most money while making the fewest enemies.

Still, sometimes we don’t want to go grind through 20 mobs to get to the next part of the story, or suffer through a raid dance to choose the fate of a character we’ve been interacting with solo. It’s one of the reasons I figure MJ and Larry’s Choose My Alignment is so popular: You still get that story vote without having to be a member of the actual group. It’s odd, being an older MMO player who still sometimes struggles with accepting solo play in MMOs, but the story aspect is the part I get. It’s actually the main thing that kept me in SWTOR.

But there are other options for this kind of play, primarily through TellTale Games and its Crowd Play feature and new game, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. Don’t worry story fans, as I’ll keep this article spoiler free!

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SMITE honors terminally ill player with community avatar

A popular SMITE player and streamer battling cancer has shared the news that it’s terminal, and the impending loss is affecting the community deeply. David Hance, known as Allied, played most recently with Luminosity Gaming, and the organization is urging folks to donate to cancer research.  In honor of Allied, who has touched the lives of many, Hi-Rez is offering an avatar with his likeness to every player for free; just redeem the code #alliedstrong in the store. The code works for both PC and consoles.

We wish Allied and his family and friends much strength and comfort during his struggles. You can join with the devs and the rest of the community in offering support on Twitter with the hashtag #alliedstrong.

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KingsIsle seeks support to get EverClicker on Steam; Wizard101 and Pirate101 might be next

First there was EverQuest. Then there was Ever, Jane. Now there’s EverClicker. This sort of trend could go on (wait for it) forever.

KingsIsle, the studio behind both Wizard101 and Pirate101, is branching out into the mobile space and is looking for fan support to propel its newest title onto Steam. On the Wizard101 forums, the team asks the community to head over to Steam Greenlight to vote for EverClicker in the hopes of seeing it hit the big time.

Oddly enough, both 101 games have yet to debut on Steam themselves, but KingsIsle said that EverClicker could pave the way for that. “It’s easier to start our journey onto Steam with a game that isn’t hugely complicated with a lot of moving parts,” the studio said. “Starting with EverClicker on Steam allows us to learn the process. If successful, we hope to be able to offer more of our games on Steam and other distribution outlets in the future, which could include games such as Wizard101 and Pirate101.”

Source: Wizard101 forums, Steam Greenlight. Thanks, Tom!

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SWTOR expansion trailer is nominated for a Webby

Here’s a welcome shot of publicity for Star Wars: The Old Republic this week. Knights of the Eternal Throne’s “Betrayed” trailer was nominated for a Webby Award for the Long Form (Branded) category alongside companies such as BMW and Chipotle. The public can view and vote for whichever short film they think is the best, so obviously SWTOR would appreciate your help in propelling it to the top.

The trailer, created by Blur and directed by Dave Wilson, was released to promote last fall’s expansion. It shows the backstory of a powerful Force-using family and the separate paths that certain members took over the course of their lives. Also, it has a girl Force-crushing an armored soldier like he was a soda can, so that’s pretty awesome.

If you need a refresher on the trailer in question, we’ve got it for you after the break.

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The Game Archaeologist: SOE’s The Agency

The graveyard of Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak Game Company is certainly full enough to be considered a threat if there was ever a zombie uprising among MMORPGs. From PlanetSide to Free Realms, there are plenty of live games that were disposed of in this grim fictional burial ground. But there are also those stillborn titles that never had the change to make or break in a live environment. EverQuest Next might be the most fresh in our minds, but go back a handful of years and you might have seen players lamenting the loss of a different promising SOE game: The Agency.

The Agency seems like a natural fit for the studio’s focus on first-person shooters and a willingness to branch out from strictly fantasy territory. Instead of dragons or stormtroopers, players in this game were to face off against terrorist organizations and dastardly spy agencies, all in the pursuit of living out the ultimate James Bond fantasy.

But instead of sitting on our desktop, The Agency exists only in a forgotten corner of this imaginary cemetery. Today, let us tenderly brush off its worn tombstone and remember what we can about this canceled spy shooter.

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Leaderboard: How much did your family support gaming as a hobby when you were a kid?

I was chatting with my mom this morning when I was surprised to hear her say that she was impressed with how good my five-year-old son has gotten with video games. I wasn’t surprised because it’s not true; he’s phenomenal, and letting him play games, including MMOs (in moderation and under supervision!), has improved his reading skills, focus, coordination, and puzzle-solving. I’ve watched it happen!

What surprised me is that I wouldn’t have imagined adults saying that when I was a teenager, never mind when I was a kindergartner. Oh sure, we had a few consoles growing up, but PC gaming, especially the online sort, got side-eyes. Now I have a nephew whose tech-savvy parents send him to video game design camp. It’s a different world now!

Or is it? For today’s Leaderboard, I want to hear from you: How much did your family support or enable gaming as a hobby when you were growing up?

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Wizard101, Pirate101 newsletters tease big ‘monstrology’ update for the Spiral

KingsIsle has just put out a pair of monthly newsletters for its 101 games — heads-up to any lost Club Penguin peeps that there are some non-mobile MMOs still catering to your tastes!

While Pirate101’s community letter is more of the social sort, Wizard101 is currently in the midst of plotting a new update for players.

“Please download the Test Realm and join us in Testing the Monstrology system, three new Skeleton Key Bosses, the level 118 school pet quests, Aquila fishing, and much more,” the Wizard101 crew says.

There’s a teaser video too down below so you know just what to expect.

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The Soapbox: Why is Pokemon GO still a tech demo?

I’ve been a bit frustrated with Niantic lately. I love some of its ideas, but I watched someone else play Ingress prior to Pokemon GO’s release, and I noticed very similar problems between the two games after release — problems that the company should have noticed and corrected in its followup.

Recently I decided to try out the former. Both are totally unintuitive. You have to search the UI for the tutorials, though Ingress’ can be accessed only near objectives. You’re asked to join a faction sooner there than in PoGO and with no context beyond 2-3 sentences. The game throws jargon with little to no context at you throughout the tutorial, making it difficult to follow. I walked around, clicking things and used items that I don’t fully understand, not because I’m too lazy to read but because I wanted to understand a game without consulting google. I saw portals get taken without anyone around me as I stood by an objective near a government-restricted area where standing still longer than it takes to read “No Trespassing” could trigger security. I couldn’t get into it, not just because it was simple but because it was poorly designed.

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