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Veteran Norwegian studio behind The Secret World, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, and LEGO Minifigures Online.

Chaos Theory: My Secret World 2017 goals

When the year-end Massively Overthinking asked about game resolutions, I honestly answered that I don't really make any because I hadn't ever done that and didn't expect to start. Many of the goals I make as I play throughout the year are pretty specific to what is happening at that time and what I feel inclined to do right then. But the topic stuck with me, and I began thinking about what goals I did have in The Secret World.

Once I started thinking about it in concrete terms, I was able to pinpoint a few more things I'd really like to accomplish this year. It turns out there are some that are more overarching than just an in-the-moment whim. So here they are: my 2017 TSW goals. At the close of this year, you can help me gauge how well I did. (Ironically, since this column was usurped by other topics hogging the spotlight for a couple of weeks, my first goal has already been achieved. Go me!) And please, add any goals you have in the comments!

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs with the most unclear futures in 2017

A little while back, I took a look at the healthiest games in the MMO space at this time. That was a nice, uplifting list, wasn't it? And all of those titles continue to do just fine, even if one or two might have had a few bits of shocking news along the way.

Unfortunately, this is not an industry in which health is assured. Games can be high-quality and beloved, but they can still be shut down by outside forces. And that's not counting games that just come out in the wrong time period or launch in an unrecoverable state.

That may sound grim, but we're already staring at the first two shutdowns of 2017 in the near future, and both of the titles being killed are surprises. One of them might have wound up on this list if it weren't being shut down, but at this point, it is. So let's look at the MMOs with the most unclear futures and start hoping for the best.

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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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The Daily Grind: Are contemporary settings underutilized in MMOs?

We all know that fantasy is by far the most popular setting for MMORPGs -- but what is the least? While not completely unrepresented in the genre, the contemporary setting seems to be on the low end.

Maybe it is because we want to be transported to a far-away world, not invited to a place that's practically next door. Perhaps it's just more difficult to figure out how to meld MMO mechanics with cell phones, the internet, and drive-thru Starbucks. But it can and has been done, most notably in The Secret World and now in the upcoming Identity.

What do you think? Are contemporary settings underutilized in MMOs? Could they bring something new and interesting to the table? What would get you to play in such a game world?

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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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Chaos Theory: The Secret World says sayonara to 2016

Have you ever had a year that you looked back on and all you could really say was, Hey, I made it through. I've had years like that, when many things either go wrong, go a totally different way than hoped/planned, or just don't really go anywhere at all. But you know what? Not going anywhere is better than going away! It may seem sometimes like the only thing to celebrate is the fact that you are are actually still here, but that is reason enough to cheer.

The Secret World seems to have had just such a year. And by golly, it deserves three cheers just for hanging on. It may not have been the best year filled with fulfilled dreams and wishes, but it could have been worse. It could have been way, way worse: It could have not made it to 2017! So even though there were hiccups and disappointments, I am super glad I still have TSW to log into and play. And I am looking forward to 2017!

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Gamers resurrect LEGO Universe as Darkflame Universe with January alpha

Forget 2017; today I'm going to ask you to think back to 2010, when the folks behind LEGO decided it would be a great idea to release an MMORPG based on the building block universe but make it super unwieldy and hypervigilant with a weird business model that didn't make much sense to the families likely to play it. Now fast-forward to 2011, when the team gave up on the so-named LEGO Universe because it had "not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open," sunsetting the title in 2012, only to see Funcom take a stab at the IP with LEGO Minifigures Online in 2014. It closed last September for pretty much the same reason.

So if you have a craving for some classic LEGO MMO gameplay and aren't enthused about MineCraft and Trove and their ilk, maybe this'll grab you: Former players under the banner of Darkflame Universe are bringing back the original LEGO Universe, with closed alpha set to begin on January 31st, the fifth anniversary of the closure.

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The Stream Team: A winter date with Hel in The Secret World

As much as Massively OP's MJ loves The Secret World's Christmas Conspiracy holiday mission, there's more to the event than just that. And she hasn't participated in many of those aspects in a while. In fact, it's been too long since she tracked a Krampus into Niflheim to dance with Hel. So that's what she's going to do. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for a play date with the frosty queen herself.

What: The Secret World
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 29th, 2016

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Anarchy Online rolls out its new item store

After a short delay from its original rollout date of December 20th, the new and improved item store is now live in Anarchy Online. You know, just in case you wanted to do any online holiday shopping (for a 'friend,' of course).

Funcom is running a promotion with the debut of the new shop: "As part of our holiday event and new shop launch, we're offering character slots at a 50% discount until the end of the event. Character slots may be found in the 'special' tab."

Anarchy Online players can also enjoy the holiday event, which is scheduled to run from now through January 9th.

Source: Twitter

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Massively OP's Best of 2016 Awards: MMORPG Studio of the Year

Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016, which was awarded to Square-Enix last year.

We asked our writers to consider major MMORPG studios in 2016, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMORPG genre this year specifically. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!

The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016 is...

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Massively OP's MMO guide to the Steam Winter Sale

Do you have any money left after all of that holiday shopping, travel, and dining out? Steam would very much like to have what remains, if you please, and is willing to trade you some discounted games in return.

Yes, the annual Steam Winter Sale is up and running, which means all sorts of deals for the frugal MMORPG player. We've compiled a huge list of all of the deals -- including discounts of up to 90% off! -- to help you navigate the holiday promotion. The sale ends on January 2nd. Hope it helps!

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Massively OP's Best of 2016 Awards: Best MMORPG Holiday Event of 2016

Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for the MMORPG with the Best Holiday Event of 2016, which is yet another new award for us this year, and we have readers Agemyth and Mylicia to thank for suggesting it. The award is self-explanatory: It's meant for the MMORPG with the best holiday-themed event that took place during 2016 specifically, regardless of when the game itself was launched. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!

The Massively OP staff pick for MMORPG with the Best Holiday Event of 2016 is...

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