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The Game Archaeologist: Harry Potter Online

If all goes well, later this year we will finally be treated to an actual Harry Potter MMORPG in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. While that will be a mobile ARG in the vein of Pokemon Go, it will still be a big step into the online space that MMO fans have been craving for nearly two decades now.

Obviously, Harry Potter continues to be a mammoth franchise for J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts, which has handled the video game license over the years. While there have been single-player Harry Potter titles, especially on consoles, no MMORPG emerged even at the height of the IP craze that swallowed up Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer, and more. So why not?

The truth is that Harry Potter Online almost did happen. Its brief existence and development isn’t too well-known, even today, but the wasted potential has always tantalized me with what could have been. Using a time-turner, we will go back to the late 1990s today and peek in on a possible future that came to fruition.

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Jukebox Heroes: Vanguard Saga of Heroes’ soundtrack

It may be hard to believe, but it has already been about four years since SOE decided to close down the troubled yet cult favorite Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. On July 31, 2014, the game world went dark, and many players found themselves saying farewell to Telon for good.

While I was not a regular player of Vanguard, I did admire the game for its interesting concepts (like its diplomacy system), its gorgeous visuals, and — pertinent to this column — its soundtrack. There was a lot of artistry involved in this title, and while it was hampered in many ways for many reasons, Vanguard left a legacy that is still fondly remembered by some.

Part of that legacy is its music, and other than screenshots and recollections, it is the only part of Vanguard that we can still experience today. The soundtrack was composed by Todd Masten, who has worked on many other video games such as the Age of Empires series. So let us take a trip back to this fantasy MMO and hear the music of a dead world brought back to life.

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Final Fantasy XIV releases its next patch site and its Live Letter digest

Players are crucial to the reconstruction of Doma in Final Fantasy XIV, so it’s only right that the next leg of the game’s main scenario will bring us back there. The special site is already available for players to peruse, offering some details on the upcoming patch and giving a hint at the lore behind the Sparrow’s Compass dungeon. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t sound like everything is going to go smoothly for Doma… which should surprise almost no one.

Meanwhile, players who had subsisted on fan translations of the live letter can now read over the official digest of its contents, which includes a number of additional (and relevant) pieces of information. For example, there’s further explanation of the “Greed Only” rule in Alliances, noting that it’s in place to prevent people from feeling pressured to run on the job they want to gear up when it may be at a lower item level; it’s an experimental rule that is open to revision based on community feedback. In other words, offer feedback on it. Or anything else in the letter’s official translation, really.

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Paragon artist shows off concept art from the doomed MOBA

Perhaps because the announcement was all the way back in January, but Paragon’s shutdown is scheduled to take place at the end of next week. Epic Games made the decision to pull the plug on the action MOBA due to an unsustainable playerbase and refunded all users any money they had spent on the title.

As the sun begins to set on this title, we can take a moment to ponder what might have been. Artist Dave Rapoza shared some concept art on Twitter that he had developed for the game but had never been turned into actual assets. This gallery of characters ranges from the heroic to the bizarre and gives a taste of the odd sci-fi angle the game as attempting.

“Four years ago I got the opportunity to help flesh out Paragon, the now-cancelled MOBA from Epic Games,” Rapoza wrote. “I was given free reign on the character designs, it was an awesome opportunity, but most of these never made it into the game. Hope you like it!”

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EVE Fanfest 2018: Andrew Groen on the sequel to his popular EVE Online history book

One of the most common comments you’ll see in articles about big events in EVE Online is that it’s a lot more entertaining to read about than to play, and that’s certainly true if what you’re reading is Empires of EVE. Written by EVE Historian Andrew Groen back in 2015 and published thanks to the support of over 3,000 players through a crowdfunding campaign, Empires of EVE tells the story of some of EVE‘s earliest and most deadly wars and political schisms.

Cutting through all of the propaganda and player self-motivations in a political sandbox like EVE is no small task, and it’s complicated by over a decade of shifting loyalties, misinformation, propaganda, and misremembered events. Andrew is uniquely equipped to cut through many of those issues, collecting as accurate historical records as possible and delivering it all as a coherent, deeply compelling narrative that even plenty of non-players have thoroughly enjoyed. Andrew recently announced that Empires of EVE had broken the 15,000 sales mark, and at EVE Fanfest 2018 he announced a sequel is now in the works.

I caught up with Andrew at Fanfest to find out how the first book’s success has affected him and what the future holds for Empires of EVE: Volume II.

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Elder Scrolls Online’s new video summarizes the snobby elves of Summerset

Just as Morrowind was much more than elves, so is Summerset, but it’s hard for the elves in this elven kingdom not to take center stage. ZeniMax is demonstrating just that with its latest Elder Scrolls Online video and dev blog, which describes the Altmer as stereotypically pretentious, vain perfectionists who are traditionally isolationist. In other words, they aren’t all going to welcome your outlander self just because their Queen has opened the borders.

“When building Summerset, the primary thing that we were trying to show was the history of the people who live there,” ZeniMax explains. “Players can explore the ruins of ancient Elven architecture throughout the zone, and see in the cities how the more recent High Elf civilization has continued to build on top of those ancient foundations.”

You can check out that video down below, then hit up today’s earlier piece, which includes some of the new bits that just hit the test server!

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Tencent is bringing mobile OARPG Raziel westward for your clicking pleasure

If OARPGs with Torchlight-esque graphics are your thing and your mobile device packs a punch, then feast your eyes and wallet on Raziel. Gaming behemoth Tencent has apparently picked up the title from developer Indra to port to phones and tablets in the west this year. It’s already out in Australia.

Raziel is a fast-paced, hack-n-slash style RPG with a range of multiplayer and guild gameplay modes. Featuring advanced Unity 3D graphics, fast and flexible gameplay, and a diverse collection of characters and maps, the visually stunning adventure sets a new standard for mobile gaming.”

The game boasts four playable toons (with more as you go), a companion system so you can drag an NPC along with you (a la Diablo), more than 60 singleplayer dungeons. Tencent is calling this a “revolutionary MMORPG,” for what it’s worth, but the “massive” seems to focus on basic co-op and 1v1, 2v2, and guild battle-style PvP.

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Star Trek Online spruces up Deep Space Nine for the expansion

While Deep Space Nine and the Gamma quadrant are the chief focus of this June’s Star Trek Online: Victory is Life, the space station actually has been in the game for a long time now. However, the developers feel that the place wasn’t up to snuff and decided to use the expansion as an excuse to bring DS9 up to code.

“We’ve rebuilt the entirety of the Promenade ring to match the show,” Cryptic said. “That means all of your favorite spots are there, including one you’ve already got a sneak peek at in the recent episode ‘The Renegade’s Regret’ — the Security Office and its Holding Cells. In addition, we’ve updated or added the Infirmary, the Bajoran Temple, the Klingon Deli, the Jumja Stand, the Replimat, and of course, Garak’s Clothiers. Oh, and how could I have forgotten, Quark’s Bar!”

To expand and flesh out the station, the developers used blueprints from the TV show and screenshots from several episodes. Much of the show was referenced, in fact, filling up a folder with 2,600 screenshots to aid in the reconstruction process.

Source: Star Trek Online. Thanks Castagere!

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One Shots: How to go blind in one easy step

As someone who only has one functioning eye, I find that my vision is paramount to my quality of life and personal enjoyment. Plus, it would make playing MMORPGs slightly more difficult if everything was dark.

But I’m not everyone, and I have to allow for the possibility that there are gamers out there who are desperate to lose their sight but at a loss as to how to do it. With that in mind, I present SmugglerSteel’s one-step process to going blind in 10 seconds or less: Find the largest sun you can in Star Wars: The Old Republic and stare at it from about 20 feet away.

At least the last thing you’ll see will literally brighten your day!

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The Daily Grind: Who is the best MMO villain?

Setting up and establishing a memorable villain is tricky business, especially in online games where players barrel through them like dominoes. We’ve fought so many bad guys and gals over the years that the rogue’s gallery would stretch to the horizon.

Yet some of these dastardly bosses rise above the rest in their machinations. Maybe it’s a truly captivating backstory, wickedly funny one-liners, or shocking actions that cement them in our minds as villains for the ages.

Looking back at all of the villains you’ve faced in MMOs in your career, who would you say is the best, the baddest, and the most memorable of them all?

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Check out these jaw-dropping LOTRO panoramas

One of the true joys for many Lord of the Rings Online fans is being able to explore an intricate and often gorgeous-looking Middle-earth. While many screenshot folders have been filled with LOTRO vistas over the years, one player has taken it to the next level by piecing together spectacular panoramas of the landscape.

“Tolkien has put so much detail into creating Middle-earth. That’s why I decided to tag my screenshots with as much detail as to name of places, mountains, rivers, and the many things that Tolkien envisioned in Middle-earth that are present in LOTRO,” wrote Joego.

Check out several of these below, and for the rest, make sure to swing over to Joego’s Facebook page.

Source: Facebook. Thanks Joshua!

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Conan Exiles begins the countdown to launch with a new trailer

Fourteen months after hitting early access, Funcom is getting ready to launch Conan Exiles for real. Ahead of the May 8th release, the studio has posted up a brand-new teaser trailer to kick off the countdown. It’s just over 24 days, if you’re wondering or bad at math.

“Besides being the first time it’s available on PlayStation 4, the launch of Conan Exiles brings with it a massive expansion of the game world, game-changing new features such as monster invasions known as the purge and an entirely new action-oriented combat system, as well as many other major additions that truly makes this the ultimate vision of Conan Exiles. If you were ever on the fence, or you are just discovering it for the first time, May 8th is the time to join the adventure.”

MOP’s MJ got hands-on with the launch build earlier this month; you can check out her impressions right here! There’s a clipping issue in one of the screenshots – gold star if you find it!

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EVE Fanfest 2018: EVE Online’s upcoming ‘Into the Abyss’ expansion sounds incredible

While player capsuleers are undoubtedly the most powerful force in EVE Online, there are some pretty scary NPCs lurking in the depths of space. One of those threats has just been unearthed throughout New Eden with the discovery of The Triglavian Collective, an ancient and twisted offshoot of the human race found in tiny pockets of space cut off from the rest of the universe. EVE Online players will soon be able to invade these pockets of Abyssal Deadspace and face the collective in the upcoming “Into the Abyss” expansion coming on May 29th.

At EVE Fanfest 2018, CCP revealed a huge set of interconnected new features revolving around ancient Triglavian ships and Abyssal Deadspace pockets. Players will hunt through these bizarre new environments filled with unpredictable dangers that get more challenging the further you go, and with increased challenge comes some incredible rewards. You’ll find blueprints for powerful Triglavian ships, an incredible new weapon system ominously named the Entropic Disintegrator, and organic mutaplasmids that can transform your existing modules into powerful Abyssal versions.

Read on to find out who the Triglavian Collective are, what the deal is with Abyssal Deadspace, and why the “Into The Abyss” expansion could be incredible for solo PvE players.

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