halloween

LOTRO Legendarium: They’re taking the Hobbits to Erebor!

With some depressing news bouncing around the MMO genre as of late, it was particularly welcome to read an upbeat and exciting producer’s letter from Lord of the Rings Online this past week. And surprising as well — I don’t think many people were expecting a “state of the game” post in late November, of all times. That’s sort of a “new year” thing. I’m not complaining.

Because you all are my fellow Hobbits, there is no one else who I would rather chat with about all of these reveals. Probably no one else would tolerate me doing this, anyway, so here I am and here you are. What did you think about this letter? Here is my takeaway, but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Massively OP’s guide to MMO Thanksgiving 2017

Stately resting between the gaudy purple and orange of Halloween and merry red and green of Christmas is the earth tone-saturated Thanksgiving. While no one’s favorite color scheme, Thanksgiving does give us a nice in-between holiday with family meals, an awkward dance around politics, a work day for football teams, and the occasional MMORPG holiday event.

While not every online game has decided to embrace the American holiday, enough pop up every year that need corralling. And since we just got turkey certified here at Massively OP, we’re going to lay out all of this week’s event options for you on a platter. So enjoy the festivities and dressing up like a Pilgrim for two days maximum before deeply questioning that fashion sense. Now jingly sleigh bells, size XXXL red suits, and reindeer antlers, that’s a smart look indeed!

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Lord of the Rings Online is heading to Northern Mirkwood, Erebor, and Minas Morgul

Don’t get too comfortable in Mordor just yet, because Lord of the Rings Online is preparing to send its players to the far reaches of the explored map come 2018.

Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini dropped a juicy letter today that went into detail about the studio’s plans for LOTRO over the next year. It all begins with Update 21.3’s Abyss of Mordath raid, coming before the end of 2017. Then in early 2018, Update 22 is taking players to Northern Mirkwood, Dale, Laketown, and Erebor. Following that is Update 23, which returns to Mordor for a trip into Minas Morgul and a confrontation with Shelob.

Ciccolini sprinkled in some other additions and improvements coming to the game, including Elk mounts(!), a playable fiddle, updates to the festivals, the continuation of the Bingo Boffin storyline from last Halloween, and avatar updates to Dwarf and Hobbit models.

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MMO Mechanics: What can be learned from Guild Wars 2 Mountgate?

Most often, MMO Mechanics articles focus on the gameplay mechanics that both make the MMO genre unique and those that diversify MMOs from one another, but this time I’m focusing on the mechanics that drive profit for the modern development studio and will discuss the lootbox phenomenon. Although the lootbox is by no means a new topic in the world of online gaming, the purchasing method has been under fire more than ever recently and has seldom faced the same scrutiny from the playerbase and wider media before now.

Recently it has been ArenaNet under fire for the particular way randomisation factors into purchasing Guild Wars 2 mount adoption licence skins. A unique combination of a highly requested and anticipated extension of a likewise highly requested and successful new game feature and the employment of lootbox mechanics has caused quite a stir in the game community, despite the fact that Guild Wars 2’s Black Lion Chests already employ RNG lootbox mechanics. In this article, I’m going to discuss why the skins were such an issue in the first place, evaluate ArenaNet’s response to the player outrage the skins caused, and ponder on the reasons why studios rely on lootbox mechanics in the first place.

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Dragon of Legends hopes to get on Steam soon

It has been a long while since we heard anything about Dragon of Legends, a pixel art-style indie MMORPG that ran a small but successful Kickstarter last year and then dropped off the map. Fortunately, the project isn’t vaporware, as evidenced by developers cranking up communication over the past few months.

Back in September, the team reported that the game was “very close now to going live on Steam” and that it was focusing on the Ranger and Wizard classes for the Steam build. Moving into October, Dragon of Legends received some Halloween touches and opened up caves for testers to explore.

Just because the game is 2-D doesn’t mean that building its world is simple. Developer Desmond Thackeray wrote up a piece explaining the process of creating 2-D level design and how it is more challenging than one might assume. “If Dragon of Legends is to be successful, we must pay close attention to verisimilitude,” he said. “We strive to make the environments realistic in that the terrain makes sense, and that every scene is full of life and uniqueness.”

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Disney has canceled Marvel Heroes, Marvel has ended its relationship with Gazillion

We can now confirm this as real, following a statement made by a Marvel representative to Massively OP. We’re updating below.

According to Kotaku, Disney has canceled Marvel Heroes – on all platforms – and nuked its business partnership with Gazillion. Here’s the message Kotaku says it received:

“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”

The news will not come as a shock to MMORPG players, as we’ve been chronicling the mess over at Gazillion for weeks now. We’d gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team, social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews were flooding in, the PC playerbase shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations flew from former studio employees in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio became the goal of some activist players.

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Marvel Heroes’ update silence has stretched to four weeks; here are the latest developments

I’m afraid we still can’t say that Marvel Heroes is going to be OK, as we’ve now gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team.

As we’ve previously covered, Gazillion hasn’t provided its regular Friday update since October 13th; social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews flood in, the PC playerbase has shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations from former studio employees have surfaced in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio is now the goal of some activist players.

While Gazillion issued us a statement claiming “the company is functioning normally” (when anyone who ever played can tell you it’s not), it downplayed the standing allegations as “unsubstantiated internet accusations.” The studio also refused to answer direct questions about the company’s leadership, communication plans, and missed updates. All the company said last week was that it had no news and would update everyone when it could. Reportedly, a studio rep reiterated that statement this past weekend and told in-person visitors to stay away from the company HQ (thread now deleted).

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Dauntless wraps up Halloween, gives testers a reset button

Continuing its mission to teach people across the world that if an animal is big enough it should be killed, Dauntless has pushed out its closed beta 0.2.8 patch this week.

The patch marks the end of the title’s first holiday event, The Dark Harvest. While Halloween in the lands may be over, the challenge of behemoth slaying continues. Assisting in this effort are three new Archonite weapons, more responsive hammer blast dodges, and improved client performance.

The team is also handing closed beta testers a reset button to use as they will: “All players can now reset their account progression via the My Account page. This will NOT remove any account items, such as founders pack benefits, platinum, flares, emotes, sigils, fabrics, and chroma dust.”

Source: Patch notes

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EverQuesting: Reflecting on EverQuest II’s 13th year

I am particularly fond of the number 13. And I am particularly fond of EverQuest II. So it is a happy convergence of favorites as EQII celebrates its 13th year this week. That’s thirteen years of adventures from Antonica to Zek. Will 13 be a lucky number for this MMORPG? I sure hope so! Norrath could use a little luck going forward after this past year. It’s not that things have been especially tumultuous (do you remember the heartaches and fears from 2015?); in fact, they have been a bit quiet. Too quiet.

The past 12 months have worried me more for the future of my beloved game than even the restructuring to Daybreak did. Will EQII make it through the next year? Maybe we’ll have a stroke of luck and the game will blossom again in 2018. Luckily, I still have some hope left that it will make it through, and I know I am not alone in wanting those adventures to continue quite a while longer.

All hope is not lost because despite the worrying parts, the year wasn’t all bad. There were still bright spots and positive things. As is customary this time of year, I take some time to reflect back on all that has transpired since the last anniversary retrospective. Join me for a look back to see how the game has grown and how it has changed. Then hop in and enjoy the Heroes’ Festival anniversary celebration before it disappears next week!

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Working As Intended: Guild Wars 2’s new mount licenses are still lockboxes, but they’re not the worst lockboxes

Pretty much everyone assumed that back when Guild Wars 2 planned out mounts, it did so with its cash shop in mind. The game is already not-so-jokingly known as “Fashion Wars,” so it’s got a playerbase primed and ready to splash out for sparkly mounts, especially cosmetic upgrades to what is very likely the best mount system in any MMORPG to date. The first set of mount cosmetics arrived for Halloween, a whole pack of skelly skins that players could buy directly. The second set, however, has now landed with a new sales scheme, and it’s caused significant controversy just as anticipated.

As we explained yesterday, ArenaNet has added 30 new mount skins to the game, but instead of selling them directly, the studio is selling them in a hybrid sort of lockbox: You buy one of the mount licenses, which unlocks one mount skin on your account that you don’t already have. You always get a mount skin, and you never get repeats, potentially all the way up to 30 licenses for 30 skins.

Unless you get the one you want sooner. That’s a big unless.

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The Stream Team: Onward into MU Legend’s open beta

MU Legend opens its beta doors today, and ends its Halloween event. Did Massively OP’s MJ miss a Halloween celebration? The horror! She’s racing inside to see if she can catch any festivities. If she can’t, she can still check out what has changed in the game since the last time she played, which was the second closed beta. Tune in live at 5:00 p.m. to waltz into the open beta with us.

What: MU Legend
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 5:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

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Shroud of the Avatar opens a trio of new mines for lowbies, gets ready for Christmas

Players who want to get a jump start on their Shroud of the Avatar crafting career might end up taking a tour under the surface of the world. The developers report that they have opened up three new low-level mines so that newer players can start mining for that much-needed ore without having to wait until much later in the game.

SOTA’s artists showed off a couple of rewards that players will be able to obtain, such as torn and bloody wedding attire (if you’re missing Halloween already) or Yule gifts and candelabras (if you can’t wait for Christmas). There’s also moustache-themed helmets and cloaks to support the Movember movement for men’s health.

Shroud of the Avatar recently raised $60,000 from its last telethon and is currently running a free trial which is set to conclude on November 15th. The following day will see Release 48 hit the scene prior to the holiday rush.

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The Stream Team: Halloween on the streets of GTA Online’s Los Santos

Do you know where Massively OP’s MJ hasn’t been in over a year? Los Santos, that’s where! And she’s dying to see the Halloween goodness that GTAO has to offer. There are some pretty sweet cars like the Fränken Stange and the Lurcher that she wants to check out. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for a ride on the wild side of Halloween.

What: Grand Theft Auto Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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