Tencent helps Chinese law enforcement arrest 120 people linked to PUBG cheats

If you thought Epic Games was being too rough on cheaters in Fortnite by smacking kids with personal lawsuits, wait until you hear what Tencent is up to. The Chinese gaming giant is preparing to (officially) launch PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds there (yes, it’s already playable there via Steam, but in early access). And ahead of that, it’s going after cheaters, specifically the cheat vendors – hard.

Bloomberg reports that the company has worked with Chinese police to arrest 120 people as part of 30 different cases involving cheat programs for the game. According to the publication, the company is trying to crack down on the hacking that pervades its games, specifically PUBG; those convicted under Chinese law could be sentenced to several years in prison, in addition to fines (and yeah, it’s happened before). So maybe don’t be a hacker targeting a megacorp’s video game in China.

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Perfect Ten: MMO experiments in transmedia synergy

We’re not going to argue that MMORPGs are the dominant form of media entertainment these days, but they do have endurance and a devoted following among gamers. And whenever a crowd of players have been paying into a game for a long time, it will attract the attention and interest of marketers who start wondering what else they could do to siphon off a few more bucks.

Enter “transmedia synergy,” a stupidly awesome term that represents links between two or more forms of media that are connected through the same IP. The thinking here is that fans of one of these forms of entertainment will cross over into the related media and vice-versa, growing an audience together.

Today we’re going to look at 10 experiments in transmedia synergy, for better or for worse, that have attempted to cross over from MMORPG to something else entirely. To make things more challenging, we’re not going to include novels, since we’ve already done that.

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Here’s what an Elder Scrolls Online LEGO set should look like

An official LEGO set for The Elder Scrolls Online will probably never happen — although never say never, because SWTOR totally got its line of products — but at least one fan is doing his best to envision what they would look like.

In a community spotlight piece, ZeniMax gives kudos to Thorsten, a player who took his love of the game and shaped it into LEGO sets. Boasting a large brick collection, an eye for detail, and a dedication to get each scene just right, Thorsten looks for inspiration in the game and then constructs a set around it.

“Over the years (I started playing shortly after the beta) ESO grew very close to me,” Thorsten said. “It was my first real MMO, and I instantly fell in love with the landscapes, clothing styles, and architecture in combination with the lore. It was this combination that made ESO so unique and interesting to me.”

You can check out his constructions — which also include many impressive Harry Potter set pieces — over at Flickr.


Crowfall gives a sneak peek at its new eternal kingdom building blocks

Do you have visions of what your mighty castle fortress will look like in Crowfall’s eternal kingdom? To help with your fertile imagination — keep your eyes on the road while you’re daydreaming, sonny — the team posted several screenshots to show some of the pieces that players can use to create their fantasy dream home.

“We realized that we weren’t giving players quite enough Lego bricks to play with,” the devs admitted. “So we set about making a new batch of eternal kingdom assets for all your fort-building needs. Some of these are revised versions of the current pieces, while others are entirely new.”

The team is currently running Crowfall through its paces over the weekend with Pre-Alpha 5. Whether or not you’re in the test, you can listen to the devs jaw about what they hope to accomplish with it after the break.

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Funcom is working on a ‘tactical turn-based strategy’ game

Funcom is apparently keeping itself busy with a new partnership and game. The company’s investor relations site has a brief press release with the announcement:

“Funcom N.V. has entered into an agreement with Bearded Dragon International LTD regarding the development and publishing of a new game. The game is in the ‘tactical turn-based strategy’ genre and is planned to be released during 2018. Initial platform will be PC, with consoles to be evaluated after the PC launch. More information about the game will be revealed when PR and Marketing activities are initiated prior to release. This activity is part of Funcom’s strategy of releasing multiple game titles per year, providing significant activities more often and building a larger portfolio of products.”

Funcom is best known to MMO players for its long-running The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online, as well as sunsetted MMO LEGO Minifigures Online and early access survival sandbox Conan Exiles. AOC and AO were seemingly maintenance-moded earlier this year, while The Secret World has been back-burnered in favor of Secret World Legends, which has formally launched today.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs that died too soon

Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.

That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.

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Planet Nomads launches early access today

Planet Nomads is officially launching into early access this morning on Steam. The sci-fi survival sandbox was originally slated for an April launch but missed that window, instead allowing the backers of its $140,000 2016 Kickstarter to play closed beta this past month.

“Living the nomadic life is full of danger,” developer Craneballs says. “And adventure, sure. But mostly danger.” The studio is touting the game’s colorful universe, “LEGO-style building on a large scale,” and an actual in-game goal for dedicated players: designing and flying a “spaceship capable of interplanetary travel.” Multiplayer was one of the “future features” mentioned during the Kickstarter; the Steam page says that multiplayer is one of the things it now means to consider “eventually” as the early access wears on.

When the game is live today, expect it to be on sale for 10% off for its base price of $30. We’ve got the early access trailer for your eyeballs down below, and you can check out our early stream of the game too!

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LEGO Conan Exiles isn’t a game, but it is a trailer

The whole “LEGO everything” bit is pretty played out at this point. We’ve got several dozen platforming 3D games that have “LEGO” in the title without actually featuring any building, just gentle parodies of the story while everything is covered in brick studs. Of course, then you see the fan-made trailer for LEGO Conan Exiles and you can’t help but be at least mildly amused by the idea that this is what you can do with the concept.

Obviously, this is not a real crossover brand (Conan Exiles has far more dangly bits than the LEGO toyline usually endorses, for starters), but fan axoNNNessj assembled stop-motion animation of actual LEGO toys over four months and cut them together in a recreation of the game’s announcement trailer. It’s just below if you want to see a trailer you probably already know, but now with everything as a plastic brick. And, hey, maybe we will get some sets out of it in the long run. Everything gets a LEGO set these days.

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Battle Bards Episode 97: The sound of magic

“Magic can be ANYthing!”

The forces of magic run deep within MMORPGs, casting shadows of wonder wherever we look — and listen. In today’s show, Syl sparks a musical revolution as her fellow Bards struggle to rise to the challenge of defining what, exactly, constitutes a “magical” track and evokes that particular feeling. Did we nail it? You’ll have to join us for the journey to find out!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 97: The sound of magic (or download it) now:

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Battle Bards Episode 94: Drakensang Online

Do you find the German language to be inherently terrifying? Then you’re going to love the soundtrack to this German MMORPG! Actually, it’s quite lovely and a diamond in the rough, at least according to some of the Battle Bards. Today’s episode ventures into territory marked by a drakensang — a “dragon’s song” — and emerges refreshed and renewed.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 94: Drakensang Online (or download it) now:

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Roblox is taking the online kid world by storm with 48M monthly users and $92M in new investment

Have you ever heard of this game Roblox? If not, you probably will be in the future, because this title has come out of nowhere to grab an enormously large audience with its LEGO-meets-Minecraft setup. According to the site, “Every day, virtual explorers come to Roblox to create adventures, play games, role play, and learn with their friends in a family-friendly, immersive, 3-D environment.”

Formed back in 2005 and growing significantly over the past few years, Roblox now boasts over 48 million monthly users across all of its platforms (the game can be accessed on PC, mobile, VR, and console), with most of its demographics being made up of children ages six to 16. The game has seen activity peak at one million concurrent players and has paid out $9.2 million to community creators.

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Mortal Online wants to move you into a brand-new house

It’s time to abandon those old Mortal Online digs and check in to an upgrade. The devs unveiled a player housing revamp this week that will allow players to create modular housing that can be placed anywhere in the game world.

“I think we can all agree that the current housing system is slightly underwhelming,” the team said. “With this in mind we designed a brand-new system focused mainly on giving you the players a whole lot more freedom and creativity when it comes to the design and function of your home in Nave. We also aim to fix a lot of annoying parts that the old system had and add as much new content as we possibly can for players to find and experiment with.”

According to the dev blog, making your house will be akin to snapping together modules like LEGO bricks. There’s no ETA on when the new system will arrive, but you can get your first look at it in the video below!

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The MMOs we lost in 2016

If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016’s list.

It’s easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.

But others sting. Asheron’s Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.

Farewell, old friends.

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