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The Survivalist: Massively OP's guide to multiplayer survival sandboxes

Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.

I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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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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A peek at Camelot Unchained's trees, forests, and C.U.B.E.

"Today's update might be a little lighter on the tech side," Mark Jacobs tells Camelot Unchained backers in his latest update, "but we have lots of art to show you as well." Indeed, check out those trees. "Big trees. Like really big trees," in a dense forest with climbable foliage. There are also some WIP model shots from the studio's unfinished Place of Power (seen in the image above) and more work on the C.U.B.E. system that should have builder types excited.

"Over the last two years, we have talked about how C.U.B.E. and the building portion of Camelot Unchained was not going to simply be a Minecraft clone. One of the many ways we are fulfilling that promise is by allowing players to create and use round objects. This work-in-progress image shows our building morph technology being put through some tests. It is a cylinder morph around the Z (vertical) axis. Then another cylinder morph around the X axis was added, which combines all the changes of the original morph with itself. The result is that you get curvature around two axes. It’s definitely a WIP, but you can see how close we are getting to the point of bringing this to life inside the engine."

This weekend, testers will be on a "major new version of [the] patcher. Check out the new images and the video update below!

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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 MOP Up: Christmas in a warzone (December 25, 2016)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week, Warface brought a little holiday cheer into its relentless warzones. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Overwatch, Elder Scrolls Online, Minecraft, and more, all waiting for you after the break!

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs with the best value at the start of 2017

About a year ago, I listed off the best free-to-play titles on the market. To the surprise of no one, including me, that turned out to be a contentious topic. And I can understand why because there are games on that list that are great games, even spectacular games, that might fail your personal criteria. There's more to a game's value than just "how good is the game" when it comes to MMOs; you also have to ask what games are giving you the best value for your money.

Value is, of course, a nebulous concept as well. But in loose terms, value is all about the bang for your buck. How much do you get for dropping money on the game? How much is there to spend money on? If the game is free-to-play, how long will it be before it asks you for money? If it's buy-to-play or subscription-based, how much are you getting for that purchase?

But it's still a more diverse and solid metric than just the vagueness of "best free-to-play." So here are the games with the best value at the end of 2016.

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Superdata's September report shows Destiny, WoW, GW2, SWTOR, and TERA doing well

Superdata's September games market report is up, and the console revenue rankings have a new old king: Destiny. Yes, Destiny has returned to the top of the pile.

"Destiny highlights the importance of additional content releases for AAA titles," argues the research firm. "Over the past few years, AAA console publishers have become increasingly dependent on additional content releases to extend the lifecycle for major titles. [...] After delaying the release of Destiny II, Activision instead switched tactics and released the Rise of Iron expansion instead. As a result, the title’s revenue sky-rocketed from $7.2 million to $59.1 from August to September 2016, putting Destiny at the top of console rankings."

Over on the PC side, there's been less dramatic movement, though No Man's Sky and CS:GO have dropped out of the top 10, to be replaced with Maplestory and Lineage I, so go MMOs!

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Wurm Online co-creator steps back from development, says game is 'doing well financially'

Following our report on Wurm Online's upcoming development plans earlier this week, reader Bionicall pointed us to a different recent post penned by the game's CEO and co-creator, Rolf Jansson, who says he's staying on as CEO but is turning the development reins over to a dedicated team of passionate players.

"As many of you already know, Wurm is now mainly being maintained and developed by a group of volunteers from the player base headed by our Product Manager Budda, most of which are under contract. My involvement and role in development is diminishing as I've been at it for 13 years now and I feel a bit of a drain. Hence, I am educating myself in new areas since WU [Wurm Unlimited, the Steam standalone edition] brought in some breathing room for Wurm. I will remain CEO and do administrative tasks and stay involved in discussing the direction of the game but this group of active contracted players will henceforth be the ones taking strategic and day-to-day decisions much based on your input. This feels like a the natural way of developing the game and will be good for the longevity of Wurm and its continuous progress."

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Massively OP's guide to the best upcoming indie MMORPGs, part three

Over the last couple of weeks, we shared with you part one and part two of our guide to the best upcoming and current indie MMORPGs on the market. Naturally, there were always those titles that we overlooked or couldn't fit into the space, so we are back with the third and final part of this guide to make sure that all of your favorite games got mentioned.

As a side note, we won't be covering most of the survival sandbox and mere multiplayer titles, as that would be too much for the scope of this guide. And if you're interested in these games, then you'll definitely want to track our Make My MMO and Betawatch columns.

On with part three!

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Massively Overthinking: Hopes and fears for Amazon's New World

The announcement of a new sandbox MMORPG last week -- New World, by none other than Amazon Game Studios itself -- has had both the Massively OP community and the broader MMORPG community chattering with excitement followed by calls to temper that excitement before it runs away with us. Where one person sees the salvation of the entire genre and the investment of a major tech company as a sign that MMOs are still feasible, another whispers the word gankbox and points to Amazon's heavy Twitch integration as a certain sign of doom.

So for this week's Overthinking, I polled the Massively OP staff on their thoughts, hopes, and fears about the game. Is a sandbox the right move for Amazon? Does Amazon really understand what MMO players want to play, pay for, and watch? Is Twitch going to be a problem? What about the "murderous player bandits" line that has everyone in a tizzy? Is New World the sandbox we've always wanted or the sandbox we deserve? Let's talk about the New World order.

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Perfect Ten: Questions to ask before backing an MMO Kickstarter

I am not a big fan of Kickstarter in general, but I like to think that I'm not a big fan for actual reasons rather than spurious ones. Every time I see someone referring to Star Citizen as a scam, I get annoyed; the game is very clearly not a scam. It's already delivered too much of an actual game to be a scam. A scam is something that's never going to happen at all; most Kickstarter games are, at the very least, going to provide a good-faith effort to try making a game.

Not that this necessarily works out very well, as evidenced by Pathfinder Online. Intentions and ability to deliver aren't the same thing at all. So rather than calling out every Kickstarted game a scam simply because it involves still asking for money after the initial funding period (which, again, is not a scam so much as an indication of ballooning needs for money), why not teach ourselves to be better armed before backing a Kickstarter?

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How voxel tech is powering sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe

Dual Universe has a fresh dev diary out this week on how it's employing voxel technology for its builder-centric space sandbox.

"The idea of voxel is not new," Novaquark's Jean-Christophe Baillie says. "You've seen it in other games over the years, starting with MineCraft. But we wanted to go beyond the cube-like aspect. We wanted to let people be able to carve out literally the world the way they want, to sculpt the world, and to make it more realistic." The voxel tech allows the team to scale and display everything from huge planets to small player-built space stations.

Dual Universe's Kickstarter currently sits at almost 70% of its $557,724 US goal with 19 days left to go and over 5000 backers. The alpha is expected by summer 2017, with beta to follow in the first half of 2018 and the launch before 2019.

The voxel tech pre-alpha video is included below.

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Superdata's July 2016 data show Guild Wars 2 surging, Pokemon Go on top

Superdata's July report on online gaming revenues is in, and there are some predictable bits and some surprises. On the P2P MMO front, the lineup is exactly the same as last month, with World of Warcraft coming out on top, followed by the popular-in-China Fantasy Westward Journey II, Lineage I, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and TERA's western version.

What's new to the lists is Guild Wars 2: It showed up this month as #4 for "top-grossing premium PC games by revenue" behind Overwatch, CS:GO, and Minecraft. Whoa. Apparently the new seasonal content was a big draw.

Pokemon Go also debuted in the mobile lists this month as literally the most successful mobile launch in history. Sorry, other mobile games. And Overwatch dropped down to fifth place on consoles, what the firm calls "an expected result of pay-to-play games' upfront monetization strategy."

As always, we must point out that Superdata's categorization will likely not align with most MMO players' definitions; for example, it considers games like SWTOR and TERA pay-to-play rather than free-to-play like League of Legends, and it lists games like LoL and World of Tanks as MMOs.

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