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Brad McQuaid’s old studio from his Vanguard days.

Secret World Legends patches in winter event, barbershop, and plastic surgeon

Even with Tokyo completely reinstated into Secret World Legends, this reboot is still finding more content to add back in after starting over from its The Secret World roots. Will today’s patch, which adds back in the cosmetic barbershop and plastic surgeon, be the last of the “old vanguard” before it’s all new? Probably not; there are plenty of Halloween quests that are waiting for a return.

In addition to the cosmetic tools, Update 2.1.5 starts this year’s winter event, starring all sorts of special critters to attack, world raids, Christmas cosmetics, seasonal achievements, a new winter lockbox, and a free pet to players who log in by January 2nd.

The patch also adds the option to change your name (for a price), fixes several issues, and tosses in new animations for when players unlock emotes and titles.

Source: Patch notes

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The Game Archaeologist: Vanguard Saga of Heroes

The significance of Vanguard’s development, release, long-running drama, second chance, and eventual closure should be of great interest not just to game historians but to everyone who plays MMOs, period. What happened with this game caused a huge fallout in the industry, and we are still feeling some of its effects even today.

As our own Bree once put it in her blog, “Vanguard’s implosion was a big deal at the time and marked the beginning of the post-World of Warcraft destruction of the industry that hobbled Age of Conan and Warhammer Online a few years later.”

While the crash and burn of Vanguard was a very well-known tale several years ago, I’m wondering if today there might be many who are quite unfamiliar with what happened to this unassuming title back around 2007. Let me put on my old fogey glasses and we shall begin!

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Brad McQuaid: MMO devs are ‘making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck’

Pantheon and MMOs like it are bringing our dream future one step closer (or at least, Lt. Barclay’s dream future), Brad McQuaid suggests in a new interview this week. MMORPG veterans know McQuaid as a pioneer of the genre, first with EverQuest, then with the stalled and now sunsetted Vanguard, and now with the upcoming MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

“I want to be immersed, I want to escape into a fantasy or sci-fi world. [MMO developers are] making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck. Letting people recreate the 1930s or build new virtual worlds – that’s what MMOs are, they’re the genesis of that. Because they involve real people and that social aspect, because they’re so immersive – and will be even more so in the future, with VR coming – I lose myself in them. I don’t sit there thinking I’m playing a game; I’m really there. And that’s what interests me.”

McQuaid says the MMO is not dead and that he’s working to change that perception by catering to an “underserved” audience of virtual world gamers and “abandoned MMO fans.”

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The Daily Grind: How would you solve the housing server merge problem?

When ArcheAge launched, I was one of those who was brutally harsh about its mind-numbingly stupid housing system, a more or less open-world system that incentivized land rushes, greed, gold sinks, and cheating. As far as I could tell, even back in 2014, the game’s handlers had learned absolutely nothing from the previous 17 years of MMORPG housing buffoonery. One of my complaints? Not thinking ahead to server merges.

“Balance your server populations carefully and never add more servers than you’ll need after the three-month slump because if you think server merges spell doom for themeparks, know that they’re even worse for open-world housing sandboxes (Vanguard, SWG), only slightly worse an option than ignoring the problem and expecting your players to pay to move themselves and lose their land in the process (UO, LOTRO).” [This was before LOTRO’s free transfers.]

And now here we are again, seeing server merges so bad MOP’s MJ Guthrie, whose pixel home narrowly survived the last round of merges, intimated she was done this time once her house is nuked and she’s forced into yet another land rush. It’s too late for ArcheAge, I fear, but there has to be a way out of this — maybe it’s not too late for the next MMO with housing. How would you solve the housing server merge problem?

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EVE Online delivers ‘sneak preview’ of winter release

Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the walls of EVE Online’s offices, buzzing to and fro and learning all about what the team is preparing for the future? You might want to hold off on that traumatic species transformation for right now, since the devs are more than willing to share their plans with players about the various projects that are in the works for this winter’s release.

Some of the projects revealed in this month’s “in development” video include the pirate shipyards, the new Vanguard carrier, Venom support fighters, the “V5” shader upgrade, the CONCORD battleship, additional ship skins, better-looking lasers, and a targeted content delivery system. Moon mining, quality of live improvements, and new refinery structures are also planned for the winter expansion.

Get chummy with the various EVE devs and learn more about the game’s future after the break!

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SWTOR lists class specs slated for Update 5.3 love

BioWare has informed players that some of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s advanced classes and disciplines will be getting some changes and love with this summer’s Update 5.3. While the studio listed which builds are being targeted yesterday, it hasn’t yet posted all of the specifics of what these changes will be.

The list of classes and disciplines to be affected goes as such: Sorcerers (madness and corruption), Sage (balance and seer), Powertech (pyrotech), Vanguard (plasmatech), Assassin (hatred), Shadow (serenity), Sniper (virulence and engineering), Gunslinger (dirty fighting and saboteur), Mercenary (innovative ordnance and arsenal), and Commando (assault specialist and gunnery).

“Between data and player feedback, these are the disciplines that appear to be most in need of change,” BioWare said. “Whether that is that they are too good, or not good enough, these disciplines need attention first. If a class or discipline is missing from this list it doesn’t mean they won’t be receiving changes at all, it is just that they are not receiving changes in the near future.”

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Ashes of Creation hires five new team members, shows off snowy environments

As Ashes of Creation takes aim at the $3M line for its Kickstarter campaign, Intrepid Studios announced that it has made several significant hires to its development team, some of which come from the Daybreak fold.

The hires include Lead Economic Designer Rocco Scandizzo (Psyop Games), Lead Programmer Kevin McPherson (EverQuest, PlanetSide, Vanguard, and Shadowbane), Lead Technical Designer Akil Hooper (EverQuest II, Fallout: New Vegas), Senior Character Artist Mat Broome (H1Z1, DCUO, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest), and Alex Khudoliy (Amazon).

Another interesting announcement is that Intrepid is partnering with Panopticon Labs to develop fraud detection and prevention tools for the game to make it as secure as possible.

Ashes of Creation devs will be on hand this evening at 6:00 p.m. EDT for a final Kickstarter livestream. The team also posted a brief video showing some of the winter effects in the different game environments, which you can watch below.

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Destiny 2 will take you to Titan, Io, and beyond

With the Vanguard scattered to the interstellar wind in Destiny 2, it will be up to player characters to travel to different planets in an attempt to rally them back together. This means new worlds, new maps, and new places to explore.

“Now you can actually go from one planet to another planet without going into orbit first,” the team said in a video. “We want to remove as many barriers as we can between your gun and the enemy’s face.”

The team promised that all of the maps will have a lot more in the way of secrets and treasure for the attentive explorer. These locales include the European Dead Zone, the methane oceans of Titan, a planetoid named Nessus, and Io.

Check it out after the break!

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Destiny 2 launches on PC and console September 8, ‘and there will be a ton of loot’

As teased and prodded and hinted at all week, Destiny 2 is official, and we’ve finally got a trailer to go with it. Expect the game to launch on September 8th on Xbox One, PS4, and yes — PC — retailing for $59.99 on up into the stratosphere for collector editions. Beta arrives this summer.

“In Destiny 2, the last safe city on Earth has fallen and lay in ruins, occupied by a powerful new enemy and his elite army, the Red Legion. Every player creates their own character called a Guardian, humanity’s chosen protectors. As a Guardian in Destiny 2, players must master new abilities and weapons to reunite the city’s forces, stand together and fight back to reclaim their home. The official Destiny 2 reveal trailer, Rally the Troops, shows two of the Vanguard, leaders of the Guardians, inspiring the people of the last city in an impassioned (and occasionally sarcastic) call to arms. In Destiny 2, players will answer this call, embarking on a fresh story filled with new destinations around our solar system to explore, and an expansive amount of activities to discover. There is something for almost every type of gamer in Destiny 2, including gameplay for solo, cooperative and competitive players set within a vast, evolving and exciting universe.”

I feel as if Bungie is hitting a nice chord here between “Forth Eorlingas!” and Guardians of the Galaxy in the new trailer, while also getting right to the point of what video games (and for that matter, war) are really about. Check it out!

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark — and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week’s roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

“The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down,” The Ancient Gaming Noob said. “The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place.”

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: “That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion.”

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World’s combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it’s hard to go back to the “olden days,” deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #24-19

What are the best and most popular MMO theme songs of all time? A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to the Massively OP community and encouraged fans to submit their own list of music themes in response. We saw a healthy amount of email votes and comment nominations since then, and I was able to compile a nice list of the top 24 MMORPG themes from it.

There were several surprises, at least to me, in the final results. I thought some games would’ve gotten more nods, while others seemed to come out of nowhere to demand a spot on the list. Each of the themes on this list was put out there by at least two fans, which is why we’re going to start with number 24. I’m thinking we might have an honorable mentions column as a post-script, but we’ll see how it goes.

Today we will begin our countdown to number one, looking at your favorite MMO themes with my own take on each. Let’s get started!

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The Exiled outlines early access packages, denounces pay-to-win

With just a week to go until its early access launch on February 23rd, indie “social sandbox” The Exiled — formerly known as Das Tal — has nailed down the fee structure of its game packages.

“Everybody gets to play for free for seven full days,” Fairytale Distillery’s Alexander Zacherl told us. “Then it’s a one-time fee of $19.99 to continue playing as long as you want. If you want to get some cool skins, titles, pets or the art book and soundtrack, then you can pay more. But you can never buy in-game power, which has always been super-important for me.”

The Nomad Pack ($19.99/€19.99) is the cheapest buy-in, with one character slot per season, one permanent character name reservation, plus perks like an avatar, title, frame, unique skins, and dance animation. The Seeker Pack ($39.99/€36.99) adds to that package an additional character slot and name reservation, plus a 15% fame gain boost and an extra daily challenge slot.

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EverQuesting: Ten things to do in Landmark before it’s gone

T minus 11 days and counting. That’s all the time Landmark has left. That’s not a lot of time. If you haven’t built all your intricate ideas yet, chances are you won’t be able to bring them to completion in such a short span. I’ve resigned myself to never seeing some of mine come to life. And if you want to try to visit and experience all the great creations out there, you’re going to be hard-pressed to pull that off. There just isn’t enough time; it is all going away much too soon.

You may not want to do anything at all as the sunset creeps closer. Perhaps you feel you have done all you can do in the game, and you feel secure with closing this final chapter. Perhaps it just pains you too much to log in knowing it will all be gone in less than a fortnight. I know some folks that have even uninstalled the game already. Me? Thanks to a video card fire, I am actually installing it now! I am getting it on my new laptop so I can enjoy every last minute I can squeeze out of my favorite building game because even if I can’t do all I want to do as far as creations, there are still things to do.

What are they? I’ll tell you: Here are 10 things you really should experience in Landmark before it’s gone. And if you have already done these, do them again to relive the experience — because once those servers shut off, it’s lights out for good.

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