subscription

Subscription MMOs are generally those that restrict play to gamers who pay an ongoing fee, usually monthly, though shorter and longer subscriptions, as well as lifetime subs, do exist. Some free-to-play and buy-to-play games also include optional subscriptions.

World of Warcraft starts beta testing Battle for Azeroth

Can you beta test a battle? Don’t see why not. Just ask everyone to attack very, very carefully and memorize where their starting positions were for the inevitable reset.

The alpha phase is over and dead, and the Horde has gathered at the gates of beta for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. This morning, Blizzard wiped the test servers and booted up a new build while activating the expansion’s beta status. New waves of keys have been sent out, so check your email if you’ve been trying to get an advance look at warfronts, island adventures, and all of the rest.

According to Wowhead, no further character wipes are planned for the test phase, and the character copy service is going to be turned on real soon now. A Q&A session on the beta will take place this Thursday, beta forums are live, the beta level cap is set at 120, and beta beta beta.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 166: Russia breaks the internet

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin dive into the Russia gaming crisis, tackle a trio of significant MMO patches, and celebrate the coming of a cute-looking title. Plus there’s always those challenging community podcast questions to keep them occupied!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Legends of Aria works toward June open beta

Hope you haven’t booked that summer vacation just yet, because Legends of Aria would like to interest in a fantasy holiday. The studio announced this week that it is a patch or two away from open beta, which it hopes to start in June.

The wider testing base is necessary, Citadel Studios said, in order to “start addressing the issues we can only find with lots of people.” So there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be in and enjoying this Ultima Online spiritual successor before too long, assuming that you are interested.

Following June’s open beta, Legends of Aria will go into an early access soft launch through its own client. Citadel is still holding back on its plans for going live on Steam and rolling out a marketing campaign as it evaluates how the next few months progress. However, the studio said that in all likelihood these events will happen this autumn.

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Impressions of Project Gorgon from an Asheron’s Call player

It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.

MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.

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World of Warcraft’s new communities system aims to bring players together in Battle for Azeroth

Among the various features and additions coming with World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth this summer, communities has gotten buried in all of the excitement. Yet this tool may generate some excitement when players experience it in action.

Blizzard Watch has a preview up of how communities work now that an early version is up on the alpha server. Communities will allow players to create cross-realm groups in addition to regular guilds (guilds will automatically become their own communities as well). The idea is that players can fashion specific types of communities and keep everyone in touch across the game.

There is also an option to create groups based on Blizzard’s BattleTags, in case you want a community that spans multiple Blizzard titles.

The article notes that many of the community features have yet to be activated, so there is a lot that we have yet to learn about the flexibility and function of this system.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s next patch reveals our future story

The next patch for Final Fantasy XIV is something we should all watch closely. Because it’s going to tell us plenty about where we’re heading in the next expansion.

We haven’t yet been told that we’ll learn about a new expansion this year, but we have a fan festival on the calendar, we’re moving through the middle of the patch, and FFXIV moves on a content delivery schedule reliable enough to set your clock by. So we know that announcement is happening this year, and we can all bet on it coming out in June of next year. (If it’s running really late, maybe July.)

And this is the patch where we’ll find out where we’re headed. Not that we’ll be told yet, of course; we were never actually told in-universe that we were heading to Ala Mhigo until it happened, after all. But this is the point when threads need to start collecting into a useful form, and so it’s best to watch closely and see which elements are being picked up and tugged along for our next destination.

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Camelot Unchained works on trading, the UI, and building code ahead of July’s beta

July 4th is getting closer, which means the Camelot Unchained team is in high gear polishing up the build for the beta that’s finally set to launch come Independence Day. Last week’s dev update was relatively short for the longwinded CSE; there were no player tests this weekend, but the studio discusses its asset decluttering rules, building code, a big UI update, class animations, chat UI, character creation, the trading system, and the trait system. Maybe the most interesting bit (for regular players) is actually the screenshots at the very end of the update on the Dragon Fang scenario.

“The hill we are currently climbing in the assembly of this map, is the creation and placement of these large, SPIKY, rock walls, growing outward from the Place of Power which resides in the center of the map,” explains CSE’s Tyler Rockwell. “All these rocks also need to be very performant so we can have hundreds of players fighting it out in this zone. Next week we’ll try and finish up placing the majority of these assets to show off more of the map in the update!”

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EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Falcon on EVE’s community team layoffs and having Hilmar as a CEO

It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE players (including me) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.

EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.

Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.

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Final Fantasy XIV invites the community to design physical DPS gear

Thus far, Final Fantasy XIV has run three gear design competitions for the community, inviting players to design gear for tanks, healers, and magical DPS jobs. The winners of all three have already shown up in the game, to boot; winning designs have been implemented in subsequent patches, expanded to fill all of the various roles (the caster DPS design is the design being added for dungeon gear in patch 4.3). So how would you like to fill out the remaining gear designs?

The design contest for ranged and melee DPS has just kicked off, with the same rules as prior installments and a variety of prizes for players to enjoy. This time, players can enter for either category to be included, so if you have something in mind for Monk but not necessarily for Bard, you’ll submit it separately. No promises are made about when the designs will be added to the game after the contest, but our suggestion is to get drawing and put the designs out there if you’ve got a knack for costuming.

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One Shots: Tour guides

It turns out that MMORPG players really don’t need much prompting to go out and take a bazillion screenshots of their favorite in-game zones, as evidenced by the avalanche of photos generated by last week’s challenge.

SmugglerSteel kicks us off this this neon nightmare: “I knew exactly where I needed to tour in SWTOR for this one. I will always remember my first trip to Nar Shaddaa. I was blown away away by the color and aesthetic. I always thought it had a very Bladerunner inspired feel, yet still did it’s own thing.”

Like any good casino, Nar Shaddaa is designed so that players can never figure out how to leave. SmugglerSteel forwards his mail there now.

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EVE Online gives love to planetary interaction, looks back at an all-female pirate gang

Creating and maintaining planetary colonies in EVE Online isn’t exactly new, as the system dates back to 2010. But the developers have deemed it high past time that they give this creaky system some love with the upcoming Into the Abyss expansion.

“Most of the changes are aimed at making setup and maintenance of your colonies less painful, especially when it comes to all the clicking that is currently involved in setting up a colony,” CCP said in a dev blog on the system. Lots of changes to planetary interaction are in the works, including a new planetary colonies window to help you keep track of your projects.

And while things get ordered down on the surfaces of planets, out in space it’s still the anything-goes sandbox that EVE has always been. One interesting piece of the game’s history that was recently documented by PC Gamer was the story of the Hellcats, an all-female fleet that pushed back against the notion that the MMO is strictly a game for men. The fleet only ran for two-years, but its legacy still lives on today.

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Crowfall improves its time-based skill leveling

Similar to how skill training works in EVE Online, Crowfall uses a time-based skill-up system that accrues points whether or not the player is online. The dev team took some time recently to evaluate how the system was working out in testing and decided that it could benefit from some improvements.

While a dev blog goes into depth on the minutiae of the tweaks, the gist is that the entire system will accrue points in a “time bank” for players to spend on skill nodes when they log in each session. Many of the skill trees have been streamlined as well.

VIP players are going to have an advantage over regular players with this system, as they will get a much larger time bank (30 days vs. three days) and the ability to train two types of skill trees at once instead of one.

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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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