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See: Wizards of the Coast

Cryptic’s CEO discusses taking an IP and making it work for an MMO

At this point, Cryptic Studios has a stable of games based off of existing IPs, most notably Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and the upcoming game based on Magic: the Gathering. A new interview on GamesIndustry.biz with CEO Stephen D’Angelo discusses working with the IP and making a successful game out of it, noting that first and foremost it’s a matter of finding the core element of the IP that makes it interesting and designing the game around that.

D’Angelo explains that the studio’s core goal is to expand beyond the existing audience for the IP by exploring new directions, rather than trying to solely cover the same material as the original; he notes that the expansion into Magic: the Gathering made sense due to a strong working relationship with Wizards of the Coast and the desire to not simply make an online version of the same card game. The studio wants to explore the world from another angle, just like Neverwinter doesn’t simply plug the stats of the tabletop game into digital form. If you’re interested in the mechanisms of making an IP-based MMO work, the full interview is worth a read.

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Cryptic announces brand-new Magic: The Gathering MMORPG

One of the largest and longest-running collectible card games is about to become a brand-new role-playing video game, courtesy of Cryptic Studios. Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment announced today that it is ramping up development on a Magic: The Gathering MMORPG in partnership with Wizards of the Coast.

The untitled game is being made “from the ground up” for both PC and console as a top-tier release and is part of Wizards of the Coast’s Magic Digital Next initiative. According to the press release, the RPG will allow players to “fully immerse themselves in the Multiverse.”

“Everything from the graphics to the gameplay is being targeted for a truly unique AAA game,” said Cryptic CEO Stephen D’Angelo. “We’re thrilled to provide Magic fans with an opportunity to explore the game’s worlds and characters through an entirely new lens. Get ready to embark on a brand new journey.”

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Guild Wars 2 signs on Wizards of the Coast dev as narrative designer

What is Wizards of the Coast’s loss is ArenaNet’s gain.

Michael Yichao announced on Twitter yesterday that he was leaving the Dungeons & Dragons company to take up a position as narrative designer for Guild Wars 2 at the end of June. Previously, he worked on lore and stories for Magic: The Gathering.

In addition to being a writer, Yichao’s portfolio includes performing improv comedy, developing plays, and being a teaching artist. You can read some of his short stories that he produced for Magic: The Gathering over on Wizards’ site.

Yesterday we reported that Guild Wars 2’s June feature pack will be centered around the game’s competitive PvP and WvW scene.

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Is Cryptic Studios creating a Magic: The Gathering MMO?

For years now, we have been pondering what “top secret” project might be in development over at Cryptic Studios. Well, the studio isn’t talking — yet — but there are indicators that suggest that Cryptic might be working or collaborating on an MMO set in the Magic: The Gathering universe.

PCGamesN connects a few sparse dots to point to such a project, noting that Cryptic ex-devs have gone over to work for Wizards of the Coast and that a new Cryptic job posting for an art director on the unnamed title mentions that the game will be “based on an extremely exciting, well-known fantasy IP.”

“We’re very excited about what we’re working on,” Cryptic has had posted on its top secret project page. “Our top secret work represents our continued commitment to diversify and reach beyond the boundaries of traditional MMORPG gaming.”

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Neverwinter to be part of D&D’s June story reveal event

Wizards of the Coast is putting out the call for streamers, movers, and shakers to assemble in Seattle, WA on June 2nd and 3rd for what it’s calling the Stream of Annihilation. This event will be broadcast on Twitch and contain some important information about the future of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise — including that of Neverwinter.

During the livestream event, the company will be revealing plans for this fall’s storyline, which if past efforts are any indication, will impact virtual game worlds. For instance, both DDO and Neverwinter took part in 2015’s Temple of Elemental Evil campaign. Cryptic will be on hand during the event to share upcoming plans for Neverwinter, although that’s all the information we have so far. A schedule of events is forthcoming.

Speaking of Neverwinter, make sure to follow our own Eliot as he gives the game a serious go in his Choose My Adventure series!

Source: Press release

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Magic: the Gathering Online got the latest broken combo banned in just two days

You may not play Magic: the Gathering Online, but if you play any sort of free-to-play online card game, you owe some of your history to it. Which is notable, because it’s always been the poor cousin to the classic paper card game, despite being the way to play the game online with others. Traditionally, it’s also gotten its releases of the sets a bit behind the actual hard copy releases, but for the game’s latest set, the digital and cardboard pre-releases happened simultaneously… and a card ban took two days instead of weeks.

How did this happen? Well, normally the delay between the physical release and the online release has been two weeks, but this time they were simultaneous. By having the set immediately available, there was immediate hard data about the prevalence of an infinite damage combo that was more or less everywhere right away. In two days, the designers were able to see, evaluate, and issue a ban to break up the combo, thus preventing it from dominating the game’s environment for more than a two-day stretch. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your love of infinite damage on turn four (it’s more lovable when you’re dealing the infinite damage, we should note), but it certainly provides an interesting look at how the online community shaped the environment of the game.

Source: PC Gamer

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Everything console players need to know about Neverwinter’s Cloaked Ascendancy, launching April 11

Everyone loves expansions, right? Neverwinter’s latest expansion, Cloaked Ascendancy, launched the last week of February, giving players the opportunity to delve in and enjoy the new areas and stories for the last few weeks. That is, PC players have that opportunity; fans who prefer to partake via consoles have to wait extra time for each update and expansion to pass certification by the respective console makers before they can release. And waiting is never very fun.

Thankfully, this wait is just about over: Cloaked Ascendancy will land on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 on Tuesday, April 11th. In less than a month, all Neverwinter players (of the appropriate level) will have the chance to experience all the new stuff that the expansion offers, from the the new zone to the new story line to the new skirmish.

If that still seems a bit too far away, we’ve got something to help tide you over: I sat down with Thomas Foss, Lead Designer, to talk more about the expansion. We discussed the inspiration behind it to his favorite parts of it. He might have even shared an Easter egg or two!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 101: Marvelous heroes

You will believe a man can fly — and you will believe that two gamers can make a podcast. As with great power comes great responsibility, Bree and Justin stand united and ask, “Why so serious about patches?” On today’s show, heroes aren’t born; they’re built from gear, stats, and bizarre character concepts. (It’s a superhero-themed episode, if you haven’t figured out by now.)

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.

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Massively OP Interview: Standing Stone on LOTRO, DDO, and Daybreak

It’s been quite a month since Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online announced that they were breaking off from Turbine as part of a new studio called Standing Stone Games and being published by none other than Daybreak Game Company. Players have had to deal with equal parts excitement and anxiety over this new course (with old developers). Does it bode for a brighter future, more of the same, or the beginning of the end for these beloved titles?

While Standing Stone has been communicative over the past month, we wanted to dig deeper into the decision to form the new studio, its relationship with Daybreak, and plans for both DDO and LOTRO going forward. To wit, we sat down with Standing Stone Executive Producer Rob “Severlin” Ciccolini, Lead Designer Ben “DrOctothorpe” Schneider, and Community Manager Jerry “Cordovan” Snook to discuss this major transition and its possible impact for these two MMO game worlds.

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Wizards of the Coast forms new digital games studio led by Jeffrey Steefel

Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons might be getting an online upgrade in the near future. In a letter written this week to the Wizards of the Coast community, President Chris Cocks told fans that the company under his new leadership would be pursuing “exciting moves” to deliver better digital experiences to its players.

To  help with this, the company has formed a digital games studio led by former LOTRO Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel and staffed with other MMO and games industry vets. The studio will handle Magic Online and other video game initiatives involving Wizards properties. Wizards is also building a publishing team to bring these games to “unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.”

Cocks teased some possible projects that the studio might be creating: “What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game?”

Source: Wizards of the Coast. Cheers, Vaeris.

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Massively Overthinking: The MMORPG board games connection

MOP reader Kastaguro sent us an interesting question last month about MMORPGs, board games, and a possible playerbase shift.

“I was wondering if any of you play board games? I have noticed that all the people I know who used to play MMORPG have stopped playing them. We are all older and have been playing MMORPGs since the late ’90s, and they all give the same reason for quitting MMOs: They just don’t like the direction they are going and can’t stand the communities anymore. Instead, they have massive get-togethers with hardcore roleplaying board games, and I have to admit they are really fun. What do you guys think about this? Do you know anyone who quit MMOs for board games that can last for hours at a time?”

MOP’s Andrew proposed that we expand the question to include tabletop pen-and-paper games too, so that’s exactly what we’ll do as we tackle Kastaguro’s Massively Overthinking topic. Do you hardcore MMORPG writers and gamers also play board games or pen-and-paper games? What’s your favorite? Do you think there’s been a shift among online RPG players to more local or personal party games, and if so, is it because of changing lifestyles or something significantly wrong in the MMORPG market itself?
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Neverwinter’s Storm King’s Thunder expansion arrives August 16

Announced back in June, this summer’s big Neverwinter expansion is called Storm King’s Thunder, and as of today we know exactly when it’s coming: August 16th. That’s on PC, anyway; Xbox One players and those who joined the game on PS4 this very week will have to wait for the usual “later date.”

The expansion includes an endgame campaign and storyline that’s tied into the upcoming Wizards of the Coast pen-and-paper adventure of the same name.

“Similar to the Storm King’s Thunder adventure coming to Dungeons & Dragons later this year, Neverwinter’s new expansion sees giants invade Neverwinter. Adventurers will travel north to Bryn Shander – the heart of the Ten Towns – to investigate the sudden presence of Frost Giants in the region. In order to fight off these colossal invaders, players must team up with popular characters from Dungeons & Dragons lore, including Catti-brie, Wulfgar and Harshnag. In addition to the new Frost Giants story content, Storm King’s Thunder also introduces a brand new end-game campaign and new adventure zones for high-level players, including Bryn Shander, Cold Run and The Lonelywood. The expansion also marks the debut of a new dungeon tier with the addition of the new Tier 3 dungeon, Fangbreaker Island. With the release of Storm King’s Thunder, adventurers will also be able to score new high-level equipment to equip their characters with the latest gear.”

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Sword Coast Legends is available today on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Players who have been eagerly anticipating the console launch of Sword Coast Legends will no longer be able to anticipate that launch. It’s happening today, you see. You can’t anticipate what is already happening. You can, however, take advantage of this fact to actually play Sword Coast Legends on your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which should be a great advantage to anyone trying to run “dungeon adventures” on the console by just decorating it and dropping it in the middle of a miniatures layout.

Hey, everyone uses different props for tabletop.

The console release of the game comes with the Rage of Demons DLC included, but it does not include the DM Campaign Creation mode of the game. If that’s something you can live without but the rest of the game is an urgent part of your console gaming life, you can pick the game up for $19.99 on the PlayStation Store today. Check out some screenshots and a trailer just below.

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