Brianna 'Bree' Royce

Editor-in-Chief

Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game.

Working As Intended and Ask Mo are her pet op-ed columns, but she also pens Daily Grinds and compiles both Massively Overthinking and the Week in Review. You can hear her ramble about MMOs every week on the Massively OP podcast. If you're nice, she'll even talk about something other than Star Wars Galaxies.

Personal blog: Skycandy
Twitter: @nbrianna
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH

In Conan Exiles’ upcoming pet patch, thralls ‘don’t poop, somehow’

Conan Exiles’ parity patch has finally hit the Xbox One servers after a week’s delay. Funcom says it ought to mop up crash problems, although there’s apparently some fresh lag issues to deal with now. PS4 players, however, are still waiting, as apparently Sony rejected the PS4 patch for being too big, so the studio’s “working on reducing” it. There’s a crude joke in there somewhere. This is Conan we’re talking about.

That’s all in this week’s community newsletter, in addition to news about the first phase inbound pet system, which is due to launch on the test server this week. Here’s where the poop comes in.

“When we roll out the pet system we’ll also be rolling out new functionality for your thralls,” Funcom says. Yep, you’re going to have to feed them.

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Broke Protocol is currently free on Steam to celebrate its first birthday

Remember Broke Protocol, the funky sandbox that’s basically a mash-up of Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto, with voxel graphics bolstering cops-and-robbers gameplay? It’s apparently celebrating its first anniversary on Steam today, and in celebration, it’s free. Free as in free beer. But only if you grab it really quickly. Quickly as in this week.

“Starting August 15th 10am PST (5pm UTC) Broke Protocol will be free to keep forever (100% off). No trial, limitations, or strings attached. But act quickly because the offer is only available during this 100-hour promotion.”

The Cylinder Studios devs note that the game has changed quite a bit over its first year of life; it can now support over a hundred players simultaneously and has shifted focus to better support roleplaying with more civilian and “enforcer” jobs as well as player housing, vehicles, and third-party admin tools to balance out all the crime and mayhem. Merchants and a map editor are still on the way too.

Source: Steam. Thanks so much, George!

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Trion’s compensation for Trove’s exploit-driven downtime is absurdly generous

Last week, Trion Worlds was forced to take MMORPG Trove offline for more than a day on PC thanks to what was clearly a massive duping exploit that saw players dumping stacks of currency into the wild, destroying the game’s economy in minutes. Fortunately, Trion was able to scrub the game without the need for a serious rollback (in fact, the company’s warned players to stop asking for one); it also disabled some of the problematic items and banned the “very small number” of players who started the mess in the first place. Thank goodness because I am flat out of sad-faced voxel worm screenshots to use here.

As for everyone else? We’re getting some compensation y’all. Console players, who were largely unaffected, are getting a lustrous gem box, adventure reliquary, and empowered gem box. PC players, on the other hand, get three lustrous gem boxes, a three-day patron (subscriber) pass, three 50% adventuring experience potions, an adventure reliquary, and a legendary dragon mount – which is actually extremely generous!

There’s a catch: “To be eligible for these rewards you just need to have logged in between the time we came back online after the patch on August 7 through 10:00 PM PDT on August 8. If you’re in the EU this will be 5:00 AM UTC on August 9.”

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Functional music boxes are coming in Elder Scrolls Online’s Murkmire

One of my most beloved possessions in Ultima Online is my music box: I spent months, probably years, collecting each “track” to insert into the box, and then I can run it and play my favorite Ultima songs while I’m puttering around my house sorting loot.

That makes me all the most excited to hear that The Elder Scrolls Online is getting exactly such a feature in the Murkmire DLC later this year.

“For housing, we’re putting music boxes in,” creative director Rich Lambert told VG247 at QuakeCon last week. “It’s this cool thing and we’ve got a ton of music that we’ve written in the game and so we’re putting it all in music boxes.”

Meanwhile, ESO has delivered a breakdown of the Midyear Mayhem PvP event it held this summer. You guys dropped almost a quarter of a million chaosballs, stole over 2.5K elder scrolls, capped over 700K keeps, and murdered 7.5M fellow soldiers. Peace and prosperity for all!

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Black Desert revamps and shortens Savage Rift, implements offline leveling

Black Desert players are being treated to a big update this week featuring the revamp of Savage Rift that basically makes the PvE co-op content more accessible and interesting – though it also nerfs the rewards for playing through it.

“The most noteworthy change to the Savage Rift content is that the number of monster spawns has been reduced by around 40% which as a result makes each runthrough last about 20 minutes,” Kakao explains. “Cooldown times for siege weapons such as the Hwacha amd Lynch Cannon have been reduced by 50% so that adventurers can shoot these powerful weapons more often. As a result, the reward structure has been reworked as well. Although the rewards per playthrough have been reduced, the rewards vs playing time have actually increased, making it more interesting for adventurers to engage enemies in the Savage Rift.”

Don’t care about co-op play? How about offline leveling? Today’s update also allows players to nab a Book of Training and beat up a scarecrow to accrue combat and skill experience while AFK.

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A judge has mostly denied Star Citizen studio’s motion to dismiss the Crytek copyright lawsuit

MMO-watchers will recall that just before the turn of the new year, Crytek filed to sue Cloud Imperium, the company behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen. Crytek alleged that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. As recompense for this supposed breach, Crytek demanded a significant sum, including direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.

CIG, for its part, has denied the accusations, calling it a “meritless” lawsuit; it’s pointed to the licensing agreement that limits liability and damages from contract breaches, as well as asserted that it’s not using Crytek’s engine (any more) and that name changes to and expansions of Star Citizen’s “online universe” do not constitute a new game.

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Wild Buster is back as Champions of Titan under a new publisher

Remember Wild Buster? Back in February, Valve booted its publisher, Insel Games, off Steam, accusing it of review manipulation after a dev leaked a damning letter from the company boss seemingly coercing employees to buy and review the game on the platform. At the time, Insel Games denied wrongdoing, but the loss of Steam clearly hurt; it resurfaced this past spring to announce that it had struggled without Steam and would instead be transferring publishing rights to IDC Games, which would relaunch the title as Champions of Titan.

That brings us to today, when IDC has announced that Champions of Titan is rolling into open beta ahead of a “full commercial release” later this year.

“Open Beta is available from today and players can start exploring the new world, conquer fierce monsters, challenge the rival faction in PvP and enjoy grouping with their friends. Champions of Titan MMORPG combines a fluid and fast combat with a world full of adventures, challenges and an original graphic design set in Sci-Fi environment. Developed by Korean studio Nuriworks and published by IDC/Games, Champions of Titans offers full PvE and PvP features: solo content, group content, raid content, 3v3, 5v5 and 10v10 battlegrounds, Battle Royale PvP map and free for all PvP.”

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Blade & Soul patches in the Frozen Firing Range event dungeon, new cosmetics, and PvP matchmaking tweak

Live this week in Blade & Soul is… swimsuits. But seriously, what’s the obsession with bathing suits in MMORPGs? We cannot fight in bikinis and board shorts folks. I don’t get the obsession, but regardless, new summer cosmetics are indeed available thanks to today’s patch, which brings with it the Frozen Firing Range event dungeon, returning for another season and keepin’ it cool.

“Complete the Frozen Firing Range event dungeon to obtain the Frozen Fun Bag, which contains 3 guaranteed Ice Pellet event token as well as a chance at additional rewards,” NCsoft says. “You also receive 5 Ice Pellet for completing Daily Challenge as well as 1 Ice Pellet each for completing the [five available] dungeon quests.”

The patch hits today, with the events beginning August 15th and running into September; it’s also got a handful of minor bug fixes and a PvP tweak: “PvP Ratings have been adjusted for better distribution which should result in better matchmaking overall.” Have fun!

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Leaderboard: Must MMORPGs revolve around grouping to be MMORPGs?

It would be easy to dismiss Saga of Lucimia’s pervasive “group-based or go home” ideas as mere rhetoric, but the reality is, there exists a small segment of the veteran MMORPG population that genuinely believes an MMO is not an MMO if it doesn’t focus exclusively or near-exclusively on grouping, and there are going to be games that cater to those folks.

I wanted to bring up that recent tweet because it seems like an extremist, maybe even revisionist position to take for a game in our market, and I don’t just mean in 2018 when plenty of non-MMOs have called themselves MMOs and even more MMOs have shunned the term. I mean in terms of the historical games being used as a touchstone for these ideas. Yes, some early MMORPGs like EverQuest emphasized group content; while you could level up on some classes and in some cases alone, for the most part, you needed to group up to get things done, whether you were taking down a dragon or just trying to squeeze out a few more bubbles of level in the midgame.

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Aion, Blade & Soul, Guild Wars 2 revenues dip, while NCsoft teases three new titles and Lineage resurges

NCsoft’s second quarter financials for the year hit this morning, and it’s not exactly bad news. Sales are down slightly, but everything looks wimpy next to Lineage M’s record-breaking debut last year. That’s now “stabilized” according to the company, and it also means core Lineage players are flooding back into the original Lineage, which saw its best quarter – by a lot – in over a year.

As for the other live games under NCsoft’s banner that our readers likely care about? They’re all down: Aion, Blade Soul, and Guild Wars 2 across the board, though Guild Wars 2 is still up year-over-year.

Perhaps the most interesting bits coming out of NCsoft this round are still on the horizon. As MMO Culture pointed out, the live conference call dished on The Lineage aka Project TL aka what’s left of Lineage Eternal (it’s hitting beta later this year), admitted PC sales have slowed down, and noted it’ll tailor new games based on the Aion and Blade & Soul IPs to the “global market.”

And yes, multiple new “major” games are in the works for next year, one apparently being Lineage 2 Mobile.

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Hi-Rez reorganizes SMITE, Paladins, and Realm Royale teams as newly renamed substudios

Hi-Rez Studios is making bold moves today: It’s just announced that it’s splitting up the band, unbundling its games teams into separate but joined substudios. Titan Forge Games will run SMITE, Evil Mojo Games will operate Paladins, and Heroic Leap Games will steer Realm Royale, all under the First Party Studios banner. And they’ll all run alongside Skillshot Media (focused on e-sports) and Alacrity Arthouse (technical art services) and presumably anything else Hi-Rez ultimately brings into the fold.

Confused yet? The good news is that the people actually working on all the games aren’t actually changing.

“Our new Hi-Rez Publishing Group is designed as a service organization, whose sole mission is to enable each of our partner studios to reach their full potential and best serve their respective gamer communities,” Hi-Rez President Stewart Chisam says in today’s press release. “By structuring ourselves in this manner, we allow the organization to scale to multiple games more easily, while ensuring our existing game communities receive a better, more focused service than ever before.”

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The Daily Grind: Did you go back to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth?

Did they getcha? Did they suck you in again for another go-round?

I have a flurry of guildies in World of Warcraft right now thanks to Battle for Azeroth, and yet I haven’t been enticed to go back. In fact, Legion was the first expansion I didn’t buy or go back during, and now we’re at the next one and I’m still in exactly the same shruggy place. I’m not saying I’m over it forever. I’m not saying I’ll never go back. The game just isn’t doing it for me personally right now. There are things they could do that would make me whip out my wallet: new classes (bards!), real housing, a meaningful economy – maybe something that replicates the exploration amusement of vanilla, the dungeon joy of Wrath, or the questing and farm fun of Pandaria. Probably plenty of cool things I haven’t even thought of could get me in there; the truth is, I am a sucker for the idea of playing The Big One, secure in the knowledge that it’s a sure bet for longevity.

But this expansion isn’t grabbing me, and that’s OK. Not everything has to be for me. And I’m glad it’s grabbing some of you – who doesn’t love all the buzz and hoopla? So did you go back to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth?

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Star Citizen highlights community rover events, the group system, and atmospheric worlds

Cloud Imperium’s Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts are both back in the latest instalment of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse. You’ve probably noticed the shift this summer that ATV is taking; the team is now spending the first chunk of the video showing off just what the community is up, thereby demonstrating what’s actually doable in the game right now and causing would-be players to visualize themselves inside it. This episode does the same, highlighting three player events: the “cyclone challenge” in which people drive rovers over starships, the “rover fun” race, and even a rover cruise. Lotta driving of cars in Star Citizen, in other words.

On the development front, CIG says it’s working on the group system, specifically the chat channel system and the entire suite of notifications and permissions that will govern how players control their communication and friends. The devs further show off ongoing efforts to improve aiming and turret input as well as breathable world environments.

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