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The Daily Grind: Are you excited for Wander?

Wander kind of surprised me. I’ve been aware of it for some time, but due to its lack of a launch date and my year-long MMO malaise, I haven’t paid it much mind.

Now, though, it has a launch date (June 4th), and as such I’ve been devouring all of the trailers, interviews, and gameplay footage that I can get my hands on. And gosh, what’s not to like? It’s a “non-combat, non-competitive” MMO for PlayStation 4 and PC that focuses on collaborative exploration and features beautiful CryEngine atmospherics.

What about you, MOP readers? Will you be giving Wander a go?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Betawatch: May 29th, 2015

We don’t usually list expansions in our little master list, but Guild Wars 2 has started doing some testing of its first expansion. In very, very small doses. Another dose of the Stronghold beta is also due for the game in the not-too-distant future, hopefully ameliorating the current lack of information about when the expansion will actually launch.

Other beta news? Oh, fine, I guess we can.

And of course we have that lovely list of games in testing past the break. Did something slip into open testing or soft launch without us finding out? Let us know down in the comments.

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Shadowrun Chronicles developer declares bankruptcy [Updated]

After several delays, Shadowrun Chronicles, the rebranded form of what was originally being developed as Shadowrun Online, launched on Steam a month ago. Now, a month out, the studio behind the game is bankrupt. The company has apparently already been assigned a liquidator, which raises serious questions about the future of the game after a month of operation.

One of the developers posted on the Steam forum that this does not mean doom for the game or even the company, with a statement due out later tonight regarding the situation. While players are assured that the servers will remain up and the next update is on track… it’s a bit hard to feel terribly certain, obviously.

[Update]: MassivelyOP has been provided with a copy of the most recent backer update wherein Cliffhanger Productions addresses the bankruptcy filing. You can read it after the cut.

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The Soapbox: Can MMOs eradicate pay-to-win?

You know what sucks about getting old? Apart from the adult diapers and the dying? Yeah, it’s the seeing things you love retconned into things that you don’t love. That’s basically the opposite of fun, and so it goes here lately with me and MMORPGs.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still playing them in the hope that they’ll dial back the casino stylings in favor of fun gameplay and ambitious feature sets.

But really, why would any for-profit development studio do that when a generation of gamers thinks that gamble boxes, cash shops, triple-dipping business models, and pay-to-win are not only acceptable but preferable?

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Catching up with Shroud of the Avatar’s Starr Long

As Kickstarter projects successfully funded via the power of nostalgia have proven, gamer loyalty can burn strong even decades after experiencing titles that make such a profound impact. For a subset of players, the Ultima franchise will forever be one of the most influential RPG series in existence, which is why thousands of them have migrated over to Shroud of the Avatar to give it such an active following during its early access period.

Shroud of the Avatar isn’t merely a game being formed, but a community coming together to live in this virtual world. Massively Overpowered caught up with Portalarium executive producer Starr Long this week to get a status check on the project and to ask a few burning questions about how SOTA plans on being a worthy spiritual successor to Ultima.

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Massively Overthinking: When IPs are wasted on mediocre MMOs

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Aldranis, whose query neatly dovetails with the IP-related question we answered on the podcast earlier this week. Aldranis writes,

Do you think IP-based games lead to an oversaturation of mediocre MMOs on the market? It seems for every Marvel Heroes or Lord of the Rings Online, there are one or two Matrix Onlines. I feel these types of games can not only stunt design/developer creativity but also introduce games that no one would really play, wasting a great IP. Similarly, I’m really bummed that World of Darkness didn’t make it to the light of day (pun very intended). That was an IP-based MMO I was really looking forward to, and now seems to be lost, at least in the short-term.

I posed Aldranis’ question to the Massively OP writers, and man, they took the diss on The Matrix Online as fightin’ words!

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NCsoft shifts attention to western and mobile markets

Are you excited about the future of (mobile) gaming? NCsoft sure is! The South Korean gaming giant blasted out a press release this afternoon announcing that it is “doubling down on its existing portfolio of products,” “laying the groundwork to increase NCSOFT West’s investment and prominence in the West,” and establishing a new mobile studio in San Mateo, California.

“We are expanding our product pipeline via more products from our Korean HQ, from M&A activity, and via a heavy focus on mobile development,” senior VP of publishing John Burns says, referring to WildStar and Blade & Soul’s recent developments. “We also continue to accelerate by building on the existing great teams and people we have here at NCSOFT West and by adding additional areas of expertise that support our expanding cross-platform initiatives.”

The company invested in Canadian mobile devhouse This Game Studio in April and has suffered multiple rounds of layoffs in its western studios in the last several years. In recent weeks, it’s announced it’s bringing the nearly three-year-old Korean MMO Blade & Soul westward and turning WildStar into a free-to-play title.

Source: NCsoft press release

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Greed Monger officially calls it quits

After staff defections and general developer drama earlier this year, there really wasn’t much hope for the future of Greed Monger. Now there is no hope whatsoever, as the team has run out of funds and is unable to even get a smaller title out the door to backers.

Programmer James Proctor delivered the bad news to the community: “With no means of funding and Jason [Appleton] refusing to take GM back from us, we are forced to admit defeat and close GM down […] I’m sorry things have had to end this way and will do everything in our power to make things right in the future.”

Greed Monger raised over $100,000 in crowdfunding in 2012, promising that it would create “a crafting-focused sandbox MMORPG.”

Source: Official forums. Thanks to EponyxDamor and Leilonii for the tip!

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Guild Wars 2 gives an update on personal story restoration

Curious what’s up with Guild Wars 2’s promised plans to restore the game’s personal story to full working order, complete with a soloable final mission? You and many, many other players, apparently.

ArenaNet Lead Writer Bobby Stein took to the forums to say that it’s being worked on but couldn’t say when it will happen: “All major assets for the personal story restoration are in place in our development environment. We’re testing and bug fixing now. While I don’t have an official release date to share at this time, I can say that you have a little more time to get your characters into the desired state of personal story progress.”

Speaking of restoration, former Guild Wars 2 Director of Design Chris Whiteside formally announced his arrival on Firefall’s team as its new design director yesterday. This wasn’t a terribly big surprise, as those following Whiteside’s Twitter account might have noticed his mention of the move back in April.

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Previous Elite purchasers can now claim a free Steam key

Last winter I pre-ordered that Mercenary Edition pack for Elite: Dangerous through Frontier’s online store. While I enjoyed playing the space sim at the time, I haven’t played it much since then because a) other games and b) I’ve been waiting for the devs to make good on their promise to deliver Steam keys to people who have already purchased the client.

Don’t ask me why, but I like playing games through Steam even when they don’t require it. It’s a sickness.

Anyway, today Frontier announced that E:D owners can claim a free Steam key via their Frontier account page. The only catch is that as of this writing, the store is still loading very sloooooowly, so good luck with that.

Source: Forums; thanks PhoenixDFire!

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WildStar’s free-to-play shift: Too little or just enough?

WildStar has taken a drubbing in its first year of operation, and much as I don’t like saying so, it’s deserved it. The game had some really terrible habits that I discussed back on Massively-that-was (which I don’t want to link simply because, you know, that Frankengadget thing ain’t us), and it has watched its market share decrease to abysmal proportions. If there was ever a game that needed a salvation effort, it’s this one.

But I can see people arguing that it might be too little and too late. Sure, I’m writing this before the announcement has gone live, but I already know what’s being asked because I asked the same question. Does it even matter at this point what the game does? Has too much time passed? Is it time to just accept the fact that darn it, this game had promise, but it didn’t live up to that promise, so let’s pack it in and cut our losses.

I think I can answer that question. But to do that, I’m going to have to talk about Final Fantasy XIV.

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WildStar is going free-to-play this autumn

Critics, current players, former players, people who had briefly heard about the title from friends and family – a lot of people didn’t think that WildStar could keep its subscription model forever. The question, for most observers, was when it would go free-to-play, not whether. But Carbine Studios has remained silent on the subject… until now.

Yes, WildStar is going to be transitioning to a free-to-play model this fall. And we do mean free-to-play, not buy-to-play; you’ll be able to download and play the game without paying a cent, whether you’ve purchased a copy in the past or you have never played a day in your life.

At a recent press event in California, I sat down to talk with product director Mike Donatelli and creative director Chad Moore about the transition, the team’s overall plans, and what it all means for the game’s past, present, and future players.

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Shards’ project lead talks development, pay-for-mods, and more

What’s up with Shards Online this week? Well, quite a bit according to project lead and Ultima Online veteran Derek Brinkmann. MassivelyOP recently caught up with the Citadel Studios founder to ask him about the sandbox title’s development roadmap, some new additions to the dev team, and his opinion on the game industry’s recent pay-for-mods controversy.

The full interview is just past the break!

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