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World of Warcraft kicks off the Battle for Azeroth era

While the expansion won’t be here until August, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth officially begins today. That is thanks to Blizzard’s tradition of releasing a features pre-expansion patch with many of the changes that will help to usher players into the new era.

Patch 8.0 is live today with a lot for players to explore and experience. The highlights include a wide array of class changes, PvP War Mode, Communities, upright Orc postures, and a Legacy loot mode (who’s going transmog hunting this week?). Also, next week will see the debut of the Teldrassil and Lordaeron playable scenarios, both of which lead right into the expansion.

And since your Battle for Azeroth fever is burning bright, why not add a couple of degrees by watching the new trailer to a trio of upcoming animated shorts that Blizzard is making? Check it out after the break.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s PR nightmare

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that two Guild Wars 2 developers were cut loose last week after a heated Twitter exchange that was initiated by narrative lead Jessica Price. What started off as welcome insight into the problems with player-character narrative development in MMOs turned into a PR horror show when the dev felt slighted by a comment received in response to her musing.

The internet is alight with opinions on the drama and ArenaNet’s response to the comments made by Price and her coworker, so in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I just had to address it myself.

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TennoCon 2018: Warframe expands into open-world Venus plus space

Eidolon expanded the scope of Warframe immensely, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the content coming. The playable universe is growing by open-world leaps and bounds… and rocket thrusts!

Digital Extremes announced the next two major updates coming to the game at this year’s TennoCon 2108. First up this fall is Fortuna, a massive open-world environment on the surface of Venus. How big is it? Game Director Steve Sinclair said that the entirety of Eidolon would fit just on the first base in The Orb Vallis. That was the one folks had surmised parts of thanks to datamining. However, no one expected the second announcement: to play in space!

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Camelot Unchained has briefly delayed its 4th of July beta launch because ‘the client crash rate is too damn high’

Camelot Unchained has postponed its planned 4th of July beta launch in what Mark Jacobs is characterizing as a “short” delay.

“It’s not going to be a year delay or a three-month delay,” he told viewers on stream, reassuring them that he’s expecting it to be a matter of merely days or weeks. [Update: After the stream, Jacobs told Massively OP that he expects a clearer picture of how long the delay will be by Thursday.]

Over the weekend, studio reps said it was down to a list of 40 bugs it’s still crunching on; the company is asking existing backers to come help test this week. “The client crash rate is TOO DAMN HIGH!” is the mantra on today’s stream.

Longtime MMORPG fans will know that this delay follows several years of pre-beta testing. Last winter, City State Entertainment announced it had received a big cash investment and put the July 4th date on Camelot Unchained’s beta one. At the time, the beta was already three years late, as the studio struggled to find programmers, completely refactored large chunks of its ability system, and ultimately opened up a second studio in Seattle in order to make its RvR MMO vision a reality.

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Interview: Neowiz on Bless Online’s tech, class balance, gems, PvP, and more

Neowiz’s Bless has been the subject of much chatter lately (not least of all my own), with its troubled, let’s say, launch raising a bevy of questions and concerns among the game’s community. And as it just so happens, we recently had the opportunity to ask the Bless dev team at Neowiz some questions of our own.

In the exchange, conducted via email (and helpfully translated between Korean and English by the Bless PR team), the devs answer questions on a variety of topics, including the game’s performance and balance issues, chat limitations, and what players can expect from upcoming content updates. If you’re curious to know what they had to say, then read on for the full interview.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our preview of Guild Wars 2’s Long Live the Lich, now live

We’ve waited out the short delay, and today’s the day when we get our hands on the third episode of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season. Long Live the Lich promises to be an intense addition to the season: A deadly plague in the hands of an angry Palawa Joko is no laughing matter, after all. I am delighted that we have some new content to uncover and the new roller beetle mount certainly helps, so I’m ready to settle in today and explore the gorgeous new map, the domain of Kourna some more. I was able to get a guided tour with some of the dev team before the weekend and was very impressed with the new map and mount, so I can’t wait to uncover more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll start off with a short recap so we’re all up to speed before I discuss my first impressions. I played for around 45 minutes and we didn’t go into any key story details, so this article shouldn’t reveal any more lore spoilers than the episode trailer, but if you’d prefer to go in without any info about the patch at all, give this one a skip until you’ve played yourself.

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Trion just bought up Gazillion’s assets to beef up its MMO publishing arm

Did you see this one coming? VentureBeat has a piece out this morning interviewing Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman, who’s apparently just revealed that Trion’s bought up all of Gazillion Entertainment, or what’s left of its assets, anyway.

Gazillion, of course, infamously shuttered along with its core MMORPG, Marvel Heroes, last autumn following weeks of missed content, an apparent failed contract renogotiation, a sexual harassment scandal, and ultimately Disney’s rescinding of the Marvel license, driving the studio into bankruptcy. At the time, we called it the worst-managed MMORPG sunset of all time.

It looks like the goal for Trion here isn’t necessarily to save or remake Marvel Heroes (although that would be fun, and VB notes Trion has picked up an isometric game engine as part of the package) but to bolster its publishing for MMOs specifically, something MMO players will recall Trion’s been working on for the last few years with Glyph, where Trion’s existing games – including RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance – currently dwell.

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Chaos Theory: A guide to Secret World Legend’s first MEGAversary

Next week marks one year down for Secret World Legends, but the party has already started! From June 20th through July 17th, 2018, players can smash piñatas, scoop up goodies galore, and celebrate. There is tons of loot to get, all new lore to find, and even new Gaia golems to meet. (And by meet, we mean beat down and collect a reward from).

So what does this anniversary event entail? How does it compare to the anniversary events of yore in The Secret World? I’m glad you asked! There are some similarities, but even those are adapted to fit this incarnation. The giant golems are back, but with the SWL raid twist. And remember their shem pets? They are easier to get this time around; no need to pray for good RNG from the bags. And that is just the beginning. I can understand why it has been billed as a Megaversary; there is a whole lot more to this anniversary event than expected, so here’s a guide to help you keep from missing out on any of it.

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Guild Wars 2’s next episode, Long Live the Lich, launches June 26 – here’s the trailer (finally!)

Who had June 26th for Guild Wars 2’s next big thing? Oh, everyone? Because we had gobs of time to speculate in the delay deadzone? Right right.

Yes, ArenaNet just announced that episode 3 of season 4, dubbed Long Live the Lich, will finally, finally roll out next week on June 26th. If you know even a little bit about Path of Fire, you really don’t need me to tell you which lich we’re talkin’ about here.

If you do need me to tell you, I’m still not gonna. It probably means you’ve not played the expansion, in which case, the big ol’ sale ANet just dropped is right up your alley; the game is half off right now.

Trailer incoming! It’s promising a new legendary warhorn, the Domain of Kourna map, a new roller beetle mount, and the new Deepstone fractal.

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E3 2018: Well-earned hype for Rend’s pets, construction, modding, and PvPvE

When I met Frostkeep Studios’ CEO Jeremy Wood and crew at GDC earlier this year, I walked away impressed. I finally felt like I understood why other MOP staff are so excited about this flying-under-the-radar title. And this year at E3, I not only saw a more finished build of Rend but got some hands-on time with the game. I can’t say the floor demo did the game any justice, but what I heard from Wood and co-founder Solomon Lee sounded like the kind of forward thinking that only comes from developers who know the history of the genre and their playerbase.

Although I think I could start a hype train, I’m going to try to try to reserve judgment for a little longer. Rend may not be an MMO (it’s a moddable survival game with factions), but it has the potential to feed that MMO hunger we know you’re craving.

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Crowfall delays again: ‘Soft launch is not going to happen by the end of this year’

Here’s a slight damper for your weekend: Crowfall has decided to delay its soft launch into 2019 due to the additional work that the studio believes should to be done. ArtCraft said that between “getting it right” and “calling it done,” it would much rather do the former.

“The game experience is paramount,” ArtCraft stated. “We firmly believe is the right path forward. These changes aren’t free, however, so we should recognize that more changes to core systems means more time before launch. As a result, I think it’s clear that our soft launch is not going to happen by the end of the year.”

The delay isn’t the first for the studio; by our count, it delayed major functionality as well as a soft launch last year too.

Now that you’re past the crushing disappointment of development schedules, here’s some good news. Alpha testing is on track to start later this summer and the studio is in a strong financial position after receiving an additional $6 million investment at the start of 2018. Other deals that have been made to help the PvP MMO include a partnership to bring Crowfall to Russia and an agreement to license its MMO technology base to an unnamed company.

Source: Crowfall. Thanks JamesGoblin!

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‘Magic through serendipity’: Raph Koster on the glorious mess that was Ultima Online

I was a wide-eyed, naive kid when I first stepped into Ultima Online in 1997, and as it turns out, the developers were too.

That’s my takeaway from reading through the Ultima Online chunk of Raph Koster’s new book, Postmortems. Koster, as any dedicated MMORPG fan will recall, went by “Designer Dragon” back then as the creative lead on the game. Having come from a MUD background, he and his wife Kristin Koster were instrumental in shaping Richard Garriott’s seminal MMORPG and therefore the genre as we know it.

Koster kindly sent us a preprint of the book, unwittingly robbing himself of $35, as I was going to buy it anyway, and it’s massive, folks: over 700 pages spanning three decades and the majority of the online games Koster’s worked on during his long tenure in the gaming industry. Some of those games are definitely of more interest to our readers on Massively OP, in particular Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. It’s the Ultima Online chapters I aim to cover today.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Discussing Guild Wars 2 content voids and cadence disruption

Waiting for a Living World release you know is coming eventually is one of the more frustrating parts of playing Guild Wars 2 for the chronically impatient like me, but when you add a delay announcement on top of that, community frustration can quickly accelerate. Cue a minor online panic: Content creators making parody trailers, prominent accounts announcing indefinite breaks, and general fear that we’re headed back to the Heart of Thorns content drought days! I want to slow down for a minute, though, keep my admittedly thin patience intact for a moment longer, and ask if we really need to worry just yet though.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I will dig into what we know about the delay to the next episode’s release and will consider if this is the start of a worrisome pattern or a justified blip on the radar. I’ll also consider why even small delays cause the degree of frustration they do, giving some ideas for how to minimise the impact of cadence shifts in future.

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