Asheron's Call: Throne of Destiny
Asheron's Call Retrospective
Fluent takes us back to the past in his new retrospective article for Asheron's Call.
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MMORPG General News
In Defense of the Subscription-Based MMO
Aubrielle provides arguments why it is good to have subscription based MMOs amongst the multitude of F2P MMOs.
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I can't choose
I don't do franchises
I don't like Bioware
Expected ReleasesJan: Pantheon
WoW - Subscribers Drop to 7 Million
Lostforever noticed on HardcoreGamer that the number of subscribers to World of Warcraft has dropped to about 7 million. I think loads of MMOs would be very happy with such a number, but WoW once had a lot more.
ESO - Why Bethesda Dropped Subscriptions
The Examiner had a short chat with Bethesda to talk about why the developer dropped the Elder Scrolls Online subscription model a few moths back.
Examiner.com had the chance to chat with Elder Scrolls Online Game Director Matt Firor about what went into the decision to drop subscriptions in ESO. "The decision came about by us listening to our fan’s feedback – they really liked the fact that they had so much freedom in the game and they wanted that same freedom with their payment methods," Firor said.
"So, we changed our subscription-required payment model to subscription-optional, and we created a virtual currency/in-game store system that allows players to purchase customization and convenience items. Player reaction has been outstandingly positive since we announced the change, and especially since the changes went live on March 17."
It's doubtful ESO would have found success on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One had the game kept its subscription model. With the selection of other games already available on the systems, it would have been hard to justify spending another $14.99 per month for a game you already own.
Elder Scrolls Online - v2.0.6 Patch Notes
A new patch was released for Elder Scrolls Online. Here are the patch notes.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited v2.0.6 is an incremental patch that fixes a number of issues including some Templar abilities, quests, long loading screens, and more. Also remember that the Senche-Leopard will be removed from the Crown Store after the maintenance for this patch. The total size for this patch is approximately 225MB.
Shadowrun Chronicles - Meet a Shadowrun Legend
Cliffhanger Productions has a new post-funding update with information about a reward for certain backers to meet, and play the game with a few Shadowrun Legends.
Hoi Chummers, as promised in our Kickstarter wayy back, some of you have earned the right to run with the Legends of the Shadowrun Universe. And now the time has come to allow those special backers to play side by side with the greatest of Shadowrun creative minds, so they can tell their awed friends that they actually went on a run with a true legend! Those of you who backed a tier that includes invitations to the Meet a Legend runs should have already received an invitation to the upcoming runs with further instructions (if you have backed such a tier but didn't receive an invitation, please check your spam folders and contact us if you can't find the message). But of course we don't want such an occasion to be something that only has benefits for our lucky VIP backers, so our Legends will also hang around the Back Alleys of Boston for everyone to meet them.
We already have an impressive guest list lined up and hope for more to join us: From Harebrained Games come Jordan Weisman, Original Creator of Shadowrun and the masterful Shadowrun Returns series, Mitch Gitelman, the man who makes visions into reality, and Mike Mulvihil, master of story and design. From Catalyst Labs we have Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Editor and master of the universe of present day Shadowrun. We also have Bull, the one man roleplaying powerhouse (who now also controls Jackpoint!) and for our German players Raben AAS, long standing Shadowrun artist extraordinaire, and Tigger aka Tobias Hamelmann, the man who makes sure the German Shadowrun books are at least as good if not better than any other.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen - Twitch Stream
The Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen webpage has a link for a recorded Twitch Stream where Chris Perkins of Visionary Realms talks various topics dealing with MMO games.
I just wanted to let you all know that our very own Chris Perkins (Joppa) will be appearing as a special guest on the Theory Forge Twitch Stream.
The topics will be:
1) Music in MMORPGs
2) Pantheon's return to a social, community based MMORPG experience + player interdependency
3) The challenge of bringing innovative ideas into a spiritual successor
So make sure you tune in to watch and listen as Chris discusses Pantheon with the Theory Forge team!
SW:TOR - How BioWare Built Enough Content
Gamasutra is hosting an old GDC 2011 video where ex-BioWare Designer George Zoeller talks about how the developer made enough content to fill The Old Republic.
Designing and operating a massively multiplayer online game is a Herculean effort in itself -- but how do you rapidly pack it with enough stuff to do that your players don't get bored?
In a talk recorded at GDC Online 2011, now-departed BioWare designer George Zoeller uses Star Wars: The Old Republic to explain how spatial analysis can be used to support a rapid content iteration process during the late stages of MMO development.
He reveals how BioWare's homegrown 'HoloProjector' spatial visualization toolkit is used in day to day development to surface user behavior metrics to The Old Republic's developers for decision making and content validation, then discusses lessons learned by the team and provides information on how to get started with the topic on your own game.
SW:TORSP/MP: Single + MP
Shadowrun Chronicles - Early Access Preview
Geoff Thew of Hardcore Gamer published a short preview of the Early Access version of Shadowrun Chronicles on Steam, and he calls the game X-COM with Magic.
You can tell that Cliffhanger Productions has a passion for their source material, as everything from the game’s art direction to its writing stays true to the spirit of Shadowrun. Dialogue is witty and tinged with dark humor, and though the character models are a little cartoony, their designs could be ripped straight from a campaign book. On the whole I’d say chronicles is a bit goofier than Shadowrun Returns or Dragonfall, but in a universe where a dragon ran for president once that’s not really a bad thing. Between this game and Hong Kong, it’s a good time to be a runner.
D&D Online - Why We Still Love it @ MMO-Play
Jeff Francis of MMO-Play published his thoughts about why he still loves playing Dungeons and Dragons Online. Here is a short sample of one of his reasons why.
D&D 3.5 Rules
One of the main reasons why I love Dungeons and Dragons Online is that its system is loosely based on the 3.5 edition of the D&D pen-and-paper rpg. I've been playing D&D for over thirty years, starting back with the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as well as the Basic and Expert boxed sets. I really like the 3.5 rules for the game, so I feel incredibly at ease within DDO as their in-game systems are based upon it. When I read that a ring is +5 of Protection, I know exactly what the game is talking about. The gaming group I had for about a decade broke up as we moved to different parts of the country, but we still got together to play DDO. So, the nostalgia factor is a big reason why I love DDO.
D&D OnlineSP/MP: Massive
Elder Scrolls Online - Welcomes Back Beta Players
ZeniMax Online has an update on the website for Elder Scrolls Online about offering Beta testers the chance to play the game for free on April 16th through April 20th.
A lot has changed since The Elder Scrolls Online beta, and we want you to discover all the new adventures waiting for you in Tamriel. From Thursday, April 16th at 10:00 AM EDT through Monday, April 20th at 10:00 AM EDT, we're inviting all beta players who never purchased the game to join us for a free weekend! You'll be able to download the game and experience all of our six major game updates, tons of improvements and fixes, and all of Tamriel Unlimited. We hope you'll join us!
If you're a beta player who is planning to participate in the Welcome Back Weekend, please check your email for more information and start downloading or updating your ESO client today!
Neverwinter - Elemental Evil Released
Perfect World Entertainment Inc & Cryptic Studios announced yesterday the Neverwinter: Elemental Evil expansion has now been released after its short delay.
Today, Perfect World Entertainment Inc., a leading publisher of free-to-play MMORPGs, and Cryptic Studios announced Neverwinter: Elemental Evil – the newest expansion for the action MMORPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe from Wizards of the Coast – is now available on PC, followed by Xbox One later this year.
In the largest update to the game yet, Neverwinter: Elemental Evil brings a new playable class – the Paladin – increasing the playable class count to eight. Players creating a Paladin will be able to choose between focusing on healing or tanking builds. Neverwinter: Elemental Evil also brings the iconic hero Minsc & his miniature giant space hamster Boo to the city of Neverwinter as they pursue the true nature of four elemental cults dedicated to seeding destruction and instability throughout the Forgotten Realms. The new module increases the level cap from 60 to 70, which brings a new set of quests, feats and slottable class feature powers.
Neverwinter: Elemental Evil continues the partnership with Wizards of the Coast as Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment maintain a one-to-one release cadence with official D&D storylines. Neverwinter players will journey through new adventures as they fight the newest threat to Protector’s Enclave – the Cults of Elemental Evil – which are also present in the upcoming tabletop adventure release, Princes of the Apocalypse.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Patch 2.2.0
Patch 2.2.0 has been released for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls this week.
Diablo III patch 2.2.0 is now live in the Americas for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One! Check out the full PC patch notes below to learn all about the latest changes.
Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsSP/MP: Single + MP
WoW - Tokens Now Live Update
Blizzard announced on Battle.net that tokens for World of Warcraft are now live.
The WoW Token is almost here, and we’ve put together an overview to show you how it works. Check out the video below for a closer look at the process of acquiring and trading Tokens and gold.
Shroud of the Avatar - Interview @ GamersNexus
Portalarium Lead Richard Garriott was interviewed on a site called GamersNexus to talk about the origin of the MMORPG genre, his innovations, and Shroud of the Avatar.
In the interview, we cover just a few of Garriott & team's most memorable contributions to the gaming world:
- Introduction of 3D perspective line drawings and tile graphics.
- The adaptation of the Sanskrit word “avatar” as a means to represent the player's effective in-game incarnate, replacing the incumbent “character” name.
- The concept (and even the word) of “sharding” servers to better accommodate large player bases.
- Coining the term “MMORPG” as a game genre, later to become one of the world's most successful categories of games.
We also discuss Garriott's first encounters with Star Citizen's Chris Roberts, prior to the hiring of Roberts onto the Origin team. Closing dialogue focuses on Garriott's return to fantasy RPG roots – Shroud of the Avatar – and hopes to continue a legacy of innovation in the new title.
Fable Legends - Preview @ WorthPlaying
Adam Pavlacka of WorthPlaying wrote a new preview of LionHeads next Fable game based on a short demo they played provided by Microsoft at GDC 2015.
Fable Legends is a bit different than previous titles in the franchise. Yes, it keeps the Fable "look," but the focus is on action, it's a free-to-play game, and it boasts 4-v-1 asymmetric multiplayer. It's also cross-platform, supporting both Windows 10 PC players and Xbox One players in the same game and on the same servers.
Microsoft had a playable version of Fable Legends on display at GDC 2015, so I gave the multiplayer experience a try. The setup at the show featured two Xbox One consoles and three Windows 10 machines. The two consoles and two of the PCs were used for the four heroes. The remaining PC was used for the villain. The PCs were set up with both keyboard and mouse as well as Xbox One controllers, so players could use whatever they were comfortable using.
It is worth noting that the cross-platform gameplay was absolutely seamless. Unless you walked right up to someone to see what hardware they were using, it was impossible to tell who was using what. Gameplay screens were identical, and game actions were in sync. Players on a PC with an Xbox One controller might as well have been playing on an Xbox One. The only real drawback I could see was the fact that the Xbox One doesn't give you the keyboard and mouse option, while the PC does.
Elder Scrolls Online - Happy 1st Anniversary
The Bethesda Blog announces that ESO has celebrated its first anniversary.
Hard to believe how fast times goes by, but today marks the first birthday for The Elder Scrolls Online!
The game has seen many improvements through regular updates and the introduction of Tamriel Unlimited, but one thing hasn’t changed: the amazing support from the game’s community. A shining example comes on the game’s first birthday — a touching community tribute put together by community member Elloa.
To the entire ZOS team and ESO fanbase, congrats on an amazing first year!
ESO: Tamriel Unlimited - The Right Direction
A blog site by the name of nardmode published a short article with their opinion that ESO: Tamriel Unlimited is a big step in the right direction for the MMO game.
In general Tamriel has become a much more dynamic place. You notice it as soon as you enter the game as you’ll often hear guards fighting or chasing after people yelling “Halt!”. A month ago towns were almost empty of players and now many are bustling hubs of activity.
Indeed Zenimax has taken a big step in the right direction and it’s only just beginning. The Justice system is only in it’s first phase of roll out. The second phase will introduce an enforcer vs. bandit type PvP in the areas that were previously PvE only.
Although it’s unclear exactly when the PvP element will be added to the Justice System, it is obvious that Zenimax is doing what it can to give players what they want. Hopefully they can continue to improve ESO: Tamriel Unlimited in ways that make it a more living, breathing game.
SW: Galaxies - Retrospective @ Games Radar
Games Radar published a new retrospective article for Star Wars Galaxies.
The game’s scope could belong to an unlikely sounding Kickstarter pitch, so perhaps it’s little wonder that Sony Online Entertainment shuttered its Star Wars MMOG in December 2011. In its final form, Star Wars Galaxies was a mess of contradictory creative urges whose design and technological foundations had been stripped out from under it – but it was an ambitious mess, the type of game that players often ask for but rarely get.
SW: GalaxiesSP/MP: Massive
Shroud of the Avatar - Schedule Update
Portalarium posted an updated development schedule for Shroud of the Avatar.
As we stated in previous posts, our goal is to once-per-quarter post an updated schedule for our monthly releases. Even though these goals will likely change somewhat as we react to feedback, we feel it is important to provide you an updated roadmap periodically.
Our goal continues to be to deliver our backers content each and every month so that we can get feedback, and use it to iterate improvements. This has already paid off, with additional game features like jumping and swimming, as well as improvements to systems like crafting, conversations, and combat. Meeting that monthly goal is our highest priority, but we require flexibility in our deliverables to meet that goal. As you have seen in previous releases, sometimes we push things out, but we also often pull new things in.
It is worth noting that we develop in an iterative fashion. This means we will often get systems and content in the game as soon as we can, even if they are only partially functional. In general until you see me say something is “final” you can safely assume we will continue to improve on that feature. An example is our Pets which are in very early development and do not include a lot of their functionality like being able to hang out in your house.
As always, all dates, durations, and deliverables are subject to change as we adjust our designs based on direct feedback from you, our backers.
As you might notice many of the deliverables from Q1 are now in Q2. This is due to many factors including the Unity 5 conversion, conventions (we had not planned to attend GDC), bug fixes, and other completely normal game development challenges. This now obviously puts our launch by end of 2015 at risk. We are currently working on various strategies to keep launch within 2015 but as always our goal is to ship the product when it is ready, not before. We will do everything in our power however to complete Episode 1 in as timely a manner as possible without sacrificing scope or quality. It is worth noting that based on our current funding and fundraising data trends that we we will still be able to complete the game without any financial issues, even with slips like this. NOTE: With this schedule change we will be extending payment plans to November.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Happy Birthday
Blizzard announced on Battle.net they are now celebrating the anniversary of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls by offering a Gold & EXP bonus for players till March 30th.
No one can stop Death… from having his cake and eating it, too!
To celebrate one year of Reaper of Souls (and the community who continues to support us), all heroes who log in to Diablo III this week on any platform will receive a +100% bonus to Gold Find and EXP! As with previous buffs, the bonuses provided will stack multiplicatively with existing in-game bonuses, including those provided by items, Shrines, Pools of Reflection, and Paragon points.
This bonus Gold Find and Experience period begins in the Americas region on Monday, March 23 at 12:00 a.m. PDT and ends on Monday, March 30th.
Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsSP/MP: Single + MP
Elder Scrolls Online - Crown Store Impressions
Crown Store of Elder Scrolls Online.
Elder Scrolls Online just became "Tamriel Unlimited" and that means no more necessary subscriptions. Buy the game once, play it forever. But of course, that also means the "Crown Store" is added, to monetize the game and keep it funded. What can you get for your dollars there? Bill Murphy takes a quick look.
Guild Wars 2 - EGX Rezzed Presentation
ArenaNet's game designers gave a forty minute presentation at EGX Rezzed about the expansion for Guild Wars 2 called Heart Of Thorns , and no I don't have a transcript.
Guild Wars 2SP/MP: Massive
Elder Scrolls Online - Tamriel Unlimited Trailer
Zenimax Online released a new launch trailer this week for Tamriel Unlimited.
They also released a new one hour ESO live video about the F2B conversion.
In this Friday, the 13th episode of ESO Live, we discuss the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, answer your questions, hear about life at ZOS with Systems Designer Mandi Parker, and learn about quest creation with Zone Lead Greg Roth.
Pantheon - New Developer Round Table
Visionary Realms released a the second part of a new Developer Round Table.
It is with great pleasure that we release Part 2 of our Developer Round Table!
I had the honour of speaking with the team and asking them your questions, we had really good discussions on multiple topics that I think you will all enjoy a lot. We had a few extra members of the team join us for the Developer Round Table this time around so I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you all!
Shroud of the Avatar - Interview @ Rebull
"We would love to call this game an Ultima," Garriott exclusively tells Red Bull. "To date though, we have had little luck in discussions to re-acquire such rights." Even without the iconic name, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is unquestionably cut from the same cloth as Garriott's famous RPG franchise. "What made Ultima unique was a set of design principles which remains unique to much of gaming," he continues.
"In simplified form it includes such items as a living detailed world with stories about virtue and social issues; challenging a player's personal beliefs and holding up a mirror to the way these might be viewed, fiction supporting you coming to our world as an Avatar, stripping away most overused fantasy conventions while using only parts that clearly add to the experience and, finally, deep use of social tools and player communities."
Shroud of the Avatar is another Kickstarter success story. The initial campaign raised a not-inconsiderable $1.9million (€1.7m), while additional crowdfunding has brought in an extra $1.1million (€1.1m) as of January last year. Garriott is a man who has clearly had to take some big risks during his illustrious career, but even he found this new crowdfunding experience daunting, at least at first.
"It is exciting and terrifying to step off that cliff," he says. "If it hadn't worked, I'm not sure what we could have done next. But after adjusting to life building with, and for, the community, it's obvious this was the perfect way for us to proceed. At this point we get much more than financial support from our community; they inspire and often lead us along the way."
Neverwinter - Elemental Evil Release Delayed
Perfect World Entertainment announced the Neverwinter: Elemental Evil expansion module for the MMORPG Neverwinter: Elemental Evil is being delayed to April 7th.
Neverwinter: Elemental Evil Release Date Moved to April 7
Below is a message from Rob Overmeyer, executive producer for Neverwinter, announcing the new April 7 release date for Neverwinter: Elemental Evil.
When we first announced Neverwinter: Elemental Evil in January, our team was excited to introduce the community to our biggest expansion launch for Neverwinter to-date. With our efforts to revamp nearly all of our in-game systems, including the introduction of the level cap increase and the new Oathbound Paladin class, our plan was more ambitious than we had anticipated.
Our Neverwinter team wants to ensure that we deliver our promise of a high quality expansion, and in order to do so, we need a few more weeks to fine tune the Neverwinter: Elemental Evil experience. Consequently, we have made the decision to delay the launch of Neverwinter: Elemental Evil to April 7.
We appreciate your patience as we take this extra time to make sure the Neverwinter: Elemental Evil experience lives up to our expectations. Our team is extremely excited for players to experience the new story, zones, critter groups and additional new changes coming to our game in April. Stay tuned to our blog and social channels as we continue to share additional details for Neverwinter: Elemental Evil.
RPGWatch - Asheron's Call Retrospective
Fluent takes us back to the past in his new retrospective article for Asheron's Call.
Childhood-defining games. As gamers, we all have them. Being an avid RPG gamer since childhood, I've had several games that helped define the early years of my gaming life. Many RPGs I've played have had moments that remained with me for years, and still others completely changed my outlook on the genre, and to this day I still have many vivid memories of these beautiful, shimmering gems. Asheron's Call is an example of such a gem. It's a game that completely took over my life for one summer and did not let go, showing me the huge world of unique possibilities that only an online RPG played with other real, actual players can have. It defined a piece of my childhood, though it was a brief and fleeting piece, still a piece nonetheless.
Asheron's CallSP/MP: Massive
Fable Legends - Preview @ DualShockers
DualShockers is the next site this month to publish a preview for Fable Legends.
From what I played, Fable Legends feels like it’s going to make some serious waves in the free to play market, considering that games like Warframe have proven that people are willing to invest in cooperative free-to-play titles.
Legends definitely has potential, considering the cross platform play on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. It will be interesting to see how fans of Fable will react to Lionhead’s very risky but equally fun to play endeavor.