Lore Hound MMOcast: Episode 4

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - 2 Comments »

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Join the Lore Hounds as we discuss the latest news in the MMO world. The lineup this week includes Juggynaut, iTZKooPA, and Amatera.

This week the discussion covers:

EA’s foray into the browser based free to play games, Lord of Ultima launches
Heroes of Might & Magic Online heads to beta
Runes of Magic removes RMT trading temporarily
WAR’s Jeff Hickman apologizes for Mythic’s billing issues
Turbine is purchased by Warner Bros.
EQ2 Passport offers a new subscription to former EQ2 accounts.
Discussion: Are you fearing the summer lull of gaming content – MMOG and otherwise – or looking forward to being able to catch-up, play things you missed like Dog’s Life

Click the player above to listen, download the podcast, subscribe via RSS, or subscribe on iTunes.

Also, get involved with our podcasts! E-mail us at podcast@lorehound.com or leave us a voicemail using the button below or simply call us at (304) 884-LORE.  Remember you can follow us on Twitter for a chance to win a Celestial Steed mount, too!

Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - No Comments »

Today, Warner Bros. Entertainment announced that they have acquired Turbine, the developer behind Lord of the Rings Online, Asherons Call and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Read below for more information:

“Turbine is a leader in online entertainment and a strong strategic fit for Warner Bros. as we continue to broaden our games portfolio and development capabilities,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “Turbine’s renowned online game development and publishing expertise will help us develop additional online product offerings, while also providing us with new and innovative ways to market and communicate with our consumers.”

Founded in 1994 and operating primarily in Boston, Turbine has created some of the most popular and exciting gaming worlds on the Internet, including Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, the world’s best free-to-play massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and The Lord of the Rings Online™, the first and only MMORPG based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. Previously, Warner Bros. held all The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) games rights, with the exception of the literary MMO (massively multiplayer online game) rights. Now all games rights for the LOTR franchise will be unified under the Warner Bros. shield.

“We have been looking to expand access to our online worlds to more players and more markets,” said Jim Crowley, president and CEO, Turbine, Inc. “This acquisition is very exciting because it allows us to expand globally while continuing to focus on creating spectacular online games that our loyal fans and players have come to expect.”

Additionally, the acquisition of Turbine provides Warner Bros. with access to a proprietary digital publishing platform that enables dynamic direct-to-consumer relationships, robust online merchandising opportunities and vibrant e-commerce functionality for online games. Turbine has also developed a social networking platform that can integrate their self-developed online communities with popular third-party social networks. Outside of the games arena, these platforms present unique opportunities for Warner’s other home entertainment businesses.

“Turbine is recognized globally for its industry-leading technology, groundbreaking graphics and its unique ability to create and operate massive and persistent online worlds which greatly enhance players’ social gaming experiences,” said Martin Tremblay, president, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “The Lord of the Rings Online and  Dungeons & Dragons Online have both been an enormous success for Turbine and we look forward to working with their talented development team to continue creating award-winning online games.”

Click here, to see the press release in its entirety.

2010 World of Warcraft Arena Tournament Registration begins

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - No Comments »

Registration for the 2010 World of Warcraft Arena Tournament has began. Registration costs $20 and is open to any active World of Warcraft account with both the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions activated.

The tournament is dedicated to 3v3 Arena matches. (2v2 and 5v5 matches can be played for fun, but only the 3v3 ladder results are being rewarded.) Players get the chance to create three level-80 fully-customizable characters equipped with full sets of epic gear.

Information on the prizes below:

The winning team will take home the impressive sum of $75,000. The second-place team will win $30,000, and the third-place team will be awarded $15,000. There will be cash prizes at each regional final as well, consisting of $15,000, $6,000, $3,000, and $1,500 for the first, second, third, and fourth-place teams respectively, while fifth- through eighth-place teams will each receive $600.

Players who participate in the tournament can also earn both the exclusive Armored Murloc in-game pet, and the “Vanquisher” title on their live characters by meeting certain eligibility criteria.

For more information, head on over to the official event page.

Remembering Phantasy Star Online

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - No Comments »

It’s debatable if Phantasy Star Online should be considered an MMO or not. The game was marketed as an online role playing game and even had ‘online’ in its title. Whether it is a true MMO or not, there is no denying how much of an impact it caused, particularly to console gamers, as it was the first time many had experienced an online game.

PC gamers had been playing MMO’s such as Ultima Online and Nexus: The Kingdoms of the Winds for years prior to the release of Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast in 2000. However, for console gamers, it was a revolutionary leap in technology, which proved that consoles were capable of delivering gaming experiences that many thought were only possible on the PC.

During Phantasy Star Online’s lifespan, it was on four different platforms:

-       Dreamcast (2000)

-       PC (2001, Asia only)

-       GameCube (2002)

-       Xbox (2003)

An enhanced PC version titled ‘Blue Burst’ was released in 2004 worldwide via digital distribution.

In Phantasy Star Online players had the option of choosing from three races: Human’s, Android’s and Newman’s. Human’s were well rounded in both melee and magic, Android’s were more melee orientated, while Newman’s focused primarily in performing magic. After choosing a race, picking a class that corresponded with your race was in order.

Many consider Phantasy Star Online as an action-RPG rather than an MMO. For starters, the game didn’t have a seamless, open world to explore. Instead the game was set on the spaceship Pioneer 2 and the planet Ragol. The Pioneer 2 acted as your general hub. Everything from socialising, accepting missions, shopping, etc was all done here. Once a party of four was formed, you could travel to the planet Ragol and fulfil your missions there. At the time of Phantasy Star Online’s release, the planet was split into four sections: The Forest, Caves, Mines and Ruins. More content came with future expansions.

Essentially all Phantasy Star Online had to offer at first was four distinct level locations, each ending with a boss battle. Four levels may not seem like a lot of content, however, there was a lot of lasting appeal. The party leader had the ability to choose the difficulty setting, before venturing out on a mission. Increasing the difficulty meant stronger monsters, better items, and increased experience. The final boss would become available after completing the game on the hardest difficulty setting. Phantasy Star Online may seem quite basic by today’s standards, but back in 2000 it was pretty revolutionary, particularly for being the first online console game.

If there was one notable thing that stood out in Phantasy Star Online, it would have to be the combat. It was very interactive and required the player to actually time his or her attacks to strike three consecutive hits in a row. Another cool addition was the Mag. A Mag was essentially a little robotic companion that could be leveled up from being fed items. As the Mag grew, it learned specific skills that would come in handy during combat.

While the game had ‘Online’ in the title, you didn’t have to necessarily play it online. There was also the ability to play offline if you didn’t have the Internet, or just preferred playing by yourself.  Offline was more story-oriented, while online was mostly for getting loot and having a social aspect to the game.

Generally MMO’s have character data saved on a server, but Phantasy Star Online’s character data was stored on the Dreamcast’s Virtual Memory Unit, thus making cheating very easy. It was as simple as owning a GameShark, and you could have any item and unlimited Meseta (the currency) as you want. The game eventually became flooded with cheaters, which ruined the experience for many players.

Phantasy Star Online received many expansions over the years, which added a plethora of content. The first expansion, episode 2; offered the seaside, mountain and jungle regions of Ragol to be explored, along with new items and enemies. The hub world also received an overhaul.

In 2003, Phantasy Star Online: Episode 3 was released for the Nintendo GameCube, which strayed far from the formula established in Episodes 1 & 2. Episode 3 was a card game set in the Phantasy Star Online universe. While the game was critically and commercially successful, it wasn’t quite the sequel fans were looking for.

In 2004, Sega ported Phantasy Star Online to the PC and added a whole new expansion: Episode 4. The PC exclusive was titled ‘Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst.’ It is considered to be the most complete version of Phantasy Star Online, apart from the missing Episode 3, which really is an entirely different game. Episode 4 brought new maps, enemies and items. The game could only be played online and characters were saved to Sega’s servers, practically eliminating any form of cheating.

As the years went on, Sega eventually closed down Phantasy Star Online’s servers and as of April 22nd 2008, Phantasy Star Online was no longer supported on any system.

The sequel to Phantasy Star Online, titled Phantasy Star Universe was released on August 31, 2006 for the PC and Playstation 2. An Xbox 360 version was released on December 12, 2006. Phantasy Star Universe was not very well received – both critically and commercially. It was criticised for being far too similar like its predecessor and for not bringing much new to the table. It also came out during the age of games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft – two games that are pretty darn hard to top nowadays.

In fact, due to a low population and poor support, Sega officially closed down the PC and PS2 servers on March 31st, 2010. Although with the closure fans were left with a little tease.

‘While we are sad to see the PC/PS2 version of Phantasy Star Universe end, the year 2010 is the 10th anniversary of Phantasy Star Online — and this server / service closure is helping to pave the way for bigger and better things for the Phantasy Star franchise in the very near future!’

Phantasy Star Online was a fine achievement in videogame history. It was the first online console game, and the very first taste of an MMO-experience for millions of people. It was a great game and it truly was the pinnacle of what was possible in the year 2000.

With E3 being just a matter of months away now, we’re hoping for a big announcement to commemorate ten years since Phantasy Star Online blew millions of gamers away. It’s time to remember Phantasy Star Online.

Avalon Heroes Massive Update

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - No Comments »

In order to attract new players and reward the old ones, publisher burda:ic has released a Massive Update for Avalon Heroes. This addon focuses mostly on content, with the giant new map “The Valley of the Ice Dragon,” new characters and items. The two new characters, Seimei and Bentilus, are the two new heroes players embrace. Seimei is a summoner-type hero, focusing mostly on long range. This character attacks foes with deadly magic skills. The second new addition to the team, Bentilus, is a warrior-type hero with deadly short range attacks or teleports them with his secret knowledge. More information is available here.

Rappelz: New Arabic Server

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - 3 Comments »

In order to house the growing population of Rappelz Arab and to make sure more players realize their full potential,  GamePower7 has decided to open a new server – Dragon, named after the most rare pet in the game.  The New Rappelz Arab server is set to launch on March 4th, 2010. In order to celebrate the new server, there will also be an exp event. In the first week of launch, exp rate will be raised by 300%, 250% in the second week and 200% during the fourth and fifth week.

CrimeCraft – Singleplayer Campaign in the Works

Posted by on April 22, 2010 - No Comments »

After the April update, the CrimeCraft team is now working on another major game update – a singleplayer campaign. According to a report from Examiner, the purpose of the CrimeCraft Singleplayer update is to provide more content and make the gameplay richer and more enjoyable. Since the project has just started, developer Vogster Entertainment didn’t give any detail about it.

CrimeCraft was originally pay-to-play, but financial problems forced the team to go free-to-play, with monthly subscriptions still being available. Vogster’s other projects Robocalypse(Nintendo DS, iPhone, Wii) and Unbound Saga(Xbox 360).

Instance Gratification: DDO Episode 2 – Ding!

Posted by on April 21, 2010 - 4 Comments »

Join iTZKooPA and an increased troop of heroes as they return to Korthos Island to mop up the last few adventures before heading into the wilds of Stormreach.  Episode 2 was filled with a round robin of characters, maxing out at a full (unbalanced) group of six players.  We are still in need of a dedicated tank.

Thanks to the XP Bonus event, and some tasty 20% XP multipliers, most of the group hit or are about to hit level 3.  Due to the complexity of leveling (and ranking) in Dungeons and Dragons Online, iTZKooPA closes the video with a recap of the unique process.

Episode 3 will once again happen on Sunday, and is currently scheduled for an 11:00 AM EST start time on the Khyber server.  Please be sure to complete the tutorial area and dungeon before go time.  We’ll be clearing that last two dungeons on Korthos Island before we head off to Stormreach for the real challenges.  Supplies of DDO Point cards are now limited, but still available to those that attend!

Prospective attendees should drop a line below so we can gauge the expected attendance.  Include your class if you’ve already decided upon one.  I currently have a warforged cleric (iTZKooPA) and a halfling bard (iTZKHuPA).

Hope to see you there!  How do you like the new name?!