WoW PTR 3.3.5: First Look at New Social Options

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - 2 Comments »

The first round of testing for WoW’s Patch 3.3.5 was, not unexpectedly, disjointed and, at times, impossible to even connect. But regardless of that, I had at least a little bit of luck logging in to get a quick first look at how the new social options are being implemented. Of course, these options may change or even be removed or delayed before they hit the live servers, but let’s take a quick look at their first appearance on the PTR.

In the video, you’ll see new friends options for adding RealIDs for cross-realm, cross-faction, cross-game chat. You’ll also see new status settings, and even a way for you to display a “broadcast” message — think FB status. Watch the video for all the juicy details! Set it to HD for the clearest look.

Cataclysm Closed Beta Opt-In

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - No Comments »

World of Warcraft:Cataclysm is now open for closed beta opt-ins. As some of you may know the alpha was only available to friends and families of Blizzard employees. The only requirements needed to participate in the beta is to have a Battle.net account that has a World of Warcraft account tied to it and details about your system specifications. After doing that make sure you check the box for World of Warcraft beta.

More info can be found here.

Blizzard Reminds You To Opt-In For Cataclysm Beta

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - 1 Comment »

Blizz sent out a friendly reminder today that, if you care to participate in the upcoming Cataclysm beta, you better get your patoot over to your Battle.net account page and update your preferences for opt-ins, including checking the box for Warcraft universe products and submitting your computer specs. Both of these things are required for you to have a chance of getting into the beta and since they’re mentioning it officially now, it shouldn’t be very far off…

Get those opt-ins ready for the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm closed beta! The sundering of Azeroth is nigh, and you don’t want to be left out in the cold of Northrend when you could be enjoying the sun-drenched beaches on the goblin isle of Kezan. To ensure you’re opted-in and eligible as a potential candidate, you’ll need a World of Warcraft license attached to your Battle.net account, have your current system specifications uploaded to the Battle.net Beta Profile Settings page, and have expressed interest through the franchise-specific check boxes.

So get your opt-ins set up, updated, and ready; we’re worgen real hard to get the beta going soon!

And I’m goblin up the chance to participate (yes, I went there, deal).

But before I go, a little PSA, this is the only current avenue through which you can be accepted into the beta. That means that this is official and any other person or entity purported to give you access is mostly likely trying to scam and/or hack you. So please, for the love of Thrall, don’t fall for it!

Also, this should cover you for all phases of the beta, the first of which is likely to be small (and closed). So if you don’t get in, don’t get too upset about it, there’s always a chance that you will later on.

Star Trek: Online Executive Producer Interviewed about Season One and the Future

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - No Comments »

ZAM.com recently sat down with Star Trek: Online Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich to discuss details about the expansion, Season One: Common Ground and future updates to the game.

Zinkievich first talked about Season One and its patch saying that the people at Star Trek: Online thought the their first expansion and patch “went well,” but expressed concern for them to “continually get better and better.” Zinkievich felt that the first expansion and subsequent patch “addressed players’ concerns and [they] got new fresh content in the players’ hands.”

When asked what the development team learned through the release of Season One, Zinkievich said, “We’re still tabulating, really. The initial reaction was very positive, but of late some people have expressed reservation because our Special Task Forces have been too difficult. My read on that is the folks who really live for that super-challenging content ate it up and had a lot of fun, but people not especially used to that style of gameplay are running into some trouble. We really did challenge our max-level players here, and we’re still figuring out what’s an appropriate difficulty level for everyone.”

Zinkievich then answered questions concerning the “death penalty” and “difficulty sliders” features currently being applied on the public test server saying, “We found that a lot of people are looking for more of a challenge. So the idea with the difficulty slider is that if you want more of a challenge you can crank the difficulty slider up and you may have a death penalty but you also may get better rewards. When you’re playing with a death penalty, you accrue injuries upon death. Different injuries provide different debuffs to your character or ship. They’ll fade over time, but you can use special items to remove them immediately. We opted to develop the difficulty slider and death penalty because our players asked for it. People wanted to increase their feeling of risk in the game, and we reacted to those demands. We’ve been working closely with our community on our test server to make sure it’s something that satisfies the players interested in a more challenging experience, but doesn’t infringe upon the people having fun now.”

Zinkievich commented on the success of the “Tribble” public test server stating, “We get great feedback on the forums but the nice thing about the test server is that you can give something specific to the players and allow them to play through it. Then you get really focused feedback in which they can go into detail about what they liked or what they didn’t like.”

Zinkievich also discussed Memory Alpha and gathering and crafting mechanics in general when he said, “We’re always looking at ways to improve Memory Alpha and to broaden crafting to make it more appealing to everyone. We’re making headway on Memory Alpha and are looking forward to releasing a preliminary update on it soon.”

Next, the “mini-game” rumors circulating forums were discussed when Zinkievich mentioned, “We are working on a Dabo mini-game. What’s been great about that is it’s a part of Star Trek lore, but no official rules exist on it. We know it’s a casino game that resembles table games you’d find in Las Vegas, but that’s about it. So we’re looking at a ground-up mini-game to share with players. Mini-games aren’t easy to design, so it’s been a fun challenge for us.”

Zinkievich then discussed getting new content to the fans on a schedule of 45 to 90 days as discussed at the game’s launch stating, “This is something we are shooting for. We’re going to try to get new content to our players as soon as possible. We learned that instead of waiting and doing one major update every so often that it would be better if we got smaller content updates more often. I would say 90 days would be the longest that we would want to go without doing an update. Of course if we release something much larger in scale then that might take a bit longer but we do want to get new content to our players as soon as we can.”

Season Two was then brought to the table when Zinkievich said, “ We just released a sneak peek of what’s coming in our Engineer Reports section of our forums. Some of what we’re working on is Klingon Episode missions, a new skill point cap, more high-end Episodes, a Federation diplomatic corps, and so on. July is going to be very exciting for our players and us.”

Zinkievich elaborated on this concept of Episodes and Seasons when he said, “We like terming our big updates” Seasons,” like a TV show. Most everyone understands what it conveys. It’s a significant addition to the game, but not a world-shaking event. Seasons are natural progressions. Something huge, like an expansion, would need another name.”

“Non-combat” missions and “diplomatic” and “anthropological” gameplay was then brought up and Zinkievich responded saying, “We’re still ironing out the details, and I don’t want to give away too much because we don’t have anything set in stone yet. We’re still at that point in development where things are very fluid, so anything I say now could change tomorrow, and I’d rather not confuse people by mistake. We’ll have more information on this soon.”

Zinkievich next answered questions concerning the Special Task Force missions adding, “The reception has been very positive from some players, but other players have expressed concern over their difficulty. That’s something we’re constantly tweaking. And we plan on releasing new STFs as often as we can. We want to continue telling the Star Trek Online story, and these special missions are one way of doing so. We’ve also got more Episodes—and more high-end Episodes—planned in the future, as well.

Adding to this sentiment, Zinkievich talked about special live-events and GM-led events mentioning, “We try to do community events, so I’m sure we’ll set something up in the future. We’ve also done a “play with the devs” event not so long ago. We really enjoyed that, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if we did that again.”

To round out the interview, Zinkievich was then asked some general questions concerning MMO’s overall and the constant need to update games saying, “I think with most MMOs players are going to get through content faster than you can make it. Making new content takes time. The key is us adding more content throughout the game that is fun and re-playable so that it gives players something to do while we make more content.”

Finally, class definition was gone over, asking if there will be more differences in the three major archetypal character’s: Tactical, Engineering and Science. Zinkievich said, It’s something we may take a look at eventually. We feel that the different class types stand up on their own. We wanted to make them similar enough where you didn’t have to be grouped up with other players outside your class. For example, if I am a Tactical officer, we wanted where I can play with other Security officers. We don’t have to have a Science and Engineering officer with us to do the mission, even though it’d probably help. You want each class to have their own distinctions and we’ll continue to look at these and make adjustments if need be.”

Star Wars: The Old Republic Reveals Playable Species and Advanced Classes

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - 1 Comment »

EA recently held a press event in the UK where multiple outlets were given some hands-on time with the Bounty Hunter class in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some great gameplay information is coming from the demo, and it also revealed the first alien race that players will be able to use, the Rattataki. The Rattataki are difficult to distinguish from pale, bald humans, but the inclusion is a nice nod to fans of the Clone Wars series, in which Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress belonged to the species.

Also coming out of this press event is an exclusive from Eurogamer revealing that each of the character classes will have two separate Advanced Classes. For example, Sith Warriors will be able to choose between the Juggernaut and the Marauder Advanced Classes. The Juggernaut is more of a tank while the Marauder is a DPS-type specialization. This gives players a degree of class customization that does not affect the storyline.

Once players chooses an Advanced Class, they will be able to specialize even further by investing in skill trees similar to WoW’s talent system. It’s still unclear as to how much of an investment these skills will be, as a respec system is currently up in the air.

With the recent news that SWTOR is likely slated for Q2 of 2011, this hands-on should mark the beginning of information coming at a much better pace. Here’s to hoping a beta is announced sometime in the near future.

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Official

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - 6 Comments »

My guess: Pixiestixy has already pre-ordered this for cuteness.

There you have it folks, a second Marvel MMOG from Gazillion Entertainment is coming, entitled Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.

Unlike the prosperous DC Universe Online that we’ll be seeing at E3, the road to a Marvel MMOG has been long and hard.  When Microsoft teamed up with Cryptic Studios people took notice.  But Marvel Universe Online failed to materialize (Cryptic Studios eventually put out its effort as Champions Online).  Today marks an entirely new effort by Gazillion Entertainment.  Coincidentally, Gazillion picked up the pieces of Marvel Universe Online and is targeting that as a more mature MMOG for 2012.

The astute readers may recall hearing that company name a few weeks back.  Lee Hammock, former Lead Game Designer for Fallen Earth, was hired away by Gazillion to be a Story Designer for the Marvel MMOG.  Hammock is now working for Gargantuan, one of Gazillion’s subsidiaries, and a developer associated with take two of Marvel Universe Online.

Hit the jump for more information and the first screenshots. Read more…

Star Wars: The Old Republic Reveals Playable Species and More

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - No Comments »

Thegalaticstruggle.com offered up some interesting news concerning the work Lucas Arts and and Bioware have been doing on their upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. With so much riding on player expectation, especially after the problems their previous MMO, Star Wars Galaxies faced, Star Wars: The Old Republic has a lot to live up to.

After a hands on experience, it seems that different alien species will be available to play in the game as evidenced by the playable Ratattaki character used in their limited released demo.

Character customization was another topic of converstion as Senior Producer at Lucas Arts Jake Neri answered some questions saying that it won’t be as indepth as Star Wars Galaxies but, their will be variety for players.

Thegalaticstruggle.com’s demo included play in a Spaceport, talking with a few vendors and getting a chance to check out a Bazaar, the games form of an auction house. They also got a chance to play for the first time with other players and had a fun adventure saving some other players who were pinned down by some “vile gangsters” who constantly roam around where the demo took place, the planet Hutta.

The most noticeable aspect of the combat so far is the cover system. It seems to add a depth of play beyond the traditional button mashing of your average MMO causing you to have to think and plan out attacks more strategically rather than just running in and facing your enemies head on.

Next, thegalaticstruggle.com covered the story elements of Star Wars: The Old Republic siting that the story revolves more closely to the player as NPC’s respond to how you handle threats and the like during the story, causing them to react differently to you. Much like the RPG’s for the XBOX, Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to implore a checks and balances system with regards to how you deal with certain story lines and the NPC’s and world around you will adjust accordingly to your actions.

Much like the flight masters in WoW, “Speeder Vendors” were located in the demo and offered quick trips to different locations the same as a taxi service. Added to this, there was a shuttle system in place that moved you from planet to planet.

All these impliments in the demo aren’t set in stone, so you’ll have to wait for a beta to be certain of all these claims. Tomorrow, Friday, May 14th, thegalaticstruggle.com will host a podcast with Senior Producer Jake Neri in hopes to get him to release even more details about the upcoming MMO.

Monster Hunter Frontier Xbox 360 Japanese Closed Beta Live

Posted by on May 13, 2010 - 2 Comments »

Monster Hunter Frontier’s Japanese Xbox 360 Closed Beta is now live. The launch was originally scheduled for yesterday, however the beta was postponed by a day due to serious bugs.

The Xbox 360 release is a port of the three year-old PC MMO based on the popular Monster Hunter franchise. The scheduled Japanese release date is set for June 24th. Capcom also announced that the game will ship with a free month subscription to Monster Hunter Frontier and a twelve month Xbox Live Gold Subscription.

There is currently no word on whether Monster Hunter Frontier will be released globally. However, due to Capcom’s recent efforts at trying to promote the series in the west, and with the success of Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, we have high hopes that they will.