This weekend Method (25) along with Stars released their video footage from the defeat of Garrosh Hellscream in Heroic difficulty.

For both guilds this means a game over and a long farm until the next expansion hits, which won’t be sooner than half a year from now. We expect the new expansion being divulged on Blizzcon 2013, with a closed beta following a few months after.

With their defeat, Method earned a 25M HC Garrosh World First. Note that Garrosh was killed sooner by an asian guild, but in its 10M version. Here is the video of the kill:

 

 

The asian guild <Stars> also managed to down Garrosh 25HC and their video is available on YouTube as seen below:

 

 

What boss is your guild struggling at for the time being? Do you like the current tier or is it too easy?

Aion 4.5 KR Latest Update 25/09/2013

Recent, minor update of 4.5 went live on Korean servers on 25th September 2013. It’s lower the difficult of “Impenetrable Bastion” (a 24-player instance), changes to some skills and siege rewards.

 

Instances

1. Difficult of “Impenetrable Bastion” was been reduced.

>>Now players will need less point to achieve higher grades at the end of the instance.

>>Placement and stats of some monsters have been changed.

>>Killing the Commander grands more points (17988 > 24000)

>>Amount of points players can lose in the instance is reduced to 10% of current amount lost

2. Exit point for some instances, which entrance required conquering the base, has been changed.

 

Skills

1. Gladiator skills: “Strengthen Wings” cooldown was reduced to 3 min.
2. Templar skills: Magic dmg of “Wave of Punishment” has been increased.
3. Ranger skills: Magic dmg of “Slowing Arrow” (?) has been increased.
4. Assassin skills:
5. Sorcerer skills: Effect of “Sleep” and “Curse of Roots” have been increased.
6. Spiritmaster skills: Magic dmg of stages 2 and 3 of accumulator skill “Wrath of Wildness” (?) has been increased.
7. Cleric skills: Magical effect of “Root” has been increased.
8. Chanter skills: Amount of Magical Acc raised with “Magic Mantra” V and VI have been increased to 50 and 60 points.
9. AetherTech skills: skills which are used after “boarding” the mech have now increased range to 6m.
10. and more

 

Sieges
Reward for participating in successful siege were increased.

 

Fortress Before After
Tiamaranta 10 12
Gelkmaros / Ingisson 10 12
Divine Fotress 20 24
Upper Abyss? 10 12
Upper Abyss? 15 18
Lower Abyss 10 12

Quality of the rewards, send to legions after successful siege was increased.

Archlord 2 KR recently unveiled some screenshots of 4 new dungeons, which will be released in the upcoming Open Beta on Oct 17th. The fantasy MMORPG has two factions. 12 team-based dungeons will be available according to the game storyline and each faction has 6 dungeons.

The latest teaser trailer:

Archlord 2 Open Beta Dungeon Screenshot

Archlord 2 Open Beta Dungeon Screenshot

Archlord 2 Open Beta Dungeon Screenshot

Archlord 2 Open Beta Dungeon Screenshot

Archlord 2 Open Beta Dungeon Screenshot

Recentely, a member of the EVE corporation Habitual Euthanasia (alliance Pandemic Legion) lost hisRevenant Supercarrier in a battle with members of Black Legion. Is it a big deal? If I tell you that Revenant Supercarrier is the most expensive ship in EVE and there were only three of these ships, how do you feel that? The loss of the ship is about more than $8,000 in US dollars!

Long sentence? Sorry, I am over excited, not about the loss, but the ugly look of the ship. :X

I wonder that why anyone would risk taking such an expensive and rare ship into a potentially lethal situaiton. That said, most EVE players know that simply logging in and leaving dock is risky and potentially costly.
So what happened? It’s a bit hard to tell at present, but listening to the Soundcloud file (WARNING very harsh language and comments).

The annual game festival ChinaJoy has been kicked off, the most attractive element in the event should be the beautiful show girls. All kinds of beauties are everywhere that might get you bored, but you can’t imagine how terrible a gaming event will be without show girls — it would certainly be a nightmare…Now get your eyes ready to check out the show girls from the famous game companies, guess there will more surprises on the spot.


CF Show Girl – Yuhan Chen


CF Show Girl – Miss Jiang


ChangYou Show Girl – Jing Hao


ChangYou Show Girl – Qingwen Wu


ChangYou Show Girl – Qi Xiaoqi


ChangYou Show Girl – Jiani Feng


Giant Show Girl – Xiaodan Gao


Giant Show Girl – Jingjing Gui

Giant Show Girl – Yu Hong

Perfect World Show Girl – Mingming Wang

Perfect World Show Girl – Zirui Chen

Netease Show Girl – Taobao

Netease Show Girl – Xiaoyue

Netease Show Girl – Yigui Zhang

Qilin Show Girl – Twins

Qilin Show Girl – Zixuan Ye

Build 17153 went live just a few moments ago. We have three new Tier Raid sets.

 

Druid // All models feature a male human. There are various recolours of the same set depending on difficulty, starting with Raid Finder gear up to heroic difficulty gear:

 

Rogue


 

Paladin



None of the sets may be final. They can change at any given time during the testing phase.

 

Wings Over Atreia A guide to Elyos spy quests in MorheimWhen I first thought to make a listing of spy quests in Aion, the idea was that folks could be sure to finish all the parts of the different lines before certain zones became unavailable due to leveling. I can remember on at least one occasion my quest progression was halted when I found myself leveled beyond the rift’s parameters. It was a sad time, as I was prevented from obtaining the rewards and titles involved. Even worse, I was left with an incomplete quest in my journal. Oh, the horror! I moved on, but there was always that nagging feeling of something missing.

All that has changed. Once the Fast Track server was introduced, the level limits on the rifts preventing Daevas from returning to enemy lands were removed. Now, any Elyos or Asmodian can return to those lower zones and wrap up any unfinished business. Of course, with so much to keep you occupied at the higher levels in Aion, you probably wouldn’t even have time to flit back to the old haunts just to finish up old quests, which makes getting them done early all the more important. So to help you out, here’s a guide to the Elyos spy quests in Morheim.

Aion screenshot

Although there are a variety of spy quests sprinkled throughout many levels, today’s guide is not going to concern itself with anything in Balaurea, such as the weekly quests from the different organizations, or even in Beluslan. This listing will cover just those missions that involve travel from Eltnen to Morheim. Many of the various quests are a part of just a few distinct lines; starting one will lead a player along a chain of quests. These chains begin in Eltnen and Sanctum.

I’ll categorize these in a way to cut down on the number of trips into enemy territory, hopefully increasing your odds of survival. You might still want to take a few high-level friends along, though, since the way rifts work has changed the element of surprise has been taken out of the equation and it’s harder to sneak around. Also, the higher-level quests are in rough areas with nasty mobs who happen to see through stealth at almost every turn.

Aion screenshotInto Morheim

The very first spy quest an Elyos is introduced to is A Teleportation Adventure in the Eltnen Fortress. Little Sonirim wants to test her teleport abilities on you. Because being a lab rat always turns out well, right? If you have never done the first step of this quest, I recommend taking it but then holding off. If you have done the first step (and summarily been teleported to the outskirts of the Morheim Fortress), don’t complete the second step until you are level 26+ and have gathered the rest of the Morheim-related spy quests. That way you can travel there at your leisure without waiting for a rift. Doing so also puts you close to your objectives. Even better, when traveling on your own time frame, you avoid the Asmodians who camp the rift openings.

If you have used both free teleports to Morheim up, things become a bit more difficult (and even annoying) but not impossible. Although all rifts heading to there open at the same time, it’s only for a total of six hours throughout the week, so you have to plan your excursion according to a tight schedule. The good news is that if you make it through a rift you don’t necessarily have to run the missions right then if you don’t have the time; Elyos who log out in Morheim won’t be teleported back to their obelisk, so players can just get to a safe place and park themselves until they have more time. (Please remember to log out though and don’t just go AFK!)

The next step on the spy quest journey is visiting Heropres at Novan’s Crossing. He starts you onMessage to Spy. Also be sure to complete Plant Poison Antidote from Celestine at the edge of the Manduri Forest as well so you can take the follow up spy quest Celestine’s Antidote. Once you have both of these, head back to Eltnen Fortress to speak with Valerius, who will advance Heropres’ quest and give you That Old Elyos Spirit.

Now, you are almost ready to go into Morheim. Before you go, make sure you have 15 Theonia on hand from the broker or be prepared to harvest them (essencetapping 130+), as the spy you meet up with in Morheim, Medea, gives you the quest A Gift of Love, a prerequisite for yet another spy quest. Also, put all the quests on your tracker and consider bringing a friend/guard or two, both for protection and for fun.

Aion screenshot

There and back again

Once in Morheim, the quest chains continue. Medea gives you her quest, and Deputy Lamipedon — who finishes Valerius’ quest — gives you Respect for Deltras. Hint: When you activate the firecracker, be sure you are out of range of the wandering guards’ aggro because they hurt!

Aion screenshotAfter you finish up the Morheim portion of all these quests, head back to Elysea and complete the remaining steps and prep for the next round. Grab A Letter to Medea/Advise of Love (there is some discrepancy about what the current name of the quest is, and I am unable to corroborate in game) from Jinus in Sanctum. You can then run back to Morheim and complete this one right away or and hold on to it until you reach level 38+, when you can grab the remaining spy quests. And before embarking on the trip, don’t forget to grab some friends, too — the remaining quests are in difficult areas.

Of the remaining spy quests, one is in Sanctum and the other two are in Morheim itself. To get Going Out of Business in Protectors Hall, players must first complete the chain starting with Fake Stigma from Dionera at the Eltnen Observatory (The middle step, Black Cloud Fakery, involves traveling to the Upper Abyss and finding the unmarked Black Cloud Island — see inset.). The other quests aren’t taken until you are actually deep in enemy land. Tayga, Bane of Shugos, is acquired from Chaomirk deep in Mist Mane Village in the southwest corner of Morheim. You get Ganimerk’s Espionage from the same place but from Ganimerk.

Once you complete all these, you can return to Elysea to tie up the last of the loose ends, turning in your quests and reveling in the loot and glory you gained. You can then either settle back and just adventure in your home lands or — if you happened to catch the rifting bug — continue your forays into enemy territory. But remember, there are new spy quests and adventures awaiting you in Beluslan. That, however, is a guide for another time.

Since seeing Forge early in its development, I’ve been intrigued by the game’s premise, which is to offer team-based, instanced PvP battlegrounds without the massive PvE component that has become the hallmark of MMORPGs. With Forge, Dark Vale Games‘ idea is to focus wholly on presenting their own version of MMO player-vs-player combat based on third-person controls, without requiring players to grind through the PvE content that can sometimes be a barrier of entry to PvP modes in MMORPGs.

Forge’s gameplay model is a pretty neat one in theory, particularly for fans of MMO-style PvP, and its core experience can be quite fun, but the game itself feels largely unfinished. Dark Vale Games has created a solid gameplay system with Forge, and while the developers have been steadily adding modes and tweaks since launch, the overall experience feels as though the game is still in its beta phase. Forge has a lot of potential, but needs to make good on several of its gameplay promises to become a front-runner in arena-based combat.

 

Aesthetics: 7/10

There are a handful of battlegrounds in Forge, which feature environments that range from pleasing to unremarkable. These battlegrounds, which include scenes like fortress battle areas, forests with woodbridge walkways, a town center, and a tutorial arena, have generally interesting and detailed architecture, with just enough personality to make them stand out from traditional fantasy tropes. Some of the game’s textures can be drab, but Forge’s nice lighting effects can somewhat mask the lack of color depth.

Forge’s menus are functional, yet uninspiring, and in-game music, played on a loop, is inoffensive. The game’s user interface and combat sounds, however, add to the fun of the game. The UI, while looking similar to what you’ll find in most MMOs, displays small icons that travel from the outside to the center of your screen after you use an ability, letting you keep track of the progress of your cooldowns. It’s a subtle touch that allows you to keep your eyes on the action instead of your hotbar. Similarly, combat sounds aren’t vastly dissimilar to what you’ll find in other games, but there’s enough of a cacophony of battle clamor in matches that lends to the game’s engaging combat.

Gameplay 8/10

Forge’s strongest feature is in its core gameplay experience, which is essentially comprised of MMO PvP battlegrounds, without the PvE and open world that make up the traditional forefront of MMORPGs. In the game, you’ll engage in team battles based on different game modes like Deathmatch, Capture the Relic, and Arena, all the while earning experience to spend on your characters. These characters, which are cosmetically uncustomizable, are based on Forge’s five classes of Assassin, Pathfinder, Pyromancer, Shaman, and Warden. Each of the classes is distinct from the others in abilities and team roles, and this variety provides for a great deal of Forge’s depth of gameplay.

Learning to play one of Forge’s classes will require some work, but it’s worth the effort. The game employs third-person controls with cooldown-based abilities that are mapped around your WASD movement keys (which can all be re-mapped). This design choice encourages fast-paced combat that requires aiming, skill, and very little resource management. It’s easy enough to jump in with a new class and cause some mayhem, but to really understand your character’s abilities, ideal positioning, and team role, you’ll have to spend some time experimenting with different scenarios.

Beyond the boon of getting your teammates to like you more, it’ll behoove you to learn to play your class better because the amount of experience that you earn in a match is directly proportional to your effectiveness in combat. You’ll get XP and badges for kills, assists, staying alive in a match, doing damage, and that sort of thing, and the competition is pretty fierce. You can then spend this XP to level up your classes and earn titles, customization points, and armor points, although this system is not yet fully fleshed out and presumably awaits an upcoming patch.

In terms of game modes, Forge offers a quick tutorial that gives you a brief overview of the game’s movement and abilities, and is required to be completed before you can jump into live matches. The Quick Play menu will allow you to join Team Deathmatch, Capture the Relic, and Arena matchups, or select a scenario at random. You can then choose between two open teams or spectate a match. In the Quick Play menu, there are also King of the Hill and Relic Assault battlegrounds, which are currently grayed out, and the other aforementioned scenarios were not available at launch either and have since been patched into the game. Additionally, another Play menu lists the options of being able to browse the server, create a group, and join a player, but only the ability to join another player is available at the time of this writing.

Even with its current dearth of game options, Forge’s gameplay is a lot of fun, and allows for some hectic moments in combat. The game allows you to wall-jump, for example, which makes for a lot of daring escapes from melee combat and Jackie Chan-style vertical climbs between structures. Similarly, each class has its own unique approach and abilities that lend to the craziness, which you can read more about in my preview of the game. It’s not uncommon as an Assassin to think you’ve got the drop on a Pyromancer by trying to snatch them into the stealth world, only to have them blast away from you like a fiery rocket while their Warden friend spins a shield and flies around the battlefield.

Innovation: 8/10

Forge is innovative in its ability to distill what’s fun about MMO PvP combat and present a unique representation of it that features its own personality. I especially like what Dark Vale Games has done with third-person controls, wall jumping, and unique class abilities, which all make the gameplay feel exciting and fresh.

Polish 5/10

The parts that are available in Forge feel mostly polished, but there are some obvious omissions in game features that need to be addressed. The aforementioned unavailable match modes and browse/group features comprise one issue, alongside the unfinished leveling system that lacks any sort of tutorial. The game also has a Community menu that teases guild and friend functionality without implementation.

Furthermore, a splash screen that appears upon exiting Forge lists the game’s upcoming features, including ability customization, additional social functionality, guilds, new maps, skill-based matchmaking, Steam achievements, and the Ravager class. It’s great that Dark Vale Games is working on these features, and I trust them to make good on their promises. It’s nonetheless disappointing that such items were left for post-release patches, and that several of them exist within the game’s menus and are as yet unavailable.

Additionally, in beta and at launch, Pyromancers and Wardens seemed to have distinct damage dealing and damage absorbing potentials, respectively, in relation to the other classes, but since release, more and more groups have been filling up with Rogues. This may be due to the Rogue’s stealth ability and powerful damage capabilities, but it’s anyone’s guess whether the influx of Rogues is due to a game imbalance or if the class is simply easier to play. In any case, class balancing is a well-known battle in the world of MMO PvP, and in Forge, the best thing I can say about balance is that each class feels effective and is fun to play,

Longevity 7/10

Forge’s gameplay is fun and addictive, and can definitely support repeated play sessions, although the game modes need to feel like they have more weight to encourage a dedicated player base. Right now, the Team Deathmatch and Capture the Relic maps are fun enough, but I continually find myself gravitating towards Arena matches to get that quick fix of combat, especially because at the moment there’s no long-term reward for engaging in the longer scenarios. Forge is purportedly tracking everything you do in the game, but there aren’t any leaderboards to speak of, or persistence outside of the incomplete leveling system. If Dark Vale Games can improve on these aspects of Forge, I can see it having some strong legs among the hardcore PvP community, but as the game currently stands, there’s not a lot to do other than play matches for fun and to learn your class better.

Social 6/10

There seems to be a steady amount of people playing Forge during the waking hours of the day, and it’s generally easy to get a match of any type going. People are nice enough over chat, although there’s very little talk about anything other than match-related events. There’s no global chat yet outside of matches, so if you’re looking to communicate with a larger player base, you’ll have to go to the forums.

A significant, dedicated community is what Forge needs to achieve its potential as a PvP powerhouse, and at this point, it’s hard to tell if that community exists. I think the promised guild and social features will help a lot to foster an engaged player base, but again, these features aren’t yet in the game.

Value 7/10­

Forge has an attractive price point of $19.99, with a 2-for-1 deal offered at launch that encouraged more people to get into the game. It’s also buy-to-play, without requiring a subscription of any type, and the developers are clearly determined to keep adding to the game’s features and content. As is, Forge is a little hard-pressed to demand 20 bucks for what feels more like an open beta version of a promising game, but it’s possible that Forge will grow into that price point over time.

Conclusion

For all of the things that it does well, Forge feels like it needs more time in development and beta to achieve its potential. I really like the game’s model of instanced PvP, and enjoy Forge’s dynamic third-person combat. The overall features feel unfinished, however, and while it looks like Dark Vale Games is aware of Forge’s missing – and necessary – elements and is working to include them, the game in its released state requires a bit of faith in the developers to make it what it should be. The core gameplay experience is fun and frantic, but Forge will need to attend to a more robust feature set to encourage the dedicated community it requires to succeed.

Some of you may recall that back in March, there was a leak of the Guild Wars 2 cash shop that stirred up a bit of controversy. Particularly the now defunct megaphone, which many people thought reaked of the Maplestory/Nexon cash shop. The item was removed by Arenanet due to public distaste, but where did the idea come from?

We would not find out until the beta weekend event that a Nexon employee did in fact join the Guild Wars 2 team. During the 2nd beta weekend event, players were outraged to find that dye unlocking had been switched from account unlocks to character unlocks. To add insult to injury and money to pockets, dyes could not be traded to other players once identified, meaning if you got a duplicate color, it’s stuck on your account. Enter the new Arenanet employee, Crystin Cox.2613 to douse the flames…. Or maybe just to post excuses. Very obvious excuses. (Unfortunately the beta forums are wiped so I only have a copy and paste).

Crystin Cox.2613There was a time when the dye system was very different and at that time dye unlocks were account based, but we have since changed the dyes system and we really feel that character based is the right way to go and the system we have now is the best one for the game.

Customized dye should be something that denotes your characters progress, like better looking, more elaborate gear. As you spend more time on your character, they grow and gain access to more customization options. If we make dyes account based, this progression will only happen on one character. We wanted character customization to remain tied to the character but we felt that one-time-use dyes discoraged players from custmomizing as often as they would like, that is how we arrived at the current system.

There are 400 dyes in the game, we do not think of dyes as something that a character should unlock all of, it is not meant to be a collection feature. Each character should have a unique palette and we have made enough colors to make this possible. Dyes come from world drops, rewards, crafting, the Mystic Forge, and the Gem Store and we expect that over the life of a character you will collect a lot of them.

We are still developing and the dye system will continue to receive attention and improvements, but changing it to an account based system is not something we are considering right now.
And yes indeed, this person is not only a prior Nexon employee, but she is now Arenanet’s “Monetization Manager”. Notice the start date for Arenanet and notice it is around the time we see the Megaphone. (Taken from linkedin, a resume posting site).

Really, we should consider Arenanet’s intent in making this change. The obvious motive was to sell more dye packs in the cash shop. But if you think a little further, there are 400 dyes in the game. The cash shop item for dyes gives you a random shot at 5 common and 2 uncommon dyes, while finding a dye in the game gives you a shot at ~1/400 and whatever the odds are for the “Uncommon” dyes. Some players even stated that they thought the intent was to play off of the benefits that gambling addiction has on making sales. Sort of like how the gachapon system works in Nexon and foreign F2P cash shop games.

After many pages of negative feedback, the dye system was made to a less of a cash shop grab. You can now trade identified dyes or put 4 colors in the Mystic Forge to get a new one, but dyes are still character bound (As of the latest stress test). Arenanet had been planning a cash shop in a $60 game as we can see from their 2010 blogpost, which also states that they were planning on having account unlock dyes. But I’m sure the first meeting between Arenanet and the Nexon employee went a little like this:

Arenanet team: Why is our cash shop being met with some resentment from the community when Free to Play games can have them?

Nexon employee: Your game costs $60.

And there we have it. But really, what else can we expect to have taken out of the game and put into cash shop? From the latest stress test, we see they added glasses to the cash shop. In Guild Wars 1, glasses were a somewhat difficult item to get. A prestige item which took some work of getting the materials and platinum to earn, as well as the Asuran reputation. Now it is just ~$1.50 in the cash shop, well sort of. The minimum purchase amount is $5 for 500 gems, so really, you have to spend at least $5 to buy anything.

Guild Wars 1                                                                                    Guild Wars 2

As for trading Gold for Gems, many players are already questioning if Arenanet will allow you to do so without grinding long periods of time just to trade once for 100 gems (About $1 worth). Is the Gems to Gold trading spread fixed by Arenanet? You cannot trade Gems directly to other players for a reason. Additionally, Arenanet does not want to print worthless money (Gems). Keeping the price of Gems artificially high will encourage more players to buy with Dollars instead of Gold due to the aversion to grinding. Of course this means that the number of people wanting to trade Gold for Gems will be low. Because of this, some players even hypothesize that the gems to gold interface has an infinite supply of gems, so as to keep Gem buyers happy.

With this said, I think we can look forward to the release of Guild Wars 2, with the knowledge that Arenanet hired a Nexon employee to manage the cash shop specifically for our own interests, and that day 1 of our purchase of a $60 game we will be greeted with large cash shop staring us back in the face. Our bag slots locked, and given 5 character slots in a game with 8 classes. And level 80 transmutation stones? Who knows if they’ll be cash shop only now or not, just spend $60 to see!


For China, Perfect World is my favorite company, while from South Korea, Nexon is 2nd to none. The reason is simple – both developers update their games with actual content (not just cash junk) year after year without fail. Winter is nearing, and Nexon is once again preparing for a major update for MapleStory. The scheduled release date for more information is on 6th December next month, and the teaser trailer shows what were some of the historic events which took place on that date.

According to MapleStory Korea’s website, there will be 2 new classes, which only show their silhouettes. Wasn’t there a new Draco swordsman added just recently? Hmn… The lazer whip looks more suited for a female character though… *joking*. I was kind of disappointed MapleStory 2 wasn’t revealed this year, but am still glad Nexon is paying much attention to this evergreen title. A decade coming soon for MapleStory!


Newzoo’s free 2012 US Country Report shows a market that is almost flat in terms of total consumer spend. Under the surface, the research results show the effect of dramatically changed consumer behaviour. Of the 157 million US gamers, 86 million spend money on games. This is the first paragraph of an article found on newzoo.com.

Time spent on games in the US is up significantly: +26% versus +18% for Europe. Biggest growth is in the number of gamers that actually spend money: +33% US versus +17% for Europe. Combined with a lower average spend per paying gamer, this results in a +1% rise in money spend for the US. The scope of the research is set up to include every single dollar spent on games, including all digtal and mobile spending as well as online skillgaming, pre-owned, import and DLC.
Western Europe boasts a slightly higher growth percentage than the US: +3%. In brief, digital distributed content, online, smartphone and tablet games make up for the decline of boxed sales, but total consumer spend is relatively flat in Western markets. Since the uptake of tablets and smartphones as gaming  device, consumers now have four screens to acces their entertainment. The PC still grosses most time and money, ahead of the TV screen, but already 22% of all American gamers play on all four screens.


Some other key take-aways from the country deck are:

  1. Smartphone and tablets are complimentary, with more than 10 million Americans (12% of all mobile gamers) playing games on both a smartphone and tablet. This is higher than in Europe (7%).
  2. In 2012 the number of gamers rises with 8% to 157 million, of which 55% spends money.
  3. The Computer Screen still the most popular screen to play games, followed by the Entertainment screen. The Floating Screen (tablets + handheld consoles) monetizes best.
  4. The Floating screen has half the number of players compared to the Personal Screen (smartphones) but almost twice the money spend.

Find out more regarding players, payers, money & time spend and screens in the US Country deck here:

Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo adds: “The budget of the 86 million American paying gamers is limited to an amount that fits with the position that games have in their life. At the same time, the number of screens on which he or she can play games has doubled from two to four. Already, an impressive 22% of all American gamers play on all screens… So naturally, average spending is down per screen. The best news this year is that 24 million Americans are spending money on games for the first time. They are drawn in by smartphone and tablet games in combination with the free-to-play business model. Future growth in the US will come from this group as their average spending rises.”

It will probably surprise no one who’s been following my love affair with Ankama Games that I like their flagship title,Dofus, quite a bit. Set in the same world as Wakfu, Dofus offers a more direct and traditional MMORPG experience than its more recent cousin, while presenting the same charming anime-inspired graphics and addictive turn-based gameplay. Featuring 15 classes, 22 crafting professions, pets, mounts, dungeons, PvP, and a quirky, humorous presentation throughout, Dofus is one of the most popular MMOs in France and endeared to thousands of players around the world. I recently got sucked back into Ankama Games’ world to check out the new Foggernauts’ Steam class, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to see how the game has been doing since we previously checked in.

Aesthetics: 9/10

I can’t say enough about how impressive and charming are Dofus’ visuals. The game sports cute, colorful character models and environments that manage to be reminiscent of fantasy anime archetypes while still presenting a unique and distinct style. I tend to be pretty glowy over Ankama Games’ art styles across their various media, and while I know that the anime-inspired graphics aren’t quite everyone’s cup of tea, there can be no doubt that the attention to detail and lovingly crafted environments in Dofus are delightful. The game’s sounds and music are likewise nice, although there isn’t any voice acting or range of crazy sound effects outside of the clamor of battle. Dofus’ music is just as charming as its visuals, and can be sometimes wistful, other times rousing, although the game could use a bit more variety here.

The user interface is more than functional, and is mostly intelligently laid out and easy on the eyes. First-time players will likely be a bit lost with all of the different stats and effects to keep track of, as the game has several very deep systems that can be overwhelming, with only a short tutorial area available at the beginning of the game. Also, unlike Wakfu, which can be played fullscreen, the aspect ratio of Dofus won’t fit in most monitors’ native display, meaning that even when maximized, the game client will run pillarboxed. It’s not a big deal, particularly if you’re used to playing older games on a big screen, but it’s noticeable.

Gameplay 7/10

There are a LOT of systems at work in Dofus. You’ll find quests, combat, dungeons, crafting, PvP, an in-game economy, player housing, and a bunch more to do. It’s a much more conventional MMO approach than is offered through the more social, sandbox-oriented Wakfu, and I must say that I prefer the adventuring and action in Dofus much more. Dofus encourages player participation and grouping, without the vast open-ended social, environmental, and political systems of Wakfu, and I find that I like the more direct quests and streamlined content in the older game, although that may be personal preference.

Combat plays out like a turn-based strategy game with time limits for actions that help keep battles moving quickly. A more in-depth look at the technical aspects of combat in Dofus can be found in my Foggernauts’ Steam preview, but suffice it to say that each class has a unique approach to battles, with a host of different abilities and spells to unlock and unleash. The game allows for character progression and customization by giving you characteristic points to spend as you level, and rewards utilizing different tactics on the battlefield. For better or for worse, however, unless you’re a serious power gamer or theory crafter, you might find yourself discovering certain skills and rotations that work for your character and sticking to them, rather than trying to switch up your tactics based on the opponents you’re fighting.

Outside of combat, there’s certainly a lot of stuff to do, and I’m pleasantly surprised to say that crafting is one of the more fun activities in Dofus. I’m not usually big on crafting in MMOs, simply because of the rote involved, but there’s something about gathering resources in Dofus that is so meditative and peaceful that it’s actually pleasing and relaxing. The crafting professions are also suitably deep and are accessed through a very well-designed and easy-to-use crafting panel that makes the process of item creation simple even as the crafting system is itself complex.

Like Wakfu, Dofus doesn’t offer direct control of characters, which means that you’ll be pointing and clicking to do most of your adventuring. This type of control works fine for most of what Dofus does, but combined with the invisible grid that underlies all of the environments in the game, can sometimes make you feel removed from the action by a couple of degrees.

Innovation: 7/10

Dofus’ innovation is through its presentation and world, which are remarkably unique and atmospheric. Ankama Games has done fabulously in creating a distinct style and universe that spans their video games, manga, comics, TV series, and trading card game. Dofus’ presentation sets the game apart from the crowd, and puts its stamp on the developers’ creativity and attention to detail in building lovingly crafted worlds.

The gameplay features in Dofus, on the other hand, are mostly designed in a conventional MMO fashion, about which many veterans of MMORPGs may already be feeling lukewarm. Dofus offers traditional “collect/kill X” tasks among more interesting, story-driven quests that are couched in funny text and kooky situations, and there’s enough variety to make adventuring fun. The main issue is that things like low quest item drops and scarcity of quest-related mobs feel more and more like artifacts from MMOs of yesteryear, and can be frustrating after experiencing better options in more recent titles. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but given that the point-and-click control scheme can make you feel disconnected from the action in the first place, having to run around looking for more monsters to complete a quest can detract from the generally engaging gameplay.

Polish 9/10

Dofus is a Flash-based game and runs excellently. I’ve encountered very few bugs or hiccups, outside of being locked out of my account for some weird reason. All of Dofus’ systems are well-integrated into the game and easy to use after spending some time learning them, and Ankama Games has clearly been active in keeping the game polished since its launch.

Longevity 8/10

As mentioned, there is a LOT of stuff to do in Dofus. If you’re somehow temporarily bored with questing you can be sure to spend tons of hours gathering and crafting, heading into dungeons with friends, participating in the PvP Kolossium, or gloating over your newly obtained player house. The world itself is huge, and if exploration is your thing, it’ll take a good long while to discover everything Dofus has to offer. Plus, the 15 different character classes play very differently, making the game pretty alt-friendly.

Social 9/10

Dofus has a vibrant social community, which is enhanced by the in-game social features. You’ve got your basic friends (and enemies) list and guild panel, but the game also has a well-designed team search for dungeons, as well as a player shop feature for those interested in hawking their wares. Dofus also has an alignment panel to track your PvP Honour and Disgrace points and other character-specific information, and a spouse system for lovebirds.

Value 8/10­

Free players only have access to the starter areas of Incarnam and Astrub Village, and have limited access to most of the game’s features, including classes, professions, guilds, and pretty much everything else. Subscriptions to the game run $6.90 per month, and will unlock all of the game’s content, with some perks based on the length of game time you pre-purchase. You can also purchase Ogrines with real money to unlock in-game items and utilize premium services, or exchange them for Kamas, the game’s currency, with other players.

The subscription is certainly a good deal, and there’s a lot of content to explore for such a low monthly price, but I can’t help but think that the game would work a lot better with an à la carte free-to-play model. I’d much rather purchase different areas of the game or new classes rather than having to pay a monthly fee, and perhaps that’s because of the direction the F2P vs. P2P market is shifting. Still, $6.90/month is not all that much, and you’ll get an even better deal if you purchase several months at a time.

Conclusion

I must admit that I was a bit full of trepidation when trying out Dofus for the first time, having liked Wakfu so much and being worried that its predecessor would turn out to be more basic or unpolished. I’m surprised and happy to report the exact opposite, and that I like Dofus’ fun approach to traditional MMORPG gameplay even more than Wakfu’s open-ended sandbox and social features, which is saying a lot.

It also helps that Ankama Games is very active in updating the game and encouraging player interaction and events. Dofus’ player community is likewise active and friendly, willing to help out new players and team up for group content. Plus, the game’s starter areas are free to roam as you please, so there’s no reason not to try it out if you think it might be your thing. Dofus is certainly worth more than a try, and might charm you into loving its carefully crafted world and characters, and then convince you to grab your wallet and purchase all of the manga, trading cards, and other content as well.

What do you think of Dofus? Let us know in the comments below!

I decided to take some time off from the new WWE 13 game to relax and read a bit. I hadn’t caught up on the news in a couple of days and for someone like me that is rare. Last I checked Megastorm Sandy was wreaking havoc on the East coast, Democrats and Republicans were still going at each others throats “for the good of the nation,” and the Kardashians hadn’t been burnt at a stake for Halloween.

Good for them.

Randomly surfing the web I came across an article that, as an MMO fanatic, made my stomach turn a bit. I was reminded that City of Heroes, the very first super hero persistent world and one of the longest running big time MMO’s, was very much near its final days. I believe we’re around one month away from City of X closing its doors and leaving many superheroes with nowhere else to go, save for two other similar yet radically different titles.

How depressing.

Not pictured - Ultima Online 2 and Stargate

City of Heroes is one of those games that you just get nostalgic for. I remember reading all about the game back before its release, when I was still very much attached to Star Wars Galaxies. At this point in time I was taking one of many breaks from Ultima Online and just kind of looking for the next big thing to play. I had been in Sosaria for so long I was beginning to tire of it, but I had a hard time finding a new world to belong to. Nothing will ever take the place of the first game that brought you into this fraternity of ours, but I was determined to fill that MMO void in my soul. That is a problem I still have today, and I know a lot of you share that same empty feeling.

I can’t remember if we had given up on ICQ by this point and moved on to MSN Messenger, but either way my best friend and I stayed up into the wee morning discussing the merit of a superhero online game. I was a die hard sword and sorcery MMO fan, and I was afraid a superhero game would be more confined and lack the imagination of an Ultima Online, Everquest, or Final Fantasy XI. At the same time, I was and still am a huge comic nerd, so the thought of having my own superhero brought the kid out of me. It was an exciting prospect, albeit a slightly worrisome one. I told him I had decided to give it a try when it came out, and being just as skeptical as I was he told me to let him know how it went.

And boy howdy did it go. I still get goose bumps thinking about logging in for the first time and being introduced to the character creation, a system which ruined customization for me in all other online games for life. The options felt limitless, the powers felt mighty, and the city was so big and open that I would sometimes just hover in awe at the majestic sight of it all. It also had one of my favorite things to do in a game – get an enemy on a rooftop, hit them with an energy push, and watch them go sailing alllllllll the way down to Kaputsville. Good times.

The game wasn’t without its issues, as few games ever are. The graphics felt dated even at the time of release, especially the faces for the characters. The game was fun, but the combat was kind of boring, especially when you first started off with your epic power of a single punch. I don’t remember Batman ever punching a henchman and then waiting a few seconds before he could do it again. The missions felt interesting at first, but once you’ve run through that same warehouse or sewer a few dozen times you just kind of want to hang up your tights and get a nice job down at the local Best Buy.

Even with those problems, even with its age, I can’t understand for the life of me how a game like City of Heroes closes. It was an original, it has its player base, and more importantly it has all the potential in the world. It may not be in the prime of its existence, but it damn sure isn’t ready to be put down like a sick old dog.

So let me put this plainly – NCSoft, what the hell is your problem?

I let it go when they killed off Auto Assault. I never played the game except for maybe a few moments because I got a free trial code somewhere. It didn’t appeal to me, so I told the guys who did like it how sorry I was for their loss and moved on without losing a wink of sleep. To me it seemed shallow and limited, but that is the nice thing about taste – everyone has their own. Just because I didn’t care for it didn’t mean it was a useless game, and the people who did play it were probably plenty pissed off when those doors closed for the final time. This was before the F2P model became a viable option thanks to examples like D&D and LotR, so it was disheartening but it was vaguely understandable.

Richard Garriott - MIA since the warThen came Tabula Rasa. Here you had a sci fi game in a genre that severely needed diversity, designed by legendary game maker Richard Garriott, featuring a dynamic war and interesting combat system. It felt like a recipe for success, but within two years would you believe that NCSoft closed down this one too? Again, there was no game saving patches, reenlistment campaigns, or that fabled F2P model that can save an IP from permadeath. NCSoft ended the war with the push of a button, and the nukes rained from the sky and destroyed everything in that universe. They even dishonorably discharged General British, but he got a measure of revenge by suing them and making off with a small fortune. He won that battle, but the war to save Arieki and Foreas was lost forever.

And now we have the once mighty City of Heroes strapped down to a steel table while the villainous NCSoft prepares the death laser to cut it in half. And my question remains – why? What is the point of killing off such an important part of this genres history?

Despite the claims of a few, I’m not a fool, and I’m not blind to the way business works. Maybe City of Heroes isn’t pulling in the bacon like it once was, but are you seriously trying to convince me that it’s less profitable than the majority of F2P games that are at best boring and unimaginative and at worst complete and utter garbage? I refuse to believe that there isn’t a plan that can work for City of Heroes, and I frankly believe that NCSoft is either too lazy, too scared, or too incompetent to find that plan. This isn’t a two year flash in the pan game like AA or TR, not to mention other corpses in NCSoft’s backyard like Exteel and Dungeon Runners. This is City-of-Freaking-Heroes we’re talking about, the very first game that let me design my character however the hell I wanted and fight for truth, liberty, and justice along with my best friends.

You’re telling me there is no room in this world for that game?

I play DC Universe Online and I think the combat is way better than in City’s. I played Champions Online for a very long time and I thought their customization edged out City’s. But you know what? Either of those games could close right now and I wouldn’t shed a tear. They’re both good in their own right, but neither of them can compare to the history and progress that City of Heroes made within this industry. And NCSoft, this killer of online worlds, is telling us there is nothing else to do for one of their premier titles. They tried a form of free to play and apparently that just didn’t work out the way they wanted it to.

Rest in peace, Statesman. (Artwork by Steve Goad)Well if the game is going to die anyway I say try something new. Make the combat more exciting. Renovate the graphics. Figure out a new payment model. There are so many options and they chose to just toss this one aside and take a hit on one of the most beloved and influential MMORPG’s that has ever seen the light of day. And whether they want to admit it or not, I know that it can still be fun, relevant, and profitable if given the chance.

But they’re not giving it that chance. COH dies a painful death, while games like Mortal Online is somehow still utilizing a P2P model and Eastern MMORPG #563 releases next month with an adorable pet system and Gangnam dance offs. We’ll be bombarded with dozens of new titles every couple of months that in no way, shape, or form have the spirit or significance of the one we’re watching count down the days until it’s ultimate demise.

MechWarrior Online has offcially announced that the Open Beta Test will be coming Next Monday–October 29th, after delay last week. You can click here to read the complete announcement.

The delay decision was made after beta player feedback presented concerns for the studio. Lag issues, new player tutorials, balance tweaks, and more have been improved for this open beta launch. To help boost the game’s production, over $5M was raised through the game’s pre-order Founder’s program since July. MechWarrior Online is set to launch in Q1 2013. For more information, you can visit the offcial site.

Nexon America has announced the lastest update for Dragon Nest, Chapter 6: The Astral Coven. It introduces the new town map, Lotus Marsh – a mossy zone where humans and the Dromaji live in a strained coexistence, and where the Astral Coven calls home. Players can access new dungeons through Lotus Marsh, including the Titan Nest and Arch Bishop Nest.

The update also increases the level cap to 50, and introduces new specializations and powers for every class. Dragon Nest will also be giving out free Scrolls of Unlimited Unlearnings for all players visiting the game at 4PM on Oct. 27 so that players can test out different skill trees for free for 24 hours.

Official Site

Aion have kicked off a month long celebration which started with Daeva’s Day yesterday. All of the celebration ultimately will lead to October’s massive v3.5 update that will bring a host of new content into the game including new quests, new housing options, new mounts, PvP experiences and much more.


Today the Black Cloud Marketplace will have new items which include wings, skins, birthday events and many other items. Please check into the game!

Blizzard has announced their solution for new progression and that Magic Find issue in Diablo III. In a new blog posted today, Blizzard announced the new Paragon system, a new feature that will allow players to earn 100 Paragon levels starting at level 60. The new Paragon levels will increase a character’s core stats with each new level by an amount equal to what a normal level would provide along with the added bonus of 3% Magic Find and 3% Gold Find. Additionally, the Nephalem Valor buff will also provide 15% additional XP per stack to support the new system.

This new system will also be imposing a 300% cap on Magic and Gold Find before the Nephalem Valor buff, which means that reaching the 100th Paragon level will cap your Magic and Gold Find, essentially rendering any additional gear to provide those stats obsolete. Just don’t expect to get to that level cap too quickly.

The first Paragon level should take about as long as it took most players to get from level 59 to 60, and the experience requirement will rise from there. The time to reach the upper Paragon levels approximates the long-term time investment required to get a level 99 character in Diablo II.

Additionally, more changes to the auction house have also been posted to the Diablo III forums that will be included with 1.0.4. A few of the changes you can expect to see include the option to cancel auctions at any time providing they have no bids, an increased size of gold stacks per listing, improved search functionality, UI Improvements and a number of bug fixes.

Blizzard’s Jay Wilson also elaborates on how Paragon levels will impact D3′s Magic Find system. The devs are capping Magic (and Gold) Find at 300%. The aim is to “slowly and gently move Magic Find off of items in the future,” Wilson explains.