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MMO News Wrap Up

As always, there’s been tonnes of MMO news around this week, and because I know it’s hard to stay on top of it all, I’ve wrapped it all up in one place. Read on for the very latest on Star Trek Online, EVE, Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft, Champions Online, Stargate Worlds, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Age of Conan.Blizzard Entertainment caused a stir earlier in the week when it announced that all World of Warcraft players would need to merge their accounts with a account by the 11 November to be able to play WoW. This announcement sparked off rumours that the beta for the upcoming StarCraft II was imminent, namely because the state of’s development was cited as the cause of the RTS’s delay earlier this year.Despite Blizzard’s insistence, many players remain reluctant to merge their WoW accounts with a one, but the developer is keen to convince players that the conversion will be a smooth one (anyone still worried about the change can read the FAQ, or ask a question in the comments here – I’ll be glad to discuss it).To help persuade players to make the change to, all WoW players that merge their accounts between now an 11 November will receive an in-game Penguin pet.Speaking of pets, if you weren’t lucky enough to go to BlizzCon this year or pay to watch it live on TV or over the net, then you will have missed out on claiming the exclusive pet that attendees and subscribers received. However, through our WoW channel, you have another chance to get your hands on ‘Grunty’ the Murloc Space Marine. Check out the news item to find out more.Blizzard also thrilled fans by finally opening the Icecrown Citadel raid to players on the public test realms yesterday. US testers tried out the first encounter, Lord Marrowgar, in the raid where players will eventually face the Lich King himself. Read about the fight and check out screenshots here. European players will get the chance to try out Icecrown Citadel at a later date, which is yet to be announced.Star Trek Online fans were treated to a video this week, featuring the game’s developers talking about events between the Star Trek film ‘Nemesis’ and the time in which the game is set, 30 years later. The game has two playable factions; the Federation and the Klingon Empire, so the developers explain how the former allies come to be at war. It’s all the Romulans’ fault of course. Check out the video to see part one of ‘The Future Past’.Bioware also released a video at the weekend, showing developers discussing the creation of the Republic’s capital, Coruscant, in the upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Developers talk about how they dealt with issues such as the creation of a planet with no terrain, and designing buildings that were perhaps 1,000 storeys high. There is plenty of story to be told on the planet too, the Sith have recently sacked the capital, and parts of it are still in ruins, or are being rebuilt. Players will learn the Jedi’s role in the galaxy, and that of the Republic and the Senate here as well. The main point that comes across, though, is that the playing area is huge, incorporating the breath-taking skyscrapers in the upper part of the planet where the rich and powerful live, and the dark underbelly where crime is common-place. Bioware’s aim is to make players feel daunted when they first set foot in Coruscant. Check out the video on IncGamers TV.Some other news that came to light this week was regarding Stargate Worlds, the unreleased MMO based on the hugely popular film and TV series. It’s safe to say the franchise has reached cult status, and news of the MMO has been enthusiastically followed by millions of fans but, sadly, funding has always been a problem for developers, Cheyenne Mountain.Troubles were first highlighted when a website simply named appeared on the net (it reached around 125 before it was shut down), then earlier this year we heard that the company was being sued over an unpaid open account. Things have been fairly quiet since then, but recently fans were worried when the official SGW website closed down for maintenance, and didn’t come back up again for several days. When the CEO of CME responded to queries, he confirmed that money was still a huge problem and that there would be no further news on the game’s development until sufficient funding is available.{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap Up – Page 2}Australia finally came up with a rating system for online games this week and, months after the news that MMOs such as WoW and WAR may have to be withdrawn from sale, the titles were officially legally on sale again. The Australian Classification Board had no way of rating a game that contained no offline content until now, so online games went on sale without having to go through the rating system thanks to the loophole. However, ministers branded unclassified games as illegal in February, saying that they should be withdrawn from sale. The withdrawal never took place; retailers continued to stock the games and authorities would only take action if someone complained.Eight months later, the new ratings are now in place and World of Warcraft was awarded an M for Fantasy Violence.On Thursday, Turbine announced EU players’ special pre-order deals for LOTRO’s upcoming expansion, Siege of Mirkwood. By purchasing various editions of the expansion, several in-game items can be obtained for free. For new players, a ‘Platinum Edition’ of the game is also now on sale, which includes the standard game and all expansion so far, as well as the upcoming one. At £34.99 GBP, the Platinum Special Edition contains all expansions, two in-game items and the Adventurer’s Pack that opens up more character slots.If all this has got you thinking about returning to the game, then now is the ideal time. There is currently an offer open to former players in the US that allows them to return to the game for free until 21 October. You can start where you left off on your old characters, and there’s even a 25% bonus to XP earned during this ‘Welcome Back Week’. If you decide to stay on, make sure to take advantage of the multi-month subscription offer, which will grant you the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for free.Another MMO that is offering free game time again is Funcom’s Age of Conan. After all the recent worrying news about the company’s financial situation, it’s perhaps no surprise to see that Funcom wants as many players to come back to AoC as possible, especially with some big new features in the works; the Veteran system, which rewards players with exclusive items the longer they have been subscribed, is something fans have been asking for since the game was released, and The Iron Tower is an upcoming new instance that is set to provide a new challenge for end game players. Stay tuned for much more information on both of these features in the coming days.Aion players were given some good news this week; in-game GM support will shortly be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to a Twitter from the game’s associate producer, Lani Blazier. Fans were frustrated to find that in-game issues sometimes took several hours to be resolved due to the office hours schedule of GMs, and argued that for an online game, round the clock help should be standard. Aion has only been on sale for three weeks, but NCsoft is clearly listening to its players, which bodes well for the game’s future.CCP sent out a call this week for testers of Dominion, EVE Online’s next expansion. The tests will focus on fleets versus fleet open combat, then a starbase siege is on the cards. The test to Sovereignty, which was due to take place today, has been cancelled but the next scheduled test is on 29 October at 17:00. Be sure to bring along as many friends as possible, and you’ll each need a Battleship, carrier, dread or support ship.In other EVE related news, a rather cool trailer for the spin-off console game, DUST 514, was released this week. As opposed to EVE, DUST 514 will be an MMOFPS with hand to hand combat, set on the planets in the EVE universe. According to early reports, events in DUST will affect who owns certain planets in EVE Online, and CCP hopes that eventually the communities of both games will meld. Personally, unless DUST comes out on the PC, I can’t see much chance of that happening, but the trailer looks impressive, it should draw many EVE fans, so we’ll have to wait and see.Finally, Champions Online has been in the news a fair bit over the last seven days. Firstly, Cryptic Studios announced the cool new comic-strip editor that allows players to make a comic that features their very own character. Using screenshots they have taken themselves or existing art that comes with the software, players can create stories and share them with friends. Cryptic also unveiled more powers in the Celestial powerset, which focusses on group support and healing, a role that players currently feel desperately needs filling. The abilities in the powerset enable players to heal others while damaging enemies, ensuring solo play is also viable. Don’t forget that the in-game event, Blood Moon, is kicking off soon; find out more about that in our earlier article.Speaking of Champions, we’ve got a review in the works which will take a look at the first 20 levels of the game. Look out for that in the next couple of weeks. But until next week’s MMO News Wrap Up, happy gaming!


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