Fresh First Blizzcast I Enterprise Turbulence
Codemasters Yearning to Connect I January MU Events
O RLY? YA RLY! I Media Grotto

Issue #101 Freshly Squeezed
January 17, 2008

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Welcome to MMORPGamer.

Class has begun, and we've all returned to the zombies we were before winter break. With an empty pocket from textbook purchases, I'm glad that I spent the money for my subscriptions early.

This week features a bunch of news for the upcoming year in MMOs. While 2008 stands to be a doozy with the large number of releases scheduled, the current MMOs are pulling out the stops to maintain players.

Without further ado, the news:

  Fresh First Blizzcast

World of Warcraft

Last Thursday, the first official Blizzcast went on air on Blizzard's official site. The podcast ran just under a half hour and included two interviews.

Community Manager Karune interviewed Art Director Sam Didier. He's done work for Starcraft and World of Warcraft. He's responsible for a large body of the art for WoW, including the Pandaren race.

First, Didier discussed how he got into the gaming industry. Holding the illustrious position of movie theater usher, he found an article in the classifieds looking for someone to "Make Art For Video Games." One short interview, and he was in.

In discussing the difference between the two franchises' art styles, Didier mentioned that Warcraft is "hyper-fantasy" and Starcraft has more grit, "a little more dirtier." He also mentions that the Pandaren got their start as the graphic on his family's Christmas card. The two discuss the graphics for Starcraft intensely, including the motivations for the Dark Templars and the new details on Zerglings with wings.

In the closing discussion, Didier includes short advice to artists hoping to get into the industry. Artists should learn how to model and texture 3D models through programs like Max and Maya. All Blizzard artists do this, even concept artists.

CM Drysc interviewed Jeff Kaplan for the second half of this week's Blizzcast. The two discussed the upcoming 2.4 patch, including the Sunwell Plateau experience.

Kaplan said that the raid instance will be after Black Temple in overall planned raid progression and gear. The equipment will be above Tier 6, but won't have any class-specific equipment sets.

The smaller instance for five players will be called Magister's Terrace. It will have the same challenge as current level 70 instances, like Shadow Labyrinth or Shattered Halls. This instance will provide players with gear that may bridge the gap between the hardcore and the casual.

Blizzcast seems to be an experiment for Blizzard. Feedback is encouraged, with prizes for a few people who send in emails. If you want the podcast to have a future, send in an email.

  Enterprise Turbulence

Star Trek Online has been slowly progressing with P2, formerly Perpetual Entertainment, as developer. However, WarCry posted this week that the IP has been handed off to another Bay-area developer.

No one knows who the IP will go to. Cryptic spoke up earlier this week, announcing that they would not acquire the STO IP but hoped to gain employees from P2 to work on Marvel Universe Online.

It's anyone's guess who will pick up the IP. Whoever does will have the content without the code, meaning a lot more work than P2 had ahead of them. This means that the game is farther off than before, but it could get into more capable hands.

  Codemasters Yearning to Connect

Lord of the Rings Online

Codemasters, which maintains Lord of the Rings Online, ArchLord, RFOnline, and Dungeons and Dragons Online for the U.K. crowd, is set to announce a new MMORPG at its expo, Connect 2008. Set for March 14, the event will be held in Birmingham.

Codemasters says the MMORPG will be playable at the event. The rest of the expo will feature many more secrets and surprises, and players can sign up for the latest news at the official site.

  January MU Events

Global MU Online

Global MU Online is celebrating January with a slew of events starting today. From the 17th to the 22nd, the drop rate on everything in the game has been doubled. This is a great incentive for old players to get back in and new players to start up, but it's the least of the great events headed toward the MU community.

On January 26, Loki will be marching through the world from the Sea of Atlans to the Eastern gates of Lorencia. According to K2, he'll be dropping mid-level items, moonstone pendants, and rings along the way. This run will happen twice on each realm, so everyone should have a chance to see Loki.

The best event in my opinion has to be the XP boost from January 27 to 31. The boost will be six times the amount of normal XP for these five days. I think this is a phenomenal boost and the best event this month.

NASA to Release MMO

According to a press release from NASA, its Learning Technologies (LT) project are currently developing an educational MMO. LT says, "the power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining recognition." It hopes to enhance formal and informal education with the use of the MMO as a laboratory with visualization tools and a collaborative workplace. It's great to hear that immersive worlds are the way of the future. More details are available from NASA's official site.

  Media Grotto
Screens from MU

The following screenshots are of Loki and his travels in the upcoming event in Global MU online on Jan 26.

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That's all there is for this week's MMORPGamer. This year seems to be a good one for MMORPGs so far. With NASA getting in the ring, I think we have our latest bomb. Let's just hope that the other releases don't fail too much.

It's time for me to get back to the books. I hope to someday soon sign back into WoW. This next three day weekend will be when I get into WoW again. I hope to see you all out there in the MMO Universe. Good luck in the wintry storm until next week.

Good night,
Jake Miller (mail me)

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