Thursday, February 8, 2007

SOE Announces New Spy-Themed MMO

Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley has told that the company is set to launch an as yet unannounced new IP later this year.

Smedley was speaking at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, which kicked off yesterday with a keynote presentation from Sony Pictures Digital boss Yair Landau.

During his speech Landau showed a clip of the company's new spy-themed MMO, stating, "We think this will take espionage entertainment to a new level."

But according to Smedley, "It's not really just an espionage game. It's a combination of espionage... Think 24 meets Alias meets Counterstrike."

He went on to reveal that SOE has several new IPs in the works, adding, "We have one coming out late this calendar year, and it hasn't even been announced."

Landau's keynote began with a discussion of the idea that "people move ideas back and forth from work to play". He observed, "If you can conceive of it, we can make it real."

Landau pointed to the visceral realism in Saving Private Ryan, stating, "What was really great about it was it launched a whole broad base of gameplay." He cited the games that followed - Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Company of Heroes.

"When you look at what Saving Private Ryan did theatrically, it's a fraction of what those games have done," said Landau, who believes this is an indication of where the industry is going. "It's driving a lot of what we're trying to do from a Sony Online Entertainment standpoint."

"We've historically been very much in the men-in-tights genre, a lot of guys running around in[sic] broadswords," Landau said. "But we're now looking at a broader genre... We've started to immerse ourselves into the world of espionage."

Landau thinks the key to where this genre goes from a gaming standpoint "is how make it more real for you. You don't get to just play Bond, but you get to play yourself in this environment."

SOE's Seattle office is charged with the task of "putting a multiplayer environment in an espionage world, with both cooperative, team-oriented objectives and PVP," according to Landau.

"We think it's okay if you have MMOs where you wear tuxedos and carry a silencer, not just tights and a mace."

Sony has yet to announce the official name of the title, but Landau joked, "It's code-named Vista because we pushed it back about a year."

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

EQ2: The Mines of Meldrath Mini-Zone Guide

The Mines of Meldrath is a level 50-55 instanced zone found deep in The Steamfont Mountains, which is included with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. This is a great zone to visit, with plenty to do and some nice bit of lore to follow as your group goes about laying waste to all within these mines.

Full Zone Guide here.

Guild Wars : Weekend Enhancements

This weekend, you have the opportunity to test Heroes' Ascent with an 8v8 party size configuration and share your comments throughout the coming week. In addition, PvE players will enjoy a weekend's offering of free access to Canthan Elite Mission and a doubling of the drop rate for rare items in those missions! Join us this weekend, starting at Noon PST on Friday, February 9.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes : News Update

Naming Policy Enforcement

In the near future Sigil will be evaluating all player names to make sure they are in accordance with the naming policy. Names that are not will need to be changed - we will post more information on this soon but in the mean time, please take a moment to go over the naming policy if you have not already.

Active Vanguard Subscription Now Required

As of 12:00pm PST on 2/2/2007 all players are required to have a valid retail game key to continue playing Vanguard. So if you have not yet picked up your copy, make sure to swing by your nearest store this weekend!

In the Works

Some of the top issues are aware of and working on currently:

European players are currently unable to properly claim their Collector's Edition benefits. We are aware of this and are working on it.

Players who abandon diplomacy quests, lose quests due to server crashes, or fail to accept a quest the first time it is offered may never be able to do the quest again. This is being worked on.

Sometimes, when going through certain areas, group members will "disappear". Their character is still there, but other players are unable to see them. This is being worked on.

There are still some bugs here and there with the social server, we are aware of these and working to fix them.

Improving client side performance is still a priority, and our efforts in this area will be ongoing.

Age of Conan : Unveils Druid of the Storm Class

This week we take a deeper look into another of the classes available in Age of Conan - The Druid of the Storm.

Primal and resourceful, these priests of the shamanistic arts are masters of the world around them, at one with nature.

Their understanding of the world around them also means that they have an almost endless knowledge of natural healing remedies that can keep their allies standing in battle. Not just a healer they can utilise ancient arts, runes and charms passed down by their forefathers to protect and keep allies safe from harm.

While obviously adept at protecting their allies makes them respected travelling companions, these Druids are actually more feared for what they can call forth from nature.

Masterfully in touch with the elements themselves, the Druid of the Storm can control and call upon the power of weather to hinder and attack their foes, calling down lightning and creating storms.

They can use the power of wind to throw their enemies back, and harness the raw energy of lightning to burn their foes, or call forth the bitter winds of winter to bite their opponents with the extreme cold that only nature can summon forth.

As an example their defining ability at level 80 is called 'Eye of the Storm' and calls forth a great hurricane down upon the Druid themselves that acts as natural shield, a wall of wind that not only keeps attackers at bay but charges the air around the caster with such electrical energy that it can augment the Druids lightning spells.

'Eye of the Strom' thus grants the Druid vastly improved defence against ranged attacks but has the down side that it is almost impossible to move. It increases electrical magic damage and the radius of effect for their lightning based spells. Enemies attacking the caster have a chance of being knocked back while the druids themselves become immune to most knockback effects.

Far from being 'just a healer' these Shaman are powerful and dangerous foes to cross on the battlefield.

Lineage 2 : FBI Shuts Down Lineage II Private Server

It must have seemed like the perfect scheme--buy the stolen source code of a popular online game, rent some servers to run the game as your own, and then hang a shingle on the web inviting gamers to come play at a steep discount.

A California man who followed that path must have thought he'd never get caught. He was even warned once by the game's rightful owner, a large South Korean company, to shut down. He didn't.

"They don't think that a company is going to come after them at any point," says Christopher Thompson, a special agent on a cyber squad in the FBI's office in Austin, Texas. "He said he was going to stop doing it and he didn't."

So the company, which has offices in Austin, called the FBI. The suspect was apparently lining his own pockets from "donations" and ads on his site while his pirated version of the game, "Lineage II," was siphoning $750,000 a month in potential revenues from the company.

According to Agent Thompson, here's how the scheme evolved:

In 2003, a computer user in China obtained the "Lineage" source code from an unprotected website. The proprietary code was then placed on the underground market, where a Texas man, among others, bought it in 2004. He then passed it along to his business partner in California, who set up a website,, to offer the "Lineage" game at a discount. Gamers arrived in droves--as many as 50,000 active users by 2006--which pinched the legitimate game's bottom line.

"It's comparable to the music-downloading and file-sharing problem in the late '90s--thousands of people engaging in activity that is inherently illegal," Agent Thompson said.

The California man soon assumed full control of the site and ramped up operations. In late 2005, just months after promising to shut down the site, he rented more powerful servers--enough to accommodate 4,000 simultaneous gamers. He solicited donations from users to help defray the costs and collected more than $25,000 in less than two days.

"Even if game sites collect no money, they still operate in violation of copyright laws," Agent Thompson said. "But he just got greedy because the money was there." Indeed, online gaming is estimated to be a $1 billion industry and growing. And massive, multi-player online games (MMOGs in the gamers' parlance) are one of the leading categories.

Last November, Agent Thompson led a raid on the California man's home, shut down the game, seized the l2extreme domain, and posted the FBI anti-piracy warning on the site. Meanwhile, the company posted a press release on its website announcing the raid. "We've taken this action because we strongly believe in defending the intellectual property rights that we've worked so hard to create," the company said in the release.

The result: several other servers running pirated games "ran for the hills," Agent Thompson said. There are others, to be sure, but the case serves as a reminder that stealing intellectual property is a criminal offense. As our warning clearly states, " Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes hits retail shelves at last.....

Imagine a vast, detailed world of swords and sorcery, of dragons and knights, of fiery swords and chests overflowing with treasures a world in which a myriad of sentient races and creatures, many of whom players will be able to base a character on, live and affect change. A place where players can follow very different paths of advancement, including assuming the roles of adventurers, crafters and merchants.

Characters will not only own buildings and vehicles, but they will also whisper into the ears of kings, manipulate the hand of justice, and change the direction of history. They will make their mark on a world we initially create but they ultimately shape and form.

Players will experience settings ranging from enjoying a drink in a tavern to walking through the streets of a bustling city. They will travel with trade caravans across deserts and they will fight pirates on the high seas. They will ascend the highest peak in the land and also explore the depths of eerie dungeons...

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will be the premier third generation massively multiplayer RPG. A vast, seamless, immersive virtual world filled with elements of familiar High Fantasy, including traditional themes and more, all depicted using cutting-edge graphics technology. Sigil's expertise and experience in the field will bring groundbreaking static and dynamic content to the genre. Vanguard will build upon the successes and strengths of earlier MMOGs to improve popular game mechanics and features, but also address these pioneering games mistakes and deficiencies. Vanguard will focus heavily on interdependence, challenge, and reward, while simultaneously addressing tedious and annoying issues, including camping, excessive downtime and more.

more info at Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

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