UPDATE - Blizzard Announces Plain Ol' RTS I "Beige Temple" Not Imposing Enough
Back to Neriak I Age of the Beastmaster
Sign Up to Beta Test... Ultima Online? I Baby, We Were Born To Run
Working For the (Extended) Weekend I Weekly Web Updates

Issue #76 The Waiting is the Hardest Part
May 24, 2007

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What an agonizingly slow week!

Here I am, eagerly anticipating the beginning of the Korean Ragnarok Online 2 open beta. It's been a long time coming, but it's finally around the corner: May 28. It's amazing how a few years of waiting really pales in comparison to the torture that is having an account set up and having the client on your computer, but still having to wait patiently for servers to open. Now I know how a dog feels; I feel like a Milk Bone has been put on my snout and I'm being told to staaaaaaaaaaay.

To make matters worse, it has been what we in the industry refer to as a "slow news week" in MMORPGaming. So, loyal readers, I now present to you all the news that's fit to print for the far-from-earth-shattering week of May 24.

  UPDATE - Blizzard Announces Plain Ol' RTS

Blizzard Entertainment

If you've been following the column for the past several weeks, you'd know that we've been highlighting the speculation surrounding Blizzard's job postings for an MMORPG team and their secret announcement on May 19. Unless you've been living in a cave for the past week -- and who can blame you, really? -- you probably know that the game announced at Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational 2007 was none other than StarCraft 2. Sadly, it does not fall into RPGamer's coverage, so we'll just gently put this one to bed.

Blizzard is still hiring for a next-gen MMORPG, however, and you can guarantee that when news becomes available as to what on earth it could be, you'll hear it here.

  "Beige Temple" Not Imposing Enough

World of Warcraft

Speaking of Blizzard, it seems that World of Warcraft version 2.10 is officially live, finally giving players the chance to visit Illidan Stormrage's charming chateau, The Black Temple.

Along with the patch's namesake, lots of new content has been added to this version. The massive, 280% speed Nether Drake is in, as well as an epic flight form for Druids. Three new solo/small group areas have been added for level 70 players: Ogri'la, Skettis, and the Etherium Prison. There is also a new arena venue at the Ruins of Lordaeron.

Accompanying the content are the usual tweaks and fixes. Parry gets a bit of a buff, dodge is easier for lower level characters, set bonuses get fixed, less glancing blows for closely-leveled adversaries, spell haste gets a mixed bag, and taunts get a bit of a fix. For those wanting to give their eyes a bit of a workout, the full patch notes can be found here.

  Back to Neriak

EverQuest 2

Touched upon briefly in a previous column, game update #35 for EverQuest II is now live, adding a new race, starting city, and zone to the game.

Evil-aligned characters, including the new Arasai, can now make the ancient city of Neriak their home. Surrounding Neriak is the Darklight Woods, the new starter zone for adventurers level 1-20. Also included are a revamped LFG system and changes to how players move their possessions from house to house.

Players are required to have purchased the Echoes of Faydwer expansion in order to create an Arasai character, but the rest of the content delivered with this update is available for all to enjoy. To read up on everything that's changed, have a look at the update notes.

  Age of the Beastmaster

Star Wars Galaxies

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there were more professions in Star Wars Galaxies. Namely, Creature Handlers and Bio Engineers. Chapter six of SWG revisits these professions, and allows players to clone some of the more memorable beasts in the game to be deployed in combat.

Obtaining your very own pet Rancor (obviously named "Mr. Scrufflekins") involves a different approach than the Old Game Experience. Rather than taming a baby beast and raising it to adulthood, players now clone and incubate their pets. First, a sample of the creature-in-question's DNA core must be obtained and taken to an incubator, a new type of crafting station. Then, players will engage in three different cycles of creature incubation, in which enzymes are added to facilitate mutations in the creature's abilities and appearance. Finally, after the mini-games are finished, gamers are rewarded with an egg that can be hatched or traded on the market. Also making a comeback are creature mounts. Most creatures that were mountable before NGE are back, and are tradable to other players as well.

Included in chapter six are enhancements to the storyteller system, new combat values, an update to the Rebel theme park, and the Azure Cabal quest line. Detailed information on raising your own pet can be found here, and the full update notes here.

  Sign Up to Beta Test... Ultima Online?

Ultima Online

That's right! EA is now accepting Beta Test applications for Ultima Online!

... Kingdom Reborn, that is.

Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn is a complete overhaul of the classic UO client, featuring brand new, richly detailed 2D graphics for everything in the game. The new client also features a more user-friendly UI that includes drag and drop functionality, hotkeys, windowed vitals, modal chat, and possibly the ability to scale the viewable area via zoom. Also, The new player experience should be easier than ever with new bright paths to lead intimidated newbies to their destination.

The new client will render the 3D client obsolete, and after the release of Stygian Abyss the old 2D client will also go the way of the dinosaur.

After you're done reading up on what's new, make a visit to the beta registration page for the opportunity to take the newness for a spin.

  Baby, We Were Born To Run

Hey kids! Do you like dungeons? Do you like running? Well, NCSoft has just the game for you!

Dungeon Runners has begun live service as of May 23. The game is completely free to play, though offers perks to players who opt to subscribe at $5/month, including queue jumping, a bank, stackable potions, and access to elite gear.

Sign up here, get the client, and get ready to hit the ground running!

(Okay, that pun actually made me cringe.)

  Working For the (Extended) Weekend

Have you got nothing to do this holiday weekend? Starting to regret destroying your grill with explosives last Independence Day? Fret not, a few games are holding events over the weekend that should fill in some of that idle time.


Archlord players will have a chance to win a piece of 20,000 chantra up for grabs in a tournament series being held over the holiday weekend. Three events will take place over the course of the weekend: a 1 vs 1 PvP tournament on Saturday, a creature time trial on Sunday, and a jousting competition on Monday. Players will earn ranking points during each event that are cumulative over all events, meaning that people who participate in all three will have a better chance of being ranked higher. The setup allows players of all levels to be able to participate. If you're ready to try and win some chantra, go read the full details and register for the events here.

Rising Force Online

RF Online is enhancing chip drops for five days, starting May 25. They're also giving up the goods as far as items go, offering some very nice loot for chips over the event. Anyone feeling a bit hot-blooded and needing to vent with some PVP goodness should check it out -- Codemasters is currently offering a 10-day trial subscription.

 Weekly Web Updates

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Now, it's back to pacing, counting stucco lumps on the ceiling, and shouting nasty words at the clock.

Help me pass the time by sending me mail. I'm already compulsively refreshing my inbox at a rate of thirty times per minute. You'd be bringing an immeasurable amount of time-killing glee into my life. Do something to make a difference. It's cheaper than sponsoring one of those kids you see on T.V.

If next week ever comes, see you then.
Matt Blake

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