MJ Guthrie

    - Contributing Editor

    When not immersed in her favorite virtual worlds, MJ can be found hanging out with her family, reading, coaching/playing sports, writing fiction, singing, and dabbling in graphic design (in random order, depending on mood and season). Her favorite part of MMOs? Observing the dynamics of virtual communities. That psychology degree has to come in handy somewhere, doesn't it?MJ's Massively adventures can be found many places:  She co-created Some Assembly Required; penned Wings Over Atreia; investigates conspiracies in Chaos Theory; chronicles adventures in Norrathian Notebook; and livestreams for The Stream Team.

  • Norrathian Notebook: Landmark celebrates Year 0 anniversary

    I've got to admit, it's a bit weird to be celebrating an anniversary before an actually launch; you can't exactly say "Happy first birthday!" if it hasn't been born yet! But Landmark found a way to make it work, celebrating Year Zero with fans this past weekend. The sandbox opened its alpha doors on January 31st, 2014; all that players could do at that point was gather and build a bit. Since then, the game has expanded its features, adding more building stuff, water and caves, combat, deeper caverns and mobs to fill them, and still more building stuff. Development has definitely come a long way in the last 12 months, so there is certainly reason to revel in the festivities. Of course there's still much more work to be done, but why not take a moment and party in honor of Landmark's progress. Who doesn't like a party?

  • Smedley announces SOE is no more, becomes Daybreak Game Company

    In a surprising move, CEO John Smedley just announced on Reddit that Sony Online Entertainment is leaving behind its Sony roots and becoming Daybreak Game Company after being acquired by the investment firm Columbus Nova. This change allows the company to publish online games on multiple gaming platforms, including the XBox. Smedley also assured players via Twitter that all of the games in the company's portfolio are staying and will continue to be a part of the new company. Here's the full announcement plastered on the official forums of each of the company's games: Dear Players, Partners and Friends, Today, we are pleased to announce that we have been acquired by Columbus Nova, an investment management firm well known for its success with its existing portfolio of technology, media and entertainment focused companies. This means that effective immediately SOE will operate as an independent game development studio where we will continue to focus on creating exceptional online games for players around the world, and now as a multi-platform gaming company. Yes, that means PlayStation and Xbox, mobile and more! As part of this transition, SOE will now become Daybreak Game Company. This name embodies who we are as an organization, and is a nod to the passion and dedication of our employees and players. It is also representative of our vision to approach each new day as an opportunity to move gaming forward. So what exactly does this mean for you? It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation. In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition. It also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in. Our games and players are the heart and soul of our organization, and we are committed to maintaining our portfolio of online games and pushing the limits of where we can take online gaming together. Thank you for your continued support. See you in game! The Team at Daybreak

  • The Daily Grind: Does aggravation make you fight better in MMOs?

    I've got to admit, after this week (and you know what kind of week it was) I was actually looking forward to a fight when I logged into H1Z1 for some post-apocalyptic adventure. I was anticipating duking it out with some ferocious zombies, not to mention more than willing to engage in some PvP. And if you know me, you know I am not usually thirsty for player blood. Of course I wasn't about to initiate a fight, but with my elevated aggravation levels I was hoping someone would start something so I could just lay into him with all my hatchet-wielding might. Interestingly, I noticed that because my mindset switched from always-defensive mode to a little more offensive, my awareness, my reflexes, skills, and (dare I say) enjoyment of a battle was more pronounced. So tell me, Massively readers, do you fight better -- be it mobs or people -- when you are just a little bit miffed? Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

  • FACTIONS: Origins of Malu opening early access in 'a couple weeks'

    After Origins of Malu got the green light on Steam, developers went to work getting the sci-fantasy sandbox ready to release to players on that platform. All that work is about to come to fruition: Producer Michael Dunham told Massively that the early access release for the game's PvP build is only a couple of weeks away. FACTIONS: Origins of Malu is launching an invite-only closed release to ensure the systems are in check as far as user capacity, client integration, and the like today, February 1st, 2015; the EA will follow shortly after. Dunham anticipates early access to open before the 15th. To learn more about FACTIONS and future plans, read our exclusive interview with Dunham, then check out MassivelyTV on Monday, February 2nd, at 9:00 p.m. EST for a special Stream Team sneak peek of the game with devs.

  • Chaos Theory: These are a few of my favorite Secret World things

    There's a lot about The Secret World to like. So much so, in fact, that you just can't name it all in once place! I've had to split talking about the best parts of this conspiracy-laden masterpiece into a number of different Chaos Theorys, from my favorite first moments to amazing NPCs to fabulous places to favorite missions. Even Massively's Justin Olivetti chimed in with his favorite characters. But not even that can cover it all. That means today I'll tackle another topic: my favorite things. TSW has a plethora of little gems scattered throughout the game that enhance the play experience and attest to the level of detail put into development. And I'll totally go all Julie Andrews and sing their praises, hilltop or not. I only have so much room, however, so these are my top choices; be sure to add your own in the comments below!

  • Norrathian Notebook: Five reasons to support EQ Next and Landmark

    I like Landmark and am looking forward to EverQuest Next. There, I said it. It should be no surprise. And as such, I certainly have a vested interest in how these games fare throughout their development and launch. I want to see them succeed. But the thing is, so should you -- whether or not you actually want to play them. Unfortunately, it seems all too fashionable lately for folks to tear something down instead of build it up. So often when I'm following the discussions about EQ Next and Landmark, I hear plenty of reasons why folks don't like the games, and the reasons frequently have nothing to do with the games themselves. Detractors are going on about longstanding gripes and grudges instead of judging the games on their own merits (a practice that the whole world could certainly do without). Amid all the scathing comments I've heard directed at SOE for slights real and imagined, one recently gave me pause and made me reflect on the reasons that supporting these two MMO endeavors is worthwhile.

  • Wings Over Atreia: Aion entices returning players, removes reviled manastone mechanic

    If you haven't checked back into Aion in a while, now might be the time to start plotting your return. Next week on January 28th NCsoft is introducing a special new experience for those who have been away from the game for more than 30 days; it includes special zones called Abbeys that provide exclusive bonuses as well as quests and gear upgrades. Even better, if one of the reasons you left was the frustration involved in losing all your equipment's manastones when you failed to socket a final stone, you'll be even happier to learn that that particular mechanic is being removed from the game! That's right: Aion players will no longer risk losing already successfully socketed manastones when trying to put another one in (a much needed change that I championed years ago!). We've got the scoop on these new changes from Associate Product Manager Sean Orlikowski -- along with news of an upcoming Shugo event instance and the breakthrough system that raises enchantment levels -- in this special return of Wings Over Atreia.

  • Check out Black Desert's renamed Tamer class in quick combat trailer

    Black Desert fans already knew that a Tamer class was heading into the game; today that class is available to play on the Korean servers under the new name of Beast Master. As the name would suggest, the Beast Master class utilizes summoned magical beasts during battle and has a close-to mid-range fighting style; the skills available will be dependent on whether or not the player is fighting alongside her pet or is mounted during the battle. If you want a quick peek at how the Beast Master plays, check out the class combat trailer below.

  • Chaos Theory: Opening up Tokyo and why else I'm a Secret World fan for life

    I may be a lifetime member of The Secret World, but more than that, I am a lifetime fan! Why? It's not because I live and breathe the game; I don't need to play daily for hours on end to truly appreciate its qualities and what it brings to the MMOverse. But there are plenty of reasons that TSW has earned my loyalty, not the least of which is demonstrated in Joel Bylos' recent game director letter. Tucked in between talk of the 2014 content and the upcoming improved new player experience is this little gem: The team intends to open Tokyo up to all players! Beyond the story and the events, it is how the team constantly focuses on bringing customers a genuine experience that remains true to the spirit of the game. Is everything about The Secret World perfect? Not at all. There's plenty of room for improvement and added content. But I feel confident in the direction, and the following reasons are why I will continue to champion this gem.

  • MapleStory 2's closed beta will have 3 PvP modes

    When MapleStory 2's closed beta doors open up in Korea from January 21st through the 25th, testers will be able to experience three different PvP modes. MMOCulture brings word of Nexon's recent update, which described these three modes, including 1v1, free-for-all, and PvPvE. Players level 30 and higher can engage in 1v1 battles in Red Coliseum or go for a reward for the most kills in Blood Mines free-for-all. The third mode, Shadow World, has no level restriction and pits players against mobs as well as players in a search for special treasures that aren't available anywhere in the open world.

  • STO Producer's letter hints at anniversary celebration and story to come in 2015

    Star Trek Online's first producer's letter of the new year hailed 2014 as a fantastic year and suggested that 2015 may be even better. After recounting many of the additions to the game over the past 12 months and summing up the story arc thus far, Stephen D'Angelo stated that the past year was just setting the stage for what's to come! The continuation of this arc includes some challenges that even the grand alliance may not be able to handle. The next step in the story, along with the first of the new captain and bridge officer specializations, will release with the anniversary update in that's just over three weeks away. Just what kind of events and celebrations can players expect for this fifth anniversary? D'Angelo didn't share, but he did say that the details on that -- as well as the future content -- will be forthcoming piece by piece in dev blogs starting in the next few days.

  • Norrathian Notebook: Frostfells of EverQuests past, present, and Next

    It's the end of that magical time of year: When gigglegibber goblins wrap up their gift-giving and the tinsel, lights, and even the holiday quests get packed up for the year. It's the end of Frostfell 2014 for the EverQuest Franchise; EverQuest's celebration ended yesterday and EverQuest II's ends today. Players will have to wait another 12 months to dive back into the festivities. If we're really lucky, we'll also experience the holiday anew in EverQuest Next come December! As Frostfell comes to a close, I am left thinking about the holiday and all its trimmings. It's truly a great one. Perhaps one of the most wonderful. What makes it so special each year? And what might it be like in the coming years, especially in EQN? Let's take a look at the history of Frostfell, check out this year's additions, and speculate about the holiday's presence in Next.

  • Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's two-week PvE checkup

    Happy New Year! It makes sense to start this new year off by talking about a new game, right? And let's face it, after the fabled PvE content update, Landmark feels like a new game! This massive addition to the core of the sandbox has been live for two weeks now; that means two weeks of spelunking, salvaging, and more often than not, surviving. While it's true we got a preview of the update back on the day, that peek involved neither the cavern system nor crafting. And it certainly didn't contain nearly enough time! So now that I've had the chance to canvass the caverns, play with particle emitters, kills various critters, and concoct some new crafted items, how is it? How are things in the not-just-about-building game doing? Do these new systems offer more staying power as the closed beta continues on? Let's give Landmark its two-week PvE checkup!

  • The Stream Team: Seeking a Santa hat in Shroud of the Avatar

    Last week, Massively's MJ popped back into Shroud of the Avatar for the first time in many releases. At viewer request, she's heading back in to experience even more adventure in this sandbox. On her agenda: the hat! What better way to keep in the holiday spirit than with a festive hat from the holly-jolliest of elves himself? Apparently, there is a quest to nab your own Release 13 Santa hat. Will MJ be able to complete this quest (or even find it, for that matter?!)? After that she'll be seeking out some of that fabled player-generated content. Join us live at 1:00 p.m. to see even more of what new Britannia has to offer. Game: Shroud of the Avatar Host: MJ Guthrie Date: Saturday, December 27h, 2014 Time: 1:00 p.m. EST Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

  • Shroud of the Avatar's Richard Garriott and Starr Long on how SOTA wins at player-generated content

    When you sit down to talk with Portalarium's Richard Garriott and Starr Long about Shroud of the Avatar, you hear much more than can possibly fit in just one article! Even though its currently in development, there's a lot to this title. Last week's Some Assembly Required focused on the upcoming sandbox's community aspect; as promised, this week's edition delves into SotA's amazing player-generated content capabilities. It's not surprising that PGC would be so prevalent in-game when these two devs have emphasized the importance of making a living, breathing, immersive world for players. When you get a great community together and then give it tools and freedom to create, what happens is phenomenal. As Long put it, "It's really humbling for me and the team to see what these players are willing to do... what they're doing with what we're giving them." Read on, my friends, and see why Shroud of the Avatar may very well be the reigning king of the PGC hill even before it actually releases! (There might be a few morsels about upcoming development thrown in as well.)

  • Chaos Theory: A guide to TSW's Christmas Conspiracies event

    Silver bells, Krampus and Hel, It's Christmas time in The Secret World Ring a ling, hear them scream, Soon you will see a Christmas play! Ahh, it's the holidays. A time when other games pull out the stops on cute and cuddly, flinging festive colors and joviality about like Christmas confetti to make a joyous celebration. Then you have The Secret World. In TSW, the season is dark, twisted, and fiendish; nightmares are brought to life, and conspiracies worm their ways throughout even the most revered of traditions. And we wouldn't have it any other way! I always wonder how on earth the devs are going to top themselves each new event, and this season's Christmas Conspiracies definitely does not disappoint! From the story to the puzzles, this mission chain fits right in. It even incorporated my favorite new element introduced this year -- music -- and literally makes you play for your reward. Want to experience it? You've got until January 5th to thwart the conspiracy and collect all the treasure you can. (Of course, even if you have done the two previous Christmas' events, you'll want to do them again just to get the special goodie bags!) Here's a not-quite-a-guide to help nudge you through. As always, I won't offer a direct step-by-step walkthrough but instead will just drop hints (in italics) to help you along. That said, here's your warning: There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk! If, however, you want even more spoilers, watch Massively TV tonight, December 25th, at 9:00 p.m. for a Stream Team walkthrough special.

  • The Secret World's Christmas Conspiracies event takes the stage

    What's Christmas without a clown and a chainsaw? Nothing -- if you're in The Secret World. The game that excels as conspiracies has turned one into a holiday event for players to unravel. It all starts with attending a show at London's Albion Theater and winds its way through gathering clues and solving Musical "Magic Flute" puzzles, even discovering Old Saint Nick's tomb. And what's a Christmas without gifts? TSW offers new pets like an undead polar bear, funky hats, and more outfits and costume pieces -- including a carrot nose -- in the Rucksacks of Saturnalian Delights. The bags are rewards for finishing the holiday missions as well as available in the item shop. As during the Halloween event, players who purchase a special bag (this time the Bag of Wassail) in the shop to share with players will be rewarded with an all-new dance. As in years past, previous holiday events are also live and running. However, the launchpad warns players that the End of Days event is currently experiencing issues and the team is working to resolve them.

  • Shroud of the Avatar's Richard Garriott and Starr Long on MMO community

    If you've been making a list of sandbox features and checking it twice, chances are you'll find many of those items in Shroud of the Avatar. And if player-generated content and a great community are near the top of that list, then this crowdfunded title might very well be the present you want to get yourself! While still under development, this sandbox has already grown exponentially from its humble beginnings of a chicken in a room to a current state that includes a bevy of features -- with more arriving like clockwork every monthly update. And plenty of those features are tools and systems that allow players to make the game a personalized experience for themselves and others. What about Shroud of the Avatar makes it so great for player-generated content? What makes the community great? And how has Steam affected the game? I sat down with Portalarium's Richard Garriott and Starr Long to talk about the move to Steam, updates, PGC, and the amazing community that's supporting the game. These guys had so much to share that this is only part one!

  • Landmark's PvE arrives today; SOE shifts to EQ Next full-time in 2015

    We've waited a long time for the chance to have our faces eaten off by vicious monsters in Landmark, and now that opportunity is almost here! After a bit of delay, the infamous PvE patch is heading into our favorite sandbox today. This is seriously going to be a game-changer. Of all the patches throughout the whole year, this one is the biggest -- surpassing the August PvP update and even the original alpha launch, at least according to Creative Director Dave Georgeson. And he's not kidding! I got to check out Landmark's new mobs, linking and triggering, armors, props, and more with Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels. I didn't think it was possible to be even more excited for this patch, but I am! Can I hear a squeeeee?! Oh, and for everyone who is waiting anxiously for EverQuest Next news, here's a tidbit from Georgeson you might enjoy: When we get to those game mastering systems [after the start of the year] that means we are working on EQN full time. Because those are the systems we need for EQN, and that's what we're building when we're building those game mastering tools. So we're so close to transitioning the team almost entirely to EQN, and then we'll take the elements that we build for EQN and port them over into Landmark, but our focus will shift almost entirely to EQN after the new year.

  • Landmark's monster update delayed until Wednesday

    With such a monster update coming to Landmark, SOE was open about the possibility of troubles and a delay. After keeping the community updated on progress and pitfalls over the weekend, Creative Director Dave Georgeson confirmed it: The PvE patch is delayed until Wednesday, December 17th, at 1:00 p.m. EST. Apparently the mobs themselves are scared of the introduction of players -- as well they should be! Mobs were found all clustering in a single cave. To fully fix this, SOE has to regenerate the islands. But don't worry, builders; there is no claim wipe involved, just time. Once the servers are up and running, watch for a Stream Team tour to check out the new Landmark wildlife.