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The Game Archaeologist: The complete history of classic MMOs

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Since this is my final Game Archeologist post of 2014, I want to indulge in a personal project that's been pulling at my shirt-tails for a little while now. I've been writing this column for years and have yet to create a proper guide to all of the games and subjects that I've covered. So that's what you're getting today: a "complete" (thus far) history of classic, obscure, and dead MMOs, arranged by decade.

Ever wonder where MMOs began? Wanted to know what online gamers played back in the '90s and '80s? Trying to remember which games never made it to launch? Curious whether I've covered that little-known gem that was your doorway to a larger virtual world? Then take my hand and come with me!

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Theatrhythm Dragon Quest trailer cuts down Metal Slimes


Theatrhythm Dragon Quest's debut trailer, shown by Square Enix during Jump Festa 2015, likely resembles what Theatrhythm fans imagined when the rhythmic 3DS game was announced last week; a tap-to-the-beat reunion with heroes, monsters and backing tracks from the Dragon Quest series.

The familiar Field and Event Music Stage playstyles are accounted for, but a top-down, Rock Band-style setup seems to shift the four-lane Battle layout from the horizontal scrolling found in previous Theatrhythm releases.

Theatrhythm Dragon Quest will arrive in Japan on March 26, 2015, but a Western release has yet to be confirmed. It's reassuring that previous Theatrhythm games have launched outside of Japan and that Square Enix is gradually releasing mobile ports of Dragon Quest games, but the latest, MMO-flavored entry to the main series, Dragon Quest 10, never reached Western adventurers.
[Image: Square Enix]

343 announces free ODST campaign as apology for Halo: MCC woes

When Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched in November with a largely non-functional online multiplayer component, people were upset. Bonnie Ross, head of developer 343 Industries, personally apologized for the issues, promising to "make this right" with fans of old Tall, Green and Handsome. Yesterday, Ross elaborated on just what she meant: free stuff, including an updated version of Halo 3: ODST running on Xbox One.

Anyone who played Halo: The Master Chief Collection online between launch (November 11, 2014) and December 19, 2014 is eligible to receive one month of complimentary Xbox Live Gold, an exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar, and a free download of the Halo 3: ODST campaign running at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Lastly, everyone who plays The Master Chief Collection will be able to enjoy an updated version of the Halo 2 map, "Relic," when it launches as a free content update for the game.

‚ÄčThe nameplate and avatar will be added to The Master Chief Collection sometime later this month, while a reworked Relic and the ODST campaign will arrive sometime in spring of 2015. "Both [Relic and Halo 3: ODST] were not part of our original development plans, but as a result of community feedback, and to do something special for our fans, both are now in development," an FAQ page for the recently-announced content reads.

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Bravo, you've opened Pandora's app on Xbox One

The Xbox One was originally announced as a console that would bring games, movies, television and other entertainment together in one place. Recently-instated head of Xbox Phil Spencer may be more about the "games" part of the equation, but that doesn't mean the console has stopped supporting its secondary functions. Case in point: This week, the Xbox One has received apps for Pandora, Vevo, Bravo, Telemundo and Popcornflix.

If you're unfamiliar with any of the above, here's a quick rundown:
  • Pandora is an online music service that creates playlists based on the input you give it. Enter "Aerosmith" for example, and you'll wind up with a station that plays classic rock.
  • If you like to engage your eyeballs at the same time as your eardrums, Vevo hosts a collection of music videos to enjoy.
  • Bravo Now is an app that lets you watch full episodes of Bravo programming such as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce.
  • The Telemundo Now app operates on the same concept: Log in with your service provider and watch full episodes of Telemundo novelas, shows and specials.
  • Popcornflix is a free video streaming service that hosts hundreds of films at no additional cost.
Enjoy your music and movies, señors and señoritas.
[Image: Microsoft/Pandora]

WRUP: Happy holidays!

It's the last WRUP before Christmas Day, and Alexander's gone and left me in charge of it. Still, what's the worst that could happen, right?

Happy holidays, y'all! What's everyone playing this weekend?

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Barely Related: The Interview didn't go well

Happy holidays, everyone!

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.

Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.

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Green Man Gaming holiday sale: Alien: Isolation, Evil Within

Today marks the start of Green Man Gaming's annual Green Grogre holiday sale, where the digital games retailer offers hefty discounts on a wide range of games, both recent and not so recent.

Highlights of the sale include intergalactic survival horror gem Alien: Isolation at $25, while the terrestrial horror of The Evil Within is priced at $20.39 and sizable strategy hit Total War: Rome 2 Emperor Edition is $14.98. If buying one game at a time seems terribly inefficient, you can choose from either the massive Half-Life Complete Edition compilation or the Tomb Raider Franchise compilation. Both have received 75 percent discounts.

The Green Grogre holiday sale is scheduled to run until January 2. Prospective buyers should check the site regularly, as Green Man Gaming plans to add new discounts each day.
[Image: Green Man Gaming]

Minecraft's latest Xbox update sounds a little horse

Developer 4J Studios has issued a new update for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions of sandbox hit Minecraft that adds new enemies, festive explosives and man's other best friend, the horse.

These new steeds are the focus of the update. Horses can be tamed, ridden and outfitted with armor. They can even be crossbred with donkeys to create mules. Beyond pixelated animal husbandry, the update also brings with it new enemies, including bats, witches and Wither Skeletons, and a new range of programmable fireworks. On the technical side of things, the 1.6.4 update also adds new options to the Host menu, granting players more control over what guests in their virtual worlds are allowed to do.

As with all updates for the Xbox versions of Minecraft, 1.6.4 is available to players at no charge. You can see these new features in action in the trailer beyond the break.
[Image: 4J Studios/Microsoft]

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Touhou Project games coming to PlayStation 4, PS Vita

The Touhou Project will make its console and portable debut in Japan starting next year with the launch of a series of officially licensed, fan-made games for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, series creator ZUN revealed this week (via Siliconera).

Named as the "most prolific fan-made shooter series" by Guinness World Records, the Touhou Project is a long-running, single-developer franchise helmed by its pseudonymous creator ZUN. Initially a hobbyist project, Touhou evolved to encompass a multitude of commercially produced spinoff games and media works from indie creators worldwide. Previous Touhou games include the acclaimed freeware PC bullet-hell shooters Imperishable Night and Perfect Cherry Blossom.

Upcoming Touhou releases for PlayStation platforms include the roguelike Mystery Gensokyo and RPG Genius of Sappheiros for the PS Vita. The PlayStation 4 will host Touhou's bullet hell shooter Gensou no Rondo. An additional game, Touhou Sky Arena Matsuri, is also in development for an unnamed platform.

Release dates for the announced games are not yet known. A series of Touhou PlayStation Vita system themes will premiere throughout next year in Japan, priced at 432 yen each.

[Image: Touhou Project)

Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest games discounted on mobile

If you've been jonesing for some retro-styled RPG questing but stopped short of buying your favorites when you saw Square Enix's premium mobile game prices, your patience has paid off. Many games in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises are now available from iTunes and Google Play at steep discounts as part of Square Enix's Mobile Holiday Sale.

Starting this week, you can pick up remade mobile ports of Final Fantasy 1 and 2 for $3.99 apiece. Final Fantasy 3 through 6 are up for grabs at $7.99 each, and Final Fantasy Tactics is currently on sale for $6.99.

Dragon Quest series fans get some love with price drops for Dragon Quest 2 ($2.99) and Dragon Quest 8 ($12.99). If SNES throwbacks are your thing, you might also want to grab Chrono Trigger at $4.99 and Secret of Mana for $3.99. Sale prices are in effect through January 5.

[Image: Square Enix)

Console Madness: Free Smash Bros 3DS XL, the rarest PS4 game, and much more


So Joystiq's given away a couple of limited edition Xbox Ones, a limited edition PlayStation 4, a crazy edition of Destiny, and a whole mess of random swag. You think we're done? We're not done. Prepare for more! In the lead-up to Christmas, Joystiq is giving away a limited edition Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 3DS XL. Snazzy art plus a copy of the game pre-installed!

That's not all we're giving away, though. There's also a copy of Retro City Rampage for PlayStation 4. Recently released as a physical edition, it's the rarest PS4 game out there and already fetching serious prices on eBay. Finally, we've got an enormous box of mystery swag. What's in the box? You'll have to be one of our three winners to find out.

Here's how to get the goods: Just use the Rafflecopter widget below between December 19 and December 26. Winners will be selected at random and contacted via email. Full rules and details after the break.

Free Smash Bros 3DS XL, the rarest PS4 game, and much more giveaway
[Images: Nintendo]

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Shadowrun Returns to Kickstarter in January 2015

A recent addition to the two-year-old Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter page reveals that developer Harebrained Schemes will return to crowdfunding in January 2015, though the reasons why aren't entirely clear.

The image above is the entirety of the update. That pseudo-shamanic green dragon symbol is the de facto logo for Shadowrun Returns, suggesting that Harebrained Schemes is seeking money to develop additional content for a game we described as a loving, cyberpunk homage to the roleplaying games of the 1990s. Whether this new content might be a second expansion (a la Dragonfall) or even a sequel is unknown.

While Harebrained Schemes' first stab at crowdfunding went very well - the developer was seeking $400,000 and attracted over $1.8 million - that was two years ago. Since that time Kickstarter and sites like it have been flooded by developers seeking money. As we pointed out earlier this year, this glut (not to mention reports of Kickstarter scams) has decreased the amount of money available via crowdfunding. The success of Shadowrun Returns will no doubt bolster Harebrained Schemes' fundraising attempt, but it seems unlikely that the developer will again draw more than four times its goal.
[Image: Kickstarter/Harebrained Schemes]

Joystiq Deals: 180 QX Drone With Extra Battery

We all know that one day the robo-revolution will come and the machines will cast all us lowly humans into the dirt, so why not enjoy your time at the top by commanding a robot to fly, take pictures, and do loop-de-loops? Joystiq Deals has just such a robot for you: the 180 QX quadcopter drone with built-in 720p camera and a spare battery to keep you flying.

Normally priced at $240, you can snap a 180 QX for $189.99 via Joystiq Deals until December 23. And just because we like you so much, take another $5 off by using the code "QXDRONE5."
Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Win part of a $50,000 pool at Guild Wars 2's PAX East tournament

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Fancy yourself a not-half-bad PvP player? Are you keen on the notion of winning enough money to avoid work or school for a year so that you can concentrate on MMO gaming? Then step right up to Guild Wars 2's World Tournament Series Championship at PAX East next spring, where the winners will dip into a $50,000 prize pool.

The tournament will take place on March 7th, 2015, at the gaming convention in Boston. Players from several countries are welcome to face off against each other, although teams will have to compete and win in earlier qualifiers to make it to the championship. You'll have to be at least 18 and from the US, Canada, Mexico, or the EU to participate. A cool perk of making it to the championship is that ArenaNet will foot the bill for teams' airfare, hotel, and a per diem.

Joystiq Streams: Halo 5 beta, live and uncut



Halo is on the brain this December. We're chock full of conflicting emotions about Master Chief, personable AI, and the many ancient technology entanglements they find themselves snared in. Revisiting all of Chief's tales in the Master Chief Collection reminded us just how awesome Halo campaigns can be. That said, the plague of matchmaking problems in that anthology caused some serious negative connotations to attach themselves to Halo multiplayer in our brains. What we need is a palate cleanser! A view of the future, not the past. The Halo 5: Guardians beta will be our virtual sorbet.

We're streaming Halo 5: Guardians on Joystiq.com/Twitch starting at 4:00PM EST. Iron sights? Crazy dash moves? We'll see what 343's cooked up. You can come on by and hang with us while we do it.

Joystiq.com/Twitch broadcasts every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM EST, but we stream at unusual times as we're doing today, so make sure to follow us on Twitch to catch all our streams.
[Images: Microsoft]

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