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Massively's MMO guide to Halloween 2014

Defiance
MMORPG fans love to play dress-up. Admit it! We do it every day with our characters, even if we pretend we're just "checking out our stats" when we're rifling through the hundreds of pieces of cosmetic gear in our banks. That's what makes Halloween our magic holiday!

Following what is now epic tradition, we've rounded up all the big MMORPG Halloween events and sales for 2014 as well as a few little ones and some from our favorite MOBAs and OARPGs too. The list isn't exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any we've missed that you love!

Now, furbish up your pumpkin heads and get in there. That virtual candy isn't gonna eat itself.

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Take-Two reports slight bump in revenue for Q2

Take-Two reported $126.3 million in revenue for the second quarter (ending September 30), a slight increase compared to the $125.4 million in revenue the publisher reported last quarter. It also represents a 15.1 percent decline compared to the same quarter last year, a period that itself didn't benefit from the launch of GTA 5, but rather The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and Borderlands 2 GOTY. By comparison, Take-Two didn't have many releases in the past quarter, save for three mobile games: Civilization Revolution 2, BioShock and WWE SuperCard.

The company also reported a net loss of $41.4 million for the quarter, representing a 66.7 percent improvement year-over-year, yet a 16.9 percent decline from its net losses for the last quarter ($35.4 million). With games like NBA 2K15, WWE 2K15, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Civilization: Beyond Earth arriving during the following quarter, Take-Two increased its non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) net revenue projections from $745 million to $760 million for Q3 2015.
[Image: Take-Two]

Endless Legend gets modding tools in new add-on

The team at Amplitude Studios is having a busy week, having just launched Dungeon of the Endless in full on Steam a few days ago. Now, it's offering a "Shades of Alteration" add-on for another game in its strategy series, Endless Legend. The free DLC adds a Halloween-themed quest to the 4X fantasy-strategy game called "A Tale from the Dark Season," which rewards players with an undiscolsed prize.

The update also introduces modding tools to the game, allowing players to create and tweak a number of game elements to their content. Players will be able to add new faction traits, items, skills, city improvements, technology and quests to Endless Legend, as well as adding or changing resources, text and 2D assets in the strategy game using the new mod tools. Endless Legend launched on Steam in September after its near five-month stay on Early Access. The game's Classic Pack is available on PC or Mac for $35, whereas the $45 Emperor Pack adds bonus in-game items.
[Image: Iceberg Interactive]

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World of Warcraft chronicles the challenges of Draenor zone design

WoW
The third installment of World of Warcraft's Artcraft blog series is now live, and in it, Blizzard Senior Level Designer Ely Cannon discusses the visual style of zone design and how the artists and level designers team up to sculpt the look of zones and sub-zones within the limitations of the game engine. Cannon again references popular zone Nagrand and the difficulties of creating color depth and variation in the Warlords of Draenor version of the famed Burning Crusade zone, with its sweeping and sometimes one-note rolling plains. (Spoiler: The problem is solved with even more green.)

Blizzard has also updated the WoW game guide with new lore about the Draenei leader Velen and human wizard Archmage Khadgar. Both posts are found on the official Blizzard blog.

Sales, income down in Capcom's Q2 financial report

Capcom's Q2 financial results remain gloomy, with net sales down by 51.3 percent and operating income down by 41.6 percent over the same period in 2013. This marks the second consecutive quarter in which the Street Fighter publisher posted declining sales.

The culprit, Capcom believes, is a lack of any major releases during the period. Ultra Street Fighter 4, Dead Rising 3 and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy all "posted steady sales," but without a major new product Capcom has only these relatively dated games to rely on. Capcom's arcade division wasn't much help, either. Net arcade sales dropped by 11.7 percent "due to the decentralization of the entertainment industry, a lack of products that attract new customers" and a shrinking market for those arcades that still exist.

Despite all of this, Capcom remains optimistic that it will reach its earlier projections of net sales totalling $740.3 million by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.

Halo 2's cinematics have never looked this good

Image The decade-old Halo 2 looks a bit long in the tooth these days, but thanks to the efforts of Blur Studio, the game's Master Chief Collection re-release is receiving a full complement of gorgeous new cinematics. [Image: Microsoft] ... Continue Reading

Facebook's Zuckerberg offers his long view on Oculus VR

In a recent quarterly earnings conference call (report on Gamasutra), Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg touched on his plans for the future of Oculus VR, the recently acquired virtual reality headset company that Zuckerberg describes as "a long-term bet on the future of computing."

"Every 10 to 15 years a new major computing platform arrives ... Virtual reality and augmented reality are an important part of this platform," Zuckerberg stated. "Our efforts here will take longer to achieve their full impact, but we will prepare for the future by continuing to invest aggressively."

By "future" Zuckerberg means a timeline spanning the next decade. "[The Oculus Rift VR headset] needs to reach a very large scale - 50 to 100 million units - before it will really be a very meaningful thing as a computing platform, so I do think it's going to take a bunch of years to get there," he said. "[W]hen I'm talking about it as a 10-year thing, I'm talking about building the first set of devices, and then building the audience and the ecosystem around that, until it eventually becomes a business."

While Zuckerberg offered no specifics on his plans for Oculus VR, it's clear that Facebook is taking a careful, long-term approach to what is simultaneously the potential future of computing and a largely unproven technology. That's smart, but it also means that the average person won't be immersed in virtual reality for at least a few more years.
[Image: Facebook]

Spacebase DF-9 players get Hack n' Slash free, and vice versa

Double Fine is issuing free copies of its hacking-themed PC puzzler Hack 'n' Slash to players who purchased Spacebase DF-9 during its Steam Early Access phase, and Hack 'n' Slash owners will likewise receive Spacebase DF-9 free of charge.

The giveaway follows up on recent criticism players leveled at Spacebase DF-9 after it prematurely wrapped up development, scaling back or eliminating many promised features in the process. The game was originally set to evolve over a period of several months via Steam's Early Access program before its developers made the decision to polish up and complete the game in its existing state.

The final version of Spacebase DF-9 is now available for purchase via Steam at a 40 percent discount through November 3.

[Image: Double Fine]

Nintendo sales jump as Smash Bros. 3DS sells over 3 million

Nintendo posted a profit of 24.2 billion yen ($224 million) in the last quarter, ending September 30, a sizable resurgence for the company following its 9.9 billion yen loss in the previous quarter. The company also reported 96.7 billion yen in net sales ($895 million), a 29.5 percent jump compared to the last quarter. Nintendo's sales increases are thanks in no small part to Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which sold 3.22 million copies worldwide since its mid-September launch in Japan.

Smash Bros. sales coupled well with the 1.27 million 3DS systems shipped for the quarter, bringing the total number of 3DS systems shipped to 45.4 million to date. Nintendo also reported an increase in Wii U hardware shipments to the tune of 100,000 units (610,000 for the quarter), a 19.6 percent boost over the previous three months. That brings the life-to-date shipments of Wii U systems to 7.29 million consoles worldwide. Despite the positive showing for the quarter, Nintendo did not make any adjustments to its forecasts for the fiscal year.
[Image: Nintendo]

Fan-favorite Halo 2 map Coagulation returns as Bloodline

Among the many, many multiplayer maps included in the Xbox One's upcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a remake of Halo 2's Coagulation, boasting improved graphics, new vehicles and a pair of EMPs that will stop Warthogs in their tracks.

Xbox Wire describes Bloodline as "like a "Best Of" collection for all the iterations of Blood Gulch," but notes a few key additions that weren't seen in prior Blood Gulch homages. In Bloodline, Hornet attack ships spawn behind both red and blue bases, the map features a new, neutral base stocked with weapons and vehicles at its midpoint and if you find your base being overrun by Banshees and Warthogs, you can shut down all of your mechanized attackers at once with an EMP burst. And, of course, the map includes all of the rocket launchers, sniper rifles and explosive pink shard cannons players have come to expect from Halo.

Beyond the break you'll find a video highlighting Bloodline's multiplayer gameplay. If you've ever squeezed off a few rounds in any iteration of Blood Gulch, it should seem immediately familiar.

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The Crew's PS4 and Xbox One beta starts next week

When Ubisoft pushed back the launch of its upcoming racing game The Crew to December, it revealed plans to hold an additional beta phase around the time the game was previously expected to launch. Today, the publisher announced the PS4 and Xbox One closed beta for The Crew will start next Thursday, November 6 and last through Monday, November 10.

The Crew's PS4 and Xbox One beta will allow players to cruise across the country, completing challenges in two of the game's five regions, the Midwest and the East Coast. It will also feature the game's PvP lobby in the dirt and street classes. The closed beta is open to all players, though Ubisoft said some features will require an Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription. Those interested in participating in the beta can register on Ubisoft's official site for the game, and those that pre-order The Crew will be guaranteed access to the beta program. The Crew will launch on December 2 for PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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Joystiq Deals: TowerMadness and freebies galore

Joystiq Deals has a great collection of freebies for you today. First up is the Build Your Own iPhone Game Bundle, a free eight-week course that will walk you through the creative process and get your first mobile game up and running. If you're in the market for a web development toolkit, we've also got the 5 Hour Developer Freebie Bundle, which will teach you the ins and outs of HTML, CSS, and other languages in the space of a few short hours.

Looking to broaden your tech skillset? Skillfeed offers over 21,000 tutorial videos covering web development, 3D graphics, Photoshop, and many other topics, and you can get 45-day access today via Joystiq Deals free of charge. Mac users will also want to check out The Mac Freebie Bundle, a utility compilation that includes iTunes Data Recovery, Sharepod, a three-month subscription to Backblaze's Online Cloud Backup service, and more.

Finally, Android tower defense game TowerMadness is free via Joystiq Deals for today only.
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.

Halloween Horror Streams: Shadow of Condemned: Criminal Origins



Shadow of Mordor isn't a scary game. Building up pressure in high stakes scenarios is something it excels at, but making with the scares? Not these orcs. Developer Monolith Productions probably just needed a break, though. It's coming off a decade of smart, very scary games. Condemned: Criminal Origins looms large among them. One of the very first games out there for Xbox 360, Condemned's murder mystery still has power, hence why it's a perfect selection for our Halloween Horror Streams.

Starting at 4:00PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch, we'll be streaming the PC version of Condemned for your pleasure. Xav de Matos (@Xav), a man who readily admits to being terribly frightened by first-person horror games, will take the helm. Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello) will hang in the chat offering moral support.

Joystiq.com/Twitch broadcasts every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM EST, but we stream at other times too so make sure to follow us on Twitch to know when we're live.

Nintendo CEO Iwata recovers from surgery, returns to work

Good news, Nintendo fans -- CEO Satoru Iwata has returned to his position at the company following a medical-related absence, and notes that he has recovered well enough to resume his regular duties.

Iwata missed a shareholders' meeting in June after revealing that he required surgery to remove a bile duct tumor. Iwata told Reuters that he lost weight during the past few months, but otherwise feels "healthier" after the operation.

Welcome back, Iwata! For real though, what's with the bananas?

[Image: Nintendo]

Manuel Noriega's Call of Duty lawsuit dismissed by LA court

Manuel Noriega's attempt to sue Activision has been dismissed by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge who ruled that the former Panamanian dictator's unauthorized cameo in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is protected by America's free speech laws.

In the game, Noriega helps players track down a Nicaraguan activist, before switching allegiances and forcing the player to hunt and capture the virtual Noriega in what is a loose metaphor for the real Noriega's involvement with the CIA in the 1980s. The former dictator's lawsuit claimed this appearance portrays him as a "kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state," and that his cameo enhanced sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, for which Noriega believed he deserves compensation.

"This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech," said former New York City mayor and Activision co-counsel Rudy Giuliani. "This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't win. This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world."

Noriega remains incarcerated in Panama for crimes committed against the country during his rule.
[Image: Activision]

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