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EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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The Daily Grind: When's the last time you stopped to smell the MMO roses?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Crafting

I got my first aquafarm in ArcheAge over the weekend, and after I'd planted some coral and laid a few bamboo fish traps, I floated up to the surface and sat in my rowboat. My farm is situated inside a picturesque bay that almost always features player clippers cutting to and fro as well as beautiful weather and water effects that I've talked about before.

So I just sat there, taking screenshots and taking it all in. It's been quite a while since I've played an MMO that made me want to simply exist in it and it's nice to be virtually home, so to speak. What about you, Massively readers? When did you last stop to smell the MMO roses? What were you seeing or doing at the time?

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!

Latest TUG alpha video shows off Bronze Age update

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

Farewell, Stone Age; TUG is advancing to the Bronze. With update 0.6.5's introduction of new ores and the metallurgy equipment to smelt and shape them, players can forge more powerful bronze weapons and tools to help them better survive in their adventures.

Of course, before you can use the ore you first have to find and mine it; ores will generate from certain rock materials and players find them by deleting rocks with their building too. And thanks to the addition of a larger 2x2x2 building cube, mining (and building) is made easier. To switch between the cube sizes, scroll the mouse wheel while holding Shift. Get a glimpse of all these shiny new tools in the video below.

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Star Trek Online's Delta Rising arrives October 14th

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Subscription

Have you tried reversing the polarity though.
Cryptic has just announced that Star Trek Online's Delta Rising expansion will be released on October 14th, 2014. As previously discussed, it will not only raise the level cap but jump into Voyager story space with new territory and famous figures from the franchise.

Developers have also released a new dev blog detailing equipment in the expansion. One of the simple rules of existence is that when Delta Rising goes live, a lot of your old equipment in Star Trek Online is going to be a lot less relevant. There's no way around it. A jump in the level cap that leads to Mark XIV equipment naturally makes Mark XI stuff less potent by comparison. But rather than forcing you to earn a whole new set of loot, the expansion's upgrade system for gear should allow you to take an old favorite and bring it up to par. Players can buy, trade, or craft upgrade kits, which add a certain number of tech points to an item being upgraded. Once enough tech points are acquired, a small dilithium fee is paid and the item can be upgraded to the next rank, possibly increasing in quality along the way. For more details on how to accelerate the procedure, check out the full blog entry; it looks as if you won't have to say farewell to all of your old equipment after all.

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EVE Evolved: Has the industry revamp worked?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
When I was first introduced to EVE Online back in 2004, a big part of the attraction for me was the promise of a huge player-run economy in which the only real laws were those of supply and demand. With only a handful of tech 1 ships and modules available to build and everything made out of the same basic minerals, science and industry were pretty easy for new players to figure out. Over the years, more complexity has slowly been added to industry via features like Starbases, Salvaging, Capital Ships, Tech 2 Invention, Planetary Interaction and Tech 3 Reverse Engineering. Today's industrialists have to contend with hundreds of different items that are often arranged in sprawling component manufacturing chains, which can make it hard to figure out exactly how to make a profit.

The recent industry revamp attempted to solve this problem with a full user interface overhaul and a revamp of material costs and manufacturing prices. All of the relevant information for using a blueprint was packed into a slick new combined Industry UI, allowing new players to find the info they're looking for in-game rather than through websites or opening dozens of item info windows. It's now been almost two months since the industry revamp went live, and while the market for many items is still going to take several months to fully stabilise, the dust has finally begun to settle. So what's the verdict? Has the industry revamp worked?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider whether the industry revamp has been successful, how easy it is to make a profit in the new system, and whether it's worth setting up your own industrial starbase.

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Swordsman announces Gilded Wasteland expansion

Fantasy, Historical, Screenshots, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Swordsman

Swordsman
Perfect World Entertainment has just announced an expansion for its still-new F2P martial arts MMO Swordsman. Dubbed Gilded Wasteland, the update will boost the level cap to 94 and introduce new desert regions (Ping Liang, Tunhuang, and the Shadow Mountain Plains) and dungeons to the game. PWE also says it will improve the leveling curve, weapon-crafting, and PvP.

The expansion arrives later this fall. We've included new concept art below.

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Xsyon now has cooking and farming

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Crafting

Did you know that you can cook and farm in Xsyon? Yep, you can, thanks to the latest patch which added the ability to combine ingredients and create recipes, food buffs and bonuses, and even signature dishes.

If farming's more your style, Notorious Games says that you can now "raise a variety of different crops, watering, tending, and fertilizing them to obtain bountiful harvests." More details are available via the latest Xsyon patch notes.

TUG updates metallurgy and multiplayer capabilities

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

Despite what Gene Simmons seems to think, metal is doing quite well.
TUG is about to get a lot more metal. It's about to be so metal that you won't be able to handle all of the metal. At least, you'll need to be skilled with forging to handle all of the metal, as the game's initial implementation for metallurgy is coming to a test client near your desktop. The game has posted an update for backers explaining that the first pass is nearly complete, and the next game update will allow players to build a forge, make simple bronze age tools, and mine for important minerals.

But what's it all worth if you can't show off to your friends? Multiplayer support is currently high on the priority list, with no specific ETA provided beyond a promise of another update in the near future. For more details on the developing features, check out the full update on Kickstarter.

Stick and Rudder: Even more sims to fill the Star Citizen void

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Sandbox, Crafting, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen

I was hoping to use this week's column to talk in glowing terms about Star Citizen's newly released racing mechanics. The only problem with that plan is that Arena Commander 0.9 hasn't launched just yet, purportedly on account of a few pesky bugs that Cloud Imperium is still in the process of squashing.

Sooo, I thought I'd dust off an old Stick and Rudder standard wherein we talk about which genre games are worth playing while we're waiting on the "best damn space sim ever."

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Latest Pathfinder Online devblog emphasizes player-driven economy

Fantasy, Economy, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Pathfinder Online

Although players in Pathfinder Online's Alpha 7 run will earn 5,000 XP per hour (in order to help them test more things), the latest devblog warns that things will get decidedly harder once gameplay starts after Early Enrollment. At that point players will face a "cold start," beginning the game with only simple peasant clothes, a club, and 1,000 XP to spend on initial feats. Everything else, from feats to gear to cash, will grow from that.

The devblog also details the player-driven economy; by design, nearly everything characters use will be player-crafted. Mobs will drop only starter equipment, coin, salvage, or -- the rarest and most valuable -- recipes. Players can only upgrade gear past the starter level through crafting, and gear can be crafted with certain key words that add bonuses when combined with specific slotted feats. For full details, and a look at what Pathfinder devs are doing at PAX Prime, check out the official site.

Guild Wars 2 previews crafting backpacks

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

I said there's got to be some good reason for your crafting themed backpack, gold stack, turn around your gems are back, yeah.
Do you consider yourself nice and crafty in Guild Wars 2? Are you fond of being a master of your chosen profession? If so, you're going to be nabbing some nice upgrades when the September 2014 feature pack rolls out. For example, there's the new line of craft-based backpacks available to players that don't take much to make but show off just how good you can be at making stuff in the game. If you've ever wanted to haul around a miniature forge on your back as part of your wardrobe, your ship has come in.

Players can also look forward to new exceptional weapons that can either be crafted for leveling characters or found via exploration, giving your character a little boost while leveling through Tyria. There are also loot changes that make you more likely to receive items you can use on a character rather than receiving an endless string of greatswords on your Thief. Take a peek at the official post for more details.

Guild Wars 2's feature pack will improve dungeons and the crafting UI

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Dungeons, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

I think we can all agree that the Norn fellow on the right is quite striking and will hopefully show up in a variety of future promotional materials.
September is just around the corner, which means that the next major update for Guild Wars 2 -- the September feature pack -- isn't far behind. The pack aims to improve several parts of the game, starting by demolishing the concept of dungeon owners. Currently, the first player to zone into a dungeon is counted as the "owner" of the dungeon, which can lead to problems if that player disconnects; by contrast, after September there will be no dungeon owner, avoiding issues with progression if that owner leaves or gets kicked.

The game's crafting UI is also receiving an overhaul, making it faster and easier to access crafting sub-components without navigating away from the main item that you want to craft. The update will also bring a number of performance improvements to make the game run faster and better on various bits of hardware. Take a look at the full update for a few more details as the feature pack release approaches.

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Guilds, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Crafting, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet
I'm writing this late on Sunday night, and I have some disappointing news: My Star Wars: The Old Republic guild did not make the top 10 on the planet we were attempting to conquer. It's partly my fault; I happened to choose the planet that would be the most hotly contested. Who knew that other guilds would flock to Makeb when conquests went live?

It wasn't all bad. In fact, I'd say that SWTOR kind of pulled our guild together a bit. We participated in content we hadn't done in a long time. It was a rallying cry for us: "Hey, look, this stuff is fun, and you can still have fun doing it." On top of that, it's reintroduced the idea that open-world PvP is possible. But with all the good that it's done -- player housing, guild housing, and open-world PvP -- there are somethings that have fallen short of what it could be.

I think the best way to explain is to tell you about my week.

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TUG update talks predators, apothecary, alchemy, and terrain tweaks

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

TUG is prepping some "major content and engine updates," according to a blurb on its Kickstarter page. New goodies include performance enhancements, predators, alchemy, apothecary functionality, and a new terrain system.

The KS update also features TUG's latest In The Works video diaries which cover the aforementioned potion-making, predator, and terrain tweaks. View all four clips just past the cut.

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The Daily Grind: Do you make use of mule characters?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting

If you go to any bank in World of Warcraft, you're going to see two different kinds of characters: actual players bedecked in fine combat gear... and level 1 bank mules with cute names and even cuter guild tags. These characters are often seen as worse than alts; they're not merely alternatives to someone's main character but characters who exist solely to hold extra gear or sell items on an auction hall, usually circumventing the intended inventory limits system. In short, they're real characters' pack mules.

In some games, especially early sandboxes, such mules were loaded down with tradeskills to allow a single player to craft items for his real character, allowing him to circumvent intended character interdependency too and seriously impacting player-driven economies.

Do you make use of mules or bank alts in your MMO of choice? Or has your MMO found a clever way to make muling unnecessary?

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!

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