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The Daily Grind: What are you doing for MMO Halloween?

Culture, Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Ah... don't you just love this time of year: Pumpkin spice pepper spray, eternally uneaten Charlston Chews, and decaying tree dandruff everywhere. And in many of our MMOs, spooky festivities and events have arisen to mark the passage of Halloween.

So what are you doing for Halloween in-game this year? There's a lot going on, but I'm most excited to be jumping back into my favorite haunted berth, The Secret World, and exploring a brand-new seasonal questline with friends. Of course, every day in TSW is Halloween, but this time of year it's more so than ever!

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!

The Daily Grind: Where did all the MMO bars go?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous

SWTOR
No, not those bars. The fun kind of bars.

Massively reader Serrenity recently posted a provocative comment lamenting the loss of gathering places in MMORPGs: "Why aren't there many bars in games anymore? There's virtually no communal space. In capital cities everything has a numbers-related function -- learn to craft, spend money, repair your gear, auction, etc. [...] Everything is purely functional in games, without any 'flavor,' to the point of being the digital equivalent of getting socks for Christmas."

And Serrenity is right. Many MMOs don't have bars or taverns or cantinas anymore, and those that do usually fail to imbue them with a purpose, but it wasn't always that way, so why and how did it happen? Where did all the bars go, and do we need them back?

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!

The Think Tank: What will MMOs look like a decade from now?

World of Warcraft, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
A reader in my Working As Intended column last week penned this thought-provoking gem:
"I have no idea what games will look like say in 10 years time. I am sure some of these current games will still be going and doing well because of the investment of those playing them now. What new stuff will be coming out then, I have no idea, especially as the 'Minecraft generation' gets older."
What will the Minecraft generation make of World of Warcraft? What will MMOs look like in 10 years? These are the questions I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Daily Grind: Do you prefer a traditional MMO?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

eq2
Last week in a comment in Global Chat, reader Comradestanimir stated, "I may be the only person alive who still likes the traditional MMO. All these attempts to 'innovate' just end up with contrived crap."

As a player of both newer and older MMOs, I found myself agreeing with this statement to a point. I like the older hotbar, tab-targeting combat versus most of the "action" combat seen today. It is still really enjoyable for me to vacuum up a bunch of quests from a hub and knock them out. I think that we've had a lot of great ideas in the past that could be updated to realize their full potential instead of having to dismiss them outright due to age.

Do you prefer a traditional MMO? Have you felt at odds with the vocal community on this if so?

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!

Metallica will rock out at BlizzCon 2014

World of Warcraft, Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Promotions, Miscellaneous

MetallicaImagine that you're a big-name game developer with a pile of money and millions of fans to impress at your yearly convention. Would you hire your favorite band from your youth to play a custom gig? Hell yeah you would! And so would Blizzard, which is why the studio's just announced that Metallica will be performing at BlizzCon next month. It's the perfect band to listen to while riding around on your Azeroth Chopper and playing your Orc.

"We're thrilled to announce that Metallica will be performing the closing concert at BlizzCon 2014, playing before a sold-out convention crowd on the night of November 8!" Blizzard gushed in its announcement post earlier today. "If you didn't score tickets to the show, don't worry -- you can still get a front-row seat from home with the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket."

Hey, at least it's not Blink-182.

The Daily Grind: Would you spend money in an MMO for your guild?

Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Image courtesy of Joystiq
A recent Gamasutra piece chronicled a monetization design consultant's journey into what he calls a "social elder game." Author Ethan Levy participated in multiple high-end, time-limited guild-vs.-guild events in an unnamed online game to see just how much guild members would need to pay out to keep their guild competitive. Hundreds of dollars later, he was able to push his guild into the top 100 to receive what he called "B tier" gear. In fact, he estimated that the top 100 guilds spent between $85,000 and $100,000 -- just on that one event.

I'm willing to give my guildies a lot of things -- Steam games, a spot on my couch, my old video card, thesis proofreading -- but I wouldn't drop that kind of money just to make us competitive in a video game, especially if I felt a studio was being exploitative with its "social elder game." Would you? Would you spend money in an MMO for your guild? How much?

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!

Not So Massively: LoL's world championship victors, Elite's shindig, and Citizen Con 2014

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Buy-to-Play, E-sports, OARPG

LoL Samsung White
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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EVE Vegas 2014 roundup: Tech 3 destroyers, permadeath and more

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

An event that started out several years ago as an impromptu EVE Online player gathering, EVE Vegas has grown so large that this year it was was officially taken over by developer CCP Games. This year's event was organised like a mini-Fanfest, with Executive Producer Andie Nordgren's keynote address and some interesting talks from both players and developers. Players got a chance to compare notes with developers on the game's recent progress, CCP let out a few exciting reveals, and the whole event was streamed live to viewers at home for free.

This year's big reveal was a new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class that can transform into one of several tactical configurations mid-fight to boost power to the engines, shields, or weapons as required. We also heard rumblings of new "glass cannon" weapons that deal increased damage but lower your ship's damage resistances, and CCP tested the public response to the controversial idea of adding permadeath characters to EVE. Player talks were equally informative, giving insights into the world of nullsec Fleet Command and the custom Region Commander software that the game's biggest coalitions use to maintain their grip on power.

If you missed out on the event, read on for links to Massively's coverage of the stream or to watch the stream recordings for yourself.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Getting players involved in EVE's development

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

Back in 2011, EVE Online developer CCP Games was rocked by controversy when players outraged over the Incarna expansion's microtransactions and CCP's indifference to player feedback spoke with their wallets and quit the game. In what became known as the monoclegate scandal, an estimated 8% of players quit, and CCP eventually laid off 20% of its staff worldwide. Some tough lessons were learned about keeping players looped into the development process, and CCP began involving players more closely in the development process.

At EVE Vegas 2014 today, developer CCP Fozzie looked at the ways that CCP gathers ideas and feedback from the community. As a sandbox MMO with a very dedicated community, EVE is in the interesting position that many of the players know more about the game than the developers themselves and can identify problems with ideas very early in the development process. Plans are now announced earlier in development to gather feedback, some new features are now made optional on release to gauge usage, and failed ideas will even be rolled back if necessary.

During the talk, Fozzie confirmed that each SCRUM team within CCP focuses on one particular area of gameplay and that player ideas are often brought into internal meetings for discussion. A new rig named the Higgs Anchor is even being introduced based on player suggestions; it will decrease movement speed by 75% but increase agility to make it easier to align to warp out if hostiles approach the player's location. If this level of player participation keeps up, hopefully disasters like monoclegate will never happen again.

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EVE Vegas 2014: CCP on the new player experience and permadeath

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

Every time some huge scandal or record-breaking battle erupts in EVE Online, thousands of new players flood into the game ready to create epic stories of their own. Confronted with a confusing interface and a practically mandatory tutorial that takes most of the day to complete, most of those players, unsurprisingly, don't stick around. The past few updates have improved things by adding tooltips to the main UI elements and introducing a new notification system, but there's more to come.

At EVE Vegas 2014 this weekend, CCP Rise discussed his plans for a new Opportunities system that will replace the tutorial. To help design the system, developers got together groups of gamers who had never played before and dropped them into EVE with little to no instructions. The playtests highlighted a lack of action compared to expectations and showed how confusing things like the map, station UI, and hangar inventory system can be for newcomers. Many of these problems are very easily fixed and may even be solved in one of the two remaining patches this year.

In an interesting move, Rise went on to talk about his idea to add a form of permadeath to EVE Online. Although you lose your ship when you die in EVE, it's actually only a financial loss as your character is reborn in a fresh clone. What Rise wants is for people to make new mortal characters with no clones and a fixed number of skillpoints to allocate to skills. It's possible that this could close the gap between old and new players by allowing newbies to purchase single lives with the focused combat skills of a veteran. This isn't something that will be introduced any time soon or even that's definitely coming, but the fact that CCP is talking about the idea publicly now is intriguing.

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One Shots: Hello, autumn

Culture, Opinion, One Shots, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Landmark

rift
House Stark once told me that "pumpkin spice is coming," and lo and behold, it is here. Autumn is in full swing, at least in the northern hemisphere, and with it come colorful leaves, scary decorations, and trips to the apple orchard.

Today we have several great fall-themed pictures from players to share, starting with this seasonal shot from reader Becca. "Here my character Tendryl in RIFT gets in the spooky spirit. Falling orange leaves, a storm on the horizon, creepy mask... oh, and a FREAKING SCYTHE! I think she nailed it," she writes.

Do you agree? Join us as we go crunching through the leaves in the rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots!

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EVE Vegas 2014: Region Commander turns EVE into a huge spreadsheet

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

It's often said that sci-fi MMO EVE Online isn't so much a game as a giant online spreadsheet and that people pay a subscription fee in order to have a second job they don't get paid for. While that's little more than a joke to the majority of EVE players, there are those for whom EVE is genuinely played on a massive spreadsheet. In a guest talk at EVE Vegas 2014 earlier today, players Javajunky and Gossamer DT from the logistics division of one of the game's largest coalitions discussed the monumental amount of work that goes into the industrial and organisation side of running a nullsec alliance or coalition.

During the talk, Gossamer DT discussed an interesting piece of custom software he develops called Region Commander that was designed specifically for organising player empires. The tool keeps track of starbase tower fuel, maintains a blacklist of players who have been kicked out of the coalition, and allows organisers to create and assign tasks to players in their command. Players who want to contribute to their alliance's industrial backbone can log into the system to take on work tasks due for completion, and the tool updates in realtime. The only thing missing is a punch card and a paycheck.

Using this tool, players have managed to combat the logistical and organisational challenges that would naturally make coalitions of thousands of players infeasible. Many third party tools have been criticised in the past for providing gameplay advantages to those who use them and increasing the gulf between new and experienced players. Players already have tools to help with mining and trading, and even ones that parse data from your ship scanner into useful information for your Fleet Commander. It's clear that whether CCP or the playerbase approves of these tools, this djinn won't be going back into its bottle.

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EVE Vegas 2014: December's Rhea update adds tech 3 destroyers

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Classes, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

During the Keynote speech at EVE Vegas 2014, EVE Online developers revealed some big news for the game's next two major updates. We heard the broad strokes of CCP's plans at the latest EVE Fanfest back in March, when it was revealed that the company would switch from releasing two expansions per year to around ten smaller releases. The upcoming Phoebe release planned for November 4th will improve Tech 2 Invention, improve life in the lawless nullsec regions with heavy nerfs to capital ship movement, and introduce a highly requested unlimited length skill queue system.

While players are certainly looking forward to Phoebe, it's December's Rhea update that will really pack a punch. The Blackbird, Falcon, and Rook electronic warfare ships will get new models, and a new type of freighter codenamed the "Tug" will be introduced that can move large numbers of fitted ships around the game. But the big news coming out of EVE Vegas 2014 today is that a completely new set of tech 3 ships will be added for the first time since 2009's Apocrypha expansion. The new ships are tactical destroyer, and they aren't just smaller versions of the tech 3 strategic cruisers.

Instead of being built out of a set of subsystems, tactical destroyers will have the ability to switch between several modes on the fly, transforming them from snipers or tanks to speed demons as required. If you've ever wanted to transfer full power to your engines or shields like something out of Star Trek, these new ships are for you. Thanks to winning a recent research race event, the Amarr version of the ship will be released before the other races.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Tune in with our free livestream

Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries

EVE Vegas
While the main event of the EVE Online calendar is undoubtedly the annual Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland, new events have popped up around the world over the years. Player-run meetups are frequently organised in London, and EVE Down Under is starting to gain major traction with the Australian playerbase, but the most well-established by far is EVE Vegas. The two day event runs each year in Las Vegas in the USA and is attended by hundreds of fans and is kind of like a mini Fanfest, with presentations on the future of EVE and roundtable discussions with developers.

Today's schedule includes a keynote speech from CCP Seagull on the future of EVE Online, a screening of Rooks & Kings celebrated video Clarion Call 4, and talks from three nullsec alliance players on the topics of Fleet Commanding and Alliance Logistics. There will also be talks from CCP Rise and CCP FoxFour on changes to the new player experience, altered restrictions on trial accounts, and the plan for third party developers. All 500 tickets for the event were sold out in record time this year, but those at home can tune in for free right now on CCP's Twitch livestream. I'll also be tuning into the stream throughout the weekend to bring you the highlights on important reveals and information.

Whether you're a die-hard fan of internet spaceships or just a gawker on the sidelines, EVE Vegas is the EVE Online and EVE Valkyrie event of the season. Follow Massively's Brendan Drain as he reports on the Vegas event's starpower, scheming, and spoilers, and watch CCP's streams of the best panels live here on Massively!

The Daily Grind: What advice would you give as a gamer to a developer?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

turbine
Communication between developers and gamers isn't always as simple as a one-on-one chat. The devs have an enormous microphone that gamers can't help but hear, but they also have everything they say scrutinized and analyzed past the point of helpfulness. Gamers, on the other hand, can only shout into the wind and hope that their voice rises above the rest of the mob to be heard by a studio team.

But let's pretend that today, all of the MMO devs in the world are in an audience and you are up on stage with the mic. What advice would you give them? What would you want devs to know if they were really listening to you?

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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