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Culture

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!

Working As Intended: But I already have that game

Culture, Guilds, MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Working As Intended

Back in 2001, I desperately wanted out of EverQuest. I hated the gameplay. I hated the community. I loved my guildies, but I hated what our guild was becoming, consumed by a grindy rat race so different from our roots in Ultima Online. When Dark Age of Camelot offered a way out, I took it, dragging as many guildies as I could along with me to a game where PvP and territory control, not camp checks and plane raids, ruled the day.

Some of them didn't come with us, and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't jump at the chance to start fresh, to be rid of a self-destructive community and gear grind. What was wrong with them, I wondered, that they'd stay in some old thing rather than play the new shiny?

Dozens upon dozens of MMOs later, I finally understand: They already had that game.

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The Daily Grind: Would you play an all-endgame MMO?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

I'm hard on MMOs with endgames, especially endgames that focus on a single repetitive activity. The problem isn't so much what that activity is but that MMOs spend so much time making you do something else before you can get to that activity -- instead of just letting you just do that presumably ideal and fun activity from the start. That's prompted some clever players to wonder, why not just make an all-endgame -- an all-raiding -- MMO?

To be clear, I'm not talking about sandboxes or persistent PvP games that can be perceived as entirely endgame. I'm talking about a classic themepark experience with the levels and questing ripped out -- just endgame dungeons and raids, pure PvE group challenge, from the moment you log in to the moment you log out. If raiding really is about the challenge and the thrill of big group PvE, such a game would be welcomed by hardcore raiders... right?

And more importantly: Would you play it?

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: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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The Daily Grind: Do you like having NPCs fight alongside you?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
The news that some garrison NPC followers will be able to become your bodyguards and fight alongside you is the first Warlords of Draenor information that's interested me at all. I love such systems in other games, such as companions in Star Wars: The Old Republic and Neverwinter.

It's probably the same reason why I like pet classes: Having a combat NPC there makes me feel less alone and more in charge of a team, even if there's only code on the other end and not an actual human face. (Or so I assume.) Although, as in SWTOR, it might be a little awkward in WoW to see dozens of people running around with the same companion you have.

Do you like it when a game gives you an NPC to be your bodyguard?

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!

Chinese World of Warcraft fan has created a flying machine

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Subscription

Like this, but a bit less mobile.  (Picture from WoWpedia)
Where are you going to find Khorium in the real world? Or Felsteel? Those substances are relatively rare even in World of Warcraft; you have to assume that they're even harder to find in the real world. But an enterprising fan apparently located them, as evidenced by the fact that he built himself a Turbo-Charged Flying Machine in real-life for the rest of the world to look at in admiration.

Before you ask, no, it obviously does not fly. It's also designed to fit a small Goblin doll rather than allowing anyone who walks past it on the street to slide into the cockpit. It's still an awesome feat of engineering, and you can check out pictures of the finished project and the manufacturing process over on NGA.

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