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Endgame

EVE Evolved: Stepping through the EVE Gate

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Lore, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
Though EVE Online is often lauded for its rich decade-long player history full of wars and complex political dealings, the NPC storyline and New Eden's ancient backstory have always held my fascination. I started playing in early 2004 after reading dozens of fiction chronicles and mock scientific articles on the EVE website that painted the picture of a real living universe where incredible things could happen. Sure enough, my first years of play were punctuated with compelling live events and storyline arcs like the Crielere research project that led to the development of cloaking devices, the theft of a Federation Navy titan by Serpentis pirates, and the Blood Raiders taking over Delve.

CCP has frequently stated that its goal with EVE is to create the ultimate sci-fi simulator, and the core of a compelling sci-fi setting is a living universe that grows and changes. The best sci-fi TV shows are those with a constant cycle of revealing compelling mysteries and then solving them and of encountering escalating challenges to be overcome. EVE has done this extremely well a few times in its life, such as with the release of wormholes or when the Sansha incursions events were kicking off, and each time the concurrent player numbers have spiked. Guild Wars 2 has shown the power of an evolving living storyline to get people into the game and keep them actively playing in the long term, something that should be the norm for MMOs and that EVE Online could take much greater advantage of.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the big NPC mysteries revealed in EVE Online's decade-long history and ask why they were abandoned and where they could go now.

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Firefall reintroduces its open-world PvP

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, MMOFPS, Firefall

Firefall
In the lead up to Firefall's official launch on July 29th, Red 5 Studios has released a new video outlining the game's open-world PvP.

Formal PvP takes place in a separate zone called Broken Peninsula, where players are divided into corporate teams to beat the crap out of each other over resources, territorial bases, and a series of outposts and watchtowers that grant their holders special bonuses. NPCs called the Chosen do their best to interfere with players along the way.

How soon can a newcomer participate? "Firefall's open world PvP is primarily intended to be end-game content," says the studio, but skilled lowbies can "make an impact" at their own peril. Check out the video after the cut.

[Source: Red 5 press release]

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's 2.3 primer

Fantasy, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Dungeons, Subscription

Chant the ancient prayer, children - it can't be as bad as the last one.
Tomorrow, patch 2.3 will descend upon Final Fantasy XIV like a flight of angels. If you can't tell, I'm pretty excited. While I was by and large disappointed with 2.2, 2.3 is adding a lot of features I want, undoing some of the dumb features added in 2.2, and adding in a few more features that I didn't realize I wanted before but now know are immensely important to me. Kind of like the Challenge Log, except more.

Unfortunately, the fact that it's landing tomorrow as of the time you're reading this means I have not yet actually played this patch. But I can still put a guide of some preliminaries together so that you can at least know what you're doing even if you haven't necessarily examined the patch notes with a fine-toothed comb just yet. So let's dive into it. When the patch goes live tomorrow, pick your destination, and go to it.

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Tamriel Infinium: Examining Elder Scrolls Online's first major update

Fantasy, New Titles, Patches, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Examining the Elder Scrolls Online first major update
I've often wondered if my frustration with game creators should be taken out on the game itself. This goes for any game, not just Elder Scrolls Online. Perhaps I love the game, but I believe the creators have had missteps that drag down production, or maybe they set customer expectations to a certain level then didn't quite deliver.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's latest Live Letter

Fantasy, Patches, Endgame, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

Can't get there from here, apparently.
As of this writing, the Letter from the Producer LIVE took place yesterday, and that means we have a whole bunch of Final Fantasy XIV news to discuss! It's a happy time for people like me, because it's at least a couple weeks of very chewable information to discuss. And at just the right time, too, we were in the middle of a serious drought there.

Not that all of the information is good, mind you. Every time I think about Atma my hands instinctively ball into fists.

Still, there's stuff to chat about, there's good stuff in with the bad, and perhaps most importantly there's enough to fuel some speculation and some off-the-cuff reaction before we dive into the meat of E3 and we learn even more about the future of the game. So let's get right into it, starting with the bit of news that I already foreshadowed in the intro.

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WoW Archivist: Tier 0.5, the epic conclusion

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, Endgame, PvE, Dungeons, WoW Archivist

Incendius
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on May 21st and is included here by permission.

Last time on WoW Archivist, we reviewed the first half of the Tier 0.5 quest line, including the controversial 45-minute Baron run in Stratholme. As we left off, the ghost of Anthion Harmon had asked us to assemble the pieces of Valthalak's medallion. He sent you into Blackrock Depths with an enchanted banner to challenge the gladiator Theldren.

Laying down the law

The next step required a 5-player group to enter the Ring of Law inside Blackrock Depths. As you were being sentenced, you summoned the Banner of Provocation. Theldren and his team stepped in instead of the usual BRD bosses. Now you were in for a scrap, and it was a wildly different fight that any other in classic WoW.

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal level cap for an MMO?

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

Anarchy Online
Massively commenters recently debated whether a game without levels is the same as a game without a leveling cap thanks to Black Desert's proposed character advancement system, an increasingly common lateral advancement system that allows players to build their characters more sideways than up. But outside of such sandboxes, most themepark games stake their mechanics on levels, for good or bad.

And that got me thinking about the ideal level cap for an MMO. Even if two games require roughly the same amount of time to cap, a bigger number can seem so much more intimidating. Asheron's Call's 150 levels and Anarchy Online's 205 320 always seemed unreachable to me, and wasn't it cute back when World of Warcraft expected but 60 levels out of you?

What do you think -- what's the ideal level cap for an MMO with levels?

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!

World of Warcraft releases new class primer videos

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Endgame, News Items, Guides, Subscription

I think a threshold is being crossed here, but I'm not sure what.
So you've bought your World of Warcraft expansion and you boosted a character to the level cap. That's good. You also have no idea how to play that class at level 90, which is bad. A new series of videos from Blizzard is designed to address that problem, however, offering a quick two-minute guide to how to play each of the classes at level 90 as a selected DPS spec and walking you through the basic play patterns.

Yes, all of these guides are for DPS; you'll find no detailed tanking walkthroughs here. And each guide just picks a particular spec, so if you were hoping for insight into playing an Enhancement Shaman, you're out of luck. But if you've boosted a character and totally can't figure out what you're supposed to be doing now, it's a good crash course on playing well enough to fake it in LFR.

Carbine spotlights WildStar's PvE raid design

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, PvE, WildStar, Dungeons, MMORPG

WildStar's raid team has just completed a Reddit ask-me-anything about -- you guessed it -- raids in the upcoming sci-fantasy themepark. Lead Dungeon and Raid Designer Brett Scheinert (aka CRB_Timetravel) was joined by an array of Carbine Studios developers to answer player questions about the large PvE encounters in the elder game. Here are a few highlights:
  • Which encounter will "cause the most tears"? That'd be Avatus, the last boss of Datascape, Scheinert says, but the elemental pairs in Datascape will be rough too. "Because [they] change every week (and there are 9 possibilities, each of which is almost an entirely new encounter), guilds will spend an entire week reaching then learning a pairing... then the instance will reset and they'll be back to ground zero."
  • At least at launch, raid tools will be "in the hands of the addon developers."
  • "Voice chat definitely helps but is not necessary."
  • Additional post-launch raid content is "in development," so raid tiers will be flexible.
  • The team won't "admit defeat that easily" should 40-man raids prove unpopular.
  • Enrage timers "just feel lame," so the devs are using them sparingly.
  • Casual players won't be able to extend lockout timers at launch.
  • Carbine is still sorting out how latency will affect Oceanic players in raids.
There's plenty more to consume over on Reddit!

City of Steam teases patch 2.6 improvements

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, City of Steam, Steampunk

How pimp do you think my ride is?  Be honest!
While its initial launch had some definite issues, City of Steam seems to be doing quite well for itself with new servers, new platforms, and a new patch on the way. That new patch shows off some of its new features in a recent development blog, starting with inter-server PvP between the top 20 players on each server. Yes, that means you'll need to muscle your way to the head of the pack in PvP before you get a shot at competing, but getting there means fantastic prizes.

Patch 2.6 will also bring with it the Tower of Peril, rewarding players for how far they can climb and generally challenging any high-level high-intensity players. There will also be numerous improvements to in-game text, bugs, and the like. If that sounds like just what you want to see, you can take a look at the blog post for a few more details and then jump in and start playing right from there.

WildStar unveils the details of raids

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Interviews, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Gather 39 of your closest friends, and... wait, do you seriously have 39 close friends?  I don't even understand how that's possible.
WildStar wants to have its raids be big. Big in size. Big in rewards. Big in engagement. Big in lots of ways, in short. The team has talked about them in passing elsewhere, most notably at PAX East 2014, but there still hasn't been a nice big info drop about raids that potential players could really sink their teeth into. Like the sort of reveal that accompanies a new DevSpeak video.

So guess what's past the cut? Go ahead, guess.

Very good, it's the raiding video (something you could have concluded from the headline, yes), but there's more besides. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Brett Scheinert, the dungeon & raid lead developer, regarding these high-end encounters and what will set WildStar apart from other titles offering a raiding endgame. And despite what those opening lines might have made you think, it's not just about size. (It's also Spinal Tap references. You can guess which ones.)

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Working As Intended: What Guild Wars 2 got wrong

Business Models, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Guild Wars 2, Crafting, Housing, Working As Intended

GW2
Back in March, I spent an entire Working As Intended column discussing the game mechanics that Guild Wars 2 got right. But that's just one side of the story. In order to be completely fair to the game and to myself, I want to grump about the things it got wrong. Don't take this as utter condemnation for the MMO; we're most critical of the things we love precisely because we love and know them so well and want them to be so much more. And in spite of all the things I love about Guild Wars 2, it's far too often living in the shadow of its older sibling.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's pre-launch ups and downs

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I'm going to be honest with you, I just found this shot cute and decided to put it here.
We're in the home stretch before WildStar's launch now. If you haven't pre-ordered, you should do so. For all intents and purposes, the launch game is what's being used in the weekend test sessions. All that's left is the actual gameplay, and if you're an RPer, hunting down the roleplaying community to see what's acknowledged as the unofficial community roleplaying server because beta servers certainly do not have those all-important RP tags.

What? I know what side of the bread my butter's on.

A bit of discussion with a friend the other night reminded me that I can't think of a single game over the past four and a half years that I really thought launched at the right time; either they launched a bit too early or a bit too late, at best. So today, with launch less than a month away, I'd like to talk about the things that make me most displeased about the game... and the bits that make me the most hopeful.

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Dark Age of Camelot plans New Frontiers tweaks, player polling

Fantasy, Historical, Dark Age of Camelot, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Community Q&A, Subscription, MMORPG

DAOC
Broadsword Online continues its push to revitalize the veteran games it took over from EA earlier this year, including Dark Age of Camelot. The studio recently released yet another question-and-answer session with players, this time focusing on the new New Frontiers patch and ending with a soaring explanation of what makes the game so great after a dozen years. Some of the highlights:
  • There are plans to revamp PvE after the New Frontiers content is properly tweaked. First on the PvE list is the top 10% most rewarding and difficult encounters.
  • On the flipside, the devs agree there's too much PvE emphasis in the RvR Frontiers.
  • The team is still looking at incentives for keep, tower, and relic defense.
  • Shards will not be usable in housing zones.
  • Legendary weapon updates are still on the table.
Finally, there's a note that the game will ultimately benefit from in-game polling systems as opposed to relying on feedback from just the vocal minority of players. "You will be heard. Count on it," Broadsword promises.

EVE Fanfest 2014: EVE's Kronos expansion is an industrial revolution

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

EVE Online title image
The EVE Online keynote presentation finished just a few hours ago at EVE Fanfest 2014, and it looks as if there are big plans for the year ahead. This summer will bring us the Kronos expansion, which is scheduled for June 3rd and aims to revolutionise every aspect of industrial activity in EVE Online in terms of both gameplay and accessibility. The economy has become quite stagnant over the past year as players have long since worked out all the most efficient ways to manufacture and trade, so CCP has planned its very own industrial revolution with a complete overhaul of industrial gameplay.

Kronos also marks another important milestone for CCP, as the company will be switching from releasing two major expansions per year to a more agile strategy of releasing 10 smaller updates each year. The Kronos release was originally planned as a full expansion before the changeover to a 10-release schedule, so it's as packed as a full expansion. In addition to a deluge of industry overhauls, we'll be getting a shiny new mining ship, major pirate faction ship revamps, an enhanced new player experience, and a cool new effect when players warp into or out of an area.

Read on for a breakdown of the EVE keynote presentation and to find out why CCP is moving away from its usual two expansions per year.

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