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Game Mechanics

EVE Evolved: EVE Online vs. Elite: Dangerous

EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Elite: Dangerous

EVE Evolved title image
Like many EVE Online players, I grew up playing early sci-fi games like Elite and its sequel Frontier. In fact, CCP's recently released stats on the distribution of ages within the EVE community shows a peak around 29 years old, meaning that most players grew up in that same gaming era. A big part of what initially drew me to EVE Online was the prospect of playing the same kind of massive trading and space exploration game with other people, and for over 10 years it's scratched that sci-fi sandbox itch. I've watched EVE grow from a relatively unknown game with around 40,000 subscribers and laggy cruiser skirmishes into a vast game where thousands of players wage war for territory, profit, or just the adrenaline rush of PvP with something valuable on the line.

Now that Elite: Dangerous is finally here, I want to see whether it can scratch the same sandbox itch as EVE and to what extent the two games can be compared. Both feature customisable ship fittings, open-world PvP with a criminal justice system, and real financial loss on death, for example, but the end result is two very different gameplay styles. And both also have that same intoxicating notion of exploring the unknown and try to make you feel like you're in a living world, but they take very different approaches to world design, content, and travel. Elite may not be a full-fledged MMO, but with a sandbox made of 400 billion procedurally generated stars and an open play mode that seamlessly merges players' games together, does it matter?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I compare my experiences in Elite: Dangerous to my experiences in EVE Online and look at their differing strategies with regard to server model, active and passive gameplay, and the new player experience.

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WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Hands-On, Crafting, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Scrolls of glyphs
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 December 17th and is included here by permission.

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than in any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: The glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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The Daily Grind: Do you log into games you're not currently playing?

Super-hero, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Marvel Heroes

I haven't played Marvel Heroes in about two months. Blame Elite: Dangerous, ArcheAge, and a pile of single-player games, I guess, but I just haven't been able to fit it into my rotation here lately. That said, I've logged into the game for 122 straight days, entirely because of Gazillion's penchant for giving away nifty login prizes like an Ultron pet and dozens of others.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you log into MMOs or MMO-lites for prizes even though you're not currently playing?

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!

Make My MMO: December 14 - 20, 2014

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Elite: Dangerous launched. Let's hold here for a brief round of applause.

Moving on, Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs talked up developmental transparency, and his PvP sandbox closed in on $3 million in total funding. Last but not least, Massively interviewed Shroud of the Avatar gurus Richard Garriott and Starr Long. Click past the cut for more of our weekly crowdfunding roundup.

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MapleStory 2 begins closed beta signups next week, will include a jail system

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

MapleStory 2
Another day, another game we can't have yet. This one's MapleStory 2, the sequel to Nexon's MapleStory, which in spite of its cuteness is still one of the biggest MMORPGs in the world. Steparu reports that MS2 is set to enter its first closed beta phase on January 21st; signups go live for Korean players on Christmas eve.

Over on the official site (in Korean), Nexon further discusses the MMO's jail system, something fans of games like Ultima Online and ArcheAge know well. This particular jail is meant to hold those who make wreckage of chat channels, though Nexon says will punish counter-abuse "severely." What could possibly go wrong?

We don't yet know whether the game will come here, but since classic MapleStory has a global version that's earned Nexon boatloads of money, it's pretty darn likely.

We've embedded Steparu's MapleStory 2 customization video below.

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Sandvox SkySaga hits alpha in the UK

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

Skysaga
Sandvox SkySaga has officially entered alpha, says developer Smilegate. The team announced the start of the testing phase over social media yesterday and today:
Great news! We've just started up the Alpha servers (UK only still, I'm afraid), and from now on they'll be running 24/7 (with the exception of maintenance periods!).
You read that right: The alpha's open only to UK players right now, though we've had reports that there's no IP blocking just yet. Release is still set for next summer. The game is a voxel-based sandbox with the usual trapping: crafting, harvesting, combat, arena PvP, and an "evolving" online world shaped by the players themselves.

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War Thunder's Steel Generals expansion beta is live

Betas, Historical, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS

War Thunder
War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment's WWII-flavored MMO, updated with its Steel Generals patch this week, just ahead of the holidays. It includes new vehicles, tow cable mechanics, retooled artillery strikes, and new damage modeling. Gamers can also jump into three new maps: White Stone Fortress for air and ground battles, an Eastern Europe map with "varied open ground and urban terrain features," and the massive air-combat Battle for Moscow, which reconstructs the city during the Winter Campaign of 1941-1942. The Steel Generals content, however, "steals" the show:
The biggest addition to War Thunder with this update is the beta of the Steel Generals expansion, which includes the first six American tanks available now. By the end of Q1 2015, more than 30 US WWII tanks will be available. This release schedule allows Gaijin Entertainment to test each of the tanks to ensure that they are ready for battle when commercially launched. In honor of the update launch, special packages are available for purchase that contain premium US tanks and other bonuses alongside closed beta access. Players can participate in the Steel Generals beta by entering into contests and in-game events in War Thunder.
Check out the new screenshots and walkthrough video below.

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Trove introduces the Ice Sage

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Miscellaneous, Trove

TROVE
It's that time of year again when the days are shorter, the weather is colder, and a disproportionate number of songs playing everywhere you go relate to ice crystals covering the ground. (Unless you live south of the equator, in which case you're just wondering what we're on about.) To accompany the winter weather, voxelbox MMORPG Trove has introduced its newest class, the Ice Sage. You can probably guess what that one's all about; the name is not exactly a mystery.

Ice Sages chill enemies with their basic attacks and avoid slipping on icy surfaces. They can also summon icicles, absorb attacks, and create a deep freeze in their immediate area to freeze and damage enemies. If that sounds cooler than being cool, you can pick the class up in the in-game store now.

Skyforge demos the Paladin and the Cryomancer in a solo dungeon

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons, Skyforge

This looked far better than it had any right to.
The latest video from Skyforge isn't a trailer. It's all gameplay footage, and it's all about showing off how two of the classes function in combat and what players can expect from the game's solo dungeons. Development director Eric Demilt and class designer Aidan Karabaich take two of the game's starting classes, the Paladin and the Cryomancer, through the Lanber Catacombs while narrating how the combat systems and ability mechanics work.

The Paladin, as you'd likely expect, is as tanky as you'd like and features a variety of sword swipes, holy bolts of damage, and drawing in enemies for large attacks. The Cryomancer, meanwhile, focuses on control, creating decoys, and blasting groups down after they're frozen in place. The video also shows off solo mechanics like environmental puzzles and solo bosses. If you've got a chunk of time to sit down and watch it (it's 14 minutes long), check the whole thing out just past the break.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO do you wish you hadn't waited to try?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Marvel Heroes, Hands-On, Miscellaneous, OARPG

Marvel Heroes
Marvel Heroes is one of those MMOs (OK, pseudo-MMOs) that I reaaaaallly should have given a try a long time ago. Diablo-clone? Check! Superheroes? Check! Picking cars up and slamming them into the pavement? Check! Loot falling outta the sky? Check! When I finally gave it a spin earlier this month, I felt silly for having waited so long, but I kept telling myself it wasn't different enough from the OARPGs I already had to make it worth the download.

Plus, lookit how pretty this part of the UI is. I mean, that is color wheel gamer nirvana right there. I can't even explain how much I want to hug this tab. Happy Christmas to me; now I have a new game with a ton of content stocked up and just waiting for me.

What about you, Massively readers? What MMO are you kicking yourself for not having tried sooner?

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!

RIFT beefs up the minion system

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, RIFT

rift
RIFT's new minion system is arguably one of the more popular additions to the game in some time, with players sending out their loyal subjects to bring them back treasures and fame. However, Trion Worlds says it still has work to do, and in a new "State of the Minunion" post, the studio lists a few areas that it's improving with the game's next hotfix.

The new Fae Yule minion mission pack, with a series of quests that tell a story, will have some of its minion rewards buffed up with better stats. The hotfix will also tackle a few bugs and add minion-releated achievements. Finally, adventure rewards are being fine-tuned and improved, although it has been difficult for the team to handle this as it has been "an extremely extensive change touching dozens upon dozens of loot tables."

Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs on the warrior class and development transparency

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

Camelot Unchained
City State Entertainment -- an indie studio that's becoming better known to our readers, I imagine, after it ran away with our poll for best studio last week -- has today posted its first class concept reveal. The tentatively named Drengr is the Viking warrior class, and in its long design document, the studio has outlined just how the archetype fits into the proposed Path system that will govern character development in the crowdfunded RvR MMORPG.

We spoke to CSE's Mark Jacobs about the Path system, warrior reveal, and the impact of transparency on the game development process. Enjoy the interview below!

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Elite: Dangerous offers cash prizes in the race to 'Elite'

Sci-Fi, Contests, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Promotions, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite
Why launch a space MMO when you can launch a space MMO and a giant competition for cash money? That's exactly what Elite: Dangerous is up to just a day after its formal launch. Frontier is offering several huge cash prizes for players who reach the "Elite" rank in various gameplay categories.
Entrants must start from a fresh save on the release version of Elite: Dangerous, starting with the Sidewinder and 1,000 CR, and use 'Open Play' multiplayer mode only. They can use the slight advantage of the Eagle starship offered as part of Elite: Dangerous' Mercenary Edition, but otherwise it should be a level playing field. If in Frontier's sole opinion, there has been any cheating, then an entry may be disallowed. This is a skill-based competition with the following prizes for the first person to reach:
1. Elite in combat - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
2. Elite in exploration - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
3. Elite in trading - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
4. Elite in all three - £10,000 or $15,000 or €12,000*
(* currency as applicable)
Participants must clear their saves, start their journey post-release, and play entirely in open play mode. Anyone out there going for it?

Space strategy MMO AD2460 launches on December 29th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Browser, MMORTS, Miscellaneous, Subscription

AD2460
After two months in open beta, space strategy MMO AD2460 has announced its official launch for December 29th. The spiritual sequel to 2000's Planetarion, AD2460 is playable in-browser, meaning it works on mobile too. Players will be spending their time developing alliances and empires and fleets, and once the game is out of beta, they can expect to pay $1 a week in sub fees.

Fifth Season's Christian Lassem dropped by our comment section earlier this fall to dispel confusion about the game and show off a slice of combat via video, which we've included below.

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WildStar's next big update and holiday surprise

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Now if you'd jut say that Glory is available from shiphands, we'd be moving somewhere!
The first major WildStar update of 2015 is available on the test servers now. Yes, there's a little time before it actually goes live for everyone. Creative Director Chad Moore took the opportunity today to explain to the community everything contained within the new update, starting with the addition of two new dungeons (the Protostar Academy and the Ultimate Protogames), a new Shiphand mission, and the addition of veteran-level Shiphand missions that can still be cleared solo or in a group as you'd like.

This update also includes new housing options, cosmetic options for characters (including the ability to edit your appearance post-character creation), and the addition of the new Glory currency for completing dungeons and raids, which can be exchanged for high-end equipment. Last but not least, it's the update that includes the long-discussed drop of the Datascape raid down to 20 players, making it less of a challenge to assemble a roster for this content. While it remains to be seen how well the update actually plays, it looks to be filled with a number of positive changes for the game.

In other WildStar news today, the studio is running holiday promotion during December. "Carbine wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and spread some cheer by giving out 12 Days of Boom Boxes," wrote Community Manager Tony Rey yesterday. "Everyone that has logged into WildStar during the month of December (12/1-12/15) will receive these sweet little bundles of potential."

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