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EVE Evolved: What does Thera mean for EVE?

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Guilds, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
If you've been keeping up with the recent news updates on EVE Online, you've probably heard about the upcoming Rhea update scheduled for December 9th. This mega patch will introduce the new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class, Sleeper incursions into normal space, hands-on WASD flight controls, and 101 new wormhole systems (including 25 that are limited to small ships). The new wormhole systems have had all of their planets shattered by an as-yet unknown stellar phenomenon, and clues as to what transpired there will be hidden in the rubble. This infusion of new content and story will mark the first time the wormhole storyline and gameplay have been significantly expanded in over four years.

Each of the new shattered star systems is guaranteed to have at least one outgoing wormhole leading to normal space at all times, increasing the likelihood that pirates will catch you exploring or farming them. And since these systems won't have any in-tact moons, you won't be able to put up a permanent starbase to retreat to if hostiles appear. I'm pretty excited for exploring this new lawless frontier, but it's a unique shattered star system called Thera that I'm most looking forward to finding. Thera will be the first and only wormhole system to have fully kitted NPC stations and will serve as neutral ground for anyone who wants to live there. It's been described as the Mos Eisley of EVE, a permanent home to pirates, PvP corps, and smugglers looking to make some quick ISK.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how the Thera system could revolutionise EVE for a lot of players and where the EVE storyline could go as a result.

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Ultima Online publish brings holiday gifts, veteran rewards

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Ultima Online, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

UO
You might forgive 17-year-old Ultima Online for long stretches between patches, but fortunately, you don't have to. The antique sandbox's Halloween event is now over, being replaced yesterday with a new patch that ushers in the winter holiday event and its attendant gifts. This year, Santa's bringing us a fireplace, a plant grinder, a power scroll book, and "a steam powered beverage maker that can be used in conjunction with the cooking system to create new items listed in the 'Beverage' section of the cooking menu." Yum.

The update also includes a new monthly game hunting competition sponsored by the Skara Brae Ranger's Guild, with special hunter-themed rewards like a new title and weapon. PvPers can look forward to a new leaderboard to track PvP progress in the still-fresh vice-vs.-virtue PvP system, and long-term players will find new veteran rewards are available, including new statuettes for youngish accounts, an ethereal hell hound mount at the 15-year-mark, and a sewing machine and smithing press for sevenbies.

Elite: Dangerous has begun issuing refunds over offline play debacle

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Elite
Elite: Dangerous' latest newsletter has arrived, and predictably, Q&A about the game's recently canceled offline mode dominate the post. David Braben reiterates his statements from earlier this week that the single-player mode will still be accessible, just online-only. "Any offline experience would be fundamentally empty," Braben explains, stressing that Elite: Dangerous is an MMO and "technically [...] always has been" and that "always-online entertainment is already a reality for the majority." He also says that Frontier has already begun issuing refunds strictly to those who pre-ordered the game through the online store and had not accessed the alpha and beta; Kickstarter backers and active testers are not eligible.

Of note to MMO fans in particular, the studio boss promises to "take regular archives of the game and the servers, to preserve the game for the future," with plans to release the server code publicly if the servers are ever shut down.

The newsletter also highlights Beta 3.9, which arrives on the test server today, bringing with it overhauls to the map and ship outfitting, new ways to reach the rank of Elite, and open-mic voice comms. Beta 3.9 will be followed by Gamma 1.0 this coming Saturday. The game is still set for an official launch on December 16th.

Choose My Adventure: Final Fantasy XIV's thaumaturgery

Fantasy, Polls, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription, MMORPG

FFXIV
One of the more frustrating elements of helming Choose My Adventure is that I start every game with hopeless incompetence and spend four weeks trying desperately to reach some level of understanding with that game's core mechanics. MMO players take for granted the basic masteries they have over the systems they command and forget that the first 20 or so levels of any new game are usually spent in a fog of half-understandings and misconceptions.

Because it's so difficult to continually learn a game's idiosyncrasies, I was a bit wary of last week's Choose My Adventure polls. Having just grown comfortable with our Miqo'te Pugilist and the basic rotations that power her damage, I found the thought of taking on an entirely new class fairly intimidating. Aren't Thaumaturges hard to play? Don't they have confusing ability combos and weird buffs?

Luckily, Final Fantasy XIV understands the challenge in switching classes and isn't afraid to babysit you while you re-learn the ropes.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR's 3.0 combat

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR 3.0 combat
BioWare has finally begun revealing the specifics of the Discipline system landing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion. We have seen the Bounty Hunter, Trooper, Inquisitor, and Consular paths. We have seen in detail how the Discipline system changes the leveling process in SWTOR. We've seen that tanks become tanky faster; we've seen that healers gain healing abilities earlier in the leveling process. A primary goal of the new system has been to ensure advanced classes learn role-specific abilities earlier without worrying about those abilities being exploited by hybridization.

With characters now able to level to 60, BioWare gave each advanced class at least one new ability. For instance, Deception Assassins gain Ball Lightning, a 10-meter ranged ability that inflicts 2652 to 2780 damage and costs 32 Force. Many of the new abilities were specifically designed to make your character feel more powerful, which makes sense, right? You should feel that your character is growing with each level. But do these changes and additions actually make you feel more powerful, or are they just unnecessary impedences to the current priority flow or rotation?

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The Stream Team: World of Warcraft has a new thing

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Launches, Patches, PvP, PvE, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Massively's Mike Foster started his MMO career with World of Warcraft, cruising the hills of Stranglethorn on a completely incompetent priest. Later he became a Mage, Death Knight, a Rogue, a Shaman, and... everything but Paladin, basically. Thus, it's only fitting that he dive immediately into Warlords of Draenor, WoW's most recent expansion, to see what's new. Tune in tonight to watch Mike as he investigates some Warlords of Draenor content and attempts to re-learn his PvP-centric hotkeys.

The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EST, as long as the queue gods treat him right.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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ArcheAge is going mobile

Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, ArcheAge, Sandbox, MMORPG

AA
Sprawling, beautiful, messy sandparks like ArcheAge aren't usually the sorts of games that translate well to mobile platforms, but apparently that's exactly what's happening. A press release published today declares that XL Games has teamed up with GAMEVIL to make a mobile ArcheAge a reality.
Global game publisher GAMEVIL has partnered with development company XL Games to release a mobile version of the widely successful MMORPG ArcheAge. [...] In addition to receiving praise in Korea, ArcheAge has also amassed over 2 million players in North America and Europe after being released in these regions in September 2014. By adapting this online game into a mobile RPG, GAMEVIL and XL Games hope to let even more gamers around the world enjoy ArcheAge. [...] The mobile version of ArcheAge will combine XL Games' development with GAMEVIL's service to provide the ultimate mobile MMORPG experience.
It appears to be a standalone adaptation rather than some sort of crossplatform tie-in, but we will be very disappointed if we can't plant vegetables, gank noobs, and yoink housing plots on our phones as in the MMORPG.

Working As Intended: Niche MMOs vs. the everything box

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMORPG, Working As Intended

Umzugskarton by HornM201
The MMO industry has lately focused on niche titles, niche communities, niche gameplay. It's not one particular niche, mind you. It's lots of different niches, all being catered to in different titles: PvPers, sadistic gankers, raiders, dungeoners, roleplayers, crafters, explorers, achievers, soloers, storygoers, casuals, hardcores, builders, destroyers, the I'm-skipping-class-for-a-week-to-play-games kids, the I've-got-five-minutes-what-can-I-play parents. There's an MMO or two out there for pretty much every one of us -- and for almost no one else.

So we dutifully buy the one that beckons directly to us, one of these small-minded "MMOs" that offer rewards for a certain playstyle or two but wilfully disregard every other imaginable playstyle. We applaud these games for having the guts to embrace being "niche" because we are convinced that having lots of little niche games is diversity.

And then we wonder where all the players are.

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Choose My Adventure: So much punching in Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Polls, PvE, Hands-On, Consoles, Choose My Adventure, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription, MMORPG

Final Fantasy XIV
Last week's Choose My Adventure polls on Final Fantasy XIV were very close. With a few more votes in one direction instead of another, we'd be playing a Roegadyn arcanist or a Lalafell thaumaturge. Unfortunately for people who hate human-animal hybrids, voters selected a Miqo'te pugilist by the hair on a cat's tail (Is this a saying? It should be a saying). Consider our character's cat ears the Massively version of growing a Movember moustache.

With our hero forged and her job chosen, it's time to start adventuring.

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The Stream Team: Starting out in Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Video, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Final Fantasy XIV, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

FFXIV
Massively's Mike Foster is ready to start his career as an adorable Miqo'te pugilist in Final Fantasy XIV, thanks to last week's Choose My Adventure polls and a little bit of leftover currency in his Steam wallet. Tune in tonight as Mike checks out FFXIV's starting levels and works to familiarize himself with the vast, pretty world of Eorzea. The pugilizing starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Final Fantasy XIV
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Monday, November 10th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Final Fantasying

Fantasy, Polls, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription, MMORPG

FFXIV
Final Fantasy, born in 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, is Square-Enix's most successful franchise with over 100 million units sold in its 27-year history. Final Fantasy is essentially a constant in the games industry; there is always a current Final Fantasy game, and there is always an anticipated Final Fantasy game. No matter the day or time, thousands of people across the globe are playing one Final Fantasy or another. Final Fantasy is a Big Deal.

That's not to say everything has been sunshine and roses for the series. Fans are passionate about the brand and have had some less than stellar reactions to certain decisions in various iterations of the franchise. Perhaps the most notorious story in all of Final Fantasyland was the launch, un-launch, and re-launch of Final Fantasy XIV, which has been discussed in great depth here at Massively.

It's been over a year since Final Fantasy XIV became Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. And with a new expansion on the way and the massive patch 2.4 freshly live, there's no better time to leap into this title to see what we can see in this month's edition of Choose My Adventure.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Shadow of Revan FAQ

Sci-Fi, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Free-to-Play, Races, Roleplaying, Rumors, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Shadow of Revan FAQs
With every expansion, there are questions -- a lot of questions. Star Wars: The Old Republic is no exception. Shadow of Revan changes a lot of game mechanics and expands the story of SWTOR. With all the interviews and Cantina Tour chatter, it's difficult to tell what is true and what isn't. So I thought it'd be best to make an FAQ to answer some of those ponderings.

When does Shadow of Revan release?

The official release date for Shadow of Revan is December 9th. However, if you preordered before November 3rd 2:59 a.m., then you will gain early access, which starts on December 2nd.

Do I have to subscribe to play Shadow of Revan?

No, Shadow of Revan is a paid expansion and can be accessed by a free-to-play player. However, to be eligible for the 12x XP bonus, you do have to be subscribed to the game.

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The Stream Team: Swordsman with a little help from Perfect World

Fantasy, Historical, Video, New Titles, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
Massively's Mike Foster has concluded his October Swordsman Choose My Adventure and can think of no better way to go out than in a blaze of incompetent glory. Join Mike tonight as he hops onto a max-level Swordsman character and runs some late-game instances. The Swordsman team will be in-stream to answer viewer questions and presumably sigh in frustration at Mike's inability to understand his new skills.

The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Closing off our time in Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
I've spent quite a bit of time in Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman this month. Thanks to the unique layout of October 2014, Swordsman ended up getting an extra week compared to most Choose My Adventure endeavors. And while I'm ready to move on to the next game, it was nice to have some extended time with Swordsman before sending it to that magic hard drive in the sky. Sometimes a few extra days can give you time to see things in a game you didn't see before.

Swordsman is definitely a game that grows on you. The experience continually improves. If you're willing to stick through the slow opening and limited early experience, there's a pretty interesting game waiting to be discovered.

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EVE Evolved: Could permadeath work in EVE?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
Permadeath has been one of the most contentuous features in online gaming since as far back as I can remember. The feeling of permanently losing a character you've spent months training up and playing with because of a single mistake or lag spike would be horrifying to most people, yet the idea continues to intrigue both players and developers. Diablo II's Hardcore mode is probably the most successful permadeath mechanic in an online game to date, separating the hardcore players onto a different server so that they develop their own game economy and leaderboard. Several MMOs have experimented with permadeath servers or mechanics over the years, but they're almost always reverted as failures.

In a recent presentation at EVE Vegas 2014, EVE Online developer CCP Rise discussed the idea of permadeath characters as something he's wanted to add to the game for the past few years. This is particularly problematic for EVE as the game uses passive time-based skill training and the whole game takes place on one massive shard. The hardcore players would need to have enough incentive to risk their characters' lives on a daily basis, their abilities would have to be balanced with non-hardcore players, and abuse of the system to suicide gank players would need to be handled. But if those problems are tackled, is it possible that there's a place for permadeath in EVE?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how permadeath could be added to EVE Online without disrupting the rest of the game.

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