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EVE Evolved: Fixing EVE's player activity

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been a sort of running gag in EVE Online throughout the years that players spend inordinate amounts of time docked in stations and spinning their ships around in the hangar, but this is oddly close to the truth. Those of us who have been hooked to EVE for years know just how intense the game can get at its most frantic and how incredible it is to be present for historic events and important PvP battles, but those moments are rare, and there's typically a lot of downtime between periods of activity. For every PvP battle fought, incursion fleet formed or wormhole op organised, players often have to spend hours in stations or in space amusing themselves or doing busywork.

With gamers now spreading their increasingly limited free time across a growing catalogue of online games, some EVE players log in for only a few minutes per day to queue skills, chat with corpmates, and see if anything interesting is happening. The recent announcement that the upcoming Phoebe release will contain infinite length skill queues has some players concerned that people will lose the motivation to pop their heads into New Eden each day and see what's going on. Since the best sandbox gameplay is emergent in nature, just getting players to log in so they're available to take part in something awesome when it happens is extremely important.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I ask whether EVE is in trouble due to its recent decline in player activity, look at the impact of people with just a few hours per week to play, and suggest a new app idea that could help solve all of those problems.

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The Stream Team: SWTOR because Star Wars

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG

SWTOR
Massively's Mike Foster is a tremendous Star Wars geek who for some reason just realized that there is an MMO where he can swing lightsabers and listen to NPCs talk about Jedi/Sith relations for hours on end. Join Mike as he experiences Star Wars: The Old Republic from a new player's perspective and nerd out with him about Han Solo's demise, Boba Fett's survival, and Darth Vader's floating glove.

The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Bring your own Wookiee.

Game: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, October 10th
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Swordsman's Five Venoms

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

Swordsman
Swordsman is this month's Choose My Adventure game and Massively's Mike Foster is ready to spend his evening whipping bad guys and poisoning their friends with his Five Venoms character. Poll voters wanted to see the female-only martial arts school in action, so tonight's the night. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to check out Perfect World Entertainment's latest free-to-play juggernaut and to see if Mike can make any sense out of its Mandarin voice acting.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Wednesday, October 8th
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Cracking whips in Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Polls, New Titles, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
In last week's Choose My Adventure poll, I asked two simple questions of the Massively community: Which gender should our character be in Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman, and what path should that character take among the game's 10 available schools of combat? The result was a resounding win for the female-character-exclusive Five Venoms school (probably because whips) and for the creation of a female character.

Since the polls closed on Saturday, I've created our character and spent a little time with Swordsman's intro sequence, tutorial missions, and the earliest chapters of its main storyline. I've whipped a bunch of dudes, summoned giant frogs, and set a few horses on fire. And while it's early yet to declare Swordsman a success, failure, or mediocre in-betweener, thus far I would describe the experience as decidedly mixed.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you should play before SWTOR's Revan expansion

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

Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you have to run before SWTOR's Revan expansion
The next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic is coming in December, and any BioWare fan already knows the primary antagonist: Revan.

Revan has been BioWare's focal Star Wars character since its first Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic. SWTOR even features Revan in multiple questlines. I could recommend that you read Drew Karpyshyn's book Revan, but there are plenty of ways to get Revan's story in-game. In fact, there are eight different questlines that you should run if you want to get caught up, and more importantly, if you want to prepare yourself for the next expansion. If you have been living under a rock for the last three years, be forewarned that this article will contain spoilers for you.

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The Stream Team: Guild Wars 2's fire and ice

Fantasy, Video, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Guild Wars 2
Massively's Mike Foster has been having a grand old time with the recently revamped Guild Wars 2 starting experience and his brand-new Elementalist character, so he's keeping things rolling this week with more starter content and more centaur mass-murders. If you're curious about Guild Wars 2 or what's new with the updates, tonight's stream is the place to be.

Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to catch the action or join the fun; Mike's always on the market for party members and will gladly accept any help you can offer.

Game: Guild Wars 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: CMA Live with Swordsman

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

Swordsman
Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman has been officially outed as October's Choose My Adventure title, and Massively's Mike Foster is ready to jump in with his fists flying. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. to get an idea of how Swordsman sets up its story, what options the character creator offers new players, and what the game's action combat looks like in motion.

As an added bonus, there will definitely be at least one quest centered on drinking wine.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: The proud wanderers of Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Polls, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
Since commandeering Choose My Adventure in August, I've been on something of a sci-fi rampage. First we took a second look at a post-release Firefall; then we spaced out with a beta build of Frontier's Elite: Dangerous. And while spaceships and rocket boots are certainly wonderful things, Choose My Adventure is as much about investigating new worlds and new genres as it is about checking out new games. Thus, it's time to leave the world of science fiction behind in search of something a bit more classical.

This month, we're adventuring into Imperial China -- as far from deployable sentry guns and pulse lasers as possible -- with Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman.

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EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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The Stream Team: Throwing fire in Guild Wars 2

Fantasy, Video, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Guild Wars 2
Massively's Mike Foster continues his investigation of the changes made to Guild Wars 2's starting experience, dropping flaming dragon's teeth on every bandit that stands in his way. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to catch ArenaNet's streamlined introduction to its massive fantasy game, and feel free to ping Mike in-game (Elerit) if you'd like to tag along. When it comes to Guild Wars 2, more is always merrier.

Game: Guild Wars 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Richard Garriott becomes Lord British again for Ultima Online's 17th anniversary

Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Ultima Online, Humor, Sandbox, Anniversaries, Subscription, MMORPG

UO
On September 24th, 1997, Ultima Online opened its doors, forever changing the MMORPG landscape. That was 17 years ago today, and that means it's time for cake and ice cream! Just make sure to check that cake for deadly poison. Poisoning cake and giving it to unsuspecting passers-by is actually a thing you can do in this crazy sandbox.

Wanna celebrate? UO Stratics reports that the Broadsword team is hosting an in-game party tomorrow evening with some notables from UO's history in attendance.
Join me for a live, in-game event on TC1 September 25th 2014 at 7pm ET! Meet Richard "Lord British" Garriot and Starr "King Blackthorn" Long at Castle Blackthorn to celebrate Ultima Online's 17th Anniversary! The anniversary parties are always a blast (Thanks to the Dark Lady). This year will be very special as both Lord British and King Blackthorn will join us. If you can't attend, it will be shown on youtube . It will also be streamed live on http://www.twitch.tv/stratics.
A post on the official site also welcomes the new patch we covered last week and a new player Advisor program similar to the old Counselor program made famous in the game's early days.

Choose My Adventure: Basically Han Solo in Elite: Dangerous

Betas, Sci-Fi, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous
When Frontier Developments' Elite: Dangerous eventually launches, I'm guessing there will be two primary types of pilots cruising its vast expanses: quiet, peaceful types who enjoy exploring and courier-ing, and destructive, violent types who prefer interacting with NPCs and other players via pulse lasers. Elite's loose structure has room for other archetypes, though, such as the savvy trader working the marketplace and the under-the-radar smuggler who lives on the wrong side of the law but avoids drawing attention to himself. Being peaceful doesn't mean you have to be lawful.

Last week's Choose My Adventure poll set me on the path of the smuggler, challenging me to secure illegal goods and to sneak those goods by the feds to net a healthy profit.

Results were mixed.

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The Stream Team: Adios, Elite: Dangerous

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Frontier Developments
Frontier Developments' Elite: Dangerous has had a good four-week run in September's Choose My Adventure, but it's time to step out of the spaceship and into some heavy armor or a wizard's robe. Join Massively's Mike Foster as he adventures out into Elite's current beta one last time, with Twitch chat as his guide. It's not the end for Elite around here, but it's the last shot we'll get to see the game before Beta 2 launches on the 30th.

Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT for all the spacey action.

Game: Elite: Dangerous
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Exploits and SWTOR_Miner

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Exploits and SWTOR_Miner
Over the last couple of years, the Star Wars: The Old Republic community has changed. I believe it's matured. We changed from a community that wants everything yesterday to one that understands timetables but is still very interested in what's coming next. When we hear about the next storyline, we want to see how that's going to fit with everything that came before. Originally, I wanted to talk to the king of predicting the future of the game, SWTOR_Miner, about where the game is headed and what hidden secrets are in the client files.

However, last week something happened that redirected my thinking. Late last Monday night, Miner posted on Twitter, "Just got word that @SWTOR is cutting ties with fan sites that have dealings with me. Guess I won't be coming in from the cold." Of course, the whole community went bug-eyed, wondering what exactly had happened. So when I sat down to talk to SWTOR_Miner, the only thing I wanted to talk about was what's going on?

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Massively interviews Trion's Scott Hartsman on ArcheAge's rocky launch

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox, MMORPG

ArcheAge
ArcheAge's server issues, endless queues, and housing woes are the subject of hot debate in comment sections across the MMO world this week as players wonder just how in the heck the sandbox's launch went so awry. Massively spoke to Trion Worlds' Scott Hartsman to ask him exactly what went wrong with the launch and what the studio is doing to fix it.

Massively: Prior to the head start, Trion seemed to be aware of the huge interest in ArcheAge, citing a million signups for beta and knowing of the launch problems faced when the game launched in other countries. And yet Trion has seemed largely unprepared for the deluge of players for the head start and even for the F2P launch. Why? Were there really far more people trying to play than expected?

Scott Hartsman: Yes. There's a lot of science that goes into forecasting how many people are going to show up for a new game, when they're going to show up, and how long they'll stick around. Beyond that, external factors such as what else is going on in online games can also have a huge impact.

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