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Opinion

EVE Evolved: Capital ships ruined nullsec

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Guilds, Lore, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

EVE Evolved title image
All throughout EVE Online's lifetime, compelling stories of incredible events, daring heists, and colossal battles with thousands of players have periodically surfaced and spread across the gaming media like wildfire. Most of the recent stories have been about record-breaking battles between huge alliances of players in the lawless depths of null-security space, and each one has been met with an influx of new players who want to participate. The surprising truth behind nullsec warfare, however, is that many of those on the front lines are simply fed up with the political state of the game.

In EVE's early years, the map was split between hundreds of small alliances, each of which slowly expanded its influence by conquering the star systems bordering its space. Skirmishes and pirate incursions were brief and commonplace, while border wars over territory were long and protracted affairs. Today's nullsec is a different animal entirely, with nearly the entire map carved up between two colossal mega-coalitions of alliances (N3/PL and CFC), each one internally held in a state of perpetually monotonous peace. No alliance in a coalition can break away and stand on its own for fear of being demolished by the others, and so all of nullsec is at peace with its neighbours and bored to tears by it.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine how nullsec got to the state it's in now and why it's badly in need of an overhaul.

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Perfect Ten: Why MMOs need to give up their dragon addiction

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

falkorrrrrrr
If a genie ever appeared to grant me three wishes, I would not hesitate. I would not be selfish by asking for more wishes or focus on my own well-being. No, I would think of you all when I said, "Mr. Genie, I want you to eliminate all Elves from MMOs, preferably via boiling acid. I want you to make all online giant spiders obey the cube law. And I want all developers to be stricken with a specific form of amnesia that will make them forget, now and forever, that dragons are a thing."

You're welcome in advance, online gamers. Yes, I will gladly take up the mantle of your king and protector.

Dragons are not cool. Dragons have never been cool. And yet, for some reason unknown to me, MMO developers lose their collective minds over the fire-breathing lizards. They're not just a trope that infests MMOs to the detriment of original storytelling and world building; they're cheesy villainous centerpieces that devs prop up while deluding themselves that the other couple of thousand MMOs aren't doing the same thing.

MMOs need to give up their dragon addiction, and I am not short on reasons why. I am also so dead serious that dragons need to go that I'm contemplating getting a chest tattoo of one just so that I can laser removal it right off the next day.

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite instant skill?

Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wildstar
I am not always a patient man, especially when I'm in the middle of combat. If given a choice, I will avoid channeled and long-cast skills even if the payoff is massive, like shooting a pocket nuke down that mutant frog's throat. I want my skill and I want it now, not four seconds and a progress bar from now.

So today let's praise and ponder the instant-cast skills, especially your favorite. In WildStar, I love how every class (at least that I've played) has an instant-stun ability that's incredibly useful to stop a big enemy attack in its tracks. I've also been a huge fan of instant-cast DoTs, which is kind of like channeling on the skill's own time instead of mine.

What's yours?

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!

Tamriel Infinium: My love/hate relationship with Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Crafting, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

Quakecon was certainly interesting, wasn't it? Whether you're looking forward to new zones, the veteran system's extreme makeover, active world PvP via the thieving system, or combat upgrades, Elder Scrolls Online acquitted itself pretty well at this year's ZeniMax Media shindig.

The reveals even led to positive ESO comment vibes here on Massively, which added some much-needed love to the love/hate relationship that everyone seems to have with this particular MMO. I've got my own twisted take on said dynamic, so join me after the cut to celebrate the good and ask for more of it.

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The Daily Grind: Does world PvP have to be spontaneous to be fun?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind

I love big battleground PvP. I admit it. I may have cut my teeth in the FFA ganker land of classic Ultima Online, but I didn't enjoy it nearly so much as I enjoy two (or three!) huge swarms of people crashing into each other Pelennor Fields style. That's why World of Warcraft's attempt to recreate world PvP in upcoming expansion zone Ashran intrigues me. Yet Massively commenters have criticized Blizzard, suggesting that it's impossible to bottle up the fun of old Southshore and pour it back out into Ashran because Southshore's magic was in its spontaneity.

At least that was the fun if you weren't on a server where your faction just got rolled repeatedly. Or if you weren't a newbie trying to quest in Southshore while the level 60s farmed each other for points. It didn't feel all that spontaneous on my server, come to think of it, since both sides would line up outside the village automatically every day; the vast majority of spontaneous PvP I see on my PvP server is just ganking lowbies or soloers, not the epic GvG sort you tell stories about later. And I'm pretty sure I'd trade the cheap thrill of spontaneity for a fair fight with some real objectives, the bigger the better.

How about you? Must world PvP be spontaneous to be fun?

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: Building an MMO without levels

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

Welcome back to another Think Tank! This week, I charged the Massively team with a single task: Elevator-pitch an MMO without levels. What should an MMO without levels look like? Can it even be done in this modern MMO era? Here's what we came up with -- we'd love to hear your take too.

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Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs, part 2

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Last week we began our exploration of the value of The Secret World's DLCs by looking at the cost of the additional content relative to those who subscribe, those who don't, and those who are lifetime member grandmasters. But money isn't everything to everyone. As noted previously, value is a subjective judgment determined by whatever factors are most important to the individual making the assessment. So making the call on value will depend on which category/categories are used in the judging process.

With that in mind, this week we're going to delve into the content aspect of the various DLCs. Specifically, we'll look at quantity, quality, and type of content in each issue and sidestories pack. Other key factors that are of equal -- if not paramount -- importance to some players are whether or not the additional pack is necessary to further TSW's story (who wants to miss some important tidbit?) and how fun playing through it actually is.

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The Daily Grind: I'll miss you, Vanguard

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, The Daily Grind, Crafting, Sunsets

Hey Vanguard.

I wish you could stay longer. Yeah, you've been hanging around my hard drive since 2007, but that first year was a mess. You launched right next to The Burning Crusade, which would have been the kiss of death even if you hadn't debuted with a bunch of bugs.

SOE eventually fixed you up, and the result was a niche and highly enjoyable MMO world of the kind that no one wants to make any more. You were vast, you were an explorer's dream and, stutter-step chunk lines notwithstanding, you were seamless. You had more races and classes than I can remember, though I will remember the Dread Knight and the Disciple quite fondly.

I wish more people had given you a whirl. I wish more devs would copy your crafting. I wish all MMO quests were as fun as that lengthy, lovely unicorn mount chase. I'll probably get in trouble for saying so, but I wish your labyrinthine code could've led to an emulator. Most of all, though, I wish you weren't leaving. You were the first themepark I actually enjoyed, and that's no small feat.

You will be missed.

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!

Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's eternal crafting problem

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Crafting, Subscription

Out of the wreckage.
I haven't had the chance to really dive into the new crafting system in Star Trek Online just yet, but I can tell it's certainly a valid effort to revitalize the crafting system for the third time in the game's lifespan, this time with an even more fundamental teardown. Memory Alpha is gone now, along with the exploration clusters that used to provide oh-so-many spots to analyze in the hopes of getting more materials.

Back at the start of this year, the column took a look at the state of Star Trek Online's crafting and asked whether there really is a future left for it. After all, crafting as a source of items was up against the fleet stores and reputation items. Could you make something better than those systems without replacing those systems? Would it even be worth it? What could be done to clean up crafting? We've gotten our answer about what will be done, but is it a net benefit for the game as a whole?

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Leaderboard: Which dead MMO is your favorite?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard

Since Vanguard is closing down this week, I'm in sort of a morbid mood.

Sorry.

Anyhow, today's Leaderboard poll will tread some unfamiliar territory when it comes to pitting MMOs against one another, mainly because all of these MMOs are dead. Vote for your favorite past the cut!

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The Daily Grind: Do you prize MMO stability?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

wow
Will your MMO be there tomorrow? How about next year? How about in five years?

As often as we consult the Massively office oracle about such matters, the answer is always, "Outlook hazy, ask later." Predicting whether or not a game is going to be around for a while yet to come isn't as easy to do, especially considering that we've witnessed a few surprise shutdowns over the past couple of years. But I've seen many gamers accept or reject the notion of playing an MMO based on how long those gamers perceives it lasting. In other words, they're trying to play the odds if they're going to sink time into a game.

I can sympathize and certainly relate. Do you do this? Is it a dealbreaker if you think an MMO is likely to go under within a few years? Is it an added incentive if a game's been around a while and probably will be around for a while yet?

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!

Jukebox Heroes: Lord of the Rings Online's housing music

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Housing, Jukebox Heroes, Music

lotro
One of the interesting features (but by no means unique) of Lord of the Rings Online's housing system is the option to slot a music box item so that visitors can enjoy your favorite tunes while they check out your pad. Like the rest of the housing system, music boxes haven't been added to or expanded much over the years, but I still think they're pretty keen.

Most of the music boxes contain a medley of three or so similarly themed tracks. Most of these are pulled from all over the game, but some are rarely heard outside of houses, so I thought these deserved another look. Plus, the original music for LotRO is quite gorgeous in spots and holds up very well over the years.

For those looking for a buyer's guide to these ambient themes, may I point you to CSTM? For the rest of us, I have six favorite music boxes waiting for you after the jump.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: First Impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion
It's been an exciting weekend: I've spent many hours just absorbing the contents of the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of course, the largest part of Update 2.9 is Galactic Strongholds. I'll come right out to say that the SWTOR livestreams do not do it justice. I'm finally glad that I could get my hands on it to see exactly what the hook system feels like, where I can find all the furniture, and mostly importantly, how much it is going to cost.

Beyond the strongholds themselves, BioWare also introduced a new planet and flashpoint this weekend. I took some time to also visit Manaan, and I know I'm going to sound like a fanboy when I say that it blew me away. I was absolutely not expecting something that gorgeous for a simple flashpoint.

We have a lot to talk about, and if you've spent some time on the SWTOR PTS, I'd like to read your opinions in the comments. But first here are a few of my thoughts.

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The Daily Grind: What constitutes a grind in an MMO?

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

Photography by Mylius
I can't remember when I first heard the term grind, but I imagine it might have been Ultima Online, when you could grind your way to Glorious Lady status killing a mongbat a minute (or was it five?). Then there was grinding mobs for levels in EverQuest, grinding missions for skill and money in Star Wars Galaxies, and then, finally, deliverance in the form of World of Warcraft, in which we'd level by completing quests! No more grinding! Right?

Well, not really. After a while, quests became grinds. Daily quest grinds. Achievement grinds. Faction grinds. Crafting grinds. Guild grinds. Pretty much everything can be made into a grind if studios infuse enough repetition into a game. We don't know what grind is, but we know it when we see it!

Let's try to define it once and for all. What constitutes a grind in an MMO?

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!

First Impressions: LEGO Minifigures Online

Betas, New Titles, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Kids, Family

LEGO Minifigures Online
Besides being an avid gamer myself, I am raising three children who are also avid gamers. You might have seen past livestreams that I've done with my youngest son and my daughter. In fact, my son and I are going to stream with the Super Hero Squad Online crew here in the next few days. As a gaming dad, I keep my eyes out for games that lend themselves to being kid friendly and fun for adults, too.

When Free Realms shut down, my youngest, now 9 years old, was heartbroken. Although he didn't really do much questing, he loved the other activities in the game like kart racing and exploring the housing system. I have attempted to get him to jump into games like Wizard101 and Pirate101, whose combat systems were more complex than his liking. But he's a fan of combat in SHSO. He also plays Minecraft daily and has really adhered to the whole culture that surrounds it.

So when LEGO Minifigures Online opened its beta, I thought it would be an excellent combination of both SHSO combat and the building systems of Minecraft. I was wrong on one count but right on the other. My son loved the combat system, at least.

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