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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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The Stream Team: Joining the Shards Online dev playtest

Video, New Titles, Livestream, The Stream Team, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content

Shards Online recently met its Kickstarter goal, and Citadel Studio's Co-Founder Derek Brinkmann joins Massively's MJ to show off the game's latest developments (not the least of which is female avatars!). If you've been watching this game, you know that the future sandbox offers players the chance to really develop their own gaming worlds -- literally. So now that the funding goals are met, what's next? Now is the time to get all your questions answered by the dev team, as well as see what things are in store! Join us live at 2:00 p.m. EDT for a look at the devs latest playtest.

Game: Shards Online
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: No more Landmark tour deaths!

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Free-to-Play, Giveaways, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Thanks to the disabling of fall damage, Massively's MJ is able to take a tour of more Landmark builds without the fear of imminent death! Even without mobs, travel in-game has been dangerous for her; MJ's died many a time just trying to visit cool spots from the gallery. But that's all changed (at least for now), and not a moment too soon: She's seen plenty of impressive possibilities to check out this week. There are Egyptian builds, Orc builds, tree houses and ruins galore... even pinball machines! Pretty much anything you can imagine is being built somewhere in game. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. to check out some of the latest in Landmark creativity. Then grab a beta code and try it out for yourself!

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 21st, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's AI will be a game-changer

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

It's really hard not to be all giddy and excited about the introduction of AI to Landmark; it's quite literally going to be a game-changer. Some might even argue a game-maker! Only one other feature, combat, comes close to the impact that this system will have on the sandbox. Even then, combat doesn't rival it; it complements it. In truth, it will be an early Christmas present for all those players who've been waiting as patiently as possible for this next step: Monsters are slated to be released into the wild on December 10th. I am sure I mirror the sentiments of many when I say the Storybricks system just can't get here soon enough!

Before you get your hopes up too high, know that this first iteration of the AI system does not include the much-anticipated storytelling features that players will have access to on their personal claims. Those will come in time. But that doesn't diminish the magnitude of what is coming in just a few short weeks. The introduction of mobs will truly be the big bump that makes Landmark an actual MMORPG in the eyes of the world as opposed to "just a building game," an inaccurate description the game's had a hard time shaking. And did I mention, I can't wait?! If you are fairly new to following Landmark, you may not know what all the excitement is about. Let me share that with you.

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Shards Online's Kickstarter has already reached its $50k goal

Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content

Shards
Sandbox MMO hopeful Shards Online has met its Kickstarter goal of $50,000 with 23 days still to go. Citadel Studios' first Kickstarter for the ambitious game reached only $73,401 of its $320,000 goal last June.

Project lead Derek Brinkmann dropped by the Massively comments last week to reassure potential donors and explain the thinking behind the new campaign:
I'd like to personally address the concerns about our new goal. After our previous campaign winded down, we put our heads together and created a refocused plan to get to alpha. The minimum amount we could get to alpha with was 100k. It doesn't seem like much, but we have been in active development for over a year and have already personally invested quite a bit of money into the project.

We reached out to our friends and family and found we were able to raise 50k from small investments. That gets us half of the way there. We decided that reaching out to our fans would be the best way to get the rest of the funds. The alternative was to approach angel investors which would have forced us to change the spirit of the project.
Stretch goals begin at the $60,000 mark and include emote animations, new craft skills, and a permadeath ruleset.

Make My MMO: November 9 - November 15, 2014

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Shards Online returned to Kickstarter seeking $50,000 and a coat of polish for its player-driven multiverse sandbox. Citadel Studios developers also visited the Massively comment section to answer questions about the upcoming title, which is well over halfway to its goal with 27 days remaining.

Elsewhere, Star Citizen continued to roll around in piles of money, while Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen stirred from its slumber to offer up some early development screenshots. Click past the cut for the rest of this week's MMO crowdfunding news.

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Shards Online returns to Kickstarter [Updated with the video]

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content

Shards Online is back on Kickstarter, this time with a modest $50,000 goal and a promise to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to the final goal. The multiplayer sandbox made waves earlier this year thanks to its playable pre-alpha client and its unique multiverse built on player-run servers.

We've got the new Kickstarter trailer and the abridged press release below.

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The Stream Team: Lollygagging in Landmark's Whispering Wind Academy

Betas, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Every time Massively's MJ gets the urge to flex her building skills in Landmark, she's distracted by shiny resources and the amazing builds of others. Yes, she's a certified lollygagger. But that can have its advantages when she finds amazing things to share. And find something she did! Always a fan of castles, MJ's been really sidetracked by the Whispering Willow Academy. It's a fully functioning estate with eight levels (fully furnished!) "featuring a guild hall, mystical garden, building lab, academy tavern, cell blocks, stations, [and] weapons training." There are also fountains, swings, a magical wishing well, and housing. Want to see what this massive claim has to offer? Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for a tour and for a few codes.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 7th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Repopulation tweaked housing, vehicles, and shops in October

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Housing, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation, Player-Generated Content

Repopulation
The Repopulation's end-of-October report has arrived, and in it, Above and Beyond outlines the significant improvements made to the sandbox over the last month. Of note, player shops and vendors were added, along with a slew of enhancements to the player housing and city systems, like remote shopping and Star Wars Galaxies-style house relocation. Vehicles and mounts, genetic engineering, rogue nations, the interface, and cosmetic styling also received hefty upgrades.

Capping off the update are 15,845 words' worth of build notes. Yes, we counted.

The devs note that backers not yet invited to the alpha should all be gaining access in November.

The Daily Grind: Do you actually use your MMO house?

Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Housing, Player-Generated Content

SWG
Every time I go off on a tear about how Star Wars Galaxies' and Ultima Online's houses were so amazing for merchants and traders because of player vendors, one of you always snaps me back to reality: "That's great, Bree, but most MMOs don't have vendors. Most MMOs don't give houses a point at all."

Some of them have tried -- WildStar's homes can provide buffs, Lord of the Rings Online's provide teleports and cheap materials, and lots of games offer safe resource harvesting of one form or another in your home or plot or instance. But most MMO housing boils down to mini-sandboxes where you can build and decorate, so I can understand why MMO gamers might just go play Minecraft or The Sims or another offline game where they can build and decorate in peace and without the interference of grinds and cash shops.

Still, I always decorate my houses and do my best to make use of them when I get them; I like the sense of ownership I feel over that tiny piece of pixelated land. What about you -- do you actually use your MMO houses?

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 Stream Team: Pumpkin carving in Landmark

Betas, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

If you hadn't noticed, Halloween is almost here! And Massively's MJ still hasn't carved her Landmark pumpkin yet. That means she has to dive in and get cutting in order to have it done in time for the holiday. Now the question is, what to carve? MJ invites you to come put your creative touches on the soon-to-be masterpiece. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for some slicing and dicing, Landmark style.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Play Trove for free this weekend

Betas, Events (In-Game), News Items, Miscellaneous, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play, Trove

Trove
If you've been itching to playtest Trion Worlds' voxel-based sandbox Trove but haven't wanted to pony up cash for the beta, then you're going to love the next three days. Trion has announced a free weekend event starting today at 2:00 p.m. EDT; everyone is invited to dip in and give the game a look.The only catch? You'll have to play through Trion's Glyph client. "Trove will automagically appear in your Library game list this weekend!" says the studio.

The freebie weekend is timed perfectly to coincide with Trove's ongoing Shadow's Eve Halloween event, which offers bizarre prizes like piñata mounts and Smashing Pumpkin recliners.

The free play period ends at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, October 27th. Shadow's Eve ends November 2nd.

Norrathian Notebook: Remembering that Landmark is in beta

Betas, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook:  Remembering that Landmark is in beta
An interesting thing happened on my way to pay upkeep. It hit me full force that Landmark is indeed in a true beta. I know, I know -- I have said this before. And I know that I know it. Yet sometimes that fact still sneaks up and wallops me in the face! I mean, it's pretty obvious the game is incomplete (hurry to me, AI editor!) and that there are definitely bugs to squash. But for the most part, I have not be too inconvenienced by bugs, so I guess the fact that it's a beta just floated to the back of my mind.

That all changed this past week. I encountered a bug so big that it squashed me. In fact, it was so intense that it effectively prevented me from continuing my gameplay. That's when it hit me: After eight months of playing and enjoying Landmark, I had forgotten that this can actually happen. But it is important to remember, to keep this fact at the forefront of our minds. Why? It's not to be a defensive rallying cry for why something isn't in game/isn't working as intended; it's so we can get the game we want, sooner! How? By doing our job as beta testers.

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The Stream Team: Tricks and treats on another Landmark Halloween tour

Betas, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

The Stream Team:  Tricks and treats on another Landmark Halloween tour
Halloween may not be until next week, but Massively's MJ simply can't wait that long! So she's going to immerse herself in more holiday builds in Landmark. Folks have been preparing many more haunted mansions, pumpkin patches, graveyards, and witches lairs since MJ's last Halloween tour, so there is a lot to try and see in one little stream. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to see all that is spooky and collect some treats as you go! (Yes, there will be codes of all kinds to give out!)

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Getting players involved in EVE's development

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

Back in 2011, EVE Online developer CCP Games was rocked by controversy when players outraged over the Incarna expansion's microtransactions and CCP's indifference to player feedback spoke with their wallets and quit the game. In what became known as the monoclegate scandal, an estimated 8% of players quit, and CCP eventually laid off 20% of its staff worldwide. Some tough lessons were learned about keeping players looped into the development process, and CCP began involving players more closely in the development process.

At EVE Vegas 2014 today, developer CCP Fozzie looked at the ways that CCP gathers ideas and feedback from the community. As a sandbox MMO with a very dedicated community, EVE is in the interesting position that many of the players know more about the game than the developers themselves and can identify problems with ideas very early in the development process. Plans are now announced earlier in development to gather feedback, some new features are now made optional on release to gauge usage, and failed ideas will even be rolled back if necessary.

During the talk, Fozzie confirmed that each SCRUM team within CCP focuses on one particular area of gameplay and that player ideas are often brought into internal meetings for discussion. A new rig named the Higgs Anchor is even being introduced based on player suggestions; it will decrease movement speed by 75% but increase agility to make it easier to align to warp out if hostiles approach the player's location. If this level of player participation keeps up, hopefully disasters like monoclegate will never happen again.

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