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The Daily Grind: What little things in MMOs put a smile on your face?

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I loaded up Star Wars: The Old Republic for the first time in a while this week, and it seemed like BioWare upgraded its planetary approach cutscenes since the last time I played. Maybe it's just the one on Tatooine, or maybe it's always been that spiffy and I just don't remember it.

Either way, it's a nice touch that tickles my Star Wars fancy.

What about you, Massively readers? What little things about the last MMO you played put a smile on your face?

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!

Leaderboard: Warlords of Draenor vs. Shadow of Revan

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Leaderboard

Last time in Leaderboard we pitted this winter's Warlords of Draenor expansion against this fall's Nightmare Tide expansion. This week, let's see how the top dog fares against another highly anticipated MMO content dump, this one bolstered by the worldwide media juggernaut that is Star Wars.

How about it, Massively readers? Warlords of Draenor or Shadow of Revan? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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CCP is upgrading EVE's sensor overlay

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

CCP's latest EVE Online dev blog is all about the sci-fi sandbox's sensor overlay. More specifically, it's about sensor overlay 2.0 that's likely coming in EVE's Phoebe update. The current overlay basically allows pod pilots to view cosmic anomalies and signatures in space rather than as text entries on a scanner.

The upgrade will add "a number of other objects in space [...] along with filtering options and a new compass view," according to EVE's developers. It's quite a lengthy dev blog, and it's also got plenty of pretty pictures to further the explanation. You'll find it all via the links below.

Galactic Starfighter's going to be less grindy after SWTOR's 3.0 update

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic continues to make headlines, this time as a result of some changes slated for Galactic Starfighter in the 3.0 patch. The game's space PvP component isn't getting any new maps or ships, but the requisition reward curve is "getting a permanent boost," according to BioWare designer Alex Modny.

Modny says BioWare's going this route because of data that shows "new and moderate" GSF players having difficulty matching up against veteran pilots. You can read more about the changes on the SWTOR forums.

Destiny player jumps into the game's DLC regions

Sci-Fi, Video, Bugs, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Destiny

Well, you have to do something without a cave to shoot.
Do you want to start exploring Destiny's second expansion region? Don't start fretting about tiny details like not having it installed or the fact that it's not out yet. You can go there right now! A video by YouTube user Nowise10 is embedded just past the break and details the exact sequence of jumps needed to climb up some scaffolding, hop into a gravity lift, and wind up coming out in an area that the developers certainly didn't intend for players to explore just yet.

Lest you get overly excited, the game does note that you do not have the DLC, and the area is absent of most everything you'd want to find in the region aside from a handful of dead ghosts. If you're the sort to go spelunking before an area is officially released, however, take a look at the video and enjoy a bit of acrobatic exploration.

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Star Citizen's Roberts: 'A working universe is much more interesting than just a battlefield'

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

Do you think Chris Roberts keeps a stack of future Letters from the Chairman in his desk drawer? It would make sense, given the fact that Star Citizen regularly blasts through million-dollar crowdfunding barriers (each one prompting a new letter).

The latest milestone to fall by the wayside is $56 million, and the latest letter talks up the sci-fi sandbox's non-combat bells and whistles. Roberts writes that he's pleased to see the new Reclaimer salvage ship striking a chord with backers, as it confirms his "feeling that a working universe is much more interesting than just a battlefield."

He also mentions a community poll that determined the role for Star Citizen's initial fourth wave ship. "The results of the poll also confirmed my belief that the community understands the broader reach of Star Citizen: an overwhelming number of backers voted for the research and hospital ship!"

Star Trek Online hypes a time-limited (but is it really?) lockbox

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Trek Online

Cryptic's latest news post details a new promotion involving Star Trek Online's Xindi lockbox. What's inside the Xindi lockbox? How the heck should I know? And isn't that fun!

The Xindi lockbox is time-limited because as of October 14, it will no longer be offered as a drop or a reward in STO, according to the blurb.

Or will it?

After hyping the Xindi, Cryptic uses the very next paragraph to explain how it is unretiring a bunch of supposedly retired lockboxes (including Cardassian, Ferengi, Tholian, Temporal, Dominion, and more). So, be sure and grind hard in order to get your hands on one of those time-limited Xindi lockboxes before they disappear! Or just wait for the next unretirement party, I guess.

SWTOR: Shadow of Revan will include new class missions

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Butting heads with famous Revan and his cronies is one thing, but will the new Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion allow our characters to continue their individual class stories? BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco confirmed on the forums that, yes, every class will get a single new mission with Shadow of Revan:

"Each player class will be given one unique class story mission as part of the storyline; these are entirely different from one another," Musco wrote.

SWTOR: Shadow of Revan was officially announced yesterday with a December 9th release date.

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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EVE Online kicks off a new story-driven competitive event

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Contests, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Lore, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

A new post by CCP Fozzie on the EVE Online website outlines an ongoing plotline running in the sc-fi sandbox right now. Reacting to research on unusual behavior of Sleeper Drones in W-Space, each of the four factional groups in New Eden has requested help collecting stuff... for science. Capsuleers, that means you'll be rounding up Neural Network Analyzers and Sleeper Data Libraries and turning them in to your factions in a competitive galactic donation drive.

Fozzie notes that the results of the story-driven event will directly affect tech rollout for the game:
Out of character, I can reveal that this storyline and the associated donation drive will lead directly to new technology falling into the hands of players in the near future. The relative success of each empire's donation drive will determine in what order each faction will get access to this new technology. Each faction navy will also express their gratitude through a special ingame item representing an honorary commission to their forces. The commissions will be given to the character that donates the highest value of Neural Network Analyzers and Sleeper Data Libraries (combined and weighted) to each faction over the course of the event. Each commission will be a unique item that will forever contain the name of the winning character in the description.
Players can donate the relevant items from Sleeper Drones via item exchange contracts to their factional contacts. The event is live now and closes out on October 14th.

Ascent: The Space Game's Kickstarter will fund updated graphics

Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

When we last checked in on Ascent: The Space Game, the indie sci-fi sandbox MMORPG was already eminently playable, having launched on Desura and angling for a Steam greenlight. Now Fluffy Kitten Studios has posted a Kickstarter intended to fund specific upgrades for the game -- specifically, improved graphics and UI. In fact, the complete budget breakdown is provided on the Kickstarter page. Backer rewards include premium access time, credits, Steam keys, and ships. You could even get a planet named after you.

The Ascent sandbox emphasizes freedom, colonization, exploration, trade, combat, farming, mining, ship customization, starbases, and co-op play with fully consensual PvP. The Kickstarter boasts of the game's 270 billion star systems. Massively spoke to James Hicks, founder and CEO of Fluffy Kitten Studios, back in April, when he explained to us his business model, his target audience, and how he's come so far by himself. As he put it then, "Have a look at what we've done, with one developer, in one year, on a shoestring budget for art, music, and sound. Do you want to see what we can do in another year, with more?"

The Kickstarter seeks $35,000 and is already at 51% of its goal with 25 days to go as of the time of this writing.

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SWTOR's Shadow of Revan expansion arrives December 9th, nukes skill trees

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dev Diaries

After a brief delay and much speculation, BioWare has officially revealed Star Wars: The Old Republic's next digital expansion, and it will indeed be called Shadow of Revan. A tweet from the official account names the title and promises a new level cap of 60 and a launch just in time for Christmas on December 9th. BioWare's press release previews two new planets (Rishi and Yavin 4), four hard mode flashpoints, two "role-neutral" flashpoints, two level 60 operations, and a mission storyline that will unite Republic and Empire to fight Revan's army. Players who pre-order the expansion (19.99 USD) receive a limited time leveling boost, early access to SoR, and free access to TOR's first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel, which was granted to all subscribers last year.

Most intriguing is the addition of disciplines, a hefty class overhaul that will delete skill trees from the game. "No longer are you forced to purchase skills that are, in essence, necessary for your character to function; you simply get them automatically as you level up and progress down what we call the Discipline Path," says a new dev blog covering the 3.0 overhaul. "Much like the old Skill Trees, each path is made up of active abilities, passive abilities, and a new type of progression concept called a utility selection."

We've included the announcement trailer below, complete with the requisite ominous Star Wars music.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Dribs and drabs of WildStar

Sci-Fi, Culture, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Admittedly, talking about it seems a little silly.
The past few weeks have not been a fun time to be a fan of WildStar, and we still have heard distressingly little about what's coming in the next patch. Heck, the most I can think of hearing about in recent memory is the announcement that the game will not feature any sort of holiday content this year, and as those of you who know me will probably guess I kind of wanted a Halloween event. (I like October.)

But let's talk about what we do know and where we are right now, since barring any further developments, there's not much more to be said about what isn't working. Either things get addressed or they don't. So let's talk about the next drop, what we will and won't be getting from it with any measure of luck, and about the complete lack of holiday content and why anyone should care. Yes, even if you normally don't care about holiday content!

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Destiny knows you want a looking-for-raid tool

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, PvE, Consoles, Community Q&A, Dungeons, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

In Destiny's latest letter to the playerbase, Bungie Community Manager Deej says that a looking-for-raid tool might be on the table. "You've been heard," he tells a player asking for raid matchmaking. "We're having conversations about how Matchmaking might support the more challenging activities in Destiny." He suggests that PUGs for dungeons thought mostly un-PUGgable are already happening.
You don't need to sell us too hard on the value of Matchmaking at Bungie. It's something we helped to pioneer. Yet, we understand its limitations. In the recipe of a Bungie game, Matchmaking has always contributed the ingredient of a team built to play one match of competitive multiplayer. As you've probably witnessed in recent weeks (or years), many of those fresh allies have failed to go the distance together.

The Raid was designed for solid teams of killers who have made a commitment to solve a dense and explosive riddle. Most of the raiding parties who have emerged victorious from the Vault of Glass have sworn that one weak link would have doomed their chain. There have been other stories, of course. We've heard tell of Guardians who met each other just outside the door that leads into that vault. Strange tales have reached our ears - tales of total strangers who have banded together to see the Raid all the way through to a triumphant finale.
After announcing that he wouldn't be fielding queries about rumors, Deej also addressed the companion app, factions, feedback, and class balance. "The next batch of enhancements, refinements, fixes, and tweaks," he says, will be released "very soon."

Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen

I actually said the title of this piece out loud the other day. I was compelled to do so primarily because of a certain sandpark's launch as well as the fact that it's been dominating my game time for a solid month now.

And yeah, I left off the Stick and Rudder part when I said the title out loud because "Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah Star Citizen is a game I'm following!" would've sounded even stranger than "Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!"

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