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The Daily Grind: Should EVE Online add manual flight controls?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

The Daily Grind title image
On Friday, developer CCP Games stunned us with the news that EVE Online will be adding manual flight controls in December's Rhea update. Gamers have been asking for twitch controls since EVE launched in 2003, but the idea has always been shot down as infeasible because it would put the server under extremely heavy load. CCP mentioned its interest in twitch controls during Fanfest 2013, and I speculated on a possible server-friendly implementation in an EVE Evolved article shortly after, but the fact that the feature is about to be released still comes as a huge surprise.

The new controls will be optional and quite limited. Ships will be able to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise and pitch their ships up vertically up and down, but we won't be able to do loops or rolls like in a dogfighting game. Developers also want to add joystick support soon, but so far there are no plans to add manually targeted ship weapons. Many players are excited for the new controls, and some of them are already asking for further features like the ability to lock the camera behind their ships for a more hands-on flight experience.

The announcement has prompted debate in the EVE Online community, and not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. Some have complained that twitch controls don't suit EVE as the ships are supposed to be massive starships with full crews rather than single-pilot fighter craft. There's also some cynicism over whether the feature is only being worked on now due to the growing popularity of Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous. EVE could be positioning itself as a viable alternative for any players who are disappointed with the new space games, a strategy that has worked in the past to help it absorb players from games like Earth & Beyond and Star Wars Galaxies.

What do you think? Should EVE add manual flight controls, and is this an attempt to appeal to the mass market?

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!

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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EVE Online turns manual control of ships over to players

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

eve
For the first time ever in its history, EVE Online is experimenting with giving players manual control of their starships. The change was prompted by observing new players who were frustrated that the game didn't include standard WASD controls. These "simple" controls will be introduced as an optional beta feature in next month's Rhea update.

CCP also posted a list of other features that we'll be seeing with the upcoming content patch. Players will enjoy an improved star map, try out new ships such as the Confessor tactical destroyer, experience more atmospheric asteroid belts, and no longer lose skill points or clone grades when podded.

PlanetSide 2's PS4 beta is expected by the end of the year

Betas, Sci-Fi, Interviews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

The PlayStation 4 version of PlanetSide 2 is still on track for beta before the end of this year, SOE says.

SOE's Matt Higby told Eurogamer that the nearly-two-year-old MMOFPS sandbox has been slow to arrive on the PS4 because SOE didn't want it to feel like just another cruddy console port.
"As much as it sounds like we're blowing smoke, we're working hard to release a game that feels like a full-on console experience and not just like a port. So it's taken us quite a long time to re-jigger our user interface and our controls. There's a lot that needs to get done."
The PS4 edition will also sport a slightly different business model in that microtransactions will be purchased with Marketplace Cash (as in DC Universe Online) in place of Station Cash.

More details, Eurogamer reports, are expected in December at the PlayStation Experience event.

WildStar is scaling Datascape down to 20 players

Sci-Fi, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Yeah, it's all right to just comment with LOL to this one.
WildStar brought 40-player raids back to the forefront. The game is now pushing said raid size back away from the forefront, as the game's 40-person raid pinnacle is getting scaled down to 20 players. The official post on the subject notes that the number of people entering was far too low and the attrition rate far too high, so the raid is being rebalanced (but not nerfed) to account for having only half of its originally designed population inside.

Several reasons are cited for the changed, such as the game's combat working best with a smaller number of people, the lowered demands on computers, and a consistent raid size for future raid content which will hopefully make guild management easier. While the topic stops shy of saying that the 40-player versions are never coming back, that is certainly the implication. So it'll at least be marginally easier to form a group for Datascape soon if you're able to get through the first raid successfully.

WildStar gold exploiters may get lifetime bans

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, WildStar

Carbine is working on a hotfix for a WildStar gold exploit that many players have mentioned via social media and the game's forums. Community manager Tony Rey says a rollback isn't necessary because "the current scope of abuse is not outside of our ability to manually correct where necessary."

Rey goes on to mention the possibility of lifetime bans, though he does note that players who have used the exploit have until tomorrow to contact customer support for a reduced punishment to include the removal of ill-gotten gains.

Wormholes opening up 101 new EVE Online systems

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Subscription

eve
Think you've explored most of the known galaxy in EVE Online? First of all, that's a lie as the game is stupid big, and second, you won't as of next month anyway. CCP announced that one of the big features coming with the December 9th Rhea update will be 101 new wormhole systems opening their doors for business.

The wormholes will be separated into three categories, starting with 75 "standard shattered" systems filled with broken planets and minable ice fields. Then 25 of the new systems will only allow smaller vessels to jump through. And finally, the 101st will be Thera, a story-heavy location that will be the largest system in the game. Like small ship shattered systems, Thera won't admit capital ships, but will host four stations for those who venture into its domain.

SWTOR's Sage, Sorcerer discipline changes detailed

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Sages and Sorcerers, this Star Wars: The Old Republic dev diary's for you. BioWare has revealed the upcoming changes to two more of its advanced classes that will go live when the Shadow of Revan expansion launches on December 9th.

Both classes "have seen some changes to their baseline ability package," and all three specs for each class get at least one new active and two new passives. Learn more at the official SWTOR website!

Star Trek Online releases a Delta Rising bonus epilogue

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Oh, right.  All of the problems.  We forgot about the problems.
Maybe you haven't quite finished the storyline for Star Trek Online's second expansion, Delta Rising, but you can probably guess that it ends with the Delta Quadrant in better shape than when you arrived. You are the triumphant heroes! Except... nothing is ever really that easy, is it? Nothing ever ends perfectly. And sometimes there's just a little more going on than you think from the surface, which is exactly what's hinted in the bonus epilogue episode releasing today.

The epilogue, What's Left Behind, features the voice talent of Robert Picardo and Denise Crosby capping off the existing story of Delta Rising and resolving some last-minute unanswered questions. It also raises a few new ones along the way because why not? Just because you could handle one threat doesn't mean you're prepared for another this soon. The episode is beaming on to the live servers today, so set your course and engage promptly.

Warframe wants the Guinness record for virtual mustaches

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items

From the any-press-is-good-press department, we have this ditty that mixes Warframe, facial hair, and Guinness World Records.

The sci-fi title recently released a selection of virtual mustaches for players to equip on their in-game avatars, and now Digital Extremes seeks to put its name in the aforementioned record book under the "largest gathering of people wearing false mustaches simultaneously in a video game" heading.

Nope, we're not making this up. As proof, you can peruse the company's press release just past the cut.

[Source: Digital Extremes press release]

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Star Citizen's crowdfunding total tops $61 million

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

What's better than $60 million in crowdfunding support? $61 million, of course, and that's what space sim sandbox Star Citizen's sitting at today. Cloud Imperium boss Chris Roberts has penned his usual Letter from the Chairman in response to another million-dollar milestone. This particular milestone unlocked the Espera Prowler, which Roberts says will be interesting to watch during the build process since it's an alien design that will be retrofitted for human use.

The letter also features a poll that allows backers to choose Star Citizen's third starter ship.

WildStar slashes box prices by 33%

Sci-Fi, Economy, WildStar, Subscription

wildstar
In a day after releasing its third major update to the game, WildStar has gone on sale by reducing the cost of both editions by 33% if purchased through the official website. This brings the standard edition down to $40 and the digital deluxe edition to $55. Both editions come with a month of game time included.

Earlier today we reported on an interview in which the studio said that its publisher was standing behind the game and that it had strong though unspecific box sales. Yesterday, WildStar released Drop 3, Mystery of Genesis Prime, a content patch with over a hundred pages of bug fixes.

Layoffs are probably in store for Transformers Universe

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Transformers Universe

It's not exactly rubbing salt in the wound, but it sure tastes that way.
A staff reduction will be hitting Jagex's Transformers Universe team, and not for the first time. The studio has confirmed that it is in the process of examining duties and roles within the development team, with some team members facing reassignment to elsewhere in the company and others seen as redundant. No actual layoffs have taken place at this time, although "soon" is the watchword.

The announcement does mention that there are opportunities in an as-yet-unannounced project currently in development behind the scenes at Jagex. Transformers Universe went into open beta in July and has a variety of founder's packs currently available to purchase; an official launch date has not been announced. Our condolences to all those affected by the upcoming layoffs.

NCsoft 'sees a future' for WildStar

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Interviews, Patches, News Items, WildStar, Subscription

I also see a future for WildStar. I'm not sure it's the same future.
Eurogamer recently spoke to WildStar Creative Director Chad Moore and Product Director Mike Donatelli to counter concerns that WildStar is a "sinking ship." Fortunately for players, NCsoft, which controls Carbine, apparently doesn't think so. "They specialise in MMOs, that's what they do. And they see a future for WildStar," Donatelli explained. "And as far as NCsoft is concerned, they're going to support us, and I take them at their word for that when they've made a commitment to us for the future, so I feel very comfortable making that statement." Moore noted that Carbine still has "hundreds" of employees in spite of recent layoffs, and while he wouldn't outright condemn negative Glassdoor reviews, he did recommend they be taken "with a grain of salt."

Regarding sales, Donatelli told Eurogamer the game sold "many, many, many times" the hoped-for 250,000 boxes, but he doesn't mention current subs. Back in October, he told Massively that the game had "hundreds of thousands of active players." NCsoft declined to clarify that ambiguous phrasing when asked.

WildStar's Mystery of the Genesis Prime patch launched yesterday.

SWTOR's Assassin, Shadow discipline changes detailed

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

Star Wars: The Old Republic fans, I'm sure you know the drill by now. The Shadow of Revan expansion is introducing major class changes and basically revamping talent trees in favor of a new discipline system. BioWare has been putting out a dev diary every couple of days to outline the tweaks to each of the game's classes. Today's installment focuses on the Jedi Shadow and the Sith Assassin.

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