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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

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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EVE Online: Phoebe improves quality-of-life for subscribers and trial members

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

Unpacking EVE Online's Phoebe content update is so involved that it takes another one of CCP's epic posts to do it. The big thing to take away from the notes is that this update features several quality-of-life improvements for both regular and trial players.

When Phoebe hits on November 4th, players will have to adjust to jump fatigue during long-distance travel. To offset that, there will be the ability to set skill queues to unlimited length, place multiple market sell orders, enjoy better exploration rewards, and experience new cloaking effects.

Trial players will also see some of their limitations lifted after the update, such as being allowed to fly battleships and be a part of faction fights.

WildStar's state-of-the-game missive promises new content, quality-of-life adjustments

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, News Items, WildStar, Subscription

Carbine Studios has just posted another WildStar state-of-the-game letter to fans. In it, the studio says that an upcoming content update will provide two content chapters: The first, Mystery of the Genesis Prime, will introduce a new level 50 zone and tie into the plot from The Strain. The second, Journey to OMNIcore-1, opens up the "galaxy-spanning Nexus Saga," which the devs say includes "content for players of all stripes, from lore-filled immersive solo content, to fast and furious 5-player quests and massive 20-player public events."

Carbine also mentions sweeping bug fixes, ELO tweaks, housing remodeling, extensive quality-of-life adjustments for lowbies, and tutorial-skipping for alts.

The studio does not provide a date for the release; Carbine has previously floated November for the patch's likely arrival. The devs do say they're putting more into this release "than [they've] put into any update so far."

This weekend's golden in The Secret World

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, The Secret World, Promotions

Got MMO plans for your weekend yet? If not, you might want to check in with The Secret World, since Funcom is hosting what it calls a Golden Weekend with "massive bonuses" and a "gilded rage event."

Yes, you can hunt down that rampaging golden Guardian of Gaia, and you can also enjoy double AP as well as 30 percent extra Funcom points on every purchase. Get all the event details via the links below!

Cloud Imperium is OK with Star Citizen's grey market

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

If you think Cloud Imperium charges a lot for Star Citizen's spaceships, you should see what some of the "rarer" ones are going for on the game's grey market. Eurogamer has published a look behind the curtain of the space sim's secondary item sales, including interview snippets with a couple of middlemen who have made significant amounts of real-world money by facilitating digital spaceship swaps.

In many cases, the perceived value of a Star Citizen spaceship is tied to whether or not it has lifetime insurance, which was originally offered to backers during the game's early crowdfunding days. Cloud Imperium says that the insurance will function as a convenience item instead of a must-have in the final game, but that hasn't stopped speculators and collectors from paying a premium for LTI-equipped ships, even though some of them can't be used in Star Citizen's currently available hangar and dogfighting modules.

Eurogamer reports that CIG and Chris Roberts have "no desire" to interfere in the trading of pretend spaceships for real cash.

Captain's Log Supplemental: Exploring the story of Star Trek Online: Delta Rising

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

Two hundred passengers set sail that day for a three-year tour of duty.  (A three-year tour of duty.)
If you think about it, Star Trek: Voyager is basically a remake of Gilligan's Island. Ship goes out for a routine trip and gets stranded, and for the next several years the crew of that ship tries to get back home and repeatedly fails. I bring this up because I recently had a chance to to on a tour of Star Trek Online: Delta Rising, and I kept thinking that "going on a tour" was just the first step before being stranded in the quadrant myself.

Well, maybe not, but it's as good a segue as anything.

Lead Designer Al Rivera and Senior Producer Stephen Ricossa took me on a trip through all of the various systems of Delta Rising and several of the upcoming story elements. If you don't want to be spoiled on the expansion before it goes live, you might want to steer clear, but there are some fascinating developments awaiting otherwise. When players finally warp into the Delta Quadrant, they're going to be seeing familiar faces and facing some old problems -- very old, in one case.

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The Nexus Telegraph Extra: WildStar's deafening silence

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

Answers so mysterious they've decided not to share any of them.
How many people are currently playing WildStar?

I don't know. You don't know, either, beyond vague guesses based on things like Raptr numbers, which say more about what Raptr users like to play than about actual game popularity. But it seems like the sort of answer that could be used to at least deflect a great deal of criticism, doesn't it? If Carbine Studios is sitting on two million players at a reasonable level of activity, that wouldn't shut down all discussion of the game's myriad problems, but it sure as heck would demand some rethinking.

That's precisely what I asked when I, at Carbine's behest, sent the team questions about the health of the game over a week ago. The bad news is that Carbine still hasn't answered my questions, nine days later. But the good news is that in the interim, Carbine was willing to tell another site that WildStar does not have a "player interest" problem, which seems like the sort of waffley question you'd answer if you really didn't want to be specific.

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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.

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