Culture & Community Category

The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

EVE Online is shuttering EVE Voice in March

More chunks of EVE Online are on the chopping block this week, as CCP announced today that it’s sunsetting EVE Voice with the March patch. And less than one-hundredth of the playerbase will care, as the studio explains only 0.4% of active players used it instead of Discord, Mumble, and their ilk. The good news is that it paves the way for 64-bit client development and a chat system overhaul.

“With the March release, we’ll be updating the chat system in EVE Online, moving from the custom solution we’ve been using since EVE was initially designed, to an industry standard XMPP chat server that will offer better performance and flexibility for the future. There’ll be more information on the new chat system in the coming days and weeks, so be sure to keep your eye on this section of the EVE Online website for more news and Dev blogs about it.”

CCP’s never been a studio to shy away from shutting down APIs, community sites, offices, games, ventures, and in EVE, even whole systems, like Walking in Stations, which was decommissioned last year.

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Elder Scrolls Online dataminers spoil the heck out of the upcoming chapter

Ever since ZeniMax promised a new expansion-scale chapter for The Elder Scrolls Online this year, dataminers have been champing at the bit to be the first to dig up all the details. It’s not even a secret anymore that the area is sure to be Summerset Isles, thanks to datamining we covered last month as well as a pretty big hint at the end of the Clockwork City DLC, but maybe stop reading if you don’t want to know more!

The latest UESP digging has revealed new music, new locations including Evergloam and Artaeum, the sload mobs, new loading screens (including one for Mephala’s Realm), quests revolving around the Mages Guild and Psijic Order, and the jewelry crafting skill.

Still grumpy over the focus on Summerset and High Elves? Our own ESO columnist Larry Everett recently penned a piece examining some other possible locations for future DLC. Also, Justin is right there with you.

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Secret World Legends shows off its new Agent system in brief

If you’re eagerly awaiting new missions to run in Secret World Legends, you’re going to have to keep waiting a bit longer. But you do have new content coming with the addition of the Agent system, which allows you to fill the role of being a recruiter and questgiver for your chosen faction. There’s a preview video down below, and there are even more details of the system available thanks to the SWL RP fansite.

In short, players will be able to recruit specific individuals to serve as agents, with some agents available for Aurum as an optional purchase (all are supposedly available from in-game methods as well). You then buy gear for your agents, send them out on missions, and reap the benefits accordingly. Check out the video down below, or check out the rundown if you can’t wait to break up the idleness of shooting supernatural beasties by playing middle management.

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World of Warcraft player dings level 60 on boars alone

A triumphant expression of the human spirit or a sad attempt to provide meaning in a content-mined world? You can decide where this story falls on the spectrum. We just report the facts.

One World of Warcraft player, no doubt inspired by the infamous South Park episode, recently managed to level from one to 60 by killing nothing but boars. This feat became possible with Patch 7.3.5 and its flexible leveling zones.

So we know what you are thinking: How long did this all take? Really, really long. Ianxplosion crossed the 60 line the other day after six days of /played time over the course of a month. Nineteen thousand boars from various low level zones died in the process. That’s a lot of livers.

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The Daily Grind: How do we solve the broken MMO dev cycle?

Massively OP reader Yuri has posed us an interesting chicken-or-the-egg question for this morning’s Daily Grind. “People got burned on paying for unfinished games and are waiting until proper release, but developers shut down projects saying they didn’t see enough support,” he writes. “How can that circle be broken?”

I suspect anyone who’s ever backed a Kickstarter, contemplated buying a game in early access, or followed an indie MMO from inception has struggled with this issue. With rare exceptions, I do my best not to buy anything in early access to protect myself from both heartbreak and frustrating financial loss, but I still want to support great indie games. Then when we see games crumble in alpha or beta because they couldn’t get that critical mass of players, testers, backers, or attention, I always wonder whether people like me are making things worse. I get wanting to let the market sort it out, but the market keeps sorting out the stuff I wanted to play. I’m not sure that’s winning.

How do we solve the problem? Or is it an issue that we players should consider not our problem to begin with?

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Wakfu targets the Huppermage for its next update

One of the hardest things to change in game design are elements that work but could be working better. The Huppermage in Wakfu serves as a prime example. It’s not that the Huppermage is useless or can’t be really good when played with skill; it’s just that the class has some issues with very rigid rune management, a lack of damage output at low levels, and small effects requiring lots of effort to set up. Hence why the team is rebalancing the class with the game’s next major patch, which you can test now.

Among the changes already open for testing are reworks of secondary elemental effects along with a more straightforward elemental mastery system, generating based on the last rune generated rather than all of the runes possessed at any given time. There’s also a smoother ratio of spell damage to cost. You can check out the full set of changes in the official patch notes, or you just download the test client and find out that way.

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Final Fantasy XI brings back its annual doll festival

For the many Japanese players of Final Fantasy XI, the annual doll festival feels entirely familiar and normal. For most of the international players, it feels kind of weird and unfamiliar. And yet everyone can enjoy it because it means that you have a chance to play with dolls in a video game. Who could be anything less than delighted about that? Hopefully not you, dear readers, as the game’s doll festival is coming back around on February 26th for everyone to enjoy.

Event moogles (those harbingers of antics) will be appearing in Bastok, San d’Oria, and Windurst, located in two districts and offering players festive items such as your very own doll display. Consider that this month’s login campaign also offers a chance to get your own Lilisette doll; it seems thematically appropriate. Collect your dolls! Display them for others! Do some research into this holiday that may be unfamiliar to you! It’s all in fun.

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Catching up with the Ultima Nostalgia project that’s rebuilding Ultima Online in Wurm

If you found last week’s community discussion on whether (good) bots could help save dying MMORPGs fascinating, then the video hereunder will suit you too. Last year we wrote about gamer and professional artist Andrea Fryer – you probably know her best as KatsPurr in the Massively OP community. She’s been working on a spectacular “Ultima Nostalgia” project to meld the worlds of Ultima Online and Wurm Online by recreating the former as a 3-D map inside the latter.

The project and server have come a long way since then, as her 10th episode shows; this particular one covers the creation of the isle of Nujel’m (one of my favorites as my guild used to use “Nuji bank” as our headquarters for a time). And during the episode, she discusses how empty some of these old sandboxes can feel.

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Leaderboard: What kinds of MMORPG purchases do you consider pay-to-win?

I know I’m not alone in noticing that MMO gamers of late seem to have become sharply divided on how to define the term pay-to-win – indeed, the debate raged last week in threads about Black Desert’s player protest, Elder Scrolls Online’s cash shop prices, and the general consensus that ArcheAge is whale heaven. Recently Massively OP commenter Pepperzine recently wrote to us suggesting that we address it and try to sort it out.

“While there are proponents for all sides of the argument, I think it would be interesting to see where the bulk of people draw the line,” he wrote. “At the end of the day, individual perceptions are important but what is most important when it comes to this topic is what the majority perceives as pay-to-win.”

So let’s turn his proposal into the requisite Leaderboard poll, shall we? And yes, you can click as many as you want!

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EVE Online balances ships and adds the Monitor to its March patch

Even if you’re not familiar with how battles work in EVE Online you can probably still guess at what “headshotting” means for the game’s large-scale battles. Command ships offer major benefits for fleets working with them, and trying to take out that command ship can often end the fight right then and there. The next patch is adding a new sort of ship designed for combat to prevent headshots, the Monitor. It fits no weapons or drones and can only fit a few modules, but it’s incredibly durable for its size and features several options to elude pursuit. It’s not the only option for commanding a fleet, but it should serve as an excellent way to mix up strategies.

The various other balance changes should also mix things up by extending the lock range on tech 1 battlecruisers and giving attack battlecruisers more maneuvering ability with micro jump drives, along with several specific balance shifts for specific ships. Check out the full rundown to see if you’ll need a new strategy for the ship you’re flying when the March patch lands. Whether or not this will address the game’s current enormous bot problem is another story altogether.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

If you’ve been playing MMOs long enough, you’ve probably lived through at least one sunset of a beloved game world. In fact, I bet most of you were personally affected by more than one. I sure have been. I also bet you’ve had to wade through your share of “let it go” trolling across the internet whenever you mention it from people who either haven’t been affected or weren’t that attached to the game worlds, their characters, and their fellow players as you were.

All that said, there are some games I’ve said goodbye to that didn’t hit me as hard as they should’ve. For example, while I consider Asheron’s Call an extremely important MMO and loved it in its day, I knew how tiny it was and had already watched its sequel sunset once, so the final curtain didn’t bring tears to my eyes. By contrast, there have been other MMOs cruelly cut down in their content prime, and those gutted me so much more.

Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

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EVE Evolved: Solving EVE Online’s botting problem

Practically every MMO on the market today has had to contend with botting and the range of issues that come with it, and EVE Online has always been a favoured target for bots. EVE‘s slow pace of gameplay and predictable PvE activities make it ideal for automation, and the nature of a persistent sandbox is that more time spent farming resources and currency will always be better. The issue seems to have escalated in recent months since the free-to-play upgrades expanded the range of ships and modules available to free users, and the community has been pushing CCP heavily for progress.

A team of bot-hunting players made the news last month when they took down eight ridiculously expensive supercarriers being controlled by bots, exposing just how big the scale of the problem is. The EVE security team responded with a ban wave hitting over 1,800 bot accounts in January and promises that they are “coming for the bots,” but one expert admitted in a recent interview that the war on bots may never be won. So just how difficult is it to tackle botting in EVE Online, and what could CCP do to improve things?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the difficulties in detecting and shutting down botters, how extensive botting may be in nullsec, and some things developers might have to do in order to solve the problem.

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Neverwinter details the creation of the Atropal boss

The Atropal boss in Neverwinter is not something you want to run into in a dark alley. Heck, it’s probably not something you want to run into anywhere, for any reason, at any point in time. It is a pretty disturbing-looking monstrosity, that’s the point here. And there’s a whole development blog available now about how the boss was designed, so if you’re wondering how a boss gets from its concept art (which may have just been a used tissue) to a finished model, it’s well worth a read.

You’ll also learn something about how skeletons and rigs work in the game, as the Atropal is based off of a heavily modified human male skeleton. Yes, it’s very different, but all of the fundamental parts work, so it’s just a matter of tweaking limb size appropriately and giving it a truly disgusting appearance. If you like reading up on how bosses get put together, it’s well worth an examination.

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