Perfect Ten: The 10 things every MMO’s official site should have

Are you ready to have you mind absolutely blown open? Because I have an astonishing truth to lay at your feet: While doing this job, I visit a lot of official game sites. A lot of them. Pretty much constantly.

Here’s an equally astonishing truth: Most of them are terrible. And I’m sure basically every person out there who has been forced to navigate through official MMO sites would probably agree with me. Like designers of many other websites, the designers seem to be absolutely certain that I want one thing when I go to the site when what I really want is something entirely different.

Let’s codify this, then. There are a lot of features that every game’s official site should have that very few of them actually do; today, let’s talk ten features that pretty much every official MMO site ought to have… which a depressing number of them lack, sometimes for really incomprehensible reasons.

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The Powerplay update will change how you play Elite: Dangerous

The next big update for Elite: Dangerous centers around the Powerplay system, and it’s enough to change the way you see the game world. Powerplay allows players to ally themselves with various galactic powers, at which point their actions begin to directly influence the nature of the galaxy and the local power structure. Every faction has its own ethos and way of taking control of systems, and players can take part in that while earning rewards for protecting factional interests and furthering the cause.

Players will also have access to two new ships, an overhauled mission system, and new drones for tasks such as collecting cargo. It promises to be a pretty significant shot in the arm for the game, justifying a rather bullish prediction that Frontier Developments has made that estimate 22 million GBP in revenue by the end of the financial year.

[Source: Newsletter, London South East; thanks to Cotic and Colin for the tip!]

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Koster on Star Wars Galaxies’ combat and social connectivity ‘glue’

MMO designer Raph Koster is back with yet another post-mortem on Star Wars Galaxies, this one the second part of his “living society” discussion. Get your HAM bars and stimpacks and carbines at the ready, folks, because this episode begins by explaining the game’s combat.

I adored it, but Star Wars Galaxies’ combat was the sort of combat that you played in spite of how bad it was. “Combat in SWG was a disaster,” Koster agrees.

He reveals that combat was always intended to be “at the heart of the game” and that SOE chose RPG combat over action combat “for the sake of a larger audience.” The studio was hoping for a tactical card game feel, but it didn’t work.

“With the loss of long-range server updates (the result of a lack of CPU power on the deployment servers), the distinctions between the professions turned to mush. HAM never had any bounce, and timing attack made no sense. You could incapacitate yourself with a special.”

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The Elder Scrolls Online halts in-game ads

Wasn’t it great when The Elder Scrolls Online put ads in the middle of the screen for cash shop items during a welcome back weekend for beta testers? Players seem to agree that it was awesome, except for all of the many ways that they stated it was the exact opposite of awesome. The good news is that it appears that won’t be done again.

An official response to a comment on the European PlayStation blog states that ZeniMax Online has heard the fan feedback and won’t do the same thing again, although the response stresses that it was just due to the fact that the leopard was only on sale for a very limited time. If you’re looking forward to starting the console beta tomorrow, this is doubtlessly good news.

[Source: Official PlayStation Blog (EU); thanks to Robbie for the tip!]

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EverQuest II explains Rum Cellar pricing

Are you ready to head down into a cellar, get some rum, and become the lord or lady of rum in EverQuest II? Because that’s not really what the Rum Cellar campaign is about, just FYI. Still, you can find out for yourself on April 28th, when the campaign goes on sale for $14.99 as a stand-alone purchase. Players who want to pick this adventure up along with the Altar of Malice expansion – a required component to play through it – will be able to pick up both at a bundle price of $49.99 ($94.99 for the Altar of Malice Collector’s Edition). And, of course, subscribers get a 10% discount. It’s all in keeping with EQII’s new plan to switch to cutting expansions in favor of DLC.

If you’re a little more focused on the community side of things, you’ll want to know that after the latest round of forum and Reddit drama, the community management team over on the official forums asked for player feedback on moderation policies and got… well… lots of feedback. The last post on that thread explains the conclusions and the useful information taken away by the moderation team. Community Manager RadarX writes,

We are going to initiate the edit post policy at minimum on the EQ2 forums.
We cannot re-institute the forum-admin email process based on the resources we have available. We’re discussing what alternatives we can provide. .
We are doing a full review of our moderation process to ensure everyone on our team is fully trained and capable of providing consistent practice across our titles.

[Source: Rum Cellar Highlights, An Open Dialogue Regarding Forum Moderation; thanks to Kinya for the tip!]

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Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns interview unwraps specializations and traits

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers of all races, professions, and levels: I finally have the news we’ve all been waiting for! Today I’m not writing about Hylek tribes or PvP betas; I’m getting down into the nitty-gritty workings that power the upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion with the first word on Heart of Thorns‘ new specializations and traits. This ambitious overhaul of one of the game’s core progression systems aims to completely decouple stats from traits and allow players to come up with more creative character builds.

I got to fire some quick interview questions across to Game Design Lead Jon Peters that should help tease out the changes that are coming our way. Peters has crafted an in-depth blog post on the topic that will go live on the official Guild Wars 2 website on Thursday, April 23rd, but since I love you all I shan’t keep you waiting for a breakdown of the new specializations and traits that will rock Tyria very soon. Keep reading for my summary of the additions and the full-text interview with Peters, noting of course that we’re dealing with very early information that is subject to change as development continues.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the oldest MMO you’ve ever played?

I read yesterday’s news about Meridian 59 with interest because it’s one of the few genre titles that was before my time. My MMO obsession began in Ultima Online circa 1997, which was a year or so after M59’s commercial launch. I’ve always meant to check out the latter, though, and now I’ve got even more motivation to do so since it’s receiving updates from its open source community.

What about you, MOP readers? What’s the oldest MMORPG you’ve ever played?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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CCP shines a spotlight on EVE Updates

Today’s EVE Online website update is about, well EVE Updates. It’s basically a new section of the EVE site devoted to what’s coming next in CCP’s sci-fi sandbox. “From now on, all information about upcoming changes to EVE Online can be found on EVE Updates – and as we announce features, we will put information about them there,” CCP says. “For each date where we are making an Update to EVE Online, you’ll see a section with the features that are coming on that date. Bigger updates will get a code-name once the main features are locked in.”

The devs will continue to do larger code deployments approximately every five weeks, but they will also be releasing smaller features in between the bigger drops. All of this stuff necessitates a new way to communicate changes on an ongoing basis, which is where EVE Updates comes in.

[Source: Dev blog]

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Mo’s Egg Hunt: Deals for April 22, 2015

It’s time for another exciting roundup of Newegg’s best deals here on Massively Overpowered. Any Egg Hunt that involves the discovery of robots is obviously top notch.

Obviously, act soon because these deals are totally limited time.

Mo’s Egg Hunt is a roundup of Newegg’s best sponsored deals for Massively OP readers. It is crafted by MOP sales manager Michael Gray, who operates independently from our editorial team. Affiliate purchases made through Massively OP help keep us online.

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World of Warplanes is nixing three-player flights

Wargaming is doing away with three-player premades in its World of Warplanes aerial battler. The firm’s latest dev blog says that three-player flights have an average win ratio of 66 percent. That number rises when the three-flight in question is “well trained,” which has Wargaming concerned about balance and inequality not only for the losing teams but for the winning teams that score fewer kills and earn less XP and credits on account of weak opposition.

“We’ve been tracking and analyzing the situation for a long time, looking for ways to fix it with slight changes,” Wargaming says. “Unfortunately, that does not seem possible and so we’ve decided to turn to radical measures. When the Update 1.8 comes online the flights will be limited to two players only instead of three.” The firm says that two-player premades don’t have as much influence over the battle, and they also give solo players a greater chance to survive and contribute.

[Source: Dev blog]

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Meridian 59 getting new updates from the open source community

Where will your favorite MMO be in two decades? If it’s Meridian 59, it may be still operating. The title, which originally launched in September of 1996, is now open source and supported by a community of volunteers who are maintaining and updating the project.

The game’s latest patch notes mention “mostly infrastructure changes” but also “some improvements that have been on many players’ wish lists for the last 20 years.” The developers are also planning to bring back some major 1990s-era content.

[Source: Reddit]

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Guild Wars 2 talks up PvP tourneys, app development challenge

ArenaNet can’t stop talking about competitive Guild Wars 2 PvP here lately, and today brings us a blog post focused on the World Tournament Series Championship. The next set of champions will be crowned at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany on August 8th.

Prior to that, there are qualifiers and ESL matches galore in which teams will need to place highly to secure an invitation to Cologne. The full post has all of the eligibility requirements as well as some verbiage about playing for $50,000 USD.

In other GW2 news, ANet has partnered with Overwolf to create a contest for coders that will reward the top 20 app developers with “over $15,000 USD in prizes.”

[Source: Announcement post]

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Leaderboard: How many concurrent players must a title support to be called an MMO?

I’ve been playing a lot of GTA Online here lately, and while the recently released PC version ups the multiplayer ante over its console counterparts by supporting 30 avatars and a couple of spectators, that’s still a far cry from the number that I’ve arbitrarily assigned as the cutoff for calling something an MMO.

I say arbitrarily because of course “MMO” has no universally accepted definition. What say you, Leaderboard readers? How many concurrent players must a title support before you deem it an MMO? Vote after the cut!

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