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EVE Evolved: The strategy and narrative of EVE’s revenge war

At the start of this month, we reported on a massive new war that was kicking off in the north of EVE Online. The words “The Imperium Strikes Back!” rang across the game as one of the game’s largest military coalitions moved thousands of capital ships north in preparation for what it called a “dirty war.” The group planned to dump hordes of capital ships on the enemy aggressively and with little regard of the financial cost, using its vast economic wealth to spread pain and misery. This was going to be The Imperium’s great return to nullsec warfare after a year of farming ISK and building up resources, and that narrative was used to get thousands of players on board.

The reality hasn’t been quite so dramatic, but it’s been very interesting on a strategic level. We’ve seen the narrative of this war change substantially over the past few weeks and watched as every victory or loss is quickly spun into propaganda. The Imperium has lost several key battles and appears totally outmatched by the combined supercapital forces of the north, but has also destroyed a few enemy citadels and is already claiming victory over its primary strategic objective. TEST Alliance has seen its own share of victories and defeats in the region against Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion too, but is now in the process of packing up to go home.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine the major strategic goals during this war, the apparent change in The Imperium’s narrative, and the effect on the average alliance line member.

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LOTRO Legendarium: A trip back through LOTRO’s expansions

Now that we’re in the thick of Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor (which I’m still enjoying very much), my mind has taken a turn back to look over 10 years of gameplay updates and expansions.

It’s bizarre to think back to a time when the entirety of the game was merely eight or nine zones crammed up in Eregion. While there’s still plenty of Middle-earth to uncover and explore, the ensuing decade vastly opened up the game world and took us on a journey that spanned from Bag End to Barad-dûr.

It all starts to blur together after a while, particularly after alternative leveling regions were added, the epic story was changed to be more solo accessible, and the studio experimented with different forms of content delivery. I felt like taking a quick trip through the expansions that brought us to where we are today. Because… why not, really?

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Chaos Theory: What we want out of the Secret World Legends TV show

Wow. So I had no intention of crafting another Chaos Theory this week. I had plans. Other plans. But then the Secret World Legends announcement hit the airwaves on Monday and all other thoughts left my head as I sat there, stunned. I just couldn’t think of anything else. Could it be real? Was SWL really going to be made into a television series? Holy guacamole, it is! A pipe dream I have wished for five years is actually announced and in the works.

I’ve been pretty vocal about how much I want more story from SWL. Story is what this game does so right, and I just can’t get enough. I’ll probably never get enough! There are so many characters I want to know more about, so much history in locations that I’d love to delve deeper into, and so many fascinating events that we know only know the aftermath of that I’d love to witness firsthand. The IP is so rich with possibilities. I knew that the game would never, ever be able to sate my appetite for more, so I had wished long and hard that other avenues might present themselves: short stories, graphic novels, movies, and yes, television series. I can’t even describe how excited I am for the development of more story from this world. Is there risk? Yes, I get that. But the possibility of so much greatness is there! I seriously can’t wait. Imagine it, 30 to 50 minute cut scenes!

With so many possibilities, what could/should the TV show focus on? I have my opinions. Here are some specifics I’d love to see developed further for our viewing pleasure.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Impressions of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire preview weekend experience

I’m delighted to have found a moment to bring you an extra edition of Flameseeker Chronicles that outlines my thoughts on the first Guild Wars 2Path of Fire preview weekend. From last Friday until Sunday, every player was invited along to take some tentative steps into the Crystal Desert and get to grips with the raptor mount. We were also treated to a little bit of introductory story that ties the new zone directly to the Living World Season 3 finale without missing a beat.

So today, I will break down my preview experience into the main points, including my highlights and unfortunately ending on a pretty crummy negative. I’m hoping that further development based on the feedback from this weekend will help to lessen or negate my issue though, so I won’t be frowning for very long! Note that this article will contain some spoilers regarding the introductory story, so it’s best avoided if you are waiting until September to find out more on that front.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s Umbara is shrouded in darkness

Have you heard of the planet Umbara before? The Star Wars fan who has seen only the movies will likely say no, and even if you are a BioWare or Old Republic Star Wars fan you will probably say no too. The only people who would likely know what Umbara is are those fans who watched the Clone Wars television series. However, any Star Wars fan who has seen the prequel trilogy has seen a character from Umbara. You probably don’t know the name, but you’ll know the face of Sly Moore, the bald, pale woman who stood next to Chancellor Palpatine in Attack of the Clones. She was his senior administrative aide, and more importantly, she was the bearer of his secrets.

Star Wars: The Old Republic takes a journey to the shadowy world in the next update, dubbed Crisis on Umbara. Of course, since this is the Old Republic timeline, we are thousands of years before the Clone Wars, and really anything can happen. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have clues for what to expect, however. Let’s discuss the things we know about Umbara and what we know the update is going to bring us.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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Wisdom of Nym: The winning jobs in Final Fantasy XIV right now

Last time around, we looked at the jobs everyone thinks is deep in the loser category in Final Fantasy XIV. Some of them are really in a bad place, some of them just seem to be in a bad place due to perception, and some sort of have both going on at the same time. But now it’s high time for us to look at the other side of the coin, the jobs that everyone thinks are just doing great.

The funny thing is that in this case, I feel there are fewer jobs where the reality is that the job isn’t that good but just gets perceived that way; it’s more a case where some of them are being seen as outright overpowered when they’re really in a pretty good spot. But enough of the hand-wringing; let’s move on to the jobs that everyone sees as being the absolute winners of the expansion thus far, and examine whether they’re really so great.

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Guild Chat: What to do if drug use impacts your MMO guild

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which we all band together to help someone get on top of his or her guild-related issue: While I give my two cents here in the article, plenty of useful advice and different perspectives on the matter at hand emerge in the comments section. This time, reader Michael has a rather challenging issue to deal with that hinges on his guildmates’ drug use. Michael’s guild centres around an online friendship group that began in MOBAs and has recently been adversely impacted by the behaviour of several members of the group who live close to one another. These members have, for as long as Michael has known them, taken recreational drugs while gaming, but recently Michael has noted some personality changes and volatility that is uncharacteristic of his friends. He wants to know how best to deal with the issue and bring back positive relations in his guild.

You’ll find my two cents in the comments, but this is a massive topic that needs a measured approach. The submission does not include specifics of what drugs the friends are consuming and whether or not those substances are controlled or otherwise legally restricted in their country. I am in no way qualified to give professional advice about drug consumption and all advice given is in support of seeing a medical professional who specialises in drug dependence and addiction. Add your own thoughts in the comments, of course, and see Michael’s full submission below.

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Online Adventures

In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful  matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.

Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.

EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.

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Wisdom of Nym: Why does Final Fantasy XIV feel so much better now?

It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV when Heavensward was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long time.

By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.

I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s Uncle Owen problem

When Star Wars: The Old Republic first released, an old Star Wars Galaxies argument popped up, and the crux of that argument was this: “No one wants to be Uncle Owen.” If we say that SWG pre-NGE was the Uncle Owen game, where players could successfully play a simple moisture farmer, and compare it to SWTOR, where you can be a member of the Dark Council, then we would see that SWTOR is clearly the winner if we are talking about the sheer number of players. However, SWG was one of the founding MMOs; it helped kickstart the genre. There were just not that many people playing MMORPGs at that time, so comparing the raw numbers is a bit unfair.

The argument continues. If we look at the story in the upcoming Battlefront II game, we see a kind of Uncle Owen story. The main protagonist of the game is a Commander of a squadron of Imperial soldiers that we have never heard of until now. Her name is Iden Versio, and she is, for all intents, a faceless Stormtrooper. Star Wars fans are very excited about playing through this storyline. I’m one of them.

However, the biggest place where we see the Uncle Owen controversy is in the SWTOR roleplay community, and I believe that if we study their arguments for and against playing a powerful character, we will gain a greater understanding why some storylines work and others do not.

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Perfect Ten: Fresh approaches for familiar MMORPGs

Short of taking a blow to the head, there’s very little I can suggest in the way of experiencing a familiar MMORPG for the first time again. That new car smell eventually fades away, that initial head-over-heels enthusiasm settles into routine, and a vast world full of mysteries gradually gives way to familiar knowledge over time. It’s not a terrible thing, mind you; relationships change and develop with games as they do in real life.

But I find that every so often I come to a point when I don’t want to give up a game that I’ve greatly enjoyed, yet I’m also a bit burned out and feeling like I am hemmed in by a daily routine and the same-old, same-old. That’s when I start to employ a series of tactics and approaches to inject fresh experiences and perspectives.

So if you’ve been playing an MMO for too long and need to change things up to keep from getting stale and restless, what can you do? Here are 10 suggestions that I found quite helpful in my own gaming career.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Cautiously optimistic about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion

ArenaNet chose to very cleverly stave off the post-season blues by teasing a long-awaited, much-anticipated, and very-spoiled Guild Wars 2 expansion announcement as a close to the living world’s third season. We didn’t have long to wait before August rolled in and the expansion announcement was upon us, and now I’m even more hyped for the beginning of Path of Fire. Putting the core Heart of Thorns and season 3 stories to bed is bittersweet since I am one of the rather uncommon creatures that largely enjoyed the direction the last expansion went in and I doubly enjoyed the last season’s breaking of the great content drought in such a spectacular, confidence-building fashion.

PoF will be upon us next month, and I don’t have much article space remaining before it drops in our laps, so I thought I should begin the lead-up to launch with an overview of my thoughts about the expansion announcement and the main features it highlighted for us. I know you’ll have been expecting the final edition of my look at season 3 instead, since I have only given you some Siren’s Landing impressions so far from the finale, but talking about the big news felt far more pressing, and I feel that it’ll give those who are currently revisiting the game due to the expansion hype time to catch up with the season before I spill the beans.

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