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EVE Evolved: War declarations need revamped for the citadel era

It’s a universally accepted fact in EVE Online that you’re never truly safe from attack. Low-security space is littered with pirates looking for an easy kill, nullsec alliances respond to invasion of their territory with overwhelming force, and cloaked ships could lurk around every wormhole. Even in the friendliest parts of high-security space, you can still be blown up by a squad of suicide gankers or find yourself the target of a highsec war declaration. Wardecs are intended to allow player-run corporations to fight with each other in highsec without interference from the police, but over EVE‘s entire lifetime they’ve been almost exclusively used to grief and harass small corporations.

Some wardec alliances log literally thousands of wars per year, with almost all of them being against small industrial and social corporations whose members have no intention of fighting back. The aggressors typically just camp trade hub such as Jita 4-4 and declare war on any corp caught hauling valuables through the system, turning a potential sandbox content-generator into a boring pay-to-grief mechanic. With the landscape of EVE being transformed by player-owned citadels and a dynamic PvE revolution on the horizon, I think the time is right to revamp war declarations for the new citadel era. The current wardec system isn’t fit for purpose, and we deserve something more engaging.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give some thoughts on the wardec problem, a suggestion on how they could be revamped to fit the new citadel era, and an idea for how they could even provide a more immersive PvE experience.

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The Witcher card game Gwent enters open beta

There seems to be a very rabid, very enthusiastic community that’s developed around CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher (particularly its third installment), to the point where it might be making BioWare a little nervous. And if you have a hit IP franchise with its own TV series on the way, why not make a few extra bucks by developing a spin-off? Perhaps a digital card game, hm?

Possibly taking a cue from how Hearthstone drew off of World of Warcraft, Gwent is a card game set in the world of The Witcher. The card game just went into public beta on PC and console earlier this week, offering players a chance to see what makes this game different from its competition.

One interesting upcoming feature is that Gwent will feature a rich story mode: “Brought to you by the creators of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the single player campaign of Gwent thrusts players into an event-rich world they can roam freely. To be released in episodes, the story unfolding in the campaign will feature the choice and consequence mechanic the Witcher games are known for.”

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One Shots: Action arrested

In tossing out a screenshot challenge last week revolving around combat action shots, you’d think that this would be a piece of cake. After all, we do fight a little bit in MMOs, right? But it turns out that capturing a good-looking combat picture is really difficult in the midst of the chaos… unless your MMO is set up for it.

“I hardly ever take screenshots in combat,” said Zyrusticae. “Usually too busy being distracted by actually playing the game. But Warframe’s Captura tool certainly changes things in that regard. Wish all games had something on this level. I need to jump in and take more screenshots!”

It is pretty sweet! Definitely second the motion to port this over to all MMORPGs.

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The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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WRUP: Reasons to order your badger through the mail edition

Lately, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about our new mail-order badger system. “Why should I order a badger through the mail,” you ask, “when I could simply walk to the local field and be assaulted by dozens?” And that’s a good question! But it’s one with several easy answers in list form just below.

  • Deluxe Badger-Guard Plastic Protection: Only our mail-order badgers feature Deluxe Badger-Guard Plastic Protection. What does this fantastic protection do? Who cares! You can only get it from us.
  • Very few rotting oranges: When you order from us, it’s highly likely that we will ship you an actual badger instead of a pile of rotting oranges with the approximate mass of a badger. The field, meanwhile, could just be covered in rotten oranges.
  • Sleek, glossy coat: None of our badgers actually have a sleek, glossy coat, but our stock photos do.
  • The field is for drug addicts and vagrants: If you go into the field, the State Vagrancy Police will arrest you and throw you in a cell. Is that really how you want your grandchildren to remember you?

Clearly, our mail-order badgers are the only way to go! Send a check or money order for $46.75, plus $3.00 for shipping and handling, plus $4.00 for emotional wounds, minus $1.00 for physical wounds, plus a number of dollars equal to the last digit of your zip code just for the heck of it. Also, leave your weekend plans in the comments down below, because it’s What Are You Playing time.

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The Daily Grind: How much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?

World of Warcraft Community Manager Ornyx sparked a bit of a wildfire on the game’s forums this past week as in response to a player criticizing Legion’s lack of content, he snarked, “I assume you’re trying to make a joke about content, because, looking at your Armory, it appears you’ve only engaged with about 25% of Legion.” In his follow-up, he said that his role is about “engagement and community-building,” not customer service, and characterized the exchange as “a bit of fun.”

The thread erupted, with some people arguing that the player who dared insult Blizz’s expansion got what he deserved and others expressing shock that a Blizzard employee would treat its players that way. I come down on the side of “enabling elitism is exactly why armory profiles shouldn’t be forcibly public to begin with.” I thought the comment in extremely poor taste for an employee. It’s the kind of low-effort ad hominem I see in bad arguments, not good ones. I expect better from community managers, certainly, in the service of “engagement and community-building” than to model dismissing opinions based on gearscore and not on their merits. Seeing that attitude promoted by a bluename disappointed me deeply, even if it didn’t surprise me.

So this morning’s Daily Grind is two-fold: Where do you stand on comments like this from studio employees? Is so-called “armory shaming” OK? And just how much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?

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Destiny 2: ‘The life of a cheater will be nasty, brutish, and short’

Bungie’s weekly dev blog is still riding high off the big Destiny 2 reveal, but that doesn’t mean the text doesn’t share anything in new. In fact, we learn just what the team meant when it said the game won’t make use of “dedicated servers.”

Destiny 2 uses a hybrid of client-server and peer-to-peer technology, just like Destiny 1,” Engineering Lead Matt Segur explains. “The server is authoritative over how the game progresses, and each player is authoritative over their own movement and abilities. This allows us to give players the feeling of immediacy in all their moving and shooting – no matter where they live and no matter whom they choose to play with.”

The decision isn’t about money, Bungie says, as it’s “invested heavily in new server infrastructure” and cloud servers already. “We really believe this is the best model for all of Destiny 2’s varied cooperative and competitive experiences,” Segur says.

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Worlds Adrift’s closed beta turnout exceeded studio expectations

Worlds Adrift’s closed beta kicked off earlier this week, and this would be one of those times to admit it’s gone a little too well. Bossa Studios was expecting a good response, hence the plan to run a staggered test in “limited batches” to help the team sort out “queuing problems, server instabilities, lost progress and other issues that large multiplayer games might suffer from at launch.” But it wasn’t expecting quite so many people playing all at once, which has resulted in queues and server issues anyway, so the team promises it’s hard at work on that.

More keys will be made available as the test continues. If you’re not in just yet, though, don’t fret; the game will be in closed testing all summer before the wipe and open beta soft launch, so there’s plenty of time for you to help break the servers!

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The Daily Grind: Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?

I’ve been playing a lot of Ultima Online the past few weeks, but so many times I’ll be doing something that is objectively tedious (like taming or shuttling boxes of junk loot to the community trash box to turn in for points) and realize it and think to myself there is no freakin’ way that anyone who started playing MMOs in the last decade would put up with some of the quirks and conventions of the game. That’s no judgment on gamers, just the realization that it’s probably way too late to get into now if you’ve grown up under altogether different game design systems.

It’s not the only MMO I feel that way about; I’ve often felt that EverQuest II was too opaque and convoluted to return to, and oddly enough World of Warcraft has felt that way to me since Draenor.

Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?

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Elite Dangerous posts plans for PS4 launch and beyond

Crowding in on a packed MMO month this June, Elite Dangerous will launch on the PlayStation 4, bringing this space sim to consoles for the first time. But what does that mean for all players of the game going forward?

The team posted a preview of what’s being worked on behind the scenes, starting with the rollout of 2.3.10 on June 27th. This patch, which will role out to every game version, is mostly focused on under-the-hood fixes for game stability and performance.

Following that is a “mystery update” that will be spread out over time: “We’ll be providing a little more information about the update to the community and the press during E3 on June 13th and 14th. We’ll be hosting special community livestreams and activity so stay tuned for more news and updates as we get closer to the date. I can, however, tell you that this update will be slightly different to previous ones — content will be revealed over time rather than all being available on day one. Additional pieces of exciting content will surface over the coming months as the narrative progresses.”

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Choose My Adventure: Finding a hat in Neverwinter

When we last left off in Neverwinter, I was finding out whether or not people wanted me to purchase the game’s subscription-but-not-really. You voted a resounding no, although quite a few of you voted no on the basis of this making me angry faster or something like that. Guys, is this a thing? Do you just want me to be sad? I don’t think we can be friends if that’s the case, and I’m usually sad anyway. It’s not a long walk.

Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.

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Wild West Online addresses Sergey Titov rumors [Updated]

Rumors spread on Reddit yesterday suggesting that Sergey Titov is involved in Wild West Online have been partially but not fully debunked. Titov, you’ll recall, was the controversial personality behind scandal-riddled The War Z aka Infestation: Survivor Stories aka Infestation World, a survival game so terrible our original reviewer called it “worse than actually being killed by zombies.”

Reddit user TheSkiesAreShattered (now deleted) posted his hypothesis (now deleted) that Titov was involved in Wild West Online’s development and indeed was its mysterious investor. The Redditor offered circumstantial evidence including an engine comparison, domain name patterns, and Facebook friends lists, chastising the press for missing those “clues.” Similar threads on the official forum have been locked and heavily moderated with links to the Reddit thread removed, but a forum moderator confirmed that the team licensed the engine from Free Reign Entertainment – that’s Sergey Titov’s outfit.

“No, Sergey Titov is not involved in the development of this game, but yes we use a game engine developed and supported by one of his companies,” the mod writes. A second followup post from the developers also homes in on the engine rumor specifically but doesn’t address the other allegations:

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever lost touch with an MMO friend when you wish you hadn’t?

I do not move between games with a full entourage. I have one person who comes with me from game to game, maybe two, and the most likely person to come along is my wife. This means that there are many people I have met over the years from Final Fantasy XI onward whom I have just lost touch with. There are friends I made in Guild Wars who I no longer speak with, people I knew in World of Warcraft who have drifted away, even some people who have subsequently left Final Fantasy XIV and whom I just… don’t talk with any longer.

And yes, some of these people are folks I miss. It’s not exactly surprising that we’ve lost touch, but at the same time, these were cool folks and I hope they’re doing all right. Of course, there are also people I’ve lost touch with whom I probably wouldn’t really care much about even if I could find them again, so everything is variable. What about you, readers? Have you ever lost touch with an MMO friend when you wish you hadn’t?

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