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One Shots: Tour guides

It turns out that MMORPG players really don’t need much prompting to go out and take a bazillion screenshots of their favorite in-game zones, as evidenced by the avalanche of photos generated by last week’s challenge.

SmugglerSteel kicks us off this this neon nightmare: “I knew exactly where I needed to tour in SWTOR for this one. I will always remember my first trip to Nar Shaddaa. I was blown away away by the color and aesthetic. I always thought it had a very Bladerunner inspired feel, yet still did it’s own thing.”

Like any good casino, Nar Shaddaa is designed so that players can never figure out how to leave. SmugglerSteel forwards his mail there now.

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EVE Online gives love to planetary interaction, looks back at an all-female pirate gang

Creating and maintaining planetary colonies in EVE Online isn’t exactly new, as the system dates back to 2010. But the developers have deemed it high past time that they give this creaky system some love with the upcoming Into the Abyss expansion.

“Most of the changes are aimed at making setup and maintenance of your colonies less painful, especially when it comes to all the clicking that is currently involved in setting up a colony,” CCP said in a dev blog on the system. Lots of changes to planetary interaction are in the works, including a new planetary colonies window to help you keep track of your projects.

And while things get ordered down on the surfaces of planets, out in space it’s still the anything-goes sandbox that EVE has always been. One interesting piece of the game’s history that was recently documented by PC Gamer was the story of the Hellcats, an all-female fleet that pushed back against the notion that the MMO is strictly a game for men. The fleet only ran for two-years, but its legacy still lives on today.

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WRUP: I overslept and my office is filled with firewood edition

Ah, Saturday, you noble day when I basically forget about time. Nothing I have to do today. Nothing much, anyway. I should check out the comments to What Are You Playing when I get up.

What did I do for What Are You Playing this week, anyhow? What sort of joke did I…

Oh no. No, no, no, all right, up we go, excuse me cat, out of the way, I have to pretend to be on time. Oh, no, people are going to think this was a thing about Friday but that isn’t it, that wouldn’t even give me a hangover, how is it now? All right, upstairs, I’m here, I…

Why is my office filled with firewood? No. No, we’re not doing this. I don’t need all this firewood. Someone else can figure this out [Bree, let me finish this joke or change it before Saturday -E]

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The Daily Grind: What was the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time?

Best and worst, top and bottom: It’s fun to discuss video game in absolute extremes (at times). And I’ll bet that a lot of us only really remember the most excellent MMORPG expansions and the most disappointing ones.

So let’s grouse today and dredge up past heartaches. What was, to you, the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time? A few come to mind for me. Star Trek Online: Delta Rising was a narrative and structural mess that bogged down and made me desert it. I know that I was really let down with how RIFT: Storm Legion developed, faltering hard after a strong start. But probably for me, Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor took the cake. The publicity for it was atrocious, the actual expansion about as far from “fun” as I’ve ever experienced in an MMO, and the difficulty of moving and progressing was aggravating.

But that’s me. How about you? Which MMO expansion do you want to rag on today?

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Choose My Adventure: And now, Ultima Online, sooner or later

Oh boy.

So, yes, I did actually play some Ultima Online. Or I tried to play some Ultima Online, at least. I’m not sure that most of what I did was actually something that I would call “playing,” although it involved me being in the game and ostensibly interacting with it. And it’s times like this that I particularly dislike my job, because this puts me in something less than a comfortable position.

I don’t know how many of you reading this right now are fans of UO, and as I established in my first column, I don’t really feel as if I’m equipped to critique the game as a whole because this is where everything started. This is the original of the species. It’s like that gag in Dr. McNinja wherein Ben Franklin is mentioning that inventing things during his original lifespan was easy because all you had to do was pay the slightest bit of attention.

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Star Citizen deep-dives the guts and glory of the character customization system

Cloud Imperium Narrative Director Dave Haddock joins the Around the Verse crew for this week’s episode of the Star Citizen community video. The majority of the studios, the devs explain, are already moving on to the next quarterly release – that being the 3.2 alpha.

But the highlight of the episode is the first iteration of the character customization system that rolled out in 3.1. It’s a pretty complicated system under the hood that hooks together everything from facial structure, hair, eyeballs, and then colors and textures for all of those bits, all properly tagged and linked together to make it easy for artists to add new assets. Hats and hair pose problems too, as any MMO player who’s even been annoyed by clipping can attest. The whole episode is below!

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Final Fantasy XIV releases its next patch site and its Live Letter digest

Players are crucial to the reconstruction of Doma in Final Fantasy XIV, so it’s only right that the next leg of the game’s main scenario will bring us back there. The special site is already available for players to peruse, offering some details on the upcoming patch and giving a hint at the lore behind the Sparrow’s Compass dungeon. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t sound like everything is going to go smoothly for Doma… which should surprise almost no one.

Meanwhile, players who had subsisted on fan translations of the live letter can now read over the official digest of its contents, which includes a number of additional (and relevant) pieces of information. For example, there’s further explanation of the “Greed Only” rule in Alliances, noting that it’s in place to prevent people from feeling pressured to run on the job they want to gear up when it may be at a lower item level; it’s an experimental rule that is open to revision based on community feedback. In other words, offer feedback on it. Or anything else in the letter’s official translation, really.

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The Daily Grind: What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

Earlier this month, Pantheon’s community team tweeted out a question that keeps coming back to me: “What motivates you to play an MMORPG for long periods of time, as in months, sometimes, years?” My first reaction was a pretty common one I bed and was true for me for a long time: friends and guildies! I certainly played some games far longer than I would have otherwise because I wanted to hang out with friends (EverQuest in particular is coming to mind).

But in recent years, when I already “see” my friends and guildies every day in external chats, I’d found games need some other draw too. Housing is probably the biggest one. I don’t usually get sucked in for dailies or anything like that, but give me a house that I love and want to keep up – that I’ll not only log in for but pay for, as my continuing Ultima Online fees prove.

What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

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Massively Overthinking: What we really mean when we talk about ‘difficulty’ in MMORPGs

Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:

“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”

I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
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Hyperspace Beacon: Five things Star Wars The Old Republic still does well

I have been harping on so many things that BioWare is doing wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic that some have wondered why I still play the game. I will admit that I have been playing it less and less. Some of that has to do with the amount of free time I have, but if I’m honest with myself, my desire to play the game has dwindled. But I still enjoy it. I know that I don’t need to justify myself; if I like something, I like it, and if I don’t like it, I don’t.

But there are still reasons to like SWTOR, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. I think it’s time to put a bit of a positive spin in my column, so in no particular order here are five things that SWTOR still does well.

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The Daily Grind: What could MMO taverns do to get you to stick around?

I have vague memories of ArenaNet talking about Guild Wars 2 taverns prior to its launch and how these spaces would be more than window dressing. Maybe that was a dream or something, but I’ve always respected the effort to make one of the most iconic of RPG locations — the tavern meeting place — more useful and engaging. Warhammer Online, too, was touting tavern brawls that would take place as public events.

We’re so conditioned to run in and out of such places that unless we are roleplaying for some reason, chances are we never stay for more than a few seconds. And that’s kind of a shame, because I like the idea of players spending some time in bars unwinding. I heard a myth of a dead MMO that used to put such an emphasis on this, but it was probably all bunk.

What could MMO taverns do to get you to stick around? Would you hang out for minigames, gambling, special events, or special buffs?

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EVE Fanfest 2018: Andrew Groen on the sequel to his popular EVE Online history book

One of the most common comments you’ll see in articles about big events in EVE Online is that it’s a lot more entertaining to read about than to play, and that’s certainly true if what you’re reading is Empires of EVE. Written by EVE Historian Andrew Groen back in 2015 and published thanks to the support of over 3,000 players through a crowdfunding campaign, Empires of EVE tells the story of some of EVE‘s earliest and most deadly wars and political schisms.

Cutting through all of the propaganda and player self-motivations in a political sandbox like EVE is no small task, and it’s complicated by over a decade of shifting loyalties, misinformation, propaganda, and misremembered events. Andrew is uniquely equipped to cut through many of those issues, collecting as accurate historical records as possible and delivering it all as a coherent, deeply compelling narrative that even plenty of non-players have thoroughly enjoyed. Andrew recently announced that Empires of EVE had broken the 15,000 sales mark, and at EVE Fanfest 2018 he announced a sequel is now in the works.

I caught up with Andrew at Fanfest to find out how the first book’s success has affected him and what the future holds for Empires of EVE: Volume II.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the dumbest armor?

Back in February, PC Gamer put out a piece on the absolute dumbest character armor in gaming history. There’s more than one MMORPG in the list, including World of Warcraft (Arthas’ Lich King armor) and Lineage 2 (Dark Elf string armor). Bizarrely, City of Heroes made the roster too for that one dude from The Lost faction with a TV helmet. The best part is the commentary from an actual real-life armorer (they’re basically all the equivalent of “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid”).

I thought it would be fun to dig further into MMOs for even more dumb armor. Me, I’ll vote for anything where the shoulders would poke me in the eye, anything I would legit wear clubbing, and anything that proves definitively that the designer has no idea how actual boobs work.

Which MMO has the dumbest armor? Post pics if you have them!

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