It's one of the more peculiar laws of the universe that when enough EVE Online players meet in the real world, they absolutely must swap stories. You can see it in action at meetups and events like EVE Fanfest and EVE Vegas, where players take a trip down memory lane with corpmates over a beer and regale whole groups of strangers with tales of wars, clever schemes, and treachery. It's like some tribal instinct takes over and we feel the need to pass on our virtual history or bask in glory days gone by like a couple of Klingons in a Ferengi bar.
We're all familiar with the biggest and most impactful stories that go down in the sandbox of New Eden because they tend to hit the gaming media like a brick in the face. When the largest war in gaming history goes down or hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of ships goes up in smoke, you're bound to hear about it. What you don't hear about is the hundreds of compelling little stories that take place every day within EVE, most of which are left untold. Several interesting stories are shared each day on the EVE subreddit and official forums, a few make their way into works of cinematography, and some have been immortalised in song or shoehorned into propaganda posters. These little stories are the everyday reality of what can happen in EVE, and part of the reason so many of us are hooked on the game.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I suggest that the true draw of EVE is in its capacity for making stories with friends, and share a few of my own little histories from days gone by.
When the winter is coldest on the coast of Iceland, CCP lugs out its 20-foot wooden alpine horn and blows a signal that can be heard across the Atlantic. The sound awakens all EVE Online players from their hibernation and lets them know that it is time once again to form the next Council of Stellar Management.
Starting in February, EVE Online will begin the process of electing a player council to advise and provide feedback for CCP on game matters over the next year. During February, players can apply and be processed as potential candidates. In March, the community will vote on their favorites, and in April, the 12th CSM will be announced at this year's EVE Fanfest.
One detail of note for this year is that all players -- even free-to-play accounts -- may apply to join the CSM. The current CSM is participating in a second and final summit at the end of January in Iceland.
Wanna geek out over something bizarrely beautiful? CCP Games posted a video this morning that shows a 30-minute timelapse representation of EVE Online development from 2004 to 2016.
CCP SnowedIn built the video using Gource, an open-source tool that turns project directories and logs into glowing "branches with files as leaves." The whole thing is oddly mesmerizing, especially the wild whirls and sparks and flashes early on in 2004, but the annotations that put the timestamps to development history are especially useful.
Now, if only time-dilated battles looked this good!
Whatever stability problem CCP encountered with EVE Online's
119.1 patch that caused the studio to implement a rare rollback from yesterday's planned launch
has been fixed, apparently, as the studio says it's now prepared to move forward tomorrow.
"Downtime will begin at 11:00 UTC and may be extended slightly beyond the regular 15 minutes while we use VIP time to perform extended testing of the release," writes CCP. "This release brings a selection of new SKINs for SoCT and Mordu's Legion Command hulls, as well as improvements and fixes to the Fitting Simulation window. In addition to this, there's also a new theme tune for 119.1, titled The Ones We Left Behind, as well as a whole host of bug fixes and graphical improvements."
Let's hope Tranquility won't be offline for hours again for emergency maintenance! Patch overview docs are up on the updates site for those who'd like a sneak peek.
CCP took EVE Online's core server, Tranquility, offline this morning for a rare unscheduled downtime and rollback, the apparent result of "several issues that were identified after today's daily downtime that have been causing significant latency," as CCP Falcon put it to forumgoers earlier today. "Tranquility will remain offline while we carry out a little faultfinding and rectify the issues we've had."
Since that post, Tranquility has returned to service, but the 119.1 release that was scheduled to launch today has been delayed and the core server rolled back to 118.10, though don't worry -- you're not going to lose anything in the process. Other than time if you were trying to log in during the unscheduled maintenance.
"Due to an issue with the 119.1 release which resulted in server stability issues after its deployment, we will be re-deploying the 118.10 release while we work on a fix. [...] The redeployment of the 118.10 release will have no effect on any progression on Tranquility."
We got a wonderful "deep thoughts" email from reader James earlier this week that serves as the backdrop for this morning's Daily Grind.
"It could be the whiskey talking, or the newness of coming back to a game after a year, but I am finding Final Fantasy XIV much more intellectual and meditative than World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic, etc. What MMO makes you think the hardest while playing?"
I'm going to resist the urge and say EVE aka Spreadsheets Online and instead give my nod to Lord of the Rings Online, which always makes me feel like I'm plodding through an intentionally archaic historical novel -- and I mean that in the nicest possible way. How about you folks? What do you think is the most intellectual MMORPG, the kind you can't just faceroll your way through because it really makes you think?
Over the past several years, the way in which we receive gaming news and the types of gaming media we follow has changed pretty fundamentally. Today's MMO gamers belong to dozens of micro-communities inside and outside their game, following multiple gaming channels and personalities on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch that have practically exploded in popularity.
Even a game as historically impenetrable as EVE Online has been swept up in this sea of change, with a huge number of video channels and livestreamers joining the game's rich media history of live radio, blogs, and podcasts. New shows start up and close down every year, but a few have gathered impressive audiences and really stood the test of time.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at five notable EVE Online YouTube shows and Twitch streamers you might want to keep an eye on going into 2017.
Sometimes you have to exclude something from a list. I could, for example, praise World of Warcraft: Legion for being a really good expansion yet again... but I already did that. Heck, we already did that. It won an award and everything. And it deserves that award, but let's be real, we did not suffer at all from a paucity of updates over the past year. So it's time to honor some of the other updates that were great this past year that haven't gotten enough recognition.
Of course, this is my own curated list, so if you're looking for objectivity combined with a subjective rating like "best," you may be looking for love in all of the wrong places. Let's take one last look through 2016 at all of the really cool game updates that made the onslaught of deaths and tragedy at least slightly more pleasant.
The number of games our wee little Stream Team covers in the span of a year is staggering. If you ever wanted to know what an MMORPG looks like and how it plays before you shell out money or download a mega-client, the Stream Team is your best bet.
We’ve put together some of our favorite streams from the year, from launches to first-looks and beta deep-dives and even a series of SMITE charity streams we did with the help of our viewers. Enjoy!
This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2017.
Early in November, EVE Online's Ascension expansion ushered in a new free-to-play chapter for the sci-fi sandbox (no matter how much they tried to get us to use "clone state"!) and boosted its concurrent numbers back over 50k.
Meanwhile, BlizzCon gave us a clearer picture of Blizzard's anemic-but-better-than-usual plans for Diablo III and its relatively rapid cadence plans for World of Warcraft in the post-Legion era. The Nostalrius saga reared its head again too as the emulator made plans for a relaunch. RIFT's Starfall Prophecy expansion also rolled out to players.
Read on for the whole list!
You guys may not have consciously noticed it, but we've been working harder and harder on our science-related articles in the past couple of years -- even more than in 2015. This past year, we even hired on a staff writer specifically to cover gaming science, especially as it relates to MMORPGs, and we've been collecting all of his work along with our other science posts in their very own category.
Read on for a recap of our best science-related MMO articles from 2016, from virtual reality tech and the Gamer Motivation Model to EVE Online's Project Discovery and the psychology of Pokemon Go. Don't worry; there won't be a quiz at the end!
Every week for the last few years, we've expanded on our "Daily Grind" theme with a Leaderboard poll. I've had a blast taking over Leaderboard; Daily Grinds always get lovely qualitative answers, but numbers! tallies! bar graphs! Polls are a quantitative sort of magic that we don't often get from our other articles -- at least when they aren't being brigaded.
Let's take a look back at our best MMO polls of 2016!
Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for MMORPG the Year, which was awarded to Final Fantasy XIV last year.
Recall that in 2014, we couldn't reach consensus on an MMO of the year. In fact, enough of us voted "nothing" that "nothing" is exactly what won, which was a depressing way to end the year. So last year, we took readers' advice and opened this category up to all MMOs, provided they did something noteworthy this year. We've done the same this year, though as you'll soon see, we needn't have.
All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end, and congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners.
The Massively OP staff pick for MMORPG of 2016 is...