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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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EVE Online revenge war update: The war machine stalls

Last week we brought you the news of a massive new war brewing in the north of EVE Online, and The Imperium’s threat of revenge to the alliances that live there. The Imperium has been farming hard in the southern Delve region for months and has built up a massive war chest since it was kicked out of its northern territory during the colossal World War Bee conflict last year. Meanwhile, military alliance Pandemic Legion has been throwing its weight around all over nullsec, interfering in TEST Alliance’s war with Guardians of the Galaxy in the north and dropping supercapital fleets on The Imperium in the south.

The revenge war kicked off as The Imperium formed a pact with TEST Alliance and then moved over 1,000 capital ships to a staging system in the low-security system of Hakonen in the north of EVE. This war seems to be mostly about creating engaging PvP content, but for The Imperium it’s also an opportunity to get revenge on those who sided against them during World War Bee. For TEST Alliance, it’s a continuation of its conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition and perhaps a way to give Pandemic Legion the bloody nose it deserves.

This week has seen some interesting developments in the war, with several failed attempts to anchor citadels and possible strategic blunders and supply issues. Read on for a breakdown of the latest in EVE Online‘s latest revenge war.

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Arcfall delays PvP patch as it prepares to transition into alpha

Here’s a little bit of bad news that’s followed by a large dose of good news for Arcfall fans. The team announced that it decided to move back the implementation of the game’s PvP system by two weeks.

Bummer, right? Well, it’s actually because of an unexpectedly good thing. The team said that it’s been making such great progress on the western sandbox that it will be able to exit pre-alpha and enter alpha testing earlier than anticipated. And because the transition requires a wipe, it didn’t make sense to also wipe for a PvP system two weeks beforehand.

Thus, on August 25th Arcfall will officially become an alpha product, and add systems like PvP, animal taming, animal farming, mounts, factions, guilds, swimming, castles, player-owned vendors, and a revised loot system. That’s a decent trade-off for a two-week delay, eh?

Source: Steam

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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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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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EVE Evolved: A massive war for revenge is brewing in EVE Online

Just over a year ago, the largest PvP conflict in gaming history kicked off in EVE Online as war erupted between the game’s most prominent territorial alliances. Over 60,000 pilots were initially drawn into the interstellar war that came to be known as World War Bee or The Casino War, and thousands of ex-players and newbies signed up during the war just to get involved. We followed the landmark battles and political twists of World War Bee intently for several months as it unfolded like a living work of science fiction. Our coverage ended with The Imperium, a large military coalition led by alliance Goonswarm Federation, being kicked out of its territory in the north of EVE and losing thousands of members and allies.

The story could have ended there as alliances often collapse following a major defeat (in what players affectionately refer to as a “failure cascade”), but the core of The Imperium stuck together and vowed to one day get revenge. The group has since managed to conquer and hold the lucrative Delve region in the south of EVE and has been farming resources en masse for months, rebuilding its war chest and waiting for an opportunity for revenge. It looks like that moment has now arrived, as the group has reportedly moved a huge fleet up north to a staging system within striking distance of its former home.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how the war brewing in the north of EVE got started and what shape it might take over the coming weeks.

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One Shots: The one where we mention Michael Bay

Warning: This column will contain GRAPHIC and EXPLICIT references to film auteur Michael Bay. You may find yourself cutting away in excitement every two seconds and subject to unnecessary explosions and pixelated cleavage. Try to remain calm.

Siphaed had “super fun” in Citadel: Forged With Fire lately and wanted to share a vista from his new house. But what’s the best part? “Explosions!” he wrote. “Michael Bay would be jealous of the graphical fidelity of Citadel. And yet still aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”

Now that we’ve gotten our gratuitous Michael Bay reference out of the way, let us push forward and try to forget the man who single-handedly ruined two 1980s franchises. We are not bitter.

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Global Chat: Learning from Master X Master

We’ve certainly remarked several times on Massively OP how much like an MMO Master X Master is, even though it firmly checks the “MOBA” box on its census form. With so much similarity and bleedover between the gameplay genres, is there something that MMOs can learn from this title?

Occasional Hero seems to think so and has pulled out three lessons from his experience, including altaholic pride: “As someone who loves playing an army of alts rather than a single character, I really like the idea of a game with a whole bunch of characters that I can switch between as I feel like it. It’s one of the reasons why I love Marvel Heroes so much, despite the fact that the gameplay revolves around doing the same content over and over. And the reason why playing a bunch of different characters/classes is fun in a game like Marvel Heroes or Master X Master is that they each have a unique gimmick.”

Join us for more interesting MMO discussions from gaming blogs after the break, including a strange revival for EverQuest Online Adventures, a new way to experience World of Warcraft, and first steps into Secret World Legends!

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Secret World Legends may be punishing groups for farming XP

Here’s your public service announcement for Secret World Legends: You may want to avoid grouping up to farm mobs and XP on the map, as some players have reported being suspended and even banned from the game for doing so.

“Last night I ran out of Transylvania quests while being in queue for three or four hours,” one player posted. “PVP is disabled, so I ended up joining a group that was just running around killing everything in sight for about five hours. Its good XP but boring as dirt. Today I get on and find I am suspended. Check my email and it says I was suspended for using an exploit to gain XP, AP, and SP? Grouping up and killing mobs mindlessly for hours is an exploit? Trust me if I had anything else to do I would have done it. How is that an exploit? If grouping up and killing mobs is an exploit you might want to warn people.”

While Funcom has yet to publicly address the issue, players are hypothesizing that there’s a bug that allows for unintended extra XP to pour in while completing bounties. If the studio’s GMs consider this an exploit, then perhaps this is why action is being taken.

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Monetization expert: MMOs are dying because of clueless design, not insufficient demand

MMORPG players just love it when somebody declares the MMORPG dead, right? All those games you’re playing, all the games we’re writing about and sustaining us? Zombie games! You’re imagining it all! Thanks, mainstreamers!

Today’s somebody, admittedly, is Ramin Shokrizade, an economist and author well-known for his career and expertise in gaming monetization specifically, and he doesn’t mean literally dead in today’s piece on Gamasutra, in spite of its title. “What Killed the MMOG?” is an excerpt of an unpublished paper he penned in 2009 on RMT: real-money trading/transfer and gold farming, a problem developers told him “had no solution.”

Shokrizade describes the “industrialization” of RMT in factories run by massive organizations in China dedicated to making black market botter cash off the burgeoning MMO market in the 2000s. “Since the accounts are optimized for profitability, they tend to bring in perhaps ten times as much coin per hour as a maximum level account played for entertainment purposes, and hundreds of times as much as an account at half the level cap or less,” he wrote. Consequently, paying for in-game cash from RMT companies was just a logical move for buyers.

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EVE Evolved: Does EVE Online need more conflict-drivers?

Of all the terminology associated with EVE Online, the one thing that’s always made me a bit uncomfortable is to hear players describe PvP as “generating content.” It’s an oddly sterile euphemism that seemed to surface years ago during the era of the blue donut when large alliances organised faux wars for the entertainment of their restless troops, and it doesn’t sit right with me. PvP in EVE is supposed to be about real conflict for solid reasons, not generating content for its own sake. It’s about smashing a gang of battleships into a pirate blockade to get revenge, suicide ganking an idiot for transporting PLEX in a frigate, or forcibly dismantling another alliance’s station because you just hate them so much.

EVE PvP can be visceral and highly personal, not just something fun to do or a game of strategy but a way to settle old grudges and punish people for whatever the hell you want. World War Bee was a brutal mix of Machiavellian politics and massive fleets of highly motivated players coming together, not just for some fun gameplay but to try and completely annihilate the goons. So what the hell happened? Why are so many people sitting in nullsec fortresses and farming ISK, building huge capital fleets and complaining about the “lack of content” in PvP today? Does EVE‘s conflict engine need a tune-up?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the factors limiting real conflict in EVE today and suggest three possibly controversial changes that would drive further conflict in New Eden.

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How I got married through World of Warcraft

I’ve mentioned a lot of times, in passing, how my wife and I connected in part through World of Warcraft. But I’ve never actually gone into any depth on the subject, and it didn’t actually happen because I wanted to be involved with her.

It happened because I needed a healer.

At the time, I had a collection of friends in the game who were all happy to play with me, but we also were all DPS. In the days before the dungeon finder, this meant that forming a party was more or less just something that was not going to happen. So I recruited my best friend at the time with the explicit statement that I wanted her to be our healer.

We’re now many years on from that, and pretty much 90% of the time she plays a tank. So from one perspective, that plan was an enormous failure.

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