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See: Frontier Developments

Massively Overthinking: Building a better MMORPG economy

We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.

“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”

I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.

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Elite Dangerous’ David Braben on communities, MMOs, F2P, and the space game genre

Elite Dangerous’ David Braben has a big spread in Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog this week, and it’s a fun read as he zips around discussing Trappist-1, Roman slavery, Star Wars, ant society, Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, computer science jobs, and the future of humanity. It’s a whirlwind, but he does eventually get around to talking about Elite itself, admitting that while the game will never achieve “perfection,” it’s “definitely approaching” his ideal space game, as “accurate as we can possibly make it.”

“When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer,” he says. “Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got [Star Citizen’s] Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.”

He also argues that free-to-play is a “challenge” to online communities and instancing in MMOs.

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One Shots: Man of Tungsten

Look there! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… Mysecretid!

Who among us hasn’t played a video game at some point and decided to create his or her favorite fictional character? At least Mysecretid is being honest about it: “DCUO sets up this idea that the players can be proteges of existing DC heroes and villains. Although many players ignore this possibility, I decided to make my character a clear Superman fan — as I am.

“I realize that Superman is often terribly written, but when someone ‘gets’ the character, he’s golden. I re-created my main from the PC on my PS4. I’ve been having a lot of fun, despite the game’s flaws.”

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Elite: Dangerous players find Thargoid bases prior to this fall’s invasion

The Thargoid menace may already be encroaching into Elite: Dangerous’ galaxy, well before the planned invasion for later this year. Sharp-eyed pilots have discovered four abandoned bases or crashed starships so far that have the distinct design of the notorious alien race.

Coordinates for each of the sites have been tweeted out, so expect curious pilots to be flocking to these bases to get a good look at what they’re in for come this fall. Additionally, one pilot streamed his exploration of the Thargoid base, which is ideal for anyone a little too nervous or inconvenienced to travel there. Check it out after the break!

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Elite Dangerous has launched for the PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4 players can flock to the Elite Dangerous universe beginning today, thanks to the game’s official launch on that console, complete with adjustments for touchpad controls and even a “fast headlook” mode for wireless controllers.

Elite Dangerous and the Elite Dangerous: Horizons season pass are now available digitally on the PlayStation Store as standalone products or together as part of the Commander Deluxe Edition, complete with the bonus Commander Paint Pack. Elite Dangerous is also available at physical retail stores for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the Elite Dangerous: Legendary Edition, featuring Elite Dangerous, the Elite Dangerous: Horizons season pass and a bonus 1,000 Frontier Points for purchasing in-game cosmetic items.”

Meanwhile, players have made yet another discovery in the Thargoid storyline. We’ve embedded the launch trailer and new lore bits below!

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LOTRO Legendarium: Mirkwood, the best zone no one remembers

The other day I was continuing on with my Bingo Boffin adventures in Lord of the Rings Online when Mr. Boffin decided he was going to sneak his way across battle lines and into Mirkwood Forest. Like most of his encounters, I don’t think he ended up loving it quite as much as he anticipated, but you know what? I did.

You see, ever since Siege of Mirkwood came out with LOTRO’s second expansion, I’ve always been quite partial to this odd little zone in Middle-earth. Perhaps this makes me the odd man out among the community; I rarely see anyone speak highly of Mirkwood (or, these days, speak of it at all). It seems like it’s forgotten, this strange cul-de-sac of the game world that only exists to be a stopping point on the epic story before players have to turn around and go back the way they came.

Yet as I was running all over the place trying to secure first AND second breakfastses for Bingo Boffin, I was reminded of how much I love this zone. I’d even say that Mirkwood is in my top five zones of the game as a whole (alongside The Shire, Forochel, West Rohan, and North Ithilien). It’s time this forgotten land got some recognition, so here goes.

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Aliens from 1984 swarm into Elite Dangerous with Horizons 2.4

For a good long while, it seemed as though Elite Dangerous players were all alone in their gigantic galaxy playground. Then came the discovery of alien remnants and evidence of life, suggesting that the devs had more up their sleeve. But little did players know that first contact was about to become second contact with one of the franchise’s most notorious enemies.

Frontier announced this week that with Horizons 2.4, the Thargoids would arrive in the game after a long absence from the series. The truly alien race that hails from an ammonia world made its debut in the original 1984 game as a threat that players encountered and had to overcome.

The Return update is coming in Q3 2017 and will bring the Thargoids and their eight-sided spaceships into the modern era with story events and inevitable battles. The dev team cautions players that if they fail to stand up to the aliens, they could see the galaxy slowly consumed by the Thargoids.

“What happens next will be decided by every Elite Dangerous player,” said Frontier CEO David Braben. Check out The Return trailers after the jump!

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E3 2017: Ubisoft announces Skull and Bones, a multiplayer pirate sandbox

Sea of Thieves, you have a new challenger in the realm of MMOsy pirate games: Ubisoft just announced Skull and Bones at E3. The game looks gorgeous and boasts a “shared open world” that reacts to players, seeming character customization (“choose your captain, recruit your crew, and build deadly ships”), PvP in the “disputed waters,” and fun piratey fluff like spyglasses and realistic wind navigation.

“It is the Golden Age of Piracy. Renegade captains command the most powerful weapons on Earth: warships. You are a pirate captain who has refused the king’s pardon and sailed from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, an untamed frontier full of lavish riches. However, these waters are also a battleground where far-reaching colonial empires, powerful trading corporations, and ruthless pirate gangs clash. In order to survive, you will have to build a lethal fleet, prey upon lucrative trade routes, and ally with other pirates in your endless struggle for supremacy.”

“We’re not making Black Flag 2.0,” Ubisoft says in the new trailer. “We’re making our own game. But we really went to school on what we’ve done in the past.” Check out the videos for the whole overview.

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Elite Dangerous maneuvers to counter exploiters

You might think that after decades of online gaming and what’s surely millions of accounts across all the games sanctioned for cheating, people would think twice about exploiting. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

Elite Dangerous is one such game dealing with exploits and exploiters. Last week, Frontier issued what seems a gentle warning ahead of its PlayStation 4 launch later this month: Knock it off.

“Just wanted to let you know that we’ve identified accounts that have engaged in repeated and deliberate use of a game exploit which allowed people to gain a significant and unfair advantage with Engineering; we will be reviewing and taking action where we feel it is appropriate,” CMDR Sticks writes, asking players to help report cheaters and threatening cheaters with bans. “The development team are working on a fix for this exploit and we will give you an update on this as soon as we have it.”

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Watch the winning video from Elite Dangerous’ CTRL+ALT+SPACE 2017 short film competition

Last night, Elite Dangerous studio Frontier announced the winner of its second CTRL+ALT+SPACE short film competition. Participants were tasked with creating a video under four minutes using Elite’s camera suite; whether the entry was a trailer or film, the devs were “looking to be dazzled” and were judging on “creativity, originality, ingenuity, […] editing, narrative, and scene composition.”

And now they’ve got a winner: Turjan Starstone and his video dubbed Stardust, created as a tribute to his mother.

“I wrote this to honour the memory of my mother who passed away in March 2015,” he says. “Sadly my mother never got to see the misadventures of Cmdr Turjan. I know she would have been proud of them though. She would have been proud of ‘Stardust’ too, though I suspect she might have tutted at me for being sentimental, because like I say in the video, my mother was indeed a formidable lady.”

He’ll take home in-game rewards along with a video capture card, headset, keyboard, and gaming mousepad. Beautiful work, Turjan. Enjoy it, everyone.

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Elite Dangerous launches for PS4 on June 27

We’ve known since last year that Elite Dangerous was going to set up camp on the PlayStation 4 in Q2 of this year. As of this morning, we know exactly when: June 27th.

“Frontier Developments, a leading independent creator of video games, is pleased to announce that Elite Dangerous will make its debut on the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system on 27 June 2017. Digital pre-orders are available from today in Europe and will be available later this month in the United States. In addition to a worldwide digital launch there will be simultaneous availability in leading physical retail stores in major territories of the Elite Dangerous Legendary Edition boxed disc for both PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.”

Frontier notes that players shouldn’t expect crossplay: You’ll “share the same background simulation, but you won’t be able to cross play directly with Commanders on other platforms.”

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Perfect Ten: Exploring MMORPGs from the far corners of the world

Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.

But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.

So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!

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Elite Dangerous’ novel-concluding Salomé event was wrecked by long-con griefers

Last week, we reported on an impending roleplaying event in Elite Dangerous that was set to influence the outcome of Premonition, a game-based novel by author Drew Wagar. What players did during the event to hunt down or defend accused assassin Salomé was expected to be incorporated into the book, including NPCs being killed off permanently.

I’m sad to report that while many players did rush to Salomé’s (as played by Wagar himself) defense, the event was predictably run off the rails by players. First, a multi-guild faction calling itself Premonition Allied Coalition (PAC), which was sanctioned by Wagar and ostensibly there to protect the NPC, allegedly began threatening and attacking non-PAC players who arrived in the event locations, causing extreme uproar across the Elite subreddit.

And that, according to Ars Technica, is when the chaos really began, as amid the pandemonium, Salomé’s ship was actually destroyed by a PAC member who was in fact a mole named Harry Potter (sigh) from gleeful and notorious Elite griefer group Smiling Dog Crew, who had convinced PAC it could be trusted this time, and MMO players for some reason believed them.

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