gankbox

Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.

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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Next Day Survival debuts, plus H1Z1, Hellion, Black Death, and Life is Feudal survivalbox news

ARK and Conan aren’t the only survivalboxes in town — in fact, several of the modern contenders in the subgenre have updates and videos this week demonstrating their progress.

Today, we’ll start with Next Day: Survival, a new game to our coverage here on Massively OP and one that’s just hit early access today. It’s touting its storyline, questing, “sophisticated crafting system,” car restoration system, repitation, and multiple game modes, including pure PvE and a single-player mode.

Next Day: Survival is a multi-player survival game with elements of RPG. Its action takes place in an imaginary country within the Eastern Europe, a large part of whose territory is contaminated with toxic fog. The player’s main task is to survive, to develop his game character’s skills, and to interact with the surrounding world, other players, and non-player characters (NPCs). In the course of the game, the character earns a reputation, which gives him the chance to join various factions of survivors, each with their own features and limitations.”

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EVE Online previews changes coming to mining moons

Mining makes the world go round for EVE Online. You need those resources to construct space stations, to build ships, and to barter with others in order to fight over the price of minerals extracted through mining, right? Right. So the changes coming to moon mining will have a pretty big impact; instead of passively mining from space, players will lift a whole chunk of the moon and then blast it apart so that individual ships can flit through and mine away. The whole process is explained in more detail in the most recent development post.

Players will have new ores mined from these moon chunks that refine into multiple different components rather than come out pre-processed, thus giving good reason for players to collect these new sorts of ore personally. The process of surveying a moon and the distribution of resources will also be adjusted, giving players plenty of reasons to pursue different moons for mining operations instead of simply parking at the most convenient ones. Check out the full entry to see how much fun it can be to lift off a chunk of rock from a moon and then dig for things from the rocks.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 127: EVE walks no more

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree recount the odd history of Walking in Stations, debate the Mordor pre-order, tackle a trio of MMO updates, talk with ARK’s soundtrack composer, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The MOP Up: Crash Force offers arena fun at a discount (July 16, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we have stories and videos from TERAMaster X MasterEternal CrusadeWarfacePortal KnightsMapleStoryCrash ForceDroneNeverwinterElswordEVE OnlineWarframeFinal Fantasy XIVEverQuest IIWorld of WarshipsPath of Exile, and Eternal Crusade, all waiting for you after the break!

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Massively Overthinking: Consumer protections in the MMORPG industry

Veteran Massively OP reader Miol says he’s exhausted by a recent string of stories in which MMO companies screw gamers over, one after another: ARK Survival Evolved, Albion Online, Skyforge, and now Black Desert all figure into his list, just from the last week.

“I want to ask what more can gamers do to protect themselves and everyone else as consumers than speak up? It feels exhausting to always stay vigilant and feel upset all the time, since games, as an everchanging medium, give devs so many opportunities to screw us over with every single patch or update. And the worst immediate consequence seems many times a meek apology for what they’ve done, only for them to try out something different that maybe could go over unnoticed.

“You guys have reported about this UK watchdog group ASA, who investigated No Man’s Sky, but even they dismissed the tons of complaints about false advertising. Steam did declare some changes to advertising on their platform, but I still don’t see them taken place. If even those big negative stories don’t have that much of an impact, what hope is there for all the smaller communities, spread thin globally? There was a recent wave of gamers imploring each other to not pre-order, but that ebbed away fast enough, when the next shiny pre-order advantages over other players were presented. But even so, this still can’t protect you from what may happen after the launch!

“As said by Bree many times: Merely quitting won’t help either, as the studio will never know why most of the times. But also sending feedback for nine whole days didn’t help Skyforge players to make its devs to scramble! So what else could we do? Or should we just take rotating shifts to call them out?”

We’ll take the first shift right here in Overthinking.

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EVE Online is killing off the last remnants of walking in stations

Hey remember EVE Online’s walking in stations, the talk of the genre a decade ago? Remember when all we really got was a captain’s quarters where you could finally see your character moving around as more than a flat avatar? Even that is now coming to an end.

In a dev blog this week, CCP says that “development time involved in maintaining the current state of the feature is significantly disproportionate to the number of pilots using the feature,” due largely, we assume, to the fact that the feature was a half-measure to begin with that was never developed further. While usage increased when EVE Online went free-to-play last year, it’s shown “steady decline,” and CCP doesn’t want to devote 4-6 weeks of art team dev time on it any longer.

“It is of course important to note that while use has been falling steadily over time, part of the reason for further decline recently has been a change in the default view that occurs when a character docks in a citadel, which doesn’t offer captain’s quarters and switches the account setting to hangar view,” says the studio.

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EVE Online’s July release furthers exoplanet research, revamps T3 strategic cruisers

Happy July patch day, capsuleers! Yep, EVE Online’s July release is now live. The patch includes “one of the most extensive and largest rebalances EVE Online has ever seen,” according to CCP, and includes the promised revamp of tech-3 strategic cruisers. Yesterday’s dev blog explains that the goal to balance, simplify, and diversify the T3s in the ship roster, positioning them between HACs and Battlecruisers.

The highlight for everybody else is the next phase of Project Discovery, CCP’s latest pro-science initiative, in which players will basically play EVE to help real-world scientists in the search for actual exoplanets. (Thank you, CCP and EVE players.)

The studio is also touting new Firewall Breach skins, improved NPC battlestation visuals, and updated designs for the Rupture, Muninn, and Broadsword.

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Check out Revelation Online’s Eternal Chasm dungeon

Revelation Online has a new dev blog up today on the Eternal Chasm, one of its level 59+ multiple-mode instanced dungeons.

“Shinji – after the events of Darkfall – is particularly interested in what resides within this decrepit cave, believing the Eternal Chasm contains clues regarding the fate of his own father. Whether to aid your prince in his investigation, or to simply test your mettle against a huge array of threats and environments, the mouth of the chasm is eager to swallow all visitors and cast them down into madness. This vast map, ripe for exploration, is littered with nodes that render adventurers into a dream-like state, eliciting visions of what lies ahead. From fiery pits and voracious volcanos, to spine-chilling snow lands and sea-faring shenanigans, the Eternal Chasm is teeming with promising rewards and devious challenges to test yourself against, ever increasing in difficulty as you progress.”

Skill Cultivation Books, Equipment Blueprints, Duskcloud Nyx Treasures, and purple gear top the list of loot inside the dungeon. My.com says only two of the dungeons modes are unlocked at the moment; three more will be opened up in later patches.

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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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The Daily Grind: How would you define an MMO gankbox?

A couple of weeks ago, our own Justin wrote a Daily Grind wherein he suggested that EVE Online was a gankbox, earning him some argument from another blogger and sparking an interesting debate about just what a gankbox is.

I’m not sure who first used the term — maybe a commenter, maybe a writer — but it took off like wildfire in our columns and comments years ago and hasn’t died down. I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from any MMO with PvP to survival sandboxes and MOBAs, but in our tags, we’ve defined it thusly:

“Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.”

Personally, I’d probably amend that to be even more nuanced; it’s not just ganking but the threat of constant ganking should you drop your guard that really defines such a game. For example, the majority of my time in classic Ultima Online — definitely a gankbox — was not spent ganking or being ganked, but it was spent protecting myself in a ganker’s culture, whether that was by hiding my keys under a trapped reaggie box, using safe runes everywhere I went, or stockpiling extra equipment to get back on my feet in a hurry. Accordingly, an exorbitant amount of developer time also appeared to be devoted to balancing “freedom” and thwarting the gankers driving customers out of the game.

How would you prefer to see it defined — and which MMORPG do you think best typifies this style of game?

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EVE Online puts players to work sorting through new exoplanet data

The space explored by players in EVE Online is far beyond our own solar system, but here in the real world we’re still struggling to find out what’s out there beyond our own home. That’s why it seems like such a natural fit for the game to roll out the next phase of Project Discovery, putting players to work analyzing real-world telescope data in exchange for in-game rewards. In the game, it’s framed as part of the relentless march of science, and here in the real world it’s actually part of science.

In essence, players are tasked with sifting through the data and noting when a star’s luminosity dims (because a planet just passed in front of it), which means sifting through data and providing important analysis. Analyzing these light curves awards players with ship skins, character outfits, and even some new ships along the way. So you’ll be doing science in the real world and looking scientific in-game. What more could you ask for?

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Perfect Ten: MMOs in limbo

The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.

But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.

That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.

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