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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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‘We all can be heroes:’ An interview with Star Trek Online’s Chase Masterson

With a dozen members of the all-star cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returning to reprise their roles for this June’s Star Trek Online: Victory is Life, one actress has the advantage over the others. Chase Masterson is back for at least her third stint in the MMO, having played fan favorite Leeta in past updates (including as a hologram and as a Mirror Universe villain).

With the heavy Deep Space Nine focus on the game’s third expansion, it’s good to see the reunion of a cast from a show that’s now 25(!) years old. Masterson has since gone on to act in many TV shows and movies, perform as a jazz singer, and found an anti-bullying organization called Pop Culture Hero that uses film, comics, and TV to take a stand against bullying in schools and communities.

We sat down with Masterson to talk about reprising the role of Leeta, the continuation of Deep Space Nine, the benefits of maturity, and how we all can be heroes.

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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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Star Trek Online improves XP boosters, brings back Delta Recruit event

There’s nothing like an expansion to draw interest and attention back to an older MMO, and Star Trek Online is enjoying such a period in its lead up to the launch of Victory is Life. For those currently playing or returning to the game, you might be interested to know that a patch has landed today with a few nice bonuses.

Shrewd captains who use XP boosters will find that while the prices for some of these have gone down, the benefits have increased.

The game has also brought back the Delta Recruit event, in which brand-new characters can experience extra special missions involving the Iconian war and be rewarded with some nifty account-wide goodies. The event is running from April 19th through May 17th.

Source: Patch notes

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Star Trek Online opens up its expansion bundle packages for Victory is Life

If you’ve been through prior expansion launches for Star Trek Online, you know that the expansion launch is almost always accompanied by big packs full of stuff for a large amount of money. So it should surprise absolutely no one that Victory is Life contains those same packs, if you’d like to buy a whole bunch of stuff for one price instead of nabbing it piecemeal from the in-game store later. It’s a time-honored tradition at this point.

The smaller and cheaper pack opens up the Vanguard Jem’Hadar racial option and includes the dreadnought cruiser (a T6 ship), while the larger pack also includes playable Cardassians, several more Jem’Hadar ships, and several Cardassian intel ships. It’s expensive (like $120 of expensive), but if you really want to cruise around in all of the newest ships with the newest species options, it’s the obvious pick. Or you can just pick things up on the in-game store if that’s your preference, tradition is tradition.

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EVE Online’s ‘million dollar battle’ set a Guinness World Record for PvP battle concurrency

Last January’s much-hyped “million dollar battle” in EVE Online may have been a $3300 bust in terms of the value of the ships destroyed in the chaos, but that doesn’t mean the battle was for nothing. As The Ancient Gaming Noob himself noticed, the folks at Guinness World Records have determined that the event set a new record in online PvP.

“Fans of space-based video game EVE Online have helped set a new record after achieving the Guinness World Records title for the Most concurrent players simultaneously involved in a single multiplayer PvP videogame battle. A total of 6,142 players took part in an enormous battle – the Siege of 9-4 – in January 2018.”

At Fanfest, where CCP accepted the award, CCP Guard fittingly said, “This award is yours; we’re just its stewards.”

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Russia’s Telegram crackdown blocks access to WoW, EVE, and Guild Wars 2

If you play Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks, EVE Online, or World of Warcraft in Russia, you may find that access to these titles has become spotty or non-existent as of late. This is due to the Russian government cracking down on the Telegram messenger app, which came under fire for essentially allowing people to communicate without being spied upon by intrusive government agencies (and then refusing to grant said agencies backdoors into the system). Over 20 million IP addresses have been blocked in the country as of April 17th, a move that has affected many services and sites not related to Telegram.

The crackdown has basically shut down access to the login servers of Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online for some, prompting outrage and frustration among players who suddenly were not able to access their games.

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Star Citizen promises shirts for its two million backer milestone

Back in 2015, Star Citizen passed a million registered users. At this point, the game has passed two million. Three years later, it’s doubled. It also means that the staff behind the game wants to celebrate by giving backers a shirt.

Not a real shirt, though; an in-game shirt! So you don’t have to just tell your co-workers that you were part of the two million backer mark, you can show it off to the people who are more likely to think you’re cool.

Preview art for both the two million backer shirt and the one million backer shirt are available now; the latter is blue while the former is red, so even if you didn’t notice the number on the back you can still tell the difference. There’s no ETA on when these shirts will be available as the game moves through its test phases, but until then you can enjoy a forum badge to ensure that everyone knows you were in on the ground floor. (Assuming the ground floor is two million.)

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Humble Bundle and GOG.com cut deals for online games

Looking for a few good deals on MMOs and multiplayer games? Both Humble Bundle and GOG.com are running some sales right now that might cut you a deal on a title you’ve been eyeing.

Humble Bundle’s Sci-Fi Week includes price breaks on No Man’s Sky ($23.99), Osiris: New Dawn ($12.49), the standard version of Elite: Dangerous ($13.49), the commander deluxe version ($31.79), and the season pass for Elite: Dangerous Horizons ($17.99).

GOG.com’s Most Wanted Games Sale isn’t quite as relevant for the online gamer, although you can pick up Grim Dawn for a respectable $7.49, Torchlight for $3.79, and Torchlight II for $4.99.

Source: Humble Bundle, GOG.com. Thanks Dave!

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The Stream Team: Soloing Star Trek Online’s latest featured episode

Because of her hesitation to do the featured episode solo (as is required), Massively OP’s MJ shied away from it last time and focused on her story line after the rocket event. Now, she’s gathered her courage and is launching into Renegade’s Regret. Tune in at 5:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you our first premier!

What: Star Trek Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

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EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Games has big plans for data collection and machine learning

Every day in the sandbox of New Eden, several hundred thousand EVE Online players perform millions of unseen actions. Every item manufactured, module activated, shot fired at an NPC, and stargate activated leaves its mark on the universe, but the granular details of those actions is lost forever. It simply isn’t feasible to record every little thing a player does in-game, or at least it wasn’t feasible until now. At EVE Fanfest 2018, CCP announced an innocuous new Activity Tracker feature that may actually eventually have big consequences for everything from game balance to fighting bots.

The feature will be delivered as a new Activity Tracker window in the game client that will show players detailed stats on almost everything they’ve done in-game since the tracker went live. This in itself is useful, both for helping players set goals and for highlighting other areas of the game they might not have given a fair shake yet and so might enjoy. Behind the scenes, the way that CCP is collecting this detailed data and the implications of its use are really fascinating, and there are even plans to use machine learning to look for patterns in this data that would help identify bots.

Read on for a breakdown of exactly how masses of new data is being captured on EVE players, and how it could be put to use in the future.

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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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Star Trek Online is finally adding playable Cardassians with its next expansion

A playable faction of Cardassians has been something Star Trek Online fans have wanted more or less since the game wanted, to the point that there was no small amount of consternation around the idea of a new faction being added that wasn’t the Cardassian Union. But fear not, lore fans; the release of Victory is Life will indeed see playable Cardassians for both the Klingon Empire and the Federation. That’s really all you need to know to be excited if you’re a fan of Star Trek.

Want a little bit more on the game? Fear not, the developers also have you covered when it comes to how the game’s leveling will work for the expansion’s level cap increase. Perhaps most importantly, players need not fear another tier of ships; Tier 6 remains the top end and there will be no additional lore ranks added. Check out the full rundown to get an idea of what the game will have in store for you, along with a breakdown of the experience needed to acquire the increased levels.

Source: Leveling, Playable Cardassians; thanks to Jake for the tip!

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