sandbox

Sandboxes are a type of MMO that emphasize player freedom and expression. They frequently include mechanics for building, crafting, trading, character customization and development, roleplaying, destruction, and significant interaction with the world and other players. A sandbox that is dominated by an open-PvP or free-for-all ruleset is sometimes pejoratively called a gankbox. Contrast with the themepark.

EVE Evolved: Solving EVE Online’s botting problem

Practically every MMO on the market today has had to contend with botting and the range of issues that come with it, and EVE Online has always been a favoured target for bots. EVE‘s slow pace of gameplay and predictable PvE activities make it ideal for automation, and the nature of a persistent sandbox is that more time spent farming resources and currency will always be better. The issue seems to have escalated in recent months since the free-to-play upgrades expanded the range of ships and modules available to free users, and the community has been pushing CCP heavily for progress.

A team of bot-hunting players made the news last month when they took down eight ridiculously expensive supercarriers being controlled by bots, exposing just how big the scale of the problem is. The EVE security team responded with a ban wave hitting over 1,800 bot accounts in January and promises that they are “coming for the bots,” but one expert admitted in a recent interview that the war on bots may never be won. So just how difficult is it to tackle botting in EVE Online, and what could CCP do to improve things?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the difficulties in detecting and shutting down botters, how extensive botting may be in nullsec, and some things developers might have to do in order to solve the problem.

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The MOP Up: FFXIV’s Eorzean Symphony (February 18, 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!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from RuneScapeTERAEVE OnlineWorld of Warships Blitz, Path of ExilePUBGFinal Fantasy XIVVaingloryPath of Exile, and MU Legend, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: First steps into a wider world

Every MMORPG player knows that there is something incredible and magical in the feeling that you get when you take your very first steps into a new game. It’s the fresh scent of the unknown mixed with potential, excitement, and energy.

Reader François knows this all too well as he documents an early moment from Final Fantasy XIV: “The trees of the Shroud meet the sky as Kan-E-Senna watches a young adventurer depart for the other nations of Eorzea. A familiar sight for anyone who started in Gridania.”

Small pet peeve, but when your city has a name like “Gridania” and your street patterns are all twisty-turny, you’re going to make my eye twitch. Elves need to buy better urban planners, IMO.

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ArcheAge Begins debuts its regional championship mode

Gamevil’s mobile spinoff of ArcheAge, ArcheAge Begins, pumped out its fourth content update this past week. The focus this time around was the debut of the Regional Championship, a 4v4 PvP arena.

By participating in the championship, players can fight cross-server as they claw, blast, and power their way to the top of the rankings. This championship is an evolution of the established annihilation mode.

Right now, Gamevil is running a pre-season event with prizes for the server that places first from now through February 19th. All players on the winning server will receive 1,000 gems and an ancient rune selection ticket regardless of participation.

Source: Press release

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Whatever happened to Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately? That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing!

In this special pirate edition of the column, we’ll be visiting the fates ‘n’ fortunes of Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates. Yo ho!

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The Daily Grind: What skills would you like to see added to MMOs?

One of the features that captivates and draws players to Project Gorgon is the quirky indie MMO’s design of infusing the game with a wide and bizarre assortment of skills that you don’t typically see in other online RPGs. After all, this is a game that includes such skills as Flower Arrangement, Beast Speech, Psychology, Civic Pride, Holistic Wellness, Poetry Appreciation, and Howling.

It has me excited because I’ve grown tired of what I see as a limited skill set that inhabits most combat-centric MMOs. I want games to remember their pen-and-paper roots and come up with skills that go beyond “the best and fastest way to murder.” And if that takes the form of poetry, then so be it.

If you were able to add skills to an MMO, what would they be? What skills would enhance your gameplay experience and make your title that much more interesting and immersive?

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Save Evangelion pilots in Maplestory’s crossover event

Maplestory players are getting a fun treat in the form of a crossover with classic ’90s anime Evangelion later this month.

“The heroes of Evangelion have entered Maple World through an inter-dimensional rift, allowing players to interact with characters from the movies while taking part in various events and quests,” Nexon said in its press blast this week. “The Evangelion pilots are lost in their new surroundings in Maple World, so players are tasked with completing daily quests to help them navigate and become more familiar. Maplers can interact with Shinji, Rei and Asuka to earn EVA Coins to spend on limited-time items and must fend off waves of invasions from Angel enemies to save Maple World.”

The event features themed quests as well as paid and questable lockboxes galore, with accessories, hairstyles, androids, and chairs (yes) as rewards. The festivities begin on February 28th and run for a whole month; the trailer is below!

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon pushes for crowdsourcing and a freemium model

Do you have talent? Then Darkfall: Rise of Agon wants you to chip in and help out — for pay, of course. The team behind this indie PvP MMO announced the formation of its Agon’s Community Talent (ACT), an initiative to recruit talented artists that can help design resources for the dev-strapped game.

Players can submit their own decorations, weapons, and armor designs with the hopes of having them added to Rise of Agon’s cash shop. Those that do will be rewarded: “While getting new items and artwork you created added to the game you love sounds great and all, we want to also reward you for your hard work. Everyone who finds one of their entries added to the Nithron Coin Shop will officially join ACT, providing them not only with forum and in-game recognition but with financial reward as well.”

ACT will help with the game’s transition to a freemium model that should open the doors to more players giving it a try. In addition to this initiative, the team is hard at work on a market patch with a new auction house interface and a global wallet.

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Pantropy works to simplify crafting and protect players from offline raids

With $24k out of $94k raised so far, the German mech shooter Pantropy has a long road ahead of it in its Kickstarter campaign.

The team hasn’t stopped developing for the game during this period, however. It reported that work is being done on an “offline raid protection system” to make the PvP battlescape a little more fair.

It also acknowledged that its crafting system needs an overhaul: “We also got a lot of feedback from our current playerbase and the result is that our crafting is waaaay to complex. We’ll try to re-write all crafting recipes today and make them more simple.”

As we’ve pointed out previously, Pantropy is a little larger than your typical multiplayer game but less than a bigger MMO, with a server size of 64 to 128 players duking it out over an alien landscape.

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up our adventures in Project Gorgon

There’s a familiar situation to players of tabletop games wherein a sidequest becomes more important than the main quest, and you wind up taking further sidequests on in order to advance the original sidequest. And if things go egregiously awry, you start asking yourself what you’re actually pursuing the sidequest for in the first place. The first arc of Darths & Droids does a pretty good job of illustrating this phenomenon.

Anyhow, that’s where I wound up with my last week of Project Gorgon. It wasn’t that I didn’t have self-determined goals, it’s that most of them required a sidequest to complete a sidequest to complete a further sidequest so that I could… start grinding. It was all functional, but it kind of felt like staring at the bottom of a cliff knowing that I had a limited amount of time to actually scale that cliff, and not being able to quite muster the enthusiasm when I know that I’ll never get all the way up the cliff in time.

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Star Citizen’s new $185 Aegis Vulcan support ship is so ugly it’s cute

On this week’s episode of Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts bookend segments on the ship pipeline in the game. Did you know Star Citizen has introduced 114 ships, vehicles, and variants since the start of development? Neither did I. Here comes another one: the Aegis Vulcan. The adorably ugly and chunky ship is essentially a utility starter support spacecraft that packs in repairing, refueling, and rearming. Says CIG,

“It’s a versatile support ship. It’s there to support other ships. It’s not great at combat. It’s not great at transport. It’s not great at racing. It’s there for helping out with other ships. So if you’re that sort of person that is interested in the not more active combat side but helping others, then this is a really great entry into that, because it does allow you to help out massively for ships that run out of fuel, ships that have minor damage, ships that run out of ammo and any of these ships could be stuck out in deep space. They can call for your help, and you can go out there and give them just enough to get them where they need to go to. It’s sort of like the space AA or AAA for America. You call them up. They give you just enough to get to where you’re going, and then you can do your full repairs, rearm, refuel there.”

It’s also for sale as part of the early VIP optioning system. It’s $185 right now (warbond price), and it is actually scheduled to no, it won’t make it into the 3.1 alpha (thanks Dividian).

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.

“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”

I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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Massively Overthinking: Could bots save dying MMORPGs?

Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.

“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.

Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?

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