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SWTOR’s Update 5.4 will add a new flashpoint and player housing on a moving train

Now that Star Wars: The Old Republic players have mastered their emotions and the 5.3 update, it is time to gaze to the galaxy and prepare for what’s coming. BioWare realized that it had been a little vague on what August’s Update 5.4 would contain and rectified this with more elaboration on the patch’s contents in a forum post.

Update 5.4 will kick off with a completely new flashpoint called Crisis on Umbara. With three difficulty levels (including master), players will need to bring their A-game (and A-gear) to whip this instance. If players beat the flashpoint a few times, they can gain access to the Umbara stronghold, which is held on a moving train.

The update will also contain more companion customization, the ability to summon companions while moving, higher graphics settings, and the end of Season 8. Discipline balance tuning is scheduled to continue with changes to Lethality, Ruffian, Concealment, Scrapper, Medicine, Sawbones, Fury, Concentration, Carnage, and Combat.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your ideal ‘retirement’ MMORPG?

Wednesday, my husband and I were chatting about the big stories of the day, including the Star Citizen piece that racked up a bajillion comments, not counting all the deleted ones. I was explaining that some people have put thousands of dollars into this hope of a game, which skews how setbacks are perceived, when he remarked, “Oh, it’s their retirement.”

He didn’t mean people were investing their retirement savings into CIG, of course, although I’m sure somebody is doing just that. He meant they’re investing their retirement dreams in virtual spaceships. Those future players don’t really care that the game isn’t finished now and probably isn’t going to be feature complete for many more years. They’re thinking long-term: This is the game they want to “retire” to in a more vague and distant future, and it’ll be ready for them when they’re ready for it. Star Citizen is their cabin by the lake, their shack by the sea, their tent on Tatooine.

I’m most of a lifetime away from retirement, so I’ve never really thought about what I might want to play if I ever get to be a kid again only with money, outside of joking about wanting VR in the old folks’ home. But I have my weak spots: If someone promised me SWG 2 would be ready in a couple decades, I’d start planning my character now.

Have you got a “retirement MMO” picked out? What’s your ideal retirement MMORPG?

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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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Raph Koster would put action combat in Star Wars Galaxies if made today

Recently, one of game designer Raph Koster’s fans wrote in to pose him an interesting hypothetical question. If he were to remake Star Wars Galaxies today, the fan asked, which combat format would Koster choose?

His answer? Action combat all the way, baby.

Koster said that the environment right now is more conducive to action combat, even within RPGs. He cites a larger audience for such gameplay, far better technology than back in 2003, and different player expectations. “It would feel pretty alien to the average player to be in first person and not have FPS combat,” he writes. “This was one of the things that drove having overhead views in SWG.”

He does note that RPG elements can be used to make action combat more stat- than twitch-based, which has been used in many MMOs and other video games.

Source: Raph Koster

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Hyperspace Beacon: The sexual harassment problem in SWTOR

As most of our readers probably know, I consider myself a member of the roleplay community in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have been a part of MMO roleplay communities since 2004, and there isn’t a lot that I haven’t seen. However, there is a problem in the online communities, in general, that I have been quiet about, but I feel that something needs to be said about it before it hits a breaking point. And the gamemasters of the SWTOR world are stretched too thin and have to take extreme action — an action that will likely limit those who are innocently trying to have fun. The problem is harassment against women.

In my community, we have some very strong women, and I don’t want to call them out because I don’t what to make them targets. But I do want to thank them for their effort, and I would like them to know that their extra work has not gone unnoticed.

I myself merely play female characters sometimes, and many times when I’m on those characters, people assume that I am a woman in real life. Although I know that my experience only scratches the surface of what a woman gamer goes through, even I can see that it’s a problem. So I would like to touch on what I’ve seen and why I see it as a growing issue.

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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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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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The Daily Grind: Which MMO IP should Disney themeparkify next?

Following Disney’s announcement of the Star Wars Hotel in the Galaxy’s Edge Disney subpark this weekend, my MMO guildies were joking about using the location for a guild meet-up in a few years. (Well, they were joking; I was serious! Teenage Bree would literally be shrieking incoherently over this thing. I practically still am.) The new bit is basically a Star Wars LARP hotel where you walk around in costume (and presumably in-character).

“It’s unlike anything that exists today. From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100 percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

So basically, it’s an MMORPG that skips right past VR and into real life. Will it be awesome? It’s going to cost a fortune, so probably — although if Westworld is any guide, people will still pay fortunes to show up and be idiots. My guildies will probably just spend all their time playing sabacc in the cantina, so we may as well just stay home and save the dough.

But Star Wars is my particular obsession; I’m sure you folks can think of other IPs, specifically MMO IPs, that would work even better for a bajillion-dollar vanity LARP. Which MMO IP should Disney themeparkify next? (Points to whoever says Revival first!)

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How to find the right MMORPG as a couple

People seemed to quite like my piece last week about how my wife and I wound up married in no small part due to World of Warcraft. Of course, I also alluded in the column to the fact that World of Warcraft was hardly our final destination, and we’re currently playing Final Fantasy XIV quite happily together. We’ve also gone into Final Fantasy XI, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Fallen Earth, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic… a lot of different games, in other words. And I’m just counting the ones we’ve tried together.

I don’t think that there’s any one surefire way to always find the right game for a couple to enjoy, but I have had a fair amount of experience with it now, and it’s helped that we’ve both spent a lot of time working on finding what works and what doesn’t in this field. So here’s some (hopefully) helpful tips about finding a game that you and your romantic partner of choice can enjoy together.

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The Stream Team: Diving into SWTOR’s new Manaan stronghold

SWTOR just introduced a new stronghold, and this one will help Massively OP’s Larry and MJ cool off a bit in the summer heat. Well, it could if it were real! Manaan, the home of the Selith, is a water planet, and the duo will be diving in to show it off. After that, they’ll return to their Choose My Alignment adventures in KOTFE. Join us live at 2:00 p.m. to decide the Chiss Agent’s fate as the war against Arkann continues.

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s mid-term report card

You would probably expect me to cover the new Star Wars: The Old Republic Manaan stronghold because it just released yesterday, and indeed, I will be covering that in my livestream with MJ this afternoon. But if you came here for my elevator-pitch impressions of the new stronghold, I can only say that it is mixed. There are some really great things about the new stronghold and some really bad things about the new stronghold; the base would have a bigger impact if there were visuals connected with it. I will lay that all out in the livestream with MJ.

Here, I would like to give my impressions of where Star Wars: The Old Republic sits in the middle of the year. As always, I like to use the Bartle Taxonomy to see how it appeals to different types of players. Bartle’s archetypes are Socializers, Achievers, Explorers, and Killers. I’ll get more into the details of what that all means in a bit. No one will fit any one of these archetypes 100%, but people will tend to lean heavily into one category or another.

Massively OP writers took a test based on Bartle’s Taxonomy a while back, and although it doesn’t cover everything that players are interested in, I believe it gives a good impression of what players of MMORPGs are looking for. Below, I have pulled apart the key features that each archetype is looking for in SWTOR and measured them with a letter grade scale.

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SWTOR addresses legacy weapon tuning exploit

In a rare example of informing the community about the details of an exploit, Star Wars: The Old Republic put up a post on the forums to inform players about a “loophole” allowing for players to circumvent the cartel market and legitimate gameplay to copy weapon tunings and crystals across accounts.

“What happened is some players would add the tuning to a legacy weapon, send to an alt, remove it on that alt, re-add it to the weapon, which would then incorrectly unlock it in collections on that toon,” the devs explained. “They would then send that weapon to all of their toons and perform the same process, thus circumventing the entire collection system and obtaining weapon tunings for their legacy without having to pay for it. As everyone has pointed out, crystals sold via the cartel market could also be collection unlocked this way, and in fact, as players have clearly stated in this thread, they’ve been doing that for a very long time.”

The exploit was fixed yesterday and can no longer be used in this fashion. However, with August’s Update 5.4, the team is including a change that will allow players to transfer crystals and tunings using legacy weapons at no cost.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic’s 5.3 is live today with Sisters of Carnage, class updates, and new housing

Star Wars: The Old Republic’s 5.3 patch is rolling out today, bringing with it the new underwater Manaan Stronghold home, the Sisters of Carnage raid bosses, and Lana and Koth companion visual appearance customizations. Already have too many homes? No biggie; now you can have a total of six of ’em, so you can squeeze in the Manaan Retreat too.

Pretty much every class has received a balancing pass this round too, as teased rather ominously over the past month.

Plus? “Tanno Vik has been convinced to put clothes on and will no longer appear naked in Knights of the Fallen Empire cutscenes.” So there’s that.

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