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One Shots: Tour guides

It turns out that MMORPG players really don’t need much prompting to go out and take a bazillion screenshots of their favorite in-game zones, as evidenced by the avalanche of photos generated by last week’s challenge.

SmugglerSteel kicks us off this this neon nightmare: “I knew exactly where I needed to tour in SWTOR for this one. I will always remember my first trip to Nar Shaddaa. I was blown away away by the color and aesthetic. I always thought it had a very Bladerunner inspired feel, yet still did it’s own thing.”

Like any good casino, Nar Shaddaa is designed so that players can never figure out how to leave. SmugglerSteel forwards his mail there now.

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The Game Archaeologist: Harry Potter Online

If all goes well, later this year we will finally be treated to an actual Harry Potter MMORPG in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. While that will be a mobile ARG in the vein of Pokemon Go, it will still be a big step into the online space that MMO fans have been craving for nearly two decades now.

Obviously, Harry Potter continues to be a mammoth franchise for J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts, which has handled the video game license over the years. While there have been single-player Harry Potter titles, especially on consoles, no MMORPG emerged even at the height of the IP craze that swallowed up Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer, and more. So why not?

The truth is that Harry Potter Online almost did happen. Its brief existence and development isn’t too well-known, even today, but the wasted potential has always tantalized me with what could have been. Using a time-turner, we will go back to the late 1990s today and peek in on a possible future that came to fruition.

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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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Black Desert Korea is letting players date (and vie for) NPCs

If yesterday’s Black Desert patch in the west didn’t grab you, maybe a peek into what Korea’s getting will. Daum’s official patch notes over on the Korean site lists some of yesterday’s changes here, including the PvP and crowd control tweaks, but it also has some fun new bits, including “a new system where you can date an NPC.” Wait, what?

“After establishing an intimacy with a specific NPC and succeeding in confession, you can become a lover with that NPC. Also, when you become a lover, you can get special title.”

Inven Global’s translation is better than Google’s here; it refers to an “amity” pool and a “confession” of love to pick up that NPC as a girl/boyfriend. You can also send gifts to your new beau in a system that looks a lot like the one in Star Wars The Old Republic – except that in this system, everyone’s vying for the same NPCs instead of lugging around a copy with eyes only for one PC.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five things Star Wars The Old Republic still does well

I have been harping on so many things that BioWare is doing wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic that some have wondered why I still play the game. I will admit that I have been playing it less and less. Some of that has to do with the amount of free time I have, but if I’m honest with myself, my desire to play the game has dwindled. But I still enjoy it. I know that I don’t need to justify myself; if I like something, I like it, and if I don’t like it, I don’t.

But there are still reasons to like SWTOR, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. I think it’s time to put a bit of a positive spin in my column, so in no particular order here are five things that SWTOR still does well.

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SuperData examines the lootbox controversy’s effect on EA and the gaming industry

How big a deal with the lootbox controversy that finally hit the mainstream last year? Pretty big, SuperData argues. In a new blog post, the analytics firm argues that “the loot box controversy hampered Star Wars Battlefront II out of the gate” as shown by the game’s monthly active users compared to its predecessor’s, and that the resulting dumpster fire has caused publishers to rethink lootboxes and self-regulate or at least modulate their greed – an effect we’ve already seen in the MMO industry too.

“At the upcoming E3, we’re likely to see presenters announce ‘no loot boxes’ or that paid content is ‘cosmetic only’ in order to get on the good side of creators and hardcore gamers,” SuperData predicts. “Loot boxes won’t disappear anytime soon given their success in games like Overwatch (over $600M of loot boxes sold through February 2018). In the short term, though, ‘No loot boxes’ will be the game industry’s own ‘gluten free water’ — and we’re likely to even see this slogan used to market titles where loot boxes would not make sense such as adventure games.”

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One Shots: How to go blind in one easy step

As someone who only has one functioning eye, I find that my vision is paramount to my quality of life and personal enjoyment. Plus, it would make playing MMORPGs slightly more difficult if everything was dark.

But I’m not everyone, and I have to allow for the possibility that there are gamers out there who are desperate to lose their sight but at a loss as to how to do it. With that in mind, I present SmugglerSteel’s one-step process to going blind in 10 seconds or less: Find the largest sun you can in Star Wars: The Old Republic and stare at it from about 20 feet away.

At least the last thing you’ll see will literally brighten your day!

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The Stream Team: Solving SWTOR’s Chapter VI story puzzles

Last time, Massively OP’s Larry and MJ infiltrated Vaylin’s party and got just as far as the kitchen in the puzzles of KOTET’s Chapter VI. Today, the goal is to figure everything out and move ahead in the story! Can they do it before time runs out? If not, at least they will enjoy the party. Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. to make all the hard decisions for MJ’s Chiss Agent in this week’s Choose My Alignment adventure.

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

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Here are all of the class nerfs and buffs coming with SWTOR’s 5.9

Just like a certain farmboy looking wistfully up at twin suns and thinking of his future, Star Wars: The Old Republic fans are looking ahead to next month’s Update 5.9 and the changes that it will bring. Among those will be the continuing effort to balance and adjust the game’s many class builds.

So what, exactly, is on the docket for class changes with 5.9? Tanks need to brace themselves for a nerf “across the board,” as BioWare says that they are doing too much damage. On the upside, tanks will get more threat generation to help in their role. Many non-tank builds are due for some utility changes to improve their survivability in combat encounters.

The team also called out Marauders and Sentinels for special changes, as they are “overperforming” according to the devs. While they’ll be getting a nerf to two of their combat skills, two other skills are being tweaked to reduce damage in a crowd control situation.

Source: Dulfy, #2, #3

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SWTOR teases its new expansion, Cartel Market updates, and more coming by year’s end

With all the April Fool’s updates and misinformation that were flying around this weekend, it was a little difficult to tell what was a prank and what was real, especially after developers saying they were not going to do “traditional expansions.” That said, during an interview with influencer SWTOR Central, Community Manager Eric Musco and Creative Director Charles Boyd confirmed that they are currently working on an expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but not much more was said about that other than one quote from Boyd:

“We’ve got the story in 5.9 coming out in May, and that’s going to conclude the whole Theron traitor story arc and put a capper on the Eternal Throne-related activities, for the most part, in terms of being the focus of the story. And we’re definitely going to be getting back to a Republic-vs.-Empire-core storyline — getting back to that war — revitalizing it into the core original SWTOR conflict.”

However, it’s not quite time to jump up and down, yet. After Boyd said that during the interview, Musco inserted, “We’re still figuring out what the expansion really is,” hinting that most of the pieces aren’t really settled, yet.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR prank that revealed so much about the hungry fanbase

With April Fool’s Day falling on a Sunday, Passover, and Easter, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet watching the pranks and funny videos. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t have its normal joke videos or Cartel Market sales. However, the SWTOR influencers did have a little bit of fun. SWTORista, Kid Lee, and especially Vulkk participated in a little bit of fun on the prankster’s holiday by making videos about the game.

Sid Caeser is quoted as saying, “Comedy has to be based on truth.” And I was surprised how close to the truth Vulkk’s video was. But that’s not the only things that as hitting home with long-time SWTOR players and even the most loyal fans of the game. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Vulkk’s video and the recent changes to the Cartel Market.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 164: Shroud of the Heroes

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin have a hearty laugh over April Fools Day in MMOs, celebrate the launch of a couple of titles, talk about MMO body shape options, 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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Star Wars: The Old Republic gives all its subscribers two companions

Do you enjoy having companions who are primarily interested in following the money? Because that’s what Star Wars: The Old Republic is offering subscribers as of April 3rd. Yes, if you paid money for a subscription, you can get yourself two new companions, the famous Mandalorian Shae Vizla and the somewhat-famous guy-who-wants-money-while-wearing-a-trenchcoat Nico Okarr!

So they’re still following the money. Bit of a meta-joke, there.

There’s no further unlocking required; as long as you’re subscribed by April 3rd, you’ll receive both companions. Both companions have been offered before as bonus companions to players who have been subscribed at certain intervals, so it’s possible you might already have these two figures tagging along behind you. But at least you’ll get a spare in case something happens to the original, right? (You will not get a spare. That’s not how companions work.)

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