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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Prosperous Universe liberally borrows from Facebook for one of its systems

With so much going on while you attempt to manage your own space economic empire, you’re going to need a little help to stay informed. That’s why the small dev team behind Prosperous Universe is putting a priority on hacking out a useful notification system that will deliver regular updates on projects and events that impact the user.

The devs said that they’re taking a cue for this system from social media: “It pretty much looks and works as you’d expect from a site like Facebook… and that’s on purpose: Many smart people have thought a lot about this problem in the past and there is no point in reinventing the wheel.”

Another project in the works is to rebalance the game so that it rewards specialization strongly enough that it will tempt players away from creating self-sustaining bases that don’t require any external interaction.

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SWTOR’s spring content: Cash shop overhaul, conquest revamp, new flashpoint – but probably not a ‘traditional expansion’

Star Wars: The Old Republic’s had a couple of rocky months with the greater MMO community, following ominous rumors reportedly from inside BioWare that EA was internally debating the MMORPG’s future. While not everyone bought into the rumors, and the studio itself teased 2018 plans, the recent refer-a-friend promo didn’t exactly quell the growing concern that the game may be in trouble.

But maybe the roadmap will. As promised, BioWare posted the roadmap yesterday, and it’s happening as a living document in the forums from BioWare’s Keith Kanneg himself, as he says, to “not make it seem like [the devs] disappeared into the ether.” So here’s what we’re looking at for content in the short term. In March, expect GU 5.8: Command Authority; it features

  • big (unspecified) changes to the cash shop based on feedback;
  • the return of companions Ashara Zabros and Vector Hyllus;
  • a romanceable Arcann companion;
  • new companion gifts to boost influence levels to 50 (not something you can just buy outright, however);
  • a fifth boss (with two modes) for the Gods from the Machine Operation (though not all bosses are getting that Master mode, note);
  • and a major revamp to the Conquest system.

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Rumor: Disney eyes Ubisoft and Activision to take over Star Wars video game IP

Raise your hand if you’re a little tired of Electronic Arts’ handling of the Star Wars video game franchise since its acquisition in 2013. One… two… yeah, a few of you.

Well, there might be A New Hope in the future for a new handler. Rumors are emerging that Disney is eyeing two different publishers to take the reins of the Star Wars IP in the video game market, especially in light with the Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco last year.

Cinelinx has the possible scoop: “From what I’ve heard Lucasfilm is upset as well and looking for other options. I’ve had a couple sources reach out to me about the current state of Star Wars gaming. According to them, Disney/LFL higher ups pulled EA to the ‘principal’s office’ to talk about what’s going wrong (which is what others have reported as well). Moreso, they’ve apparently reached out to both Ubisoft and Activision about developing Star Wars games.”

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SWTOR kicks off ‘share the love’ refer-a-friend promotion, gifts speeder and armor to subbers

What’s Star Wars The Old Republic got up its sleeve for Valentine’s Day? How about a “share the love” event for new and returning players?

BioWare announced today that it’s re-energizing its invite-a-friend campaign with a new SWTORSHARETHELOVE promotional code that’ll get you rewards, including a speeder, droid minipets, and other perks if your buddies actually subscribe.

Existing subbers are getting something too: “The SWTOR team is Sharing the Love with our Premium Players by giving everyone the Chiss Talon Interceptor Airspeeder and the Force Veteran’s Armor Set – these rewards will be available beginning March 1, 2018 through in-game mail.”

If you’re a former subber, you can also make sure of the share the love code if you reactivate, and you’ll also pick up that sweet airspeeder and armor Set. These promos all run through February 27th.

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One Shots: Toy chests

Really, when you think about it, MMOs are our grown-up toy chests. They have all of these attractive and fun toys to keep us occupied and happy as we pretend that we are heroes on great adventures while making a pit stop to play Barbie’s dream house. And that’s OK — we need to blow off steam and relax somehow, and this beats HALO jumping in the safety department.

This week, the Massively OP readership was all-too-eager to show off the toys within their toy chests, starting with Hirku’s trip to an amusement park. In a theme park MMO. There are layers upon layers of meta in today’s column, folks!

World of Warcraft’s Darkmoon Faire is my favorite toy, and this week I get to play!” Hirku posted. “Wheeee!”

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Raph Koster calls potential manipulative MMO microtransaction AI ‘horrendous’

Here is some nightmare fuel for gamers imagining the future of the industry. How about an artificial intelligence that deliberately manipulates and messes with players in games to drive revenue growth?

Back in January, a leaked and unconfirmed (and possibly fake) slide show from Data Broker LLC outlined a draft of something called “online game revenue models with AI.” In it, an AI was described that manipulated players’ gameplay experience to drive them toward more microtransactions. Even worse, it uses real-world information about you to drive this process.

“We have proven that allowing the AI to alter a player’s game as a whole (social engineering),” the slide show appears to say, “and alter the player’s individual gameplay experience (psychological manipulation tactics) causes a consistent and dramatic increase recurrent revenue streams.”

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The MOP Up: Overwatch rings in the Lunar New Year (February 4, 2018)

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 EVE OnlineCSGOFortniteEverQuest IIStar Wars Battlefront IIBlack DesertWar of RightsArmored WarfareDota 2HellionElder Scrolls OnlineOverwatchFortniteFinal Fantasy XI, and Pokemon Go, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: The jig is up

What will you when you embark on your pirate career in Sea of Thieves? I know that at least for me, the answer will be “nothing serious.” There are too many ways to goof off and embrace your inner buccaneer in this title, and so expect to find me with an accordion and a cranky parrot at your nearest port.

As for Cap’n Deekay_plus, he decided that doing a jig was the best use of his closed beta time: “I finally got a female avatar in the Sea of Thieves beta after spending all of alpha with a male avatar that too closely resembled my IRL visage. So to celebrate, I took a selfie while dancing!”

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The Stream Team: Dark Reunions in SWTOR’s KOTET

Koth. Koth, Koth, Koth, Koth, Koth. Who didn’t see that as a trap? Now it is a sure thing that Massively OP’s Larry and MJ will need to go rescue the Gravestone. What else will happen in Knights of the Eternal Throne’s Chapter III, Dark Reunions? Join us live at 2:00 p.m. to find out and to decide which what things go in this next installment of Choose My Alignment.

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 155: Pirates, progression, and patches

On this week’s show, the fate of Star Wars: The Old Republic is up for debate! In addition to sorting that out, Justin and Bree discuss the new Age of Conan progression server, Final Fantasy XIV’s big content release, EVE Online’s disappointing battle, 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 Game Archaeologist: Fallen Age

Imagine that one day you wake up, stumble to your computer, and check in on the morning news. Among the various tidbits is a rather surprising notice of a brand-new MMORPG that is not only in the works, but is on the verge of beta testing right the heck now. Would that be enough of a shock to wipe away any vestiges of sleep and generate immediate interest in this title?

For some players during a very short period in 2001, it definitely was.

The game in question is Fallen Age, an isometric MMO that made headlines by announcing its presence in one breath and imminent beta testing in the next. However, Netamin Communication’s game couldn’t quite live up to that promise, and by the end of the year, it had vanished almost as quickly as it arrived. So what was this game and what exactly happened?

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Star Wars The Old Republic devs tease February roadmap, call 2018 the year of returning companions

Ever since the Kotaku article quoting an anon BioWare dev saying that Star Wars The Old Republic’s future is “up in the air” – we covered that here – we’ve been inundated with still-unsubstantiated tips claiming that SWTOR is absolutely doomed and scheduled to be terminated.

But if you’re worried, maybe this will make you feel better: BioWare devs streamed for the community last night to tease some of the incoming content, calling 2018 the year of returning companions, including Jaesa and Kira. The studio has promised the updated roadmap in February (January is reportedly when they do annual planning), and solo-ranked cross faction play is still on the to-do list.

In other words, as Larry argued in this week’s Hyperspace Beacon, despite the rumors and slowed pace of development, it sure doesn’t look like the game’s going nowhere. You don’t build out a roadmap and bring on somebody like Timothy Zahn if you’re preparing to sunset. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time the devs were the last to know, and both Eric Musco and Charles Boyd seemed to pointedly ignore all chat discussions on that article during the stream. Guess we’ll see in February.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever taken drugs in an MMORPG?

Probably my favorite screenshot in an MMO is the one I took back in 2003 or so, when my Star Wars Galaxies character was selling handmade spice out of her backpack one by one, before anyone I knew even had factories. After buying a few Neutron Pixies from me, one of my customers whispered to me some advice. “You’re kinda small and adorable for a drug dealer,” he noted. “You may want to get a scar or something for the next transaction with someone.”

That conversation popped into my head this week when I read about the ESRB’s guidelines on the depiction of narcotics in video games, which have apparently been reinforced by a recent study on top-selling console games that found plenty include various drugs as boosters, some in combination with other drugs, some without any associated side-effects. SWG, of course, had really nasty side-effects, a long-lasting downer that often made the spices not worth using outside of critical fights or duels, but still, the whole thing was still very cartoony. With or without my scar.

But what about other MMOs? I can think of only a handful of true MMORPGs that touch this sort of mechanic; most just seem to skirt the question altogether, no doubt to avoid that ESRB M sticker. You guys can probably think of more examples. Which MMOs have “drugs,” did you think they were problematic, and have you ever taken drugs in an MMORPG?

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