7 days around the MMO world (Mar.15)

Today we begin our trek through the MMOverse with one of the few successful sci-fi based MMORPGs, EVE Online. This past Tuesday EVE Online had its latest expansion, called Apocrypha, go live. It’s being described as the most significant expansions to hit the game ever. The laundry list is very long but lucky for you we’re here to point out some of the more significant points.

One of the major bullet points in the long patch notes is the addition of wormholes. The wormholes will take you to one of the 2500+ new solar systems that are waiting to be discovered. But don’t be fooled, these wormholes can be tricky. Each wormhole has a set of limitations that restrict the size and mass of what ships you can take through not to mention that eventually the wormhole will collapse, giving you a time restriction as well. This makes the player really think critically about what ships to bring to their new solar system, and think fast at that.

This also adds a new dynamic to the game as it makes attacking colonies more difficult. Since there is a size/mass limitation you can’t simply overpower another colony through numbers. Any attack on a wormhole system will require a well thought out strategy as a well defended POS will be able to see an attack coming a mile away.

Another big change is the addition of epic missions. The purpose of these missions is to pull players away from the repetition of the general PvE mission grind. While the old stand missions worked and some very lucrative, players require something to work for, an end goal. The epic mission format gives them that as each set is an ongoing story arc that will be driven by the player’s choices along the way. Most of the missions will reward like the standard agent missions but players that complete an arc will be rewarded with better rewards.

Apocrypha highlights

  • Wormholes
  • TECH3 Strategic Cruisers
  • TECH3 Production and Engineering
  • New Player Experience
  • Epic Mission Arc
  • Attribute respecs
  • New NPCs and NPC AI
  • Skill Queue
  • New Ship Fitting Panel
  • UI Exporting
  • New Sound Engine

Next on the big news list is Worlds.com –- yes that company no one has ever heard of -– says that Blizzard and Linden Labs is next on its ‘list of companies we must sue frivolously based on our BS patent’. Worlds.com came out of the gate with NCSoft in its crosshairs but it seems that they finally grew a pair and are going after two of the biggest dogs in all of the MMO space. However they will not peruse Blizzard and Linden Labs until the suit with NCSoft is determined. Hmm we wonder why. If you’re not familiar with this case, the patent they’re infringing on is “System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space.” Which basically describes every online multiplayer game ever.

If this doesn’t scream shady business then we don’t know what does. We think it’s pretty clear that Worlds.com is only now exercising its patent holdings because it’s now profitable to do so. When a company who holds a patent does this, it’s called lache and if NCSoft can prove this while showing that games have been “Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space” long before the patent existed, NCSoft will win this case. Hopefully the court system handling the case will be able to see through the bull and also realize that the patent itself is ridiculous and should have never been awarded. All that this case does is further prove that the US patent system is horribly flawed and is in need of a major overhaul

In other MMO news:

  • Warhammer extends its recruit a friend service all the while merging 43 servers. Uh ohes.
  • Wrath of the Lich King get tangled up in China, no release date in sight.
  • Funcom to reveal The Secret details at GDC, not to be confused with Oprah’s The Secret.
  • World of Warcraft’s upcoming 3.1 patch gets a new test realm build showing us more goodies and the Blizzard downloader starts pre-loading the patch to players.
  • World of Warcraft’s armory page gets an update for Arena statistics. Sweet graphs!
  • Bounty class revealed for Star Wars: Old Republic. You’re Boba the Fett?
  • Champions Online gets delayed for consoles (insert sarcastic use of Justin Timberlake’s Cry me a River here)
  • Second Life flip flops on their mature content policy.