Perfect Ten: More terminology the MMORPG genre needs

Many moons ago (so, a few months), I wrote a column about terminology that we need for the MMO genre. This made our Editor-in-Chief Bree extremely happy, and she informed me immediately that we would be going back to that well because it was such fertile ground for future exploration. Thus, for the past several weeks, every single time I write a Perfect Ten, she wonders if this is the one wherein I’m finally going to deliver more terminology.

The answer, this week, is yes. Partly because these are pretty easy to come up with, and partly because we have so many things we see over and over without specific names. It’s just a matter of giving these things words.

Here, then, are another ten bits of terminology we may immediately begin working into our lexicon. I’m happy to see that some of these are already becoming used, so that’s a good thing; now we’ve got a need for more. Place them in your appropriate forum signature immediately.

Somebody loves you, and that's good.

1. Fanvisible

Adjective: A game that clearly has the revenue and population to have an active fanbase, but the fanbase seems almost entirely unknown to the larger MMO community.

These are the games which inevitably wind up sticking in our minds, because it is obvious that these games have players and fans. RuneScape and MapleStory, for example, are clearly both successful games with plenty of players and fans. They bring in money quite effectively. Yet you never seem to actually meet anyone who plays these games. It’s like they exist in a pocket universe where there are no other MMOs, no matter how successful they may be.

How much of this is due to our particular readership and how much of it is down to the game is, of course, entirely a matter of personal experience. But in the space between the games you know people play and the ones you know nobody plays, these games exist.

I made you this. Use it.

2. Overhoard

Verb: To hold on to consumable items in case you might need them later until the items are no longer of any use to you.

If you cannot make your own health consumables, you will likely squirrel away the ones you get. If you have temporary buffs to your damage or survivability, same deal. And in the end, you overhoard them. By the time you realize that you should have used that +5 strength buff earlier, +5 strength might as well give you no benefit whatsoever. You have overhoarded, and now you must pay the price of vendoring these once-useful items.

Props to City of Heroes here, which thankfully avoided having this ever happen. I mean, you could still forget to eat your greens, but at least you wouldn’t find that green suddenly worthless.

Just fight about it, that's the best answer.

3. Maximargin

Noun: A small advantage possessed by one class/skill/build which is taken by the fanbase as proof that it is entirely overpowered and unbalanced.

There are situations when one class is genuinely more powerful than other classes. That happens. If one class deals 5% more damage than another when they both fulfill the same role, that’s a relatively minor difference, but you could argue that the class dealing less damage is worse without being wrong. But then you get into situations where damage figures are tuned within a respectable degree, but class A has a utility ability that helps out in an uncommon situation and class B doesn’t.

Never mind that said uncommon situation may never come up; now class A is better and class B is garbage. It has a maximarginal advantage. Yes, it is strictly correct, but in every way that matters there’s little meaningful difference. For an example, ask Final Fantasy XIV players whether Monk is better or worse than Dragoon.

Oh, you and your notions of balance.

4. Revalance

Verb: To rebalance classes so that the strongest class is now much weaker and the weakest class is now much stronger, thereby recreating the original problem in reverse.

This is also known as the Blizzard approach to balancing. By compensating hard in multiple directions, you wind up with the situation not having actually been fixed so much as shifted. It means everyone gets a day in the sun, but it also means that World of Warcraft players will forever overreact to even the smallest tuning because it could be precisely this. Shaman player characters will no longer take damage, indeed.

Wish you were here! But you aren't, so go get lumber.

5. Camp counselor

Noun: A player who expounds in great detail on what other players should do without actually going out to do any of it. Common in PvP battlegrounds.

More often than not, this player is a jerk, but it is not actually a requirement. Sometimes, the player in question is offering genuine good advice to other players. The determining factor is that the advice being offered is not being followed by the person actually offering the advice, even if there’s a good reason for that. Frequently the player in question is “defending” an empty node from enemy incursions, which is a task that is important but also winds up looking a lot like sitting in camp and telling others what to do.

Chansu.

6. Percentivication

Noun: The perception that the actual odds of something happening are dramatically different from what the game states the odds are.

The fact of the matter is that if you tried something with a 70% chance of success, you’d expect to fail three times for every seven times you succeeded. Missing a 70% chance four times in a row isn’t normal, exactly, but it is entirely in keeping with that chance; odds are low but plausible. Yet somehow it feels like a betrayal, as if you should be succeeding far more often despite the listed chance.

This applies to everything from drop chances to hit percentages to… well, really anything that involves playing the odds. You know how often something should happen, and you may even realistically know that’s not a promise. But when it gets flubbed, you still feel betrayed. Often you wind up resorting to anecdotes, like how everyone else in World of Warcraft got that fox mount and I still don’t have it. Angry.

It's lonely out in space.

7. Polymanagers

Noun: The community managers who players assume are also simultaneously programmers, lead designers, animators, sound engineers, etc.

Many players recognize that community managers, first and foremost, are there to communicate with players in a give-and-take relationship. These people read what’s said, break it down into digest form, communicate it with the heads of various departments, get responses, and then explain that. All well and good. But there exists a small yet vociferous group of players insistent that community managers are, in fact, polymanagers.

These legendary individuals are simultaneously personally responsible for every aspect of the game, and furthermore can make immediate and unilateral changes to the game without taking any time whatsoever. Or, depending on the weather, they could fix every problem in the game by flipping the “Problem” switch to “off,” but instead they’re answering forum questions. That must be what’s happening, because otherwise you’re letting people know about your problems and they can’t just immediately fix them.

Pay to do something. Maybe win! Who knows.

8. Nonclaimer

Noun: A statement that sounds like a promise to the playerbase but is vague enough to mean almost anything whatsoever.

When Eternal Crusade switched business models, the developers repeatedly stated that the game would not become pay-to-win, and I felt my hands instinctively clench into fists. That’s a nonclaimer, right there. It’s something that sounds like a disclaimer, but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere “pay-to-win” is a term that doesn’t mean anything. It allows you to use a vague enough term that the game could sell literally anything in its cash shop, and so long as it’s not an item that literally ends the match and pronounces you the winner, it’s technically fulfilling the promise.

A nonclaimer is like that. “No pay-to-win” is a common one, as it both sounds like it promises something without any specifics. You can think of some other classics; one of my personal favorites is “plenty of content for solo players,” which promises content without promising its accessibility or rewards in any realistic fashion. Or “we’re still considering that,” which can mean “we’re talking about implementation” or “we’re laughing about it and don’t want to say that.”

But now, it's more money.

9. Expansiononent

Noun: The pattern of numbers in an expansion to get higher without actually changing the core balance or expectations at all.

Numbers in an expansion are going to get higher. You expect that, to a point; if the new expansion raises the level cap, for example, you’d expect to have higher stats at the new level cap. Gear is probably going to get better in that scenario, too; you have to create something worthwhile for people in endgame sets, after all. But why is the money you’re getting from quests and enemies higher, too? Since everyone’s earning that at the same rate, shouldn’t the old rate work just as well? Why does everything provide more money here?

Simply put, money is a number, and it undergoes expansionential growth like any other number. The numbers go up because you’re in an expansion. You deal more damage against enemies that have more health, so your total damage remains constant, but the numbers are still bigger and ever more obscure. It’s the growth of numbers that make no real difference, getting bigger because the new expansion should be bigger, you guys.

Very convincing.

10. Mergefuscate

Verb: The act of creating new terminology and jargon to call a server merge anything other than a server merge.

Players hate server merges. So let’s call them something else; that will cunningly throw everyone off of the trail! They’re megaservers! Or server adjustments! Or anything other than just server merges!

Of course, they’re server merges, and trying to convince people otherwise works about as well as trying to convince children to eat vegetables they don’t like by calling them candy. But at least now we have a word for that, right?

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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38 Comments on "Perfect Ten: More terminology the MMORPG genre needs"

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Reader
Matt LeClair

I’ve been playing MMOs for 14 years and have never heard of any of these “terms.”

Reader
Grim🎃 Darhk

I’m guilty of #2 so often. I had tons of Pandaria potions left over for WoD….And then tons of WoD potions in legion. SO I JUST HAVEN’T MADE ANY LEGION POTIONS!

Reader
mistressbrazen

This is a great list. I was laughing at almost every single one, and I am definitely afflicted with Overhoard. Would this be an example of Nonclaimer: “At this time we have no plans to close the game?”

Reader
Kurt Shadle

#2 is why I hate pretty much any consumable in any game. I never use them because I feel like I’m throwing away a $100 bill. Then I get to the point my inventory is filled with worthless pennies that just need trashed.

Reader
rafael12104

Lol. Nice list to add on to the last one.

Let’s see. I would add.

Asshattery: 1. The moment a majority of a group realizes it is a wipe or a loss and everyone does their own thing. 2. Throwing a match, raid or dungeon because you have no confidence in your group.

Sesame Street Player or Playing: Paying to win and pretending not to have done so.

CurreGuru: Players that know the value of in game currencies in terms of real dollars at the drop of a hat as if savants.

Reader
Manastu Utakata

I am working on 11. Color Objectivism:

Noun: The philosophy of making sure all your items match the color of your character’s pigtails.

The name also has the simultaneous side effect of annoying Randians. <3

Reader
Jadefox

How long did it take to make this stuff up lol.

I play a lot of MMO’s and have never heard anyone ever use them. Is this stuff from WoW or something?

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

He’s making them up, yeah. They’re proposals for terms we need for concepts we have, not a dictionary of terms we already have. :D

Reader
Melissa McDonald

After reading this, all I can say is, pass me the bong too.

Reader
MesaSage

Wait, I thought players loved server merges? So confusing.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I think people who play game X usually like server merges in game X as long as they are handled well (i.e., people aren’t losing property, names, characters, etc.). It’s usually in the best interests of the health of the game and the people who actually play it, even if it looks worrisome from without.

What people hate is when studios try to pretend they aren’t merging due to a decline in population, or when they invent brand-new words for it to make it sound more palatable. I.e., obfuscating what’s going on. :D

Reader
Drainage

Blizzard admits they are guilty of revalance company side. Good stuff.

Reader
angrakhan

#9 is why I quit playing WoW. While I didn’t have a word for it, I came to the realization that I was paying more money to have the privilege to do the exact same thing I did in the previous expansion but functionally end up at the exact same place percentage wise when compared to end-game content and my peers… so why stay on the treadmill?

Reader
camelotcrusade

I love it. I’d also like to suggest a term for players who continue to pay a sub fee despite not having logged in for several payment cycles, but my morning-addled brain can’t come up with one yet. I guess because I’m not sure what the witty connotation should be (child support for nostalgic dreams). Any ideas?

Reader
Rheem Octuris

I thought of Absent Subbers Syndrome, but that has a bad acronym.
Also, for those who forget to cancel their subscriptions, they could have Subzheimer’s.

Reader
John Bagnoli

That is actually a highly appropriate acronym.

Reader
BalsBigBrother

How RUDE :p

I am currently an ASS in EVE. Though given the way that game works I am still making progress with skills so its not so bad :-)

Reader
Legend Of Vinny T

14 days 7 hrs 23 min to learn Resource Processing V? Think I’ll queue that up on the day Mass Effect: Andromeda unlocks. 😉

Reader
BalsBigBrother

Archaeology V followed by Hacking V for me both of which have similar queues to yours. Glad I have lots of stuff to play, who knows I may even actually play EVE and stop being an ASS hehe :-)

Reader
Rheem Octuris

I came up with one on my own, based on #7.

Lolimanager
Noun. A community manager (or a group of community managers) whose job it is to simply placate forum goes and post news updates, without sharing any feedback or even having the capacity to communicate with the developers. Usually runs the forums for a Temport.

Reader
Sally Bowls

TY!

Although I do think that Mergefuscate is unfairly applied in one situation. If you are changing from a 20 year old design where each realm is separate, to one where when you log in, there are a variable number of virtual instances, then I don’t call that Mergefuscate; that is just modernizing your design. Of course, if you launch your game now with separate realms, then I just shake my head and think you deserve any amount of opprobrium you receive when you do merge.

Just yesterday, as part of a response I was able to resist posting, I coined a term:

Sitegeist:
Zeitgeist is the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. (zeit, rhymes with site, is German for time.)

Sitegeist is the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of a site/community.

Reader
Don Hey

I think Sally Bowls is right about the term megaserver not being an example of mergefuscation. Megaserver seems to denote a cluster of virtual servers that spans (potentially very many) physical servers. This is differs from mergefuscation, in which you’re trying to hide the fact that physical server machines are being permanently shut down.

I love all of the new terms. And I like Sitegeist too! Thanks!

Reader
Legend Of Vinny T

Overhoarding? Never heard of such a thing! I most certainly did not carry this bag full of trail foods all the way from Weathertop to Dunland! [Ron Howard narrator voice: “Caradraen did carry it all the way from Weathertop to Dunland.”]

And given the state of Champions Online, Kaiserin is coming awfully close to being a real polymanager.

Reader
Robert Mann

Overhoarding applies beyond MMOs too. I’m pretty sure I have done that in virtually every single player RPG I have ever played (including having 50 bajillion extra consumables that I keep refusing to use saved up as I realize I just beat the final boss.)

Reader
BalsBigBrother

Haha Mergefuscate i can see that being used a lot. Good work sir o7

Reader
TheDonDude

We all know CoH suffered from pretty bad percentivication. 95% to-hit rate my butt.

Reader
Daniel Reasor

My favorite example of percentivication is in Civilization IV, where if your unit’s chance to succeed while attacking an enemy unit is listed as anything less than 96%, your unit actually has no chance in hell.

Reader
Legend Of Vinny T

Ah, the good ol’ days, when you could Brawl a standard shipping container… and miss.

Reader
Armsbend

This article was great! My favorites are ‘Camp counselor’ and ‘Polymanagers’. I’ve been guilty of both.

Reader
Drainage

One good camp counselor can be worth 2-3 players, however. 😀

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I think mergefuscate and nonclaimer are my faves — I see those getting a lot of use because they happen so often. I heard my husband use “temport” from Eliot’s last article and I was speechless. In a good way. :D Some of these words, we just NEED.

Reader
Manastu Utakata

I hope Mr. Eliot will be finds a *term to be used for when developer releases a major game changing mechanic without telling their audience they have done so. I am pretty sure it would be an unholy blending of “mergefuscate and nonclaimer”. :(

*Note: Blizz used the word “organic” in the apologia.

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