Columns Category

Enjoy a run-down of our recent long-form pieces, both game-specific and more general. You might also be interested in our list of all of our columns and recurring articles. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Guild Chat: Keeping romantic relationships from affecting MMORPG guilds

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered readership can band together to solve the guild-related queries and problems of readers in need.  In this edition, reader Roxxus is worried about forming a romantic attachment with an in-guild love interest in case it affects the guild’s group dynamics and ruins the fun that the pair is currently having as platonic guildmates. Roxxus seems to be concerned about how to handle an online relationship without opening up that blossoming romance to the external influences already present in his or her guild, and the pair is perhaps considering getting together without telling anyone else in the guild. Read on for Roxxus’ full submission as well as my ideas, and don’t forget to leave your own thoughts on the matter in the comments.
Read more

One Shots: Head of the class

What do you do if you’re a sentient stone head who has been tasked with centuries of guard duty? You probably do a lot of lounging around on a cushy chair, waiting for some Dudley Do Right to wander your way and agree to do your job for you.

Miol sends in this odd Guild Wars 2 shot from the Living Story Season 3 in response to my call for goofy screenshots: “How about a literal talking head? Silly enough?” Well, it’s noggin I like, but noggin I hate, either.

Yeah, I’ll just show myself out. Sorry about that.

Read more

LOTRO Legendarium: Bingo Boffin’s unexpected journey

In addition to playing a lot of fantasy and sci-fi MMORPGs, I’m an avid reader of novels in the same genres. I never quite get tired of heroes growing into their own and then going on a journey of discovery and salvation over the course of one or more books.

It’s natural for me to compare the journeys I read in novels to the ones I experience in MMOs, and in some ways, online RPGs have forgotten or overlooked some of the elements that make the fantasy journey so gripping. Our characters start out already grown, already powerful, already killing machines that will save the world numerous times over. Our grand quest is usually nothing more than seeking even more power, gear, and experience points. Due to this, the whole process of progressing through a game is streamlined into a well-honed but somewhat soulless loop.

But what if a game took the time to reexamine the journey outside of the pressure to provide an optimal leveling and narrative path to the next world boss that needs extermination? What if there was a mission chain that took the inconsequential and made it essential, that was structured in such a way to more resemble books than eroded gameplay design?

Enter Bingo Boffin, the unlikeliest hero of them all, and his unique journey across Middle-earth with you in tow.

Read more

The Soapbox: Your favorite MMO is going to die

Your favorite MMO is going to die. Don’t take it personally, though; every other MMO is going to shut down, too. That includes my favorites and everyone else’s favorites.

Do you like Final Fantasy XIV? It’s going to shut down. WildStar? It’ll shut down. Ultima Online? Oh, yes, the shutdown is coming. The Secret World? Guild Wars 2? The Elder Scrolls Online? Destiny (yes, I meant to leave off the 2, I mean the original)? RIFT, Trove, Black Desert, Revelation Online, Crowfall? All of the above will shut down.

But don’t get up in arms about this. Seriously, relax, take a deep breath, maybe hum a little William Shatner tune. All of these games are going to shut down, but that’s just because every single MMO exists in one of three states: not yet launched, shut down, or waiting to be shut down. And as cynical as that may seem, I think accepting that truth is going to do wonders for all of us when it comes time for the next unexpected shutdown. Because it’s going to happen.

Read more

Perfect Ten: The perfect MMO cosmetic system

Whenever I hear about or get into a new MMO, one of the very first things I’ll be asking is if the game has a cosmetic outfit system and how involved it is. Wardrobes used to be a rarity in the genre, although as time went on these systems thankfully became more prevalent.

So yes, I’m a grown adult man and I’m totally into playing dollies with my video game characters. C’mon, it’s a pretty fun thing to do. You get to stand out from the clones around you and express your own personality through fashion that costs you, if not nothing, then far less than you’d buy at the mall.

But not every cosmetic system is created alike. When I was thinking about the best systems found in MMORPGs, I realized that many of them had drawbacks and advantages that differentiated them from other games. So what makes for the “perfect” MMO cosmetic system? I have a few ideas. Several ideas. OK, 10 ideas.

Read more

Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs

Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.

Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.

“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?

Read more

Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

Read more

The Survivalist: ARK Survival Evolved discusses early access, launch, and wipes

Could ARK: Survival Evolved finally be launching? That’s a question many survivors would love to see answered soon. Unfortunately, we can’t provide you with any date as one hasn’t been announced. But it appears there could be a light at the end of that tunnel thanks to a Studio Wildcard interview earlier this week in a podcast dedicated to the survival genre.

If you are a fan of survival games as I am (and chances are high if you are reading this!), you might really want to check out Infection – The Survival Podcast. ARK fans especially will be interested in this week’s episode 122; it features a lengthy discussion with Kayd Hendricks, the senior technical game play designer. Hendricks touches on many subjects, including the team, early access, wipes, launch, narrative, and more. Even without a launch date, it’s really worth a listen/watch; a couple of his remarks really struck a chord with me.

Read more

The Daily Grind: How much does optimization affect your MMO play?

When I feel like lying to myself, I tell myself that I don’t care about optimizing my characters in MMOs. I even sometimes convince myself that it was true for a while; I did play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft back before Crusader Strike was even in the game. But the reality is that even then, when I happily shot myself in the foot to avoid raid utility, I still worked overtime to optimize my character. I will gladly walk into an awful build with eyes open, but I will then do everything in my power to make that awful build work.

I have a Red Mage build on Final Fantasy XI that comes as close to being a functional melee attacker as any I’ve seen. I made a DPS Gladiator in version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. The list goes on. But I know there are people out there who will only play with optimized builds, like a friend of mine from City of Heroes who had seven Shield scrappers to optimize AoE farming. And then there are people who hate any hint of utility and choose character builds solely for aesthetics. What about you, dear reader? How much does optimization affect your playing of MMOs? Do you play to optimize your build, do you avoid it, or do you enjoy making terrible builds the best they can be?

Read more

Global Chat: Is Ashes of Creation worth backing?

With all of the hullabaloo going on concerning Ashes of Creation and its Kickstarter campaign, a few bloggers are asking themselves whether or not this is an MMO worth backing, especially if they’ve been burned before by grand promises and poor execution.

“All of this adds up to an enticing package and ought to spark the embers of hope that maybe there will be something new under the sun when it comes to the fantasy MMORPG genre,” The Ancient Gaming Noob wrote. “So why am I not excited about this? Why isn’t this helping me shake off the MMO malaise?”

“I’m not on the hype train by a long shot. Not that I see anything particularly wrong with the game, it’s just way, way too early to even think about commenting on it,” Endgame Viable said.

“Am I going to pony up? Mmmm. Maybe,” mulls Inventory Full. “I’m still thinking about it, although, after reading the Kickstarter page, I’m actually less interested in the game than I was.”

Read more

Tamriel Infinium: Five things to do while waiting for Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind early access

I have always found this part of the development cycle to be the worst part. Right now, we are sitting at the point in Elder Scrolls Online when you really don’t want to move forward progressing your character because some of the endgame or character progression, in general, will change next week. However, you are very excited about what is to come in the next expansion, and you really want to play ESO at the same time.

It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is unique to MMOs. When Skyrim was about to release Dragonborn a few years back, it had been a little bit since we had visited Skyrim. For me personally, I had a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic that I had been playing, so when Dragonborn came out, I replayed Skyrim to refresh my memory before jumping into that expansion. However, MMOs are meant to be played all the time, and well, we’ve been playing ESO this whole time leading up to Morrowind. How do we do to channel our excitement?

Well, I have some fun suggestions for every Elder Scrolls fan. These are my five suggestions for things to do while waiting for ESO: Morrowind to release.

Read more

Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint

I’ve managed to calm myself enough after finishing my Guild Wars 2 Flashpoint initial impressions piece two weeks ago to bring you a much more detailed look at the action-packed episode that is the penultimate instalment in the Living World’s eventful third season. The story contains so many twists and turns that you’ll be dizzy by the end, and in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months and missed all the hype about this content drop, you’ll want to know that Lazarus’ true identity is revealed within Flashpoint.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll unpack the reveals and angles taken by the penultimate episode of Season 3 and will share my most and least favourite aspects of the episode while I’m at it. This article will contain significant spoilers and is not safe to read for those who haven’t completed Flashpoint and have managed to avoid the spoilers so far. You can always bookmark this one to come back to whenever you have managed to find time to enjoy the content for yourself.

Read more

Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward in review – odds and ends

By the time you read this, I’ll be up in the air flying across the country. Assuming you read it on the day it publishes, anyhow, and odds are that you will do so since you certainly won’t be playing Final Fantasy XIV today. Which makes for a good day to take a closer look at the odds and ends of Heavensward, doesn’t it? I sure hope so, because that’s what I’ve got lined up, it’s going to cause problems if this is a bad time.

We’ve covered the majority of the game’s battle content, but there’s still a bit more stuff to cover, and I could probably go into more depth on a few areas if I wanted this to be even longer. But let’s start by covering the content that, arguably, flopped pretty badly on launch, to the point where the whole system got yanked, revised, and returned in a much more tolerable form. Which has its own problems, but hopefully provides a good template moving forward.

Read more

1 2 3 101