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]

One Shots: They’ll swallow your soul

Sometimes you can’t help but take a screenshot of what is otherwise nightmare fuel, because perhaps in freezing a scene in its tracks, you eventually rob it of its fear factor. Or you just take the picture so you can freak others out.

Reader Erin is trying to exorcise her own demons with this Final Fantasy XIV submission: “In my aimless travels around Eorzea I decided to start taking profile shots of random critters and enemies. The most memorable though is the creepy undead creature (that I forget the name of name). It might have been the moment, the lighting… or maybe it’s the visual of it’s eyes lighting up when you got too close that haunted me for a while afterwards.”

Have fun sleeping tonight! Let’s see how it looks in full color, shall we?

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The Game Archaeologist: Microsoft’s Mythica

While Microsoft may be the big cheese when it comes to operating systems and worldwide domination, for whatever reason the company has the absolute worst of luck (or worst of decision makers) when it comes to MMOs. Microsoft Game Studios has proven remarkably skittish when it approached the swimming pool of online RPGs, choosing to dip a toe into the water, give a frightened scream, and run away without taking the dive.

True Fantasy Live Online had a bumpy ride with the studio, Marvel Universe Online circled the drain faster than my morning shower, and the less said about its relationship with Vanguard’s development, the better. But there was yet another aborted project that Microsoft jumped into — and then back out of — between 2003 and 2004. In my opinion, out of all of these games it was the one the company should have stuck out to completion.

I remember when Microsoft first announced Mythica, because I thought “This is gonna be cool!” Vikings, Norse mythology, gods made flesh, and a big-name studio funding limitless adventures. In the pre-World of Warcraft era, the field was wide open for a company to come up and rival Sony Online Entertainment for the crown, so why not this one? But… cold water, skittish toes, and another MMO kicked the bucket before it saw the light of its first day.

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Betawatch: August 14th, 2015

We all thought that Otherland was dead due to something as silly as a very long silence and the complete failure of its development studio. Turns out that it is still a thing, and it’s even launching on Early Access soon! I’m not sure if this necessarily holds up all that well, though. In 1996, when the first book was published, the idea of a world constantly connected to online spaces was new and different. That is no longer the World of Tomorrow, that is the World of Right The Hell Now.

Other beta news? Well, there’s not a lot, but there’s some.

And, you know, there’s that whole list just past the break of games in testing. Let us know in the comments if we missed something!

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The Soapbox: Why I’m hopeful for the future of MMOs

Earlier this week, Justin asked what gives you hope for the future of the MMOs. As you might expect, the responses were many and varied, with some people naming a far off game or two while a few said that current titles are all they need from MMOs. Still others said — and I quote — abandon hope all ye who enter here because the genre has strayed so far from its original identity that it now serves an entirely different playerbase.

If you’d asked me this question a year or so ago, I’d have fallen firmly into that last camp. The genre has inarguably changed, and arguably for the worse, especially if you are a fan of sandboxes, grouping, virtual world gameplay in general and non-combat gameplay in particular. But as I said in my own comment, better days are ahead, thanks in my opinion to a handful of independent MMOs.

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Massively Opinionated: Which MMO dev handles offensive people the best?

MMO communities, like all online communities, have some bad eggs. Each MMO handles these people in different ways. We tackle some of these community-related questions in this week’s debate. Larry asked Jason Winter of MMOBomb and The Cosmic Engine to debate which MMO developer handles these issues the best.

The rules of the debate are simple: The panelists are given four questions before the show, and they defend their position to the host. Our host then gives a point to the best argument for each question, and the panelist with the most points at the end wins.

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Exclusive: Guild Wars 2’s Revenant elite spec is the Herald

The Revenant is shaping up to be a unique profession on a Guild Wars 2 roster, with fresh ideas in regards to combat abilities and its place on the battlefield. I was given a sneak peek at the upcoming announcement of the Revenant’s elite specialization that has been teased for a few days now as part of the Heart of Thorns expansion hype.

As many of you have already guessed, Glint is the elite specialization legend. I have plenty of information about what to expect below, and I also conducted a quick Q&A session with Game Designer Roy Cronacher to discuss the profession’s elite specialization, called the Herald, in more detail. I’m also throwing in a whole raft of information on how the profession will fare underwater too!

Of course, sometimes word just aren’t enough and you need to see a build with your own eyes to appraise it fully. Never fear: You can watch the Revenant elite specialization in action this Friday, August 14 on Points of Interest, airing at 3 p.m. EDT (noon PDT) on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel. Game Designer Roy Cronacher will be the special guest with POI host Rubi Bayer as they give fans an in-depth look at the Herald’s skills, weapon, and traits.

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Choose My Adventure: Three games enter, one game leaves

Hello again, friends, and welcome to a new cycle of Choose My Adventure. You may remember that last time around, I bypassed the whole game-voting process and jumped straight into Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, but this time around, I figured I’d take a step back and give you folks a bit more say in the matter.

Mind you, I’m not quite so masochistic as to give y’all complete free rein over the game selection; I’m sure you’re kind, caring, lovely people, but I’m not so sure that you’d be able to resist the opportunity to force me into the most mind-numbingly terrible game you could find just so that you could watch my slow-but-inevitable spiral into insanity. So with that in mind, I’ve created a little round-up of games that are currently topical in one way or another, and it’s up to y’all to choose my destiny. I’ve done my best to pick out a diverse group of titles that I hope will offer a little something for fans of all tastes and preferences, so without further preamble, allow me to introduce the contenders.

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The Daily Grind: What gives you hope for the future of MMOs?

We can’t help but look ahead in this industry, even as we play in the present and wax nostalgic for the past. What’s coming down the pike is of extreme interest to many of us, because we want to know what is there to be excited about. We want to know if there are signs that the MMORPG will experience another breakout hit. We want to have hope that we’re not in stagnation or decline but on the cusp of something great.

So what gives you hope for the future of MMOs? For me, it’s the grassroots revolution of small- and mid-size games that are breaking free of the clone pack. Seeing titles that aren’t afraid to try new things while incorporating older, proven elements gives me hope that life — and MMOs — will find a way.

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Global Chat: Guild Wars 2 needs to get its act together

Hunter’s Insight is a long-time fan and player of Guild Wars 2, but recently he had some pretty harsh words to say regarding the development team’s approach to the game, which he called “consistently inconsistent.”

ArenaNet is consistent in its inconsistency,” he wrote. “That is to say that they repeatedly and frustratingly introduce things and then never touch them again, never adjust them, never support them, never standardize how to acquire an item or worst of all they only briefly make them available and they’re never seen again. They set the groundwork for something, make a show of it, and then don’t follow through. It’s a combination of neglect and lack of foresight.”

His essay on the state of the game is only the tip of the iceberg of great MMO community blog posts this week. Keep on reading for Elder Scrolls Online first impressions, how MMO silliness is hurting the industry, and the great hotbar shrinkage of 2015.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Eight misconceptions about SWTOR’s Knights of the Fallen Empire

The actual information coming from BioWare‘s camp about Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s next expansion has thus far been more sparse than fans might have wanted, which unfortunately leads to some wild speculation and misinformation. That’s why today I’ve put together a list of the most common misconceptions that I’ve heard about Knights of the Fallen Empire. There are many more, I’m sure. And if you can think of others, drop them in the comments after reading this list.

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Sword and Bored: Pub roleplay

I’ve been inspired to jump back into some more roleplay in my MMOs. I realized that I have the most fun in games when I can immerse myself in a character and live out some of the joys and frustrations of living in the world he lives in.

As readers of this comic know, one of Mo’s friends is a roleplayer, too. One of the common hangouts for roleplayers across the MMOscape is the local pub, but unfortunately, that often means the dreaded Pub Roleplay. So let’s follow Amilya up to the bar in this week’s comic…

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Wisdom of Nym: The state of Final Fantasy XIV’s tanks

I don’t generally like “ranking” classes. The best tanking option in Final Fantasy XIV is the one that you like playing the most, and if you don’t enjoy tanking, none of the options here will turn you around on the idea. But one of the cool parts about Heavensward is the way that you have three tank options, all distinct, yet all more than adequate to tank pretty much everything the game has to offer.

More simply – there might be optimal configurations for Alexander Savage, but pretty much everything else it won’t matter.

I do really enjoy looking at differences between classes, so this is just the kick-off to something that will likely be a regular thing. Let’s take a look at the classes currently sitting in the tank role, see what they specialize in, what their tricks are, and what weaknesses you have to know about in advance before you play one.

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EVE Evolved: CCP can’t just focus on EVE Online any more

The recent announcement of arcade shooter EVE: Gunjack for the Samsung Gear VR has prompted some pretty interesting negative responses from gamers this week. There’s obviously still a lot of ill will in the air over the cancellation of the World of Darkness MMO, and people have been a bit skeptical of CCP‘s plans since Monoclegate and the underwhelming reception of DUST 514. Many of the comments on Massively Overpowered and other sites suggested that CCP should release Valkyrie before starting work on yet another title, or that the studio should stick to EVE Online and stop wasting money from EVE subscriptions on side projects. People are honestly suggesting that CCP should keep putting all of its eggs in one big (and slowly shrinking) basket, but that just doesn’t make business sense.

Nobody should be surprised that CCP wants to develop several new games or that it’s failed to replicate the success of EVE Online. EVE activity seems to be on a slow decline, and the truth is that very few independent game studios strike it big with even one game. Previous success is not necessarily an indicator of future success, and it’d be naive to think one game can support a large studio indefinitely, so CCP naturally has to keep working on new titles just like everyone else if it wants to survive. If we want EVE Online to still be around a decade from now, it may depend on experimentation with new games and emerging trends such as VR today. There may even come a time when CCP won’t revolve around EVE Online but around whole collection of titles spanning the EVE universe and beyond, and it won’t get there without taking some measured risks.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why CCP can’t just focus on EVE any more and why developing lots of small experimental games could benefit EVE Online in the long term.

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