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]

Choose My Adventure: Unearthing the mysteries of WildStar’s Levian Bay

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Choose My Adventure. Last week, you fine folks voted on whether my pwecious wittle Chua Spellslinger would continue his adventures on the planet Nexus in the scorching badlands of the Crimson Isle or the lush, misty forests of Levian Bay, and the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the latter. I also gave y’all the opportunity to retroactively vote on whether or not I should play on a PVE or PvP server, with PvE winning out by a substantial margin, which is pretty convenient since I had rolled on a PvE server to begin with. So at least there’s that.

Anyway, this weekend, Bonongo Jazz began in earnest his domination — I mean exploration — of WildStar’s planet Nexus as he accompanied Artemis Zin in her search for the Eldan artifact known as the Elder Cube and, perhaps more importantly, the highest holovision ratings in the history of ever. So how did that pan out for her? Well, let’s just say that not everything went exactly according to plan.

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Massively Opinionated: Which is the best open-world PvP, WvW or FFA?

So far Massively Opinionated has kept its questions rather broad, but wouldn’t it be interesting to examine one title that has a particular take on a certain mechanic and pit it against another game with a different take on the same mechanic? That is what MO did today. It took the PvP in Guild Wars 2 and pitted it against the PvP in EVE Online. And our panelists are Tina Lauro, representing GW2, and Brendan Drain, representing EVE.

The rules are simple: our host, Larry Everett, sent four questions to the panelists and asked them to create an argument based around their answers to these questions. Whoever has the best argument will win a point, and the panelists with the most points at the end will win the show.

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Stick and Rudder: The best bits of Star CitizenCon 2015

Wow, so, where to start with this week’s Stick and Rudder? I guess I picked the wrong time for a vacation, and shame on me for forgetting the CitizenCon date! In any case, Star Citizen acquitted itself pretty well last weekend by most accounts, and whether we’re talking about Squadron 42’s A-list cast reveal, our first real look inside its single-player campaign, or the kick ass starmap, there was a lot to like at this year’s Con.

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Tamriel Infinium: Orsinium makes me forget the things I don’t like about ESO leveling

Anyone reading this column regularly understands that I have a bit of a tiff with ZeniMax because of the way it’s handled the leveling process in Elder Scrolls Online. And I honestly don’t think the devs are going to really change anything. However, I would like to give credit where credit is due. With the Orsinium DLC, ZeniMax might have captured the essence of my ESO playstyle.

I will log on, do a few quests, mostly by myself, then log out. I’m not hunting for group content. I’m definitely not looking for PvP. Sometimes, I’ll log in with a friend, and we will knock around a public dungeon or two. But mostly, I play ESO because I like the quests and I like being a werewolf. It’s not a hardcore game for me. In fact, it’s barely an MMO based on how I play the game. But I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone else can run around doing all the great group content and RvR PvP. I am content doing what I do. And with the latest DLC, it’s almost like ZeniMax read my mind.

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Wisdom of Nym: Surpassing Final Fantasy XIV’s cross-class legacy

In one respect, Final Fantasy XIV is an incredibly flexible game. You are never actually locked into a single role or job; even if you’ve been playing a dedicated Warrior since the launch of the game, you can always start taking up the lance and become a solid Dragoon. You always have options. So from one point of view, there’s nothing wrong with your options for playing a given job.

On the other hand, there’s still the screaming problem that there’s no customization once you make that choice.

There’s been an issue in place since the game launched in straddling the line between what players can and can’t toggle around. While the current state of affairs is arguably better than the game was at launch, it’s still not good, and it has a major issue insofar as the game has two systems for player customization that both don’t work in the slightest. It’s something I’ve talked about before, and it’s something that should be examined in more depth.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World’s Carter and Issue 12.5

It’s pretty common knowledge by now that Lead Designer Romain Amiel really likes to give teasers and spoilers for The Secret World. Unlike Twitter, which limits these little peeks to only a short sentence and an image or video clip, the official dev livestream can pack in the information. And this week’s The Streaming Ones definitely delivered! During this ninth AMA, Amiel and the team showed of some incoming Halloween items, dished out secret information on Carter, and talked about a few of the features coming in the second half of Issue #12. Oh, and Funcom also announced that Issue #12.5 was being released next week! (And on a totally unrelated note, the livestream also showed that Amiel’s inventory is worse than mine.)

If you missed the stream, you can can watch the replay on Twitch, though it is broken into a few parts, but we’ve also got the highlights right here for you. We also have the proof saved for all posterity that developer Joshua Doetsch has committed to naming a his first child MassivelyOP! (We probably won’t hold him to that, though.)

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MMO Mechanics: Three ways non-MMO IPs could create great mechanics

I really enjoy being a guest on Larry Everett‘s video series Massively Opinionated, a series in which MMO enthusiasts answer some tough questions and argue the case for their answer to trump the other guests’ submissions. On each episode, Larry asks his guests to design their own MMO based on certain prerequisites or criteria. It’s a really fun question in which the answers are only limited by the question parameters and the panelists’ imaginations, so it’s not surprising that it’s my favourite question type on the show.

On one particular episode of Massively Opinionated, we were asked to design a sticky MMO that really grips players for a prolonged period of time. For that question, two of the three given answers looked to non-MMO IPs to bring something fresh and compelling to the genre that would optimise player retention rates. Ever since that episode, I’ve been mulling over how unique non-MMO IPs carry the potential to bring new, exciting mechanics to the genre.

I’ve sat on this idea for some time while I’ve mulled over which specific mechanics could potentially be derived from some well-known and loved IPs, and in this edition of MMO Mechanics I’m finally ready to put those thoughts down on figurative paper for you lovely readers. I’ve thought through three examples of IPs that could add something unique to the genre, but there’s so much unexplored possibility for the future of MMOs that I’m sure you could think of so many more. Don’t forget to scroll down to the comments to add your own thoughts.

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One Shots: Skyscraping

Look up on that building! It’s a bird! It’s a gargoyle! It’s… MOP reader Epelesker showing off his hero in Champions Online!

“Unlike a grand majority of people, superheroes were my first foray into the world of MMOs,” Epelesker writes. “I have a lot of fond memories of my experiences with them and… don’t ask about the characters. Nailing down just one is tough enough! Here’s a recent screenshot of one of my longest-running main characters in Champions Online, the size-changing teen hero, Atomac. It might be difficult to tell because of the low viewing angle, but he’s definitely very big right now. As for what he’s doing? He could either be just looking out for the average-height citizens below, or wondering what hijinks his speedster friend, Trailblazer, is up to…”

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The Game Archaeologist: Dark Sun Online

Computer RPG players in the late ’80s and early ’90s were surely familiar with Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) and its now-famous Gold Box series. The series, so named because of their distinctive gold packaging, ran on a solid engine that helped the company churn out over a dozen titles within a five-year span. From Pool of Radiance to Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, these titles quickly became revered among the gaming community. I personally have very fond memories of playing both Buck Rogers titles, which is probably why I dated very little in high school.

While the Gold Box series has not become as timeless or replayable as late ’90s classics like Baldur’s Gate and Fallout, they definitely had a huge impact on the PC scene and helped elevate the CRPG genre. Following the Gold Box engine, SSI went on to produce another engine that it used for a completely new series set in the D&D campaign setting of Dark Sun. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993) and Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager (1994) were both modest hits, and when it came time for a third game in the series, SSI decided to make the leap to the then-untested realm of online gaming.

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Betawatch: Camelot Unchained begins beta next year (October 9, 2015)

The good news is that Camelot Unchained will indeed be hitting the shores of the land of betas. The bad news? It’s not going to be until next year, presumably before the end of the winter. Hopefully you weren’t planning to do that, like, this weekend.

Other beta news that arrived at our doorstep coated in slime and precious stones:

Oh, and there is a long list of titles just past the break, some of which you might not be aware of. Did something swap testing states without our noticing? Let us know in the comments!

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WoW Factor: Cataclysm was bad, but revamping the world isn’t

For about four years, Cataclysm handily defended its title of Worst World of Warcraft Expansion, coming in behind all of the actual expansions as well as Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online, and Superman 64. It was bad, that’s my point here. And the stuff that we have to go through along the leveling path for it is still bad, which unfortunately means levels 1-60 followed by 80-85 (with the granted exception of the Worgen starting area).

So it’s understandable to look at one of its major features with a certain amount of terror. “What, you want to revise the world? We already had an expansion do that, and it was awful!” And you would be right in saying that, yes, but there are lots of reasons the game needs some revisions to existing content… and more importantly, why the noxious crap of Cataclysm need not afflict any future updates to older content.

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Perfect Ten: Weird questions that I want answered before I play an MMO

Jumping into a new-to-me MMO can be a heady, nerve-wracking event. I think there’s a reason why we find our “comfort” games and feel a pull to stay with the known than to venture out more regularly to taste the fruits of other online titles, and that’s because there are so many small but crucial factors that play into whether or not we’ll enjoy our time in a game.

I see people all of the time asking for matrices of MMO features, which on the surface sounds like a good idea — but gets pretty insane when you consider how big these could grow. After all, knowing a business model and genre and combat type isn’t always enough. There are other deciding variables that can mean just as much to us.

So today I want to rattle off 10 weird questions that I would personally love to have answered before I head into a new MMO.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Quality-of-life tweaks in SWTOR’s Knights of the Fallen Empire

BioWare’s Eric Musco delivered an amazing livestream last week. Many of the questions that players have been asking about the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic were finally answered. Most players were not looking for spoilers to the story; they were concerned about the functionality of some of the systems incoming when Knights of the Fallen Empire goes live on the 20th of this month. Up to now BioWare has been pretty tight-lipped about what’s in store. And although BioWare explained that the primary reason it shied away from revealing any of that was to avoid spoilers, it was likely just avoiding saying that the systems just weren’t quite ready for public consumption.

We heard about the bigger items coming in the next expansion. We know that the new story will be a huge change in the direction of the game. I’ve written about the class changes and the group-finder changes. Crafting changes will be huge and will likely fill an article all on its own. But that about the other things? What about the small quality-of-life things that make the game more enjoyable to play? That’s what I’d like to discuss today. Musco’s livestream covered a lot of the finer points of the future game mechanics.

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