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]

Betawatch: Crowfall’s Ranger surprise (March 25, 2016)

The Crowfall team has stated its plans to release the Siege Perilous update this month for testers, and the Ranger archetype was originally scheduled to release alongside it. Surprise! The Ranger showed up early in all of her melee-and-ranged glory! She’s a sneaky one. You can also check out a preview of upcoming changes to the UI and a full-screen viewport, if you’re so inclined.

Other beta news? Oh, yes indeed!

Oh, yes, and there’s the full list of games in testing just below, as you like it. Let us know if something down there swapped states without us catching it, we do appreciate your vigilance added to our own. Like some kind of vigilance gestalt.

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WoW Factor: The problem with Garrisons isn’t Garrisons

When World of Warcraft rolls away from the inexplicable inclusion of alternate Draenor for good, it will also mean bidding farewell to the elements of Draenor, and I imagine most everyone will respond to that with several rounds of cheering. I don’t blame anyone for it, either. One of the loudest cheers will be reserved for Garrisons, one of the least-liked features of the expansion, and frequently pointed to as one of the signs that the expansion wasn’t very well-handled. And it’s pretty understandable there, too… but I don’t think that Garrisons are inherently awful despite that.

This is not to say that there aren’t several structural problems that came up with Garrisons more or less as soon as they were baked into the leveling process in Warlords of Draenor, so I’ll be as happy to be rid of them as anyone else. But I think the majority of the problems that people have with Garrisons (and always have) say less about Garrisons themselves as a concept and even most of their execution. It’s more about the state of the game itself.

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Massively Overthinking: The best newbie systems in MMORPGs

One thing I’ve realized from my time in Black Desert so far is than even for a die-hard sandbox fan, the introduction is pretty overwhelming. I can see how some folks would run screaming from all the pop-up windows and blinking guides and creepy smoke monster buddy, I really can. Games have come a long way since the days of just throwing you in and having you figure it all out on your own, but in some ways I miss the personal touch of the early MMOs that had actual people serving as your tutorial.

And that observation leads us to this week’s Massively Overthinking question, provided this time by Das Tal developer Alexander Zacherl: “I’d love to ask people about the best newbie onboarding systems they have ever seen in an MMO,” he writes. “Early MMOs had full-time newbie greeters and later ones (such as Darkfall) had one-on-one mentorships. I wonder if people had any good/bad experiences with those?”

I posed these questions to the MOP writers!

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Perfect Ten: Most notable console MMORPGs to date

It used to be that hunting for a console MMORPG was one of the most fruitless endeavors known to gamers. The PC was where it was at, dating all the way back to the birth of MUDs back in the 1980s. For decades, console gamers could only look on in envy as their PC comrades enjoyed persistent worlds, massive multiplayer, and online events.

The scene, of course, has radically changed, particularly over the past five years. Now studios are downright eager to tap into the console market with their online titles, and in some cases these MMOs have proven to be much more successful on those platforms than their PC version counterparts.

While a full list of every console MMO to date would far exceed a top 10 list, I thought it was worthy of drawing out the most notable titles that have existed to date on video game consoles. Some of these are long extinguished, some are famous disappintments, while others are flourishing even today. What would you pick for this list? Let us know in the comments!

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Jukebox Heroes: MMO tracks to make your heart happy

Music doesn’t just speak to emotion; it often evokes it, conjuring it out of thin air with notes and tones and those squiggly lines on the staff that always confused me in band. If you don’t like being emotionally manipulated, you probably should never listen to music, since it is downright underhanded in tweaking how you feel at the moment. Of course, once you’re aware of it — and you all are — you can use that manipulation to your benefit by altering or enhancing your mood at will.

Maybe it’s the most innocent drug of them all: Just pop a music pill and wash it down with a little boogie. Feeling down? Here’s a tune to perk you up! Need some energy to get going? This track has 180 bpm of pure adrenaline! Want to write some college freshman poetry? Put on an album that distills inky depression into a vortex of black notes.

While I do like a wide range of emotional compositions, I am certainly partial to MMO tracks that positively exude unabashed joy. Today, in no particular order, I’ve put together a playlist for you of six MMO songs that make your heart happy.

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Desert Nomad: Quality of life in the Black Desert

Hello friends, and welcome back to Desert Nomad. After last week’s in-depth look at Black Desert’s cash shop, I decided that this week I would continue the trend of demonstrating how much I like the game by complaining about it. Call it tough love if you like, but the fact of the matter is that, although I’ve been continuing to enjoy my time with Black Desert, it could stand to improve in more than a few ways.

I understand that it’s unrealistic to expect Daum to make any changes to the underlying mechanics of the game, and by no means do I expect it to do so. There are, however, a number of quality-of-life features that if added would both greatly improve the game for current players and remove some of the barriers that may be keeping some prospective players from taking the dive. So here, presented in no particular order, is my personal list of some of the quality of life changes Black Desert most desperately needs.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 Gorseval raid boss guide

More than one reader has asked for further Guild Wars 2 raid guides, and who am I to disappoint? I’ve been keeping back this Gorseval raid boss guide for a while as I tried to find a good time to publish it, but ArenaNet has been a rather busy studio of late and I’ve not had the words to spare for this ugly duckling until now. Apologies for the gap between this guide and the last: I hope that my general impressions of the encounter shared way back when the raid wing opened kept you going while you waited. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll take you through the mechanics-heavy encounter in more detail in much the same way as I did with the Vale Guardian fight, which will hopefully help secure you a boss kill if you’ve not been successful already.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The importance of pacing in a SWTOR roleplay event

Last time I talked about roleplaying in spite of game mechanics, I didn’t really get a whole lot of comments. I don’t know whether this was because people weren’t interested or you guys were so excited by what I had to say that you ran off to your game and did it yourself. I’m going to delude myself and believe that it was the latter!

Star Wars: The Old Republic will still be my focus this round, but it’s not the only themepark game where you can pull off some of these ideas. And although my ideas work best for me, they don’t necessarily work best for you in your game or even with you and your roleplay group.

Today, I will continue to illustrate how to tell an interesting story with your characters despite game mechanics. But this time instead of giving you an abstract idea and concept of the situation, I will dive into the nitty gritty of how I handled situations that arose in the roleplay scene I talked about a couple of weeks ago. And to make things better, I have pretty pictures to paint an image of what I did.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s silent design plans

I do not envy the team behind Final Fantasy XIV in some respects. In many ways, the game is the poster child for developing a plan and following through, delivering content updates with a regularity and a quality level that other games frequently strive and fail to match. But in other ways, that just makes the few things that the title hasn’t implemented that much more glaring. All of the major features that are promised are delivered, features that are just mentioned as jokes are also delivered, and… then there are the things we haven’t heard mentioned again.

Today, I want to dive into that realm, some of the stuff that’s been mentioned as an offhand at various points, features “promised” insofar as someone said they were coming along at one point or another, and so forth. Some of these features are still coming. Some of them probably aren’t. And some of them… we might not really want after all.

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EVE Evolved: Why you should participate in EVE’s Project Discovery

Back at EVE Vegas 2015, CCP Games unveiled an ambitious project that aimed to involve EVE Online players in some really exciting scientific research that could make a big difference in the real world. CCP has been working with researchers from the Human Protein Atlas project on a way to gamify their research and integrate it directly into EVE in a way that respects the game lore. The Project Discovery minigame went live this week, and it’s been a big hit with the playerbase so far, with almost half a million submissions from over 23,000 players in the first day alone.

The minigame tasks players with identifying highlighted cell structures from fluorescent images in exchange for ISK and Analysis Kredits that can be used to buy some shiny new Sisters of EVE items. Project Discovery can be opened from the side bar whether you’re docked or in space, making it a good way to kill some time while you’re waiting for something to happen. The task can be a bit tricky at first, but some players have already become expert classifiers with hundreds of submissions and accuracy ratings of over 90%.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into Project Discovery, link a few great community guides, and highlight some serious problems with it that have unfortunately appeared.

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One Shots: Impish greetings

First contact with native tribes and species in MMOs hardly ever goes the diplomatic route; usually there’s a lot of stabbing, fire-setting, plundering, and minimal regrets. Take only loot, leave only screenshots — that’s the motto of our readers!

Our headlining picture comes to us today from Kurt, who’s been exploring Black Desert Online with approximately 85% of the other folks on this site. Hungry for a sandbox? Looks like we were!

Anyway, right here is the moment where Kurt decided to make friends: “The screenshot is just me going to say ‘Hi!’ to the local imp tribe. We got along swell right up until I massacred them all.”

Good man, that Kurt.

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Perfect Ten: Why MMORPG studios don’t just reboot their games

Last Friday’s WildStar news made me sad. I’m sad because there are two games at war within that title. One of them is a charmingly flexible sandpark; the other one is what I think our dear editor is thinking of when she calls the game World of Warcraft But They’re In Space, since it launched with all of the worst parts of WoW‘s endgame from its original launch without much to improve upon the formula. I really like the former part of the game.

Whenever we wind up with a title in that state, of course, people ask a simple question: Why doesn’t the studio just do a reboot? It worked really well for Final Fantasy XIV, which went from an industry punchline to a success story that’s still building momentum. So why don’t more studios just reboot MMOs that aren’t working?

The answer is that it’s not that easy. And it can conveniently be broken down into several bullet points for this particular column. So let’s get to it.

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EverQuesting: Let EverQuest Next live on in Landmark

Well, then. When it rains, it pours.

After a lengthy drought of EverQuest Next and Landmark news, we finally got some. And not just a few drops, but a bit of a deluge. Except that it wasn’t all a dancing-in-the-rain kind of shower. No, some more closely resembled a knock-you-on-your-keister-and-try-to-drown-you storm. I tell you, this week has been quite the roller coaster ride of hopeful highs and devastated dreams, and I am pretty wrung out.

It all started with finally got news of a Landmark update. Yay! I wasn’t completely thrilled with the news itself (it raised some questions), but I was tickled pink that there was actual news. That led to a bit more hope for EQ Next news. Well, be careful what you wish for because boy, oh boy, did we get some news; it just wasn’t any news anyone wanted to hear. The ambitious game that had so many promising features is canceled. Gone. There is not enough boo in the world to adequately express this! Oh, and while you are trying to process that, let’s slip in that there will be character wipes in Landmark, despite earlier assurances that there wouldn’t. On the bright side, Landmark is actually getting the storytelling system. Yay!

And did I mention that EverQuest Next is no more? That’s going to take some getting used to.

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