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]

The Game Archaeologist: Ten facts of EverQuest life circa 1999

MMOs change. We know that, but we also tend to forget it as well. The games that we play today can often be light-years distant from how they used to be when they launched, especially if they’ve been around for well over a decade.

I was never part of the EverQuest scene back in the day (or even now), but I’ve always been fascinated with random tales and tidbits of how the game used to be versus how it is now. With that in mind, I put out a call to player vets who were there back in ’99 to share some of the facts of EQ life. The deluge of stories that I got in return was staggering, and I’m excited to share them with you.

How was the game different? What mechanics and obstacles did players have to deal with that are unheard of today? Check out what those who were on the scene in 1999 had to say!

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Lost Continent: Is it worth returning to ArcheAge?

Last time out I said some pretty mean things about ArcheAge. And let’s face it: The game earned every one of them. It’s inarguably pay-to-win, the comically intrusive cash shop is the bane of both immersion and economy-based sandbox play, and Trion made a lot of anti-consumer decisions in 2014 (hello “normalization,” Auroria launch, and so on and so forth).

Regardless, I’m back in ArcheAge because the rest of the MMO space sucks worse if you crave non-linear virtual worlds.

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Massively Overthinking: Impressions of Crowfall

We’ve got crows on the brain this week since Crowfall launched its Kickstarter. As of this afternoon, the game is just about 100k shy of its goal, a goal it will surely reach with 27 days to go, and confident of that, ArtCraft is already releasing stretch goals. The first promises an FX upgrade and female centaurs, while the second is a push for mounts and caravans.

For today’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve polled our writers to ask them what they think about the PvP-centric title. Did they back it? Will they play it? Or are they running for the hills?

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EverQuesting: Is EverQuest Next in trouble?

You know me: I’ve been quite the supporter of EverQuest Next and Landmark for a good long while. Even before writing about EQN these past few years, I was following its development, and I got to be one of the first ever to find out about and actually get my hands on Landmark. I’ve been at the SOE Live reveals, I’ve talked with the devs on numerous occasions, and I’ve seen their great passion and dedication to the games — and I’ve been relaying all that info to you. It’s no secret that I believe in this franchise. So when I say that all these recent developments give me pause, you can understand the gravity of my feelings. I certainly don’t make this statement lightly.

Is EverQuest Next in trouble? I think it is. At the same time, cries of doom and gloom are unwarranted.

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Global Chat: Business model first, game construction second

Welcome back to Global Chat, the column where we reach out and give props to interesting and well-written articles from the MMO blogosphere. Today we’re going to kick off with a positive piece about Crowfall, as Kill Ten Rats’ Ravious is particularly pleased with the decision to announce its business model up front.

“One of my favorite devs, Jeff Strain, wrote way back in 2007 some of the most important words for MMO creators,” Ravious posted. “He said, ‘Decide on your business model first, and then build your game around it.’ So simple.”

Was this a good move for Crowfall? Read the rest of this week’s entries and then debate it in the comments!

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Wisdom of Nym: Continuing new in Final Fantasy XIV

All right. The end of last week’s column did not, in fact, finish starting new in Final Fantasy XIV. It brought you up to the point where you could no longer really be considered starting, but there’s so much more to do. So while I could leave it there, I think we should at least learn how to unlock Jobs before the expansion.

So let’s keep rolling on, assuming that you’ve been progressing along in the main story to unlock the other two “intro” dungeons. These three dungeons are all a bit on the tedious and tutorial side, but they at least unlock your low-level roulette (immensely valuable) and start you down the road to understanding the game’s dungeon mechanics. It’s a game of easy enemies and hard bosses, and the next leg of the journey demonstrates exactly how much emphasis is placed upon the boss battles.

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WoW Factor: The Iron Docks and the bare level cap

I really didn’t want Massively Overpowered’s inaugural column about World of Warcraft to focus on the negatives. But I can’t in good conscience ignore the fact that patch 6.1 for Warlords of Draenor is not getting the Iron Docks that many players were expecting. It’s not that I think it’s a grand betrayal of player trust; it’s not. Things get shifted around in development. Stuff gets held back for the next patch. It happens. This feature was never promised for Tuesday, and it isn’t coming out then. Seems fair.

No, the problem here comes down to one of perception, presentation, and the simple fact that there’s plenty to do at level cap in Warlords of Draenor… but also absolutely nothing to do.

It seems ironic that an expansion that led to an enormous subscriber surge is also seemingly tone-deaf on a number of points, but it also seemed ironic when Cataclysm followed Wrath of the Lich King by undoing a good portion of what made the prior expansion so popular. So why is there so much negativity, even from people who do like the game? How can a game be replete in things to do while at the same time have nothing to do?

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EVE Evolved: Exploring EVE’s ‘new opportunities’

This week saw the first concrete reveal of EVE Online‘s potentially revolutionary new Opportunities system, which promises to replace the current tutorial with a more sandbox-oriented alternative. Rather than leading players by the hand through a series of steps, the new system will give players looser goals to complete and let them explore the game at their own pace. It doesn’t sound like a huge change, but the opportunities system will completely change the way new players interact with the game. If it works as intended, this feature has the potential to solve EVE‘s notorious learning curve problem once and for all.

At the same time, I find myself excited for new opportunities outside the game as Massively relaunches as an independent site. Just a few weeks after we were informed that Massively was being shut down and we were all being let go, everyone on the team has pulled together and volunteered his or her time for free to create Massively Overpowered. It’s really good to be back, and I hope I can continue delivering your regular dose of EVE Online for years to come! Ultimately, though, the long-term viability of this column and all the other coverage at MassivelyOP depends on the success of our Kickstarter campaign and future funding through Patreon and advertising.

In this first edition of the reborn EVE Evolved, I discuss EVE‘s upcoming Opportunities feature and the effect it might have on the new player experience.

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Make My MMO: February 21, 2015

Welcome back to Make My MMO, a recurring column from Massively-that-was which covers crowdsourced MMOs of both the fully funded and the not-so-much variety. Each week we’ll round up the most relevant crowdfunding news stories in case you missed them, and we’ll also keep a running tab on active funding drives.

And speaking of that, for the next two weeks we get to write about ourselves in this space, as our Kickstarter is ongoing through March 6th and you lovely backers continue to stick it to the man while humbling us with your support.

Click past the cut for the rest of this week’s crowdfunding news. And don’t forget to tip us if you see something we missed (especially this week and next as we’re still scrambling to get our new house in order!).

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LOTRO Legendarium: What can we expect from Mordor?

Welcome to LOTRO Legendarium, the continuation of my old Road to Mordor column from Massively. Why the name change? First, I never got to name RTM (it was chosen by another author before I came on board as a writer). Second, I wanted to work in Lord of the Rings Online’s name into the title. And third, I liked how Tolkien used the term Legendarium to refer to his writings on Arda. And here we are!

As I make my way through Central Gondor on my Captain, my attention and thoughts have increasingly turned to our assumed great destination: Mordor. While 2015 holds large updates for us in Gondor, including Osgiliath and Minas Tirith, it’s a reasonable assumption that our next steps will take us through the Black Gate and into the foul lands of the Enemy.

So if and when that happens, what can we expect from a nation that personifies evil with its very essence?

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Working As Intended: ‘Multiplex monotony’ and the death of the mid-budget MMORPG

Back in December, film editor and author Jason Bailey wrote a piece on Flavorwire called How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA. He spins a tale of the booming movie industry of the ’80s and ’90s, when mid-budget films were commercially feasible and commonplace. By the turn of the century, however, the movie industry had bisected itself; studios stopped committing resources to mid-budget films, “betting big on would-be blockbusters” instead and generating a hard-scrabble indie scene in their wake. As Bailey’s title suggests, that dramatic shift uprooted a generation of brilliant filmmakers and cheapened the art of films and filmmaking for everyone.

It’s no stretch to say we’re witnessing the same phenomenon in the world of MMORPGs.

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The Daily Grind: Are you optimistic about WildStar’s future?

I’m sure this won’t serve as a grand surprise to anyone reading this, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of WildStar ever since we saw NCsoft’s financials last week. While it’s all well and good to try and cast the news as a positive by pointing out that it’s nearing the range of City of Heroes in terms of revenue, it behooves us to remember that CoH was unceremoniously shut down. Considering the hostile takeover NCsoft is facing, I think it’s enough to start one seriously thinking about the future.

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