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]

Make My MMO: May 2, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Pathfinder Online made some noise about the future of its settlements feature. Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey also made headlines by imploring Pathfinder fans to recruit new blood from the larger MMO community.

In other news, Star Citizen summed up its April progress with a lengthy studio report and dropped a couple of interesting persistent world info nuggets in the process. You can read the rest of this week’s crowdfunding news roundup after the break.

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The Game Archaeologist: AOL’s Neverwinter Nights

Here’s a question for you: How much do you really, really have to love a game to pay $6 to $8 an hour to play it? Considering how much we tend to whine about a flat $15/month fee, I’m guessing the answer is, “Only if it made me romantically irresistable and regularly supplied chocolate milkshakes.”

And yet, in 1991 this wasn’t considered a crazy extortionist practice; it was dubbed “being a pioneer.” While online RPGs were nothing new by then, few had tackled the jump from text to graphical games due to the technological limitations, questions over a potential market, and the required funding. It took the efforts of a Superfriends-style team to make this happen with Neverwinter Nights: Stormfront Studios developed the game, TSR provided the Dungeons & Dragons license, SSI published it, and AOL handled the online operations.

And thus six years before Ultima Online and 13 before World of Warcraft came on the scene, what many consider the first true multiplayer graphical RPG went online and helped forge a path that would lead to where we are today. With only a few hundred players per server, Neverwinter Nights may not have been “massively,” but it deserves a spot of honor as one of the key ancestors to the modern MMO.

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WRUP: Throw hams at hyenas edition

Folks, do you find yourself with too much ham in your house? If not, go buy some ham, then throw it at some vicious hyenas. Note that I said “at” and not “to,” in case that was unclear. I am advocating spending like $200 on ham and then hurling it, at high velocity, toward the nearest hyena. Even if that means getting in your car and going to the zoo, jumping the fence, and beaning some stupid hyena with a glazed ham.

You have to admit, those stupid not-dog losers deserve to be hit in the face with processed pig meat.

Before you get on with throwing ham, though, you should probably check out this week’s installment of What Are You Playing. Not because it has vital information regarding hams and hyenas, no; because we want to tell you what we’re up to over the weekend and we’re curious about your weekend plans. Or at least what they would have been before you flung a ham at a vicious predator that can chase you down and bite off your legs. Read more

Betawatch: May 1st, 2015

So why isn’t Pathfinder Online attracting more players? Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey apparently feels that it’s a matter of the game’s fans not stumping for the game aggressively enough in places that aren’t focused around discussing the game. We should also mention that the game is rolling out plans for the next iteration of settlements, but that feels like he’s getting what he wants.

Other news from around the betaverse:

You want more? Well, why don’t you just jump on past the break to a huge long list of games in testing that we keep past the break every week. We’re predictable like that.

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An aircraft spotter’s guide to GTA Online, part one

I love airplanes. I love the Grand Theft Auto series. A big reason I love the Grand Theft Auto series is its airplanes, and more specifically, the way they’re basically comic book analogues of real-world craft. GTA has always been more of an arcade game than a sim, at least when it comes to control inputs, but developer Rockstar has nonetheless done a bang-up job with what I like to call pseudo-realism.

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Massively Overthinking: Are boutique MMOs the future?

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Taemys, who just so happens to be a guildie of mine. He’s clever, and so is his concern:

“Are all the smaller, ’boutique’ MMO’s the future? To put it another way, do you think we’ll see anything as big as World of Warcraft or EverQuest again?”

I put his questions to the Massively OP writers, who as usual were happy to overthink them!

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Perfect Ten: How to find the right MMO for you

A common question that I see posited around forums and Reddit is, “What MMO should I play?” If there is a more loaded question than that in this community, I haven’t heard it. What is usually being asked, by both newcomers and long-time players, is, “What MMO is right for me that I haven’t played yet?”

While I hear you and have been there, the truth is that there is no one universal answer to that question. There are just hundreds if not thousands of MMOs, big and small, out on the market, each with its own personality, feature set, and setting. Those have to be compared and matched up with the millions of people who all have their own unique preferences. It’s what makes recommending an MMO a difficult proposition.

I’m game for difficult! Today’s list won’t be “10 MMOs that I think you should play” but a rundown of how to sort through the important categories that are out there in the hopes of finding the game that’s right for you.

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Working As Intended: Ten lessons I learned from classic Guild Wars

Guild Wars — the first Guild Wars — celebrates its 10th birthday this week alongside several of my characters who are equally old. I originally picked up Guild Wars as a diversion from World of Warcraft, and at the time, I liked everything about it but actually playing it. Pre-Searing felt like home; it was pastoral and lovely with a haunting score. But back in 2005, the game past the Searing was difficult to traverse in a small party, let alone solo, and the deeper into the game I got, the less I liked it. In fact, I didn’t Ascend in 2005. I gave up on the grueling PUGs right around the time I got to the Crystal Desert.

But I went back, and went back again, and eventually I fell in love. That’s just the first of Guild Wars’ many lessons. Here are 10 things I learned from Guild Wars — in honor of its 10 years of fun.

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Jukebox Heroes: Mists of Pandaria’s soundtrack

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Western games putting out Asian-themed expansions and conjuring up a soundtrack to match. On one hand, we already have oh-so-many Asian MMOs (and scores) on the market that for another region to try to get in on that action feels a little forced and unnecessary. On the other hand, why not? It’s no big deal and can foster a multi-cultural atmosphere in the game.

Mists of Pandaria is World of Warcraft’s love song to Asia, which is probably more intentional than coincidental considering how many of the MMO’s players live there. The soundtrack, while a cut above a similar approach with Guild Wars Factions, is decent but hardly among the game’s all-time best scores. It infuses the fantasy world of Azeroth with exotic-sounding instruments such as the erhu, guzheng, and dizi, creating another take on this popular franchise.

So how does Mists of Pandaria’s score acquit itself? Let’s find out!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Hands-on with SWTOR’s Rise of the Emperor update

If you read the last Hyperspace Beacon, then you know that BioWare’s announcement that Ziost is finally hitting Star Wars: The Old Republic excited me beyond reason. Ziost is one of those planets that really should make a mark on the SWTOR universe because of its significance in Star Wars ancient history. Unfortunately, that also means that BioWare has a lot to live up to when it comes to creating this planet. We are, of course, talking about the former capital world of the Sith Empire and the home of the first Dark Lord of the Sith Ajunta Pall.

This past weekend I played through the Ziost storyline myself. And to make sure I had a rounded perspective, I watched a few videos playthroughs of the planetary quests too. Specifically, I’d like to mention Vulkk, who produces a monstrous swath of videos about all the SWTOR content. I watched his Republic playthrough just to make sure that I didn’t really miss anything as far as the story was concerned.

As you will come to understand after reading this, the story on Ziost feels incomplete, and frankly, the quest layout is really weird compared to all the previous quests.

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Wisdom of Nym: How to catch up in Final Fantasy XIV (before Heavensward arrives)

Let’s assume you’ve just recently gotten to the level cap in Final Fantasy XIV and you’re ready to start in on catching up to the main scenario before Heavensward drops. Where do you start?

I don’t really agree with the official decision to gate people out of Ishgard if they haven’t cleared the story up through the 2.55 patch, but it was made and I didn’t get a vote there, so it’s kind of academic. The point is that if you’re hitting that level for the first time, you have five major patches of stuff between you and getting to Ishgard in June. So how do you make sure that your fresh character can get all the way up there? Is it even possible?

The answer is most definitely yes, but you’re going to have to put some time in. Most of the gating you’ll have to deal with, though, is a matter of getting the gear you need to take on the later challenges that the story throws at you.

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EverQuesting: Daybreak expounds on Landmark’s postponed wipe

Some pretty big changes are on their way to Landmark, not the least of which is the final full character wipe and an extensive land reformation. Anticipation is certainly high for the new biomes, and to say many testers are looking forward to finally keeping character progression into the open beta phase and launch is an understatement! But that’s only a small part of the new build: The achievement, crafting, and harvesting systems are all getting their own facelifts.

With so many modifications incoming, players may not be too surprised to learn that the big wipe will happen later than anticipated; instead of April 29th, the wipe is postponed until the week after. At least that gives everyone a bit more time to digest all of the information, including these new details we’ve gathered from our talk with Senior Producer Terry Michaels and Lead Designer Darrin McPherson.
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Guild Chat: Guild size and its effect on cohesion

Welcome along to Guild Chat, my cozy corner of the internet in which we can discuss all things guilds, the place where we all gather to give advice to a reader in need. Come on in and pull up a plush purple couch, everybody! I’ll pop the kettle on while we get settled in, all ready to deal with this month’s issue. This edition of Guild Chat is focused on a question sent in from Massively Overpowered reader Loyheta that asks about balancing the size of a guild’s roster with its inclusiveness and activity levels. As pointed out, the balance can be hard to strike: Many of the largest guilds become somewhat fractured and cliques inevitably form, whereas smaller guilds may be very friendly but often rely on new players suiting the commonality of the existing core members. Read Loyheta’s question in full below to get up to speed, and don’t forget to pop your own two cents on the topic in the comments below.

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