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]

Wisdom of Nym: The fall in Final Fantasy XIV

There is a crack in the foundation of Eorzea’s defenders, and it’s been there for a while. For all of Final Fantasy XIV’s operation, we’ve been able to ignore that fact, to pretend that it isn’t there or that we’re not really facing something horrid just over the horizon. We’ve faced down one threat after another and convinced ourselves that the land is at least relatively safe. But we’ve never faced a threat like the one about to hit Ishgard.

We spent so much time defending against other threats that the Dravanian Horde never got its due.

The last part of the 2.5 cycle goes live tomorrow, and with it comes the conclusion to the entirety of the relaunch storyline. We’ve already made some pretty big strides, but it’s time to look at what we know will come next, what we believe will happen, and who will be left standing after everything goes cross-eyed. Fair warning: There may be spoilers ahead, so tread carefully if you’re afraid of those.

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Guild Chat: The top five ingredients in every great guild

Welcome to Guild Chat, my comfortable little corner of Massively Overpowered in which I dissect the inner workings and tricky politics associated with MMO guilds. If you were a ravenous reader of Massively-of-old, you may fondly remember Karen Bryan‘s fantastically crafted column The Guild Counsel, which expertly covered all things related to guilds. I couldn’t hope to replace Karen’s deep insight into guild politics and wouldn’t want to intrude on her substantial body of work, so I’ll be going in a more interactive direction with Guild Chat that brings my own unique style and perspective to the conversation.

I want to lend a personal style to Guild Chat that starts and ends with the words of the MOP community. I’ll tackle issues that actual readers are facing (feel free to submit your own by email) or topics you would like to see covered, and I hope that the comments will be filled with even more helpful advice and new perspectives on the topic too. For my first article in the series, I’m going to look at what makes a great guild and which particular aspects or components comprise them. This question comes at the request of Kajatta, my World of Warcraft player fiancé who has found himself without a guild recently. Read on for Kajatta’s full question and my thoughts on the issue.
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The Game Archaeologist: Middle-earth Online

Out of all of the MMOs that I’ve played over the years, I must have spent the most time in Lord of the Rings Online’s wonderfully realized vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. An early magazine article in 2007 intrigued me with the mention of a “low-fantasy” MMO that skewed more to realism than the cartoony World of Warcraft. By the time the head start period had finished, I was in love with the Shire, Hobbits, and ordering my Lore-master’s raven to peck the eyes out of goblins.

Yet the MMO that I’ve played and enjoyed was a title born in the grave of a previous effort to bring Lord of the Rings to MMOs: Middle-earth Online. Turbine wasn’t the first MMO studio to take a crack at Tolkien’s license. No, for that we have to travel back to 1998 and revisit Sierra On-Line. It was this company that had a brief but memorable run designing Middle-earth Online with features such as permadeath. It’s a fascinating glimpse into an entirely different approach to the IP, and even though it fizzled out due to a number of factors, I think it’s important it be remembered. Frodo lives!

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WoW Factor: In praise of Warlords of Draenor

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I consider Warlords of Draenor to be a sub-par expansion. My opinion on that has not changed; I spent the last installment of this column noting the ways in which the expansion has cycled multiple game mechanics back around, and the first installment of this column discussed expansion issues. Yet today I come here not to bury Warlords of Draenor but to praise it.

For all that World of Warcraft has removed or made worse many gameplay elements over the years, there’s a part of my heart that will always be invested in the game, and for all the missteps that can be made, there are still things of shocking beauty. So let’s talk about things that are completely praiseworthy in WoD, starting with something that I’m happy to say my opinion has changed on in the time between the beta and launch.

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Lost Continent: ArcheAge’s dolphingate was much ado about nothing

I’d like to play devil’s advocate about this whole ArcheAge dolphingate thing. First, though, let me start with a disclaimer. If you’ve read this column for any length of time, either here in our new home or over the years on Massively-that-was, you know that I don’t pull any punches when it comes to Trion’s ArcheAge buffoonery.

But this was not that.

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Chaos Theory: Quit whining and pay for your Secret World content

Those of you who know me know that ranting is not exactly my forte. Although I have dabbled in it a bit here and there over the years, it’s certainly not something that happens often. But some of the arguments that have sprung up from the events surrounding The Secret World this past week just rankled me. Sometimes even the most easygoing have to speak up, and so I am.

Quitcher grumping about TSW sales and just pay for the content you consume before we lose the game!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Shifting perspectives in Guild Wars 2

Since my last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, ArenaNet has released the eagerly anticipated camera patch, and I have been squealing with delight while enjoying the new character-specific perspective these controls have given me. The relatively simple new camera toolset makes me very excited for the future of Guild Wars 2, as familiar areas in Tyria now feel very different depending on which of my characters I play.

Before launching into my rather gushing rambles about the Lock to Character Height and First Person options, however, I should briefly highlight that the patch did cause a number of serious ongoing issues. I had anticipated the odd bug or two when the patch was initially delayed from its original launch date of March 10th; I’m very sympathetic to development delays and the occasional glitch since I work in game development myself (it’s not an MMO) and have been in this boat before. Having said that, this patch caused a surprising number of serious bugs that really should have been squashed before the patch ever was exposed to the masses.

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Choose My Adventure: Torchlight Heroes

Our March sampler-platter edition of Choose My Adventure is quickly coming to a close. There’s only one more vote to take, one more game to play, and one more character to create. Our task this week, as with previous weeks, is two-fold. First, we must talk about Marvel Heroes, (spoiler alert: awesome). Second, we must choose a path for our Torchlight II hero. It’s a big responsibility, but I think we’re up for it.

So join me, CMA-ers, on this last round of OARPG voting. Dungeon time is almost over.

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Global Chat: Tripping over colors in MMO play

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to play an MMO while affected by colorblindness? A guest writer over at Epic Slant penned an interesting piece about what it’s like to attempt to play games that don’t make allowances for those who can’t discern between sometimes-crucial colors and shades.

Fortunately, he says that studios are making progress: “Another example of a similar solution on the PC can be found in both League of Legends and World of Warcraft. Both of these titles have had graphical filters for years and, in the latest update, even more progress has been made in WoW to really help out players who need it. In fact, WoW took the idea of graphical filters and added text to help players further.”

Continue on to see what MMO bloggers have to say about Skyforge, The Secret World, and more!

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Hyperspace Beacon: What you need to know about SWTOR’s Outfit Designer

Update 3.2 for Star Wars: The Old Republic is, in a lot of ways, my update. From the beginning of the game, I wanted to visit the planet Ziost. My favorite Star Wars comic book of all time is the Tales of the Jedi series. The part of the series appears to revolve around Gav and Jori Daragon, but the truth is that Tales of the Jedi is about the old Sith Empire. The wintery world of Ziost was the capital planet of the old Sith Empire. I’ve always wanted to know what happened to that world during the time of The Old Republic, but the writers have been rather silent about it.

As many of you are aware, I’m a big roleplayer in all the MMOs that I play. I like to immerse myself into the world, the lore, and the community of each MMO. That’s probably one of the reasons that I can play only one or two MMOs at the same time. Unfortunately, SWTOR has never been particularly roleplay friendly. It’s always seemed that we roleplayers RP in spite of the mechanics of the game. And now, for the first time in the history of the game, we have been given a tool that is completely designed for roleplayers: the Outfit Designer.

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Not So Massively: D3’s ladder reset, HOTS’ team league mode, and Starfall Tactics

Diablo III is getting ready to close its second ladder only two months in on April 5th but will be providing a 100% gold and XP boost for the remainder of the season. Blizzard discussed how the development of Project Titan led to its new online FPS Overwatch and revealed that the title will be the first of a series of games set in the same universe. Path of Exile‘s Torment and Bloodlines leagues ended today, and a tournament this weekend awarded four of the game’s top players with some nice Alienware swag.

Indie RTS Starfall Tactics announced its intention to develop a persistent online shard in which players can wage wars and conquer each other’s territories. Riot Games announced a new contest in the EU region that will give university-based League of Legends clubs €1,500 toward the costs of running an event. Warframe‘s massive Sanctuary update landed this week, introducing new quests, weapons, tons of bugfixes, and the Chroma warframe. And Blizzard announced an upcoming Team League mode for Heroes of the Storm that aims to let everyone take part in competitive team play.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of the stories above and a roundup of all the other big news this week from the wider world of not-quite-massive online gaming.

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Wisdom of Nym: Exit Final Fantasy XI

It’s all over for Final Fantasy XI. Or it will be, anyhow.

It was hard to imagine that the big Final Fantasy XI conference was going to end in a whole bunch of good news for the game. The game has been running for half of forever, and it’s not as if it coincided with a big event that would make an expansion or the like sound reasonable. So what we actually got was…

Well, all things considered, it was intensely positive.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m sure that pretty much everyone who still plays the game and several people watching from the sidelines would prefer that FFXI continued getting big updates and improving forever. But realistically, this is what’s best for the health of the game and the playerbase. Yet I’ve already seen more than a few people taking umbrage with it, complaining and raging that this is some betrayal or that it shows Square-Enix has no idea what it’s doing, accusations that are almost comically misplaced.

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EVE Evolved: CCP’s Andie Nordgren on new structures and sovereignty

I’ve been pretty critical of EVE Online‘s upcoming sovereignty and nullsec revamp, calling the constellation-wide battle fake and its use of reinforcement timers unnecessary. While I still believe that a multiple capture point mechanic without reinforcement timers would be the ideal system, being at EVE Fanfest 2015 this week has definitely given me cause for optimism. After spending the past few days sitting in on roundtable feedback gathering sessions and absorbing the enormity of CCP’s new plans for deployable structures, I can sort of see what the future looks like for nullsec, and it’s pretty awesome.

EVE is hurtling head-first into a future in which everyone from individuals and small corporations to the biggest megacoalitions can vie for control of a little corner of the galaxy. Territorial alliances will eventually be able to design everything about their star systems, building sprawling industrial hubs, employing NPC security and agents, and creating a space that reflects the alliance’s personality and style. Star systems that are heavily built up with infrastructure will become juicy targets for roaming fleets, and systems that aren’t actively used and defended should be more difficult to hold on to.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the plans for new structures in EVE and talk to Executive Producer Andie Nordgren on her grand future vision for nullsec.

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