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: 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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Chaos Theory: Player-run parade pairs Secret World cabals with recruits

It’s been said that The Secret World is more like a single-player game. And it’s true: You can definitely enjoy many aspects of the game solo or with just a friend or two. But there may also come a time when you want to be a part of a larger group, especially when trying to run nightmare-mode dungeons or crawl through the lairs. In that case, a cabal becomes pretty desirable. Just like guilds in other games, TSW’s cabals are a conglomeration of fans who usually have a common thread that ties them together, be it play times, playstyles, or whatever else. (It wouldn’t surprise me to see a cabal of just fashionistas!) The trick is actually finding folks who have those commonalities.

That’s where the player-run Cabal Pride event on February 21st comes in. Starting at 2:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, this event is all about matching unguilded players with potential cabals.
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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s tavern tunes

One of my favorite aspects of World of Warcraft’s soundtrack is its devotion to giving the in-game taverns catchy and cozy tunes. I always loved swinging into an inn between adventures just to soak up the ambience and take in the score that was more relaxing than any tankard of virtual ale.

You can imagine how glad I was to see Blizzard devoting a full soundtrack release to WoW’s tavern tunes in 2007. Along with the hard-to-find Mosaic album, Taverns of Azeroth is the only non-expansion (or core game) soundtrack the studio has released. I really appreciated how Composer David Arkenstone layered in atmospheric sounds and used them to transition between the tracks.

So let’s listen to selections from that album and see if we can’t dredge up memories of our favorite watering holes!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Eight reasons to return to SWTOR

In the midst of this rebirth of Massively, I found myself suddenly placed in charge of my Star Wars: The Old Republic guild. We are on a roleplay server because we like to be friendly to roleplayers, but we are not strictly a roleplay guild. I’m actually happy with that stance. I would like there to be more roleplay in my guild on a roleplay server, but being accepting of non-roleplayers allows us to recruit the player and not the character. And that’s the way guilds should be, right? With my taking over as guild leader, it’s a time for new beginnings.

Just as it’s a new beginning for my guild, this is also a new beginning for this column. This is the second or third new beginning for this column, but it’s still here because I still love SWTOR, and the readers here have stuck by it, too. Of course, we’ve all had some negative things to say about the game, but overall, the community and the game itself have been a positive experience.

Right now just happens to be a good time to get into the game for the first time or as a returning player. In fact, let me give you eight reasons why now is the perfect time to jump back into Star Wars: The Old Republic. Read more

Wisdom of Nym: Starting new in Final Fantasy XIV

Starting out fresh in Final Fantasy XIV can be pretty intimidating, I freely admit. I find it all old hat at this point, but I’m coming at the game as someone who has leveled every single available class to 50. It would be more surprising if I were still starting out and wondering when I can get my first mount or when I’m allowed to completely ignore the story and just craft forever if that’s more my speed.

The answer to both is largely level 20, for the record.

Let’s assume, then, that you’re starting the game new for the first time. Once you’ve made your character (and your birthdate and starting deity have minimal effect upon your character, so don’t sweat them) and watched the far-too-long opening cutscene, you’re dropped into a quick series of tutorial quests. What do you do from there, where do you go, and how do you make the most out of your time in Final Fantasy XIV when we’re on the cusp of the game’s first expansion?

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The Soapbox: The crowdfunding conundrum

As I type this, Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign sits comfortably at $54,323. We hit our initial $50k funding goal in roughly 48 hours. We’re on pace to smash through our $75k stretch goal before the month ends. Thanks to the miracle of crowdfunding, the Massively team and I get to keep doing what we love to do instead of spending the next few weeks explaining to potential employers what an “MMO” is and why we had to write about it.

This has been an incredible experience. I’m absolutely humbled by our community and am infinitely grateful for its support. As I said in my backer update earlier this week, I’m completely out of ways to say “thank you.”

However, my overall feelings on crowdfunding remain the same. It’s slimy, dangerous, and a borderline scam.

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The Soapbox: It’s the little things that make an MMO special

In the years that I’ve been playing and covering MMOs, I’ve noticed that there are two distinct phases when it comes to introducing a new game. The first is the big marketing push, as the team introduces the MAJOR TALKING POINTS and attempts to overwhelm players with how this will be the MMO to end all MMOs due to its sheer feature list. We — the press and the community — get a lot of talking mileage out of this, although it typically devolves into a straight-up comparison of other titles.

But then there’s a lesser-noticed but perhaps more significant stage, when people start checking out the game and commenting not on its impressive feature list but on the little details that stand out. I’ve read and written my fair share of posts where the author burbles excitedly about some cool little thing he or she noticed and enjoyed, and that sort of enthusiasm seems more genuine and personal.

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