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 shares lots of fun stuff (September 15, 2017)

Good news for Crowfall fans this week because there’s plenty on the docket about the game’s development. You might not consider a whole lot of discussion about how the game succeeded at crowdfunding to be new content, but you’ve also got the full list of race/class combinations at launch and a dangerous beachhead for players to fight around. So there’s lots of good stuff happening for fans, yes?

The remainder of the beta news… well, there’s some good stuff in there, too! And one thing that’s perhaps not so good. Let’s head right in.

Meanwhile, we’ve got that full list of games down below with all of the information you could possibly expect at this point from our regular weekly column. Did something jump to a new phase of testing without us noticing? Let us know down in the comments, we find that fascinating and only marginally annoying. (And the annoyance is with the studios who don’t let us know, mind.)

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Global Chat: Not that impressed by Destiny 2

Destiny 2’s recent PC beta certainly brought out curious players in droves, and MMO bloggers couldn’t help but share their opinions on this next evolution of the sci-fi shooter franchise — even if those opinions weren’t too positive.

“It proved to be a deeply disappointing experience,” Superior Realities said. “Not because of anything wrong with the game, but because the beta offered such a small sliver of it as to be entirely pointless.”

Endgame Viable just doesn’t get it: “I know I’m going to regret this, but: What’s all the hype about? I didn’t hate it, but Destiny 2 looked and played like every other shooter.”

How would you respond to those observations? While you think about it, let’s look past D2: The Mighty Space Ducks to more essays on Elder Scrolls Online, EverQuest II, and the dinosaurs of ARK: Survival Evolved.

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Choose My Adventure: Shroud of the Avatar in summation

All the time through playing Shroud of the Avatar, I found myself wanting to like the game a lot more than I did. And my brain kept turning back to Minecraft, which seems like a worthwhile comparison to make.

Much like SOTA, Minecraft is a game strongly based on the concept of making your own fun. You are definitely making your own adventure in the game. But at the same time, it seems very relevant to point out that the game starts by giving you a clear set of parameters to work within. Monsters will spawn at night, there are resources under ground, you break things to get better things, and then combine those things to make still better things. From there on out, much of the game is devoted to figuring out how these various elements play off of one another.

So they’re both sandbox-ish titles in which you make your own fun. Except that one of them starts by showing you the fun that you’re supposed to be having and giving you a goal, and it does so with absolutely no story to guide you along that route. It shows you exactly the sort of game it’s trying to be and lets you start working at meeting it halfway. But SOTA never quite got there, at least for me.

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The Daily Grind: What are acceptable barriers to experience the story in an MMO?

One of the things that strikes me with a certain degree of bemusement is how often various bits of story in Guild Wars 2 are locked behind things. If you’re not raiding, you’re locked out of the story there; if you weren’t playing when the first season of the Living World story played out, same deal. But then, those are pretty common lockouts, and there are important World of Warcraft stories you simply can’t access if you play now (because they’re not there any more). So perhaps it isn’t surprising.

No sooner do I think about that, though, than I think about what other sorts of lockouts you could design for story content. Some amount of story in MMOs is always locked behind invested time (you have to get up to the right level and so forth) and real-world money (you’ll never see the expansion stories for Final Fantasy XI if you never buy the expansions). But what other sorts of lockouts could you have? Where do you draw the line for what stories should be locked behind and what shouldn’t impede your ability to explore an MMO’s story? Let’s throw that question to you, readers. What are acceptable barriers to experience the story in an MMO? And are there any barriers you would like to see that just don’t show up very often?

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Hyperspace Beacon: The 10 best places to find SWTOR content outside the game

Just this week, a long-running Star Wars: The Old Republic fan-made website mentioned that it was shutting down, one among many that have come and gone since the launch of SWTOR. I was just mentioning the other day to a friend how Darth Hater pretty much faded into nothing and how many of the old fan-shows and websites no longer exist. It seems to be a rare thing for creators to make content since the launch of the game, and it’s even rarer for them to have created it before the game launched.

And now SWTOR-RP is shutting down, one of the last sites to have been reporting on SWTOR for over seven years. I know this because I was one of the three founders, and now the three of us remaining have decided it’s time to move on and let the site go.

So where does a SWTOR fan get content now? Are there still fansites that report on the latest news coming from BioWare Austin? I can hear Massively OP readers now: “Larry, your content is great and all, but I need more than a thousand words in Hyperspace Beacon every week.” And I hear you; I need more than that, too. So that’s why I’ve compiled another list of 10 podcasts, YouTube channels, and websites where I get my SWTOR information.

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Perfect Ten: The 10 tiers of MMORPG lore

Lore! Huh! What is it good for? Understanding why you’re standing in the middle of a pack of angry people with fangs in MMOs, of course. It’s the thin line dividing your actions from being reckless, indiscriminate mayhem and discriminating, careful mayhem. Lore is how you know what the world is like beyond your front door, and it’s the difference between understanding that you face Ragnaros, lord of flame or just knowing that there’s a dude here made out of fire, so you should probably use water spells on him.

All lore, however, is not created equal. There’s lore that creates a detailed, vibrant world full of people with their own hopes and dreams, and there’s lore that creates a game where you know what you’re supposed to be doing but have no idea what people do for fun afterwards aside from waiting to die. So today, we explore the tiers of lore, arranged in a numbered list because that’s the entire premise of the column. It’s not Perfect Vague Assortment of Concepts. That’s not even a column.

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Guild Chat: Dealing with the ‘it’s me or the MMO guild!’ ultimatum

Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered readership can band together to help a gamer-in-need with his or her guild-related dilemma. This time, an anonymous reader dubbed ‘R’ has written in with a matter of the heart that threatens his or her MMO enjoyment: While R is very much enjoying the MMO and guild he or she is part of, the demands of the guild are fairly steep and R’s girlfriend is feeling second-best. R is in a predicament where the guild leader doesn’t want to give R any sort of preferential treatment and expects him or her to show up just like everyone else does, but R’s girlfriend is getting more and more upset with how much time the guild demands of her partner. The situation between the couple has become so heated that the girlfriend has given R an ultimatum and wants to see her partner quit the game entirely.

There are more details to R’s tale, so check out the full submission below and my thoughts on the matter before you weigh in with your advice in the comments.

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One Shots: I think I’m turning Japanese

I’ve got your picture of me and you
You wrote “I love you,” I love you too
I sit there staring and there’s nothing else to do

We’ve all been there when a “good” Japanese demon of legend has a legit crush on one of the leaders of the Illuminati. How else to express that unrequited love than with a commissioned painting and some headless mannequins?

“In honor of Secret World Legends’ Kristen Geary,” posted reader Koshelkin. This is exactly how court restraining orders get started.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best consumable items?

Back at launch, I had a lot of affection for playing a Warrior with Alchemy in World of Warcraft. Sure, I missed out on some cool weaponry along the way, but it was worth it just to have access to some nifty healing tricks at a time when that was hard to come by. It also made me appreciate consumables quite a bit as something to actively use, not something to squirrel away endlessly until a hypothetical rainy day showed up to really require every healing potion I’d ever found.

Of course, this was in stark contrast to my first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, where healing items like potions were rare and expensive, but food was almost mandatory for every single activity. It was also in contrast to City of Heroes, where consumables were dropped for everyone and in constant demand. And the original Guild Wars barely even had consumables as I thought of them.

Lots of games do different things with consumable items, and I fondly remember Star Wars: The Old Republic’s always-usable stims in its launch version. But today, we want to see the best of the best. Which MMO do you think has (or had) the best consumable items? While you’re on the topic, what sort of features do you see as important for consumables?

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The Game Archaeologist: Climax’s Warhammer Online

Let’s begin with a little personal history. Back in 2008, I decided to get into the blogging scene by jumping on board the latest MMO hotness — in this case, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. As I was growing increasingly tired of World of Warcraft, WAR seemed to offer a refreshing alternative: a darker world full of brutal PvP and awesome new ideas. So I joined the elite ranks of bloggers (hey, stop laughing so hard) and spent the better part of two years jawing about Mythic’s latest fantasy project.

And while Warhammer Online was, in my opinion, a solid product, it certainly failed to live up to the extremely high expectations held by both the development team and the players. No matter how it turned out, I really enjoyed talking about WAR, especially in the days leading up to its launch.

As with other IP-related MMOs like Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online had its roots with another company and another vision. It’s a “what if?” tale that’s tantalizing to consider — an entirely different studio, Climax Online, creating a much darker version of Warhammer.

So what if Climax had brought its version of Warhammer Online to bear? Would it have eclipsed Mythic’s vision or been its own animal? Hit the jump and let’s dive into the pages of ancient history!

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Betawatch: Worlds Adrift takes criticism and updates free tools (September 8, 2017)

Nobody likes being criticized, ever. But it’s a reality of life, and so Worlds Adrift has been taking the feedback from players about the game’s PvP scene in stride. The team behind the game has also updated the free island creator tool, so if you feel like engaging in a round of player vs. interface and player vs. the multi-layered complexity of realizing player ideals in a three-dimensional design space, go nuts.

You want some more beta news? Well, we got a little bit of that, it turns out.

And, of course, there’s a list down below of titles in testing, many of which were not affected by the double punch of a holiday and a convention back-to-back. Go ahead and check out the list, and feel free to leave your comments on betas you’re currently playing down below. Or let us know if something jumped status, that’s cool too.

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Choose My Adventure: Many kinds of lost in Shroud of the Avatar

One of the first things I did in Shroud of the Avatar was get kind of lost. The last week’s activities were largely similar. Only now, it was a different kind of lost.

It wasn’t just that I didn’t have much of anywhere to go; that was how the vote went, after all, and while it might not have been my first choice that’s kind of the purpose behind voting instead of just letting me decide everything. It wasn’t just that the areas afforded me little to no guidance about points of interest. It was that I kept asking myself “why?” as I worked, fought things, explored, and so forth.

No answers were forthcoming. And perhaps that’s missing the point, but it also struck me that this is part of the reason why a guild may have made a major difference here. Albeit not necessarily for the best, but let me get into that as I go.

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Global Chat: Overwatch’s stalled story

With all of the attention, fandom, e-sports, and development given to Blizzard’s Overwatch, have you ever suspected that the team shooter has a critical weakness in its narrative?

Tyler at Superior Realities unloads with both barrels at what he calls the “failure” of Overwatch’s story: “The thing is, a 10-minute video clip once a year and a 10-page digital comic every six months aren’t a story. They’re marketing […] Nor has there been any forward momentum to the story. We’re still just hovering, frozen in time, at the moment Winston reactivated Overwatch. If this were a movie, we’d still be in the first five minutes.”

Our whirlwind tour through the latest that the MMO blogosphere has to offer continues, with a look at Destiny 2’s PC beta, FFXIV’s nostalgia trip, the perceived value of MMOs, and more!

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