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]

Perfect Ten: MMO missteps that didn’t have to happen

Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.

I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.

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Global Chat: Avoiding MMO activities

Have you ever noticed that you play it way too safe in your MMOs, especially when it comes to interacting (or not) with others? Aywren of Sygnus wrote an honest blog post lately in which she felt challenged to examine and even buck her “safe patterns” in life and gaming and to try to get out of her rut and try new things.

“On my gaming blog, I’ve talked about my struggles with grouping in MMOs, and how FFXIV specifically had to pick me up and forcibly throw me out of my safe zone if I wanted to keep playing it. This is something I still struggle with,” she admitted. “I do everything I can to avoid stressful dungeons, raids or classes. I’m still afraid of tanking and healing for strangers outside my FC.”

Join us for more thought-provoking blog posts from the MMO community as we fill up your screen with the latest in Global Chat!

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Wisdom of Nym: Speculating about Final Fantasy XIV’s Eureka

I think Naoki Yoshida has severely overestimated how much I wanted to chase after a Scorpion Harness again.

One of the things that I mentioned way back when about the Diadem was that it felt like a Final Fantasy XI zone in Final Fantasy XIV. We don’t know all of the details about Eureka yet, but what we’ve learned so far definitely seems to indicate that it’s meant to be a similar experience. Heck, the visuals alone are doubling down on that; you can’t add in gear that’s specifically meant to look like the Scorpion Harness without inviting comparisons to the original Final Fantasy MMO.

We don’t know nearly as much about Eureka as we might like to know, but we do know something, at least. So let’s review what things we do know, speculate about the stuff that fills in the gap, and start considering what the experience of exploring this new zone will feel like, yes? I’m excited, at least.

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Guild Chat Special Edition: Interviewing Guild Wars 2 guild POOF

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which we examine all things guild-related and solve problems faced by fellow members of the Massively Overpowered community. This edition is rather different, however: I had the opportunity to interview the key players in a Guild Wars 2 guild named POOF that featured in ArenaNet’s Friend/Ships campaign, which you may have read a little bit about in Flameseeker Chronicles. Friendships have been at the forefront of ArenaNet‘s minds for the last month or so and POOF’s guild story is one that was featured within the campaign (the video is below for those who haven’t seen it). I asked them about how they organise their guild, what makes POOF so special, and how they support their members, and I’m delighted to share their insights with you in a special edition of Guild Chat.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 4

We are getting right down to it in our look at the top 32 best World of Warcraft tracks. In today’s column, we’ll be breaking into the top 10 with some of my absolute favorite pieces that have been added to this long-running (and extensively scored) MMO.

If you’ve been going on this journey with me this far, I want to thank you for your patience and interest! For me, it has been a great reminder of the game’s musical journey so far and has also served to whet my desire for Battle for Azeroth’s score.

Let’s get going!

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One Shots: The Soviet Summoner

Undoubtedly, our world is poorer in this post-City of Heroes era for the lack of pun-inspired superhero names that used to run, fly, and jump rampant through this game. Maybe NCsoft realized that the world as a whole was about to hit a pun shortage and pulled the plug on CoH before it could drain us of that precious resource.

In any case, BigAngry submitted this museum-quality screenshot as a reminder of the days when the name could make or break a hero: “In the waning days before the fall of City of Heroes, I took video of all my characters using their powers, so I took a screencap of the video of Soviet Summoner, who was a Demon Summoning/Trick Arrow Mastermind. Her demons, IIRC, were named after Russian cities, with the big demon named Chernobyl, of course! God I miss that game.”

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The Daily Grind: What cosmetic rewards in online games don’t feel like rewards?

One of the most common rewards from loot crates in Overwatch were sprays. (It might have changed, but I doubt it.) You point your character at a wall, and look, you sprayed an image there! Amazing! And I don’t care and would not notice if the feature were removed entirely, not because it’s cosmetic fluff (which I live for) but because it’s cosmetic fluff that doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. If I could convert every spray I ever received straight into currency, I would do so. They hold absolutely no value for me.

The thing about cosmetic rewards is that they only work if they’re something you actually care about. I rarely intend to use the various cosmetic options introduced in Final Fantasy XIV, but they’re at least there; by contrast, many World of Warcraft cosmetic rewards only can be used for cosmetic transmog during the events in question, making them fundamentally useless again. So what about you? What cosmetic rewards have online games offered that feel utterly irrelevant to you, if not actively disdainful?

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Betawatch: Wild West Online is getting a big revamp (March 9, 2018)

Remember Wild West Online? The game made a lot of noise through early testing, but it went fairly quiet. Turns out the reason for that was a top-to-bottom revamp of the game’s client, so there have been a lot of changes in the current version of the game. Good news, though, that test version is almost ready for players to try.

More beta news? Sure thing, that’s what we usually do here. It’s a thing.

And yes, there is a list below with a whole lot of games in testing. Some of them might also be in “open beta” hiding no planned wipes and an open cash shop, and if you could let us know about that, we’d be grateful. You have to keep your eyes open for these things. They’re tricky.

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WoW Factor: Examining the composition of the Horde

Last week, we looked at the composition of the Alliance in World of Warcraft. This week, we’re looking at the Horde. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you missed the prior column, catch up and get back to us here.

One of the things that’s always been true about the Horde in World of Warcraft is that it is, by and large, a more heterogeneous collective of races and nations. This is partly by design, and partly because the Horde just seems to have a different way of handling its membership and its populace. If the Alliance needs a group of skilled trackers in a new landscape, it’ll find its best scouts and train them; the Horde, meanwhile, will just befriend a local group of existing trackers and welcome them into the Horde.

Does that sound a bit off the mark? Well, let’s take a look.

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EverQuesting: Take a swig of EverQuest II’s Brewday festival with this guide

A festival dedicated to getting sloshed? No, this isn’t college life — it’s EverQuest II’s Brewday! Every year near St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration dedicated to libations runs throughout Norrath. There are drunken quests to do, pink elephants and talking cabbages to collect, tons of themed crafts to make, and plenty of drinks to partake of. This year’s festival runs from March 6th at 3:00 a.m. EST to March 20th at 2:59 a.m. EDT.

While it is disappointing that Daybreak has not added any new content to the festival for 2018, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do. And there are a couple new items to acquire — namely a spiffy griffon mount and the next crafting recipe book. Here’s a guide to get you through the weeks of revelry. You can also get a visual walkthrough of some tasks by watching The Stream Team festival escapades from 2015, 2016, and 2018.

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Choose My Adventure: Already captured in Warframe

You know, I’ve been oddly impressed with the starting experience for the past couple of titles I’ve been playing in Choose My Adventure. Both of them have managed to avoid one of my pet peeves, where characters tell you that there’s no time to explain when there is not only time but an immediate and obvious necessity to explain. Starting off Warframe immediately made it clear that there was, in fact, no time to explain, because I was surrounded by hostile enemies with some form of restraint device on my frame.

That isn’t to say that you start off with no idea what was going on. You get the absolute barest overview of what’s taking place before you launch into your first encounter, which makes it clear that you’re waking up slowly and have to get right back into the thick of things right away. But it was an impressive experience insofar as it really does feel like you shouldn’t quite have a clear picture of what’s going on. Something is happening, yes, but there has not yet been time or opportunity to explain much.

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The Daily Grind: Do you enjoy MMO datamining?

The latest expansion for World of Warcraft hasn’t had a whole lot of official announcements made recently, but there’s still a steady flow of news about it. Why? Because the datamining teams are going to work picking apart files and trying to figure out what new stuff is in there. Of course, datamining isn’t the same as finding it live in the game, and that can give lots of ideas about what’s coming next that may not line up with reality.

Similarly, I know there are parts of the Guild Wars 2 community less than happy with the datamining side of things that basically revealed details of its second expansion early. It’s a reveal, sure, but it’s a reveal without any of the sparkle or style that you’d expect from a big reveal.

Of course, these are the negative sides; the plus side to datamining is that it gives a peek at the game from the inside out, and it can also be seen as a source of excitement between big announcements. So what do you think, readers? Do you enjoy MMO datamining? Do you tend to seek it out (or datamine things yourself), or do you prefer being surprised?

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Hyperspace Beacon: Carving up the new SWTOR Conquests

The original Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic was a man named Damion Schubert. A friend of mine used to call him my nemesis because he seemed to be in charge of everything that I disliked about SWTOR. At community cantinas and other interaction with fans like the Guild Summit, he said that he is work on SWTOR would not be done until he was able to give guilds their own flagships. He was true to his word. On May 11th, 2014, BioWare launched Galactic Strongholds, and with it guild flagships. Shortly after, we found out that Shubert had moved onto a different project.

Now, Shubert isn’t really my nemesis, but Strongholds in many ways have been a point of love and contention for me, especially when it came coupled with Galactic Conquests, a system that never really lived up to its potential.

With Update 5.8, the BioWare team is looking to revamp Conquests. As promised in the 2018 roadmap, BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco gave us a more detailed update on Conquests on the forums. But the changes to Conquests won’t be as meaningful to you unless you understand where Conquests are currently.

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