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]

The Game Archaeologist: Where are all of the open-source MMOs?

Recently we had an interesting question come in from reader and Patron Rasmus Praestholm, who asked me to do a little investigating: “What (if anything of substance) exists in the MMO field that’s not only free, but open source? The topic of open source came up briefly in a recent column, where Ryzom was noted to have gone open source at some point. But have any serious efforts actually gotten anywhere starting out as open source?”

As some graphical MMORPGs pass the two-decade mark in video game history and are being either cancelled or retired to maintenance mode, it’s an increasingly important topic when it comes to keeping these games alive. Not only that, the question of open source MMOs involves the community in continued development, with the studio handing over the keys to an aging car to see what can be done by resourceful fans.

But has anything much been done with open source projects in the realm of MMORPGs? Is this something that we should be demanding more of as online gaming starts using more accessible platforms such as SpatialOS? Let’s dig a bit into this topic and see what we turn up.

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Betawatch: Albion Online gets ramped up for launch (July 7, 2017)

It’s really just about time for Albion Online to launch, isn’t it? Less than two weeks to go, now, so the title is winding down its beta on July 9th in anticipation. That also means certain founder packs will no longer be sold after Sunday. There’s a big beta finale planned, though, so don’t worry that it’ll pass without incident.

Of course, betas on a whole aren’t hitting any sort of finale. Look, we’ve got more news about them just below.

And yes, Virginia, there is a list of games in testing just below. Did something slip into a new test phase or tacitly launch without telling us? Then please, let us know in the comments. Or talk about betas you’re involved with, that’s also cool.

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Massively Overthinking: MMO ragequitting

Ragequitting. Most of us have probably done it once or twice from groups or single-player games or even MMO sessions in our time. My husband ragequit (disgustquit?) an Overwatch match the other night where his own teammates were spewing toxic slurs in voice chat, leading to a rating hit for him rather than the people poisoning the game (another problem for another column).

But what about ragequitting an MMORPG altogether? A game where you have time and money and friends and loot and achievements, sometimes years’ worth? Have you ever up and just walked out on an MMORPG? If so, what prompted it, and did you ever regret it or change your mind? I posed these questions to the Massively OP team for this week’s Overthinking roundtable!

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EverQuesting: Falling for EverQuest II’s new progression server, Fallen Gate

A new time-locked expansion server got rolling last week in EverQuest II — are you on board? I wasn’t initially planning to participate; my gaming time is at a premium with so many games and so many goals, and spare time is simply non-existent. That said, I now have a little Aerakyn Mystic fluttering her dainty dragon wings about the starting zones.

So how did I get suckered into joining this server? With the offer of a cool and punny mount that can be claimed on live servers! Now that I am there, however, I’m finding more reasons to stay. Perhaps I will continue my adventures there beyond the level 10 needed for the Pedipowered Posterior Punter.

Could Fallen Gate be a new home for me? Could it be for you? Read on to learn more about what this special server offers then you can decide if you want to join us there.

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The Daily Grind: When do you know it’s time to stop playing an MMO?

It’s possible I just haven’t played a large enough number of MMOs, but I’m relatively certain that there are no games which pop up a helpful notice telling you to stop playing the game forever at a certain point. That being said, I know that I personally have signs indicating I should probably stop playing. If I find myself dreading logging in, for example. If I no longer can answer the question of why I’m playing. If I lose all of my RP partners and see it as a relief rather than a loss. If certain individuals are associated with the game. You get the idea.

As much as we might say that certain things lead us to leave the game, I think most of us have a more organic system; it’s not one thing that causes us to drop WildStar or Star Wars: The Old Republic or Guild Wars 2 from our play rotation, it’s a lot of things that we tie back to one observation. But perhaps that’s just me. Tell me, dear readers: When do you know it’s time to stop playing an MMO? Do you ever regret making the decision when you do?

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s mid-term report card

At the beginning of every year, I give the games that I am embedded in a letter grade centered around the four different player types featured in Dr. Richard Bartle‘s taxonomy. And at in the middle of the year, I like to see where things are so far.

Of course, I know that the paper that the taxonomy is based on is over 20 years old now, and the theories don’t apply 100% to MMORPGs. But I believe that there is enough of a connection between what people want from an MMORPG and the player types from Bartle’s paper that we can draw a connection.

The four different player types are Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, and Killer. For grades, I take a look at Elder Scrolls Online and ask, for instance, “What would an Achiever think of what ESO has done this year?” And then just as important, I ask, “What could be done to improve the game for the Achiever?” Of course, it really just boils down to my opinion, but I’d like to think I’ve been pretty good about putting myself in other people’s shoes in the past and looking at games from their perspectives.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs in limbo

The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.

But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.

That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.

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Global Chat: Want to see a Magic trick?

So what does the blogging community think of the first IP-related new MMORPG to be announced in years in Magic: The Gathering? It’s a little more confused than enthusiastic, to tell the truth.

“To me, this announcement is somewhat similar to announcing that they are making an MMORPG out of Poker. Um …. okay?” said Endgame Viable.

“I suspect there are other sets that are more popular or more likely to be chosen as the main basis for the game,” writes Gaming SF, “if Cryptic’s more recent releases for the Neverwinter game are anything to go by then this new MMORPG is likely to feature content that ties into upcoming MtG cardsets to cross-promote both the cards and the game among fans.”

Let’s move on for the moment and look at dueling expansions, Kickstarter issues, and adventuring underwater!

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood’s story and the lack of MacGuffins

I think I was about halfway through the Stormblood story when I noticed that it was avoiding more or less every single bit of storytelling in Final Fantasy XIV that I usually dislike. It surprised me, at least a little. I’ve quite liked the game’s storytelling as time has gone by, and I had a lot of praise for the Heavensward story as a whole, but this was pretty unambiguous. Most of my complaints centered around things like “this side plot seems to be overstaying its welcome” rather than “it’s another chase after some magical nonsense with little grounding.”

Obviously, for this column I’m going to be discussing spoilers for the MSQ. I am going to be doing so in a fashion designed to obscure as much information as possible for people who have not yet finished the plot, and I’ll spoiler out any big plot reveals, but be fairly warned as you dip into the comment section. But be fairly warned, there may be spoilers ahead. The good news is that spoilers don’t matter too much because even with them the plot is really good. And not really reliant on shocking swerves.

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Guild Chat: The fairest way to govern guilds

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which I get together with the Massively Overpowered readership to help one reader in need solve his or her guild-related issue. In this edition, reader Paul wants to know the best way to govern his guild now that he has chosen to open up his once friends-only guild to the larger game community. Before the switch, Paul didn’t have any need for a solid guild structure and set way to run things because he was in a group of friends who worked well as a unit. Now, however, Paul is starting to recruit new members to fill the friendship group’s ranks to facilitate quicker and easier grouping without forcing friends to commit.

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One Shots: Moonglow

I don’t say it enough: I am truly impressed by how our readership manage to bring out the beauty in MMORPGs through their screenshots. It takes an eye for detail and a feel for a good shot that elevates certain pictures above the rest.

As an example of this excellence, I present Toy Clown’s headlining shot from Black Desert: “One of the reasons I enjoy the game is because of the ocean content. Here is my character releasing a lantern from her fishing boat.”

Small moon, go up and meet big moon! I think the two of you will be very happy together.

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The Daily Grind: If you could reboot any currently operating MMO, which one would you pick?

It probably won’t surprise you to know that we spend a lot of time in work chat behind the scenes of Massively Overpowered discussing MMOs. Larry and I were talking the other day about Secret World Legends and comparing it to Final Fantasy XIV‘s wildly successful reboot, and that got me to thinking: are there other games out there with a need for that sort of reboot? But rather than just speculating about it privately, why not turn it over to the community?

That’s your exercise for today. If you could reboot any currently operating MMO, which one would you pick? Choose a game out there that is currently running in an official capacity (so that rules out games like Tabula Rasa or City of Heroes) and assume you have unlimited budget and rights. Reboot the game from the ground up. What would you change? What would you keep the same? And while we’re on the topic, why that game instead of any other?

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LOTRO Legendarium: Simply walking into Mordor

It has been a whirlwind week of news and reveals for Lord of the Rings Online players. Standing Stone Games finally pulled back the curtains of the new expansion, simply titled Mordor — and to make things even more exciting, the first beta test of the region went up on Bullroarer to give players a hands-on preview.

Unlike some other writers here on staff, I do not like playing betas and going through new content before it goes live for real, so I will not be participating on Bullroarer (I’d prefer my first time to be for keeps!). However, that doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the news or the previews! There’s so much to take in and digest, so this week I want to thumb through the reveals and preview videos to share some of my reactions to what we’ll be seeing when LOTRO: Mordor comes out later this summer.

Whether you walk, ride, or hobble (you took fall damage, didn’t you?) into Mordor, the important thing is that we are all going there in 2018. So what will we find?

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