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: Why trend-chasing doesn’t work at all for online games

Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.

For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.

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Guild Chat: Rebuilding a real-life home and an MMORPG guild all at once

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which many Massively Overpowered readers get the help they need to achieve better balance within their guilds through the help of our commenter community and my musings on their dilemmas. This time, reader Jase has a well-established, small Final Fantasy XIV guild that has suffered from cliques and division since he was forced to take time away from the game after the hurricanes tragically destroyed his home. A small band of officers got very used to doing things their own way in his absence and were neglecting the wider member base and excluding them from endgame exploits at peak gaming times, but none of Jase’s measures to fix the issue has helped and the guild recently had a mass exodus of members caused by these officers. Jase is left wondering how to rebuild at this point: Although the members have rejoined, they only did so to use the resources the group worked on together and they are trying to get him to relinquish full guild control to them.

Read below for Jase’s full submission and my thoughts on the matter, and don’t forget to share your ideas with this guild leader in need in the comments section. His submission is a lengthy one with many twists and turns, so give it a good read to help with your advice.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs offer open-world challenge modes?

This question is not about World of Warcraft’s upcoming PvP mode switch. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a cool option; you either explore the world safely, or you open up the possibility of danger. That’s a cool trick. But that got me thinking about what other tricks you could use to create a similar environment.

For example, imagine if you had a mode in which you didn’t actually receive loot or other rewards until you successfully returned to a certain point on the map. Sure, you might get more rewards, but if you died on your way back somewhere that would be it. Or imagine if you had a higher chance of gathering rare resources but less chance of successfully gathering in a game like Final Fantasy XIV.

Of course, some people would argue that these start stretching the definition of “challenge modes” and mostly would provide the possibility of intense frustration. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs offer open-world challenge modes? And if so, what should they consist of?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV and the horror of the Live Letter

It’s easy to miss one of the worst bits of news about the next Final Fantasy XIV Live Letter because it’s tucked in the very bottom of the announcement. But there it is, plain as day. No more translations on the forums, just the important points on Twitter. That isn’t going to be annoying as hell from start to finish, I tell you what. It’s not like we don’t already have hasty and inaccurate translations floating around with at least something to point to, but now we can be sure that there’s even less to offer a common reference point!

The irony is that the next Live Letter is coming about a week after the PAX East panel in which one of the major points of discussion was in ensuring that the experience for all players across the world have the same reaction to the game. For the most part, that’s correct; it’s something that Square-Enix in general and Naoki Yoshida in particular has worked hard to ensure. But when it comes to the Live Letters, it’s a principle that doesn’t even pretend to get followed, and it leads to a simmering frustration that might be best served by leaving the whole thing out for good.

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Jukebox Heroes: Five great YouTube channels for MMO music

As a collector and reviewer of MMORPG soundtracks, I owe a great debt to fellow music lovers who take the time to somehow extract files from the game directories and make these tracks available to the world at large. YouTube has been an invaluable treasure trove of MMO music, thanks to these devoted fans, and I thought I would give some of them props today for their hard and continuing work.

While there are plenty of channels where you might see a person post a playlist at one point for a single game, there are a handful of YouTubers who see their mission to continually post new music for ongoing online games. Today we are going to look at five channels and the game soundtracks that they cover. We’re talking hours and hours of music at your fingertips here, so set aside your plans for the rest of the day and get listening!

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One Shots: Fun with filters

You know all of those weird filter effects that you have in your photo editing software? There always seems to be a stigma against using them, mostly because they’re very noticeable and showy. But today, let’s cast off that stigma and just have some fun, eh? After all, this is a column that begins every week with a black-and-white version of the headlining photo.

And that photo this week is from Deekay, who showcases the lighter side of life in Sea of Thieves. “Finally a selfie of my pirate as she dances on the bowsprit!” he write.

One leg, choppy seas. There is no way that she didn’t fall overboard and drown about thirty seconds after that screenshot was taken.

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Making my way through RIFT Prime’s progression server

It has been a month since that fateful day back in March when the MMO collectively lost its mind by rushing back to play a seven-year-old game as if it was new again. I was among the crowd that eagerly signed up for a month’s subscription to try my hand at RIFT’s very first progression server, Vigil (or as I will always be mistyping it, Virgil).

It was, in a word, bizarre. It was bizarre to see such enthusiasm for an MMO that many had abandoned or forgotten about. It was bizarre to see beginner zones packed with players — several of whom were completely new to the game — doing quests and rifts like it was the first days all over again. It was bizarre for me to be this excited about playing a game that I have played many times over the past seven years.

Now we’re a month in, the initial hype is past, and some reflection and evaluation is required. Is RIFT Prime still worth playing? What’s going on with the progression schedule? How has Trion Worlds adjusted to the feedback and issues unique to this shard?

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Choose My Adventure: Warframe in review

It’s funny how presentation problems can have such a huge impact on the same product.

Warframe, as a game, is almost crippled by its lack of guidance and the poor resources it has to explain things to players. Some of this, as has been noted in the comments, is the result of a general design philosophy that producing more fun stuff is more advantageous than providing guidance, but some of it is also a result of having a philosophy that doesn’t seem to take full advantage of its business model. Better tutorials and direction would do a whole lot to redeem the game.

This would be a good thing because Warframe is also strikingly unique and fun in a lot of other ways, and it seems to be to be the logical apotheosis of a lot of game design aspects. It has flaws, it could use some streamlining and refinement, but at the end of the day it’s a slick and fun experience that is mostly let down by its failings in guiding players. And it’s another game that I’m not really done with even though my month is up.

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The Daily Grind: We’re headed to PAX East – what do you most want to see?

Yes, it’s that time again, time to drive up to Boston and take part in the annual collection of games and poorly laid-out convention halls that makes up PAX East. There are panels to be attended if you can get in line early enough, merch to be bought, and most importantly for our purposes, interviews to be had. Are you excited?

Well, maybe not! Sometimes it feels like the best information about MMOs comes out of small conventions devoted to specific games (like EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and World of Warcraft, although that last one is arguably not small in the least). Yet there’s always a bunch of MMO stuff at the various booths just the same; the convention is just more often a time to reach out to players and press who may not follow MMOs studiously, so that tends to be the focus for presentation.

But enough explaining the situation; let’s turn the microphone over to you, as it were. Is there anything about MMOs you hope to see at PAX East? A game or two that you hope will have a good showing? Or does it not really matter much to you either way?

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Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR prank that revealed so much about the hungry fanbase

With April Fool’s Day falling on a Sunday, Passover, and Easter, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet watching the pranks and funny videos. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t have its normal joke videos or Cartel Market sales. However, the SWTOR influencers did have a little bit of fun. SWTORista, Kid Lee, and especially Vulkk participated in a little bit of fun on the prankster’s holiday by making videos about the game.

Sid Caeser is quoted as saying, “Comedy has to be based on truth.” And I was surprised how close to the truth Vulkk’s video was. But that’s not the only things that as hitting home with long-time SWTOR players and even the most loyal fans of the game. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Vulkk’s video and the recent changes to the Cartel Market.

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Wisdom of Nym: The jobs of Final Fantasy XI compared to Final Fantasy XIV

With 30 years of history, Final Fantasy as a series has had lots of riffs on the same basic ideas. It’s the only thing tying the series together in the first place, after all, and I look forward to getting ever more surreal takes on the various nuts and bolts of the franchise as I get older. Final Fantasy XIV exists as a part of this, naturally; it has yet to have any jobs which are truly unique to it, as everything in there has showed up at least once before in some capacity.

That having been said, of course, some of that “showed up before” happens in very different contexts. There have been a lot of Dark Knights, after all, but it’s hard to compare the tanking job of FFXIV to, say, the status-based job of Final Fantasy X-2 or the prestige job in Final Fantasy Tactics. The games have very different design goals from the outset.

But we can compare these jobs to their equivalents in Final Fantasy XI. After all, most of the jobs we have now were in that title! So let’s take a look at how the jobs worked in the older game, how they work now, and what consistency might be there if any.

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EVE Evolved: Get ready for EVE Fanfest 2018!

There’s just a week and a half to go before EVE Fanfest 2018, the biggest event in the EVE Online social calendar. The event kicks off on April 12th and will celebrate EVE‘s upcoming 15th anniversary, a major milestone for any online game. This year we’re anticipating juicy details on the next step in EVE Online‘s ambitious long-term development roadmap, an update on the impending EVE mobile game, and possibly a major announcement about CCP’s upcoming MMOFPS codenamed Project Nova.

MassivelyOP will be on the ground once again this year to get the latest insight into the future of the sandbox. Stay tuned to our coverage of the event using the EVE Fanfest 2018 tag, where I’ll be posting major announcement news, detailed discussions on new gameplay revealed, interviews from the event, and in-depth opinion pieces. Fanfest will also be a great opportunity to assess the mood and impact of last year’s pull-out from VR game development, and to take the pulse of the community of a variety of topics. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to pose to developers or players while I’m there, please let me know in the comments.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down our expectations for EVE Fanfest 2018 and give some tips on getting the most out of the event for players attending or just watching from home.

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Global Chat: RIFT Prime numbers

RIFT’s new Prime progression server certainly has recaptured or recruited many MMO bloggers to the game as of late, and it is all anyone seems to be talking about. So how’s the word out on the web?

Nerdy Bookahs observed that Trion “chose a perfect time” to release the progression server. The Ancient Gaming Noob initially felt conflicted but soon fell into a groove: “There was the feeling of life in the game, with lots of people around and public groups to join and things just happening everywhere.” And GamingSF said that he’s “coming along swimmingly” on the shard.

It wasn’t all kudos and praise. Endgame Variable hedged his outlook by saying that RIFT Prime was “fun, but I don’t think it will last very long.” Inventory Full felt disillusioned with the way the original game was handled and said, “RIFT simply doesn’t have the depth or breadth of content of either of the EverQuest games, nor the nostalgia factor.”

Read on for the MMO blogosphere’s thoughts on other topics, including inventory woes in Guild Wars 2, the classic multiplayer dogfight sim Air Warrior, and the early access release of Project Gorgon.

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