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The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: What’s a minimum play session for you?

You probably don’t sit down to watch a movie when you have five minutes before you leave for a doctor’s appointment, and you do not set aside two hours of your time to read a pamphlet from the doctor’s office. MMOs aren’t all that different. I vividly remember knowing that in order to play Final Fantasy XI I needed to be sure to set aside at least an hour – I would need time to get from the city to the camp spot, find a party, get some experience, and then get back to the city without dying. I couldn’t accomplish much in any less time.

More recent MMOs frequently allow you to accomplish as much or more in less time, and there’s the question of what you’re trying to accomplish in that time as well. Games like Neverwinter let you drop in and out of content quickly, and an episode in Star Trek Online can usually be run through in about fifteen minutes with some practice. But is that enough? What’s the minimum amount of time you need to set aside in order for it to qualify as a worthwhile play session in your favorite game?

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WRUP: You meant completely free edition

Apparently I got a new game for free on Steam. I wasn’t really planning on it; I just saw a little advertisement saying that Race the Sun was free for one day only, so I decided to check it out, figuring it was one of the many games out there that has a free play weekend or day or whatever. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized it was, yes, completely free for that one day, that I now own the game for a price of zero dollars. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

I guess more companies going the EA/Origin route of having periodic free games works out for my game library in the short term, though? That’s something.

What Are You Playing is free to read, of course, but it always has been. It’s free to read every day. And it gives you a good idea of what the Massively Overpowered writers are playing alongside our Patrons. You can let us know what you’re going to be up to down in the comments, too.

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The Daily Grind: Are MMO morality systems impossible to get right?

I know it’s an old hat at this point, but I’m still quite appreciative that Star Wars: The Old Republic made an effort to give my character choices in dialogue and story actions. I feel more attached to my characters as a result and enjoy having a say in transpiring events.

However, I also recognize that linking story choices with a morality meter (in this case, light vs. dark side) complicates matters. Players might vote against their inclinations just to get more points for a preferred side, for starters. Then there’s the issue of developers assigning choices as either good or bad; it’s easy when it’s a black-and-white decision, but more tricky when the issues are nuanced. What happens when a player strongly disagrees with a dev’s take on a quest and is penalized in-game for it?

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EverQuest II’s prog server isn’t as fun as the real thing

I’ve been playing the crap out of EverQuest II for the past week. Funnily enough, the vast majority of said playtime hasn’t been on the new progression servers. I hit Stormhold hard when it launched last week, and I got multiple characters up to level 10ish and firmly ensconced in a post-Isle of Refuge quest line or two.

And then I realized how much better I like the current version of the game.

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Co-op will be limited in Star Citizen’s Squadron 42 [Updated]

Do you love debating over semantics and unstated intent? Because you’re going to have a field day with this one. The original Kickstarter page for Star Citizen lists the game’s single-player campaign as offering drop-in/drop-out multiplayer options, with other interviews stating that your friends can take the role of NPC wingmen at any time. During the course of development, that plan has been scaled back considerably.

But these changes were apparently not widely known, as some players watching the most recent stream from the game’s developers are just now realizing. What some backers thought would be full-scale co-op gameplay in Squadron 42 will actually be limited to post-campaign co-op missions.

It’s important to note, of course, that this is not the most MMO-intensive part of the game anyway, but it is walking back one of the features into a more manageable form. The debate continues over the precise meaning of “drop-in/drop-out co-op.” While the original thread has been locked (at the OP’s request), conversation continues on the game’s Reddit page regarding the feature.

Source: Forums, Reddit
07/31/2015 2:38:21 PM EDT: We have rewritten the headline and middle section of this article to better reflect the chronology of the debate.

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Massively Overthinking: Whither went the classic PvE MMORPG?

Today’s Massively Overthinking question was sent via e-pigeon from Kickstarter donor Apollymi. No e-pigeons were hurt in the writing of this article.

“Have you heard of any MMOs that will not be PvP-oriented — by that I mean, have completely consensual PvP — that may be coming out in the near future?”

Let’s draw out Apollymi’s question a bit and talk about the PvE/PvP divide in our genre. What PvE/consensual-PvP/classic PvE games do we love, which future ones do we have our eyes on, and why is the industry so focused lately on PvP MMOs? The MOP writers are discussing all that and more in today’s entry.
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League of Legends kills off Gangplank… for real

The story of League of Legends isn’t one that’s set up to easily move forward. When players pay real money to unlock champions and skins, you can’t have characters leave or get killed forever… can you? Riot Games is experimenting with exactly that in its current ongoing story by killing off Gangplank completely, removing him from the game altogether and leaving several players who had purchased the character in a bit of a tizzy.

While Riot is not currently offering refunds for players who own the character and/or his skins, compensation has been promised, with the implication being that whatever players get it won’t simply be money in the bank. It remains to be seen what impact this will have in the longer term for the game, but looking at this as a test case for killing characters in the storyline is in and of itself interesting.

Source: Act 3 Q&A via VG24/7

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WoW Factor: Speculating on WoW’s next expansion

On August 6th, we now know, we’ll be hearing the name and some details on the next World of Warcraft expansion. What we don’t know is what that expansion will actually contain. The space after this expansion is a blanker space than usual, with lots of possible directions and an absolute dearth of information indicating what direction the story will go in from here.

More to the point, the next expansion is going to be judged pretty harshly simply by virtue of coming immediately after an expansion best described as “maybe worse than Cataclysm.” It’s an uphill battle all around. Now that we know for certain that we will be hearing about the next expansion in a little over a week, let’s look a little bit at what we might be exploring in the next expansion in both story and mechanical terms.

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The Daily Grind: How much money have you spent on MMOs this month?

I bought EverQuest II’s latest expansion yesterday, and along with my SOE Statio… er, my Daybreak All-Access pass and my Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription, that brings my total MMO expenditures for the month of July to USD $75.00.

That’s 75 bucks for unlimited access to five triple-A MMORPGs, any one of which could easily fill up 200 hours of my month if I let it. My point is that MMOs are one of the cheapest hobbies around, even if you pay multiple subs and buy $45 expansion packs.

What about you, MOP readers? How much money have you spent on MMOs this month, and how much entertainment value have you gotten for your money?

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Skyforge explains amulets and trophies

Equipment in Skyforge is fairly straightforward for the most part, but like any game, it features some unique options. Case in point: amulets and trophies, two equipment types that come into play later in the game but can have a pretty big impact on how your character plays. The latest update on the official site explains how these little bits and bobs work to make your character that much stronger.

Amulet slots don’t unlock until later in play, with the first one unlocking to coincide with your first amulet while the other slots must be purchased. Amulets provide a bonus to a specific skill’s damage, allowing you to more closely tailor your character’s preferred arsenal. Trophies are also not unlocked until further play; they are earned as players kill a large number of specific enemy groups, letting players hit harder and last longer against that enemy faction. Check out the update for more details on these extra slots.

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Massively Opinionated: Which MMO should never have existed?

The MMO industry, much like any other entertainment industry, is full of wonderful people as much as it’s full of really odd people. And our host Larry Everett has pulled in some long-time gaming journalists to talk about some of the fun and odd things that have happened in the industry.

Larry asked Jason Winter of MMOBomb and our own Brendan Drain to debate industry shocks and the things — and games– that should never have happened in the MMO genre.

The rules are simple for this debate: Our panelists were given four questions to consider before the show. The host will award one point per question for the best argument, and the panelist with the most points at the end wins… the internet!

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Choose My Adventure: Dungeons, soloing, and PvP in FFXIV’s Heavensward

Hello again, everyone, and welcome to week three of Choose My Adventure. If you’re tuning in for the first time, allow me to bring you up to speed. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been adventuring my way through Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. At the behest of the first week’s poll, I transformed my dear Miqo’te into an Au Ra of the Xaela clan and cast off my robe and wizard White Mage hat and donned the vestments of an Astrologian, which, as it happens, are pretty much the same. But I do get a spinny-ring-card-orb thing — star globe, whatever — so I suppose it balances out.

At any rate, last week I outlined my initial impressions of the Astrologian and asked you lot to vote on how I should go about leveling him up. It was a massacre; there were no survivors. Even the combined forces of PvP, which fell dead last with 9% of the votes, and open-world content (quests, leves, FATEs, etc.), which barely trumped it with 28%, couldn’t stand against the might of dungeon-delving, which won by such a margin that “landslide victory” doesn’t quite cover it. However, a few of you pointed out in the comments that you would have preferred for me to do a bit of everything, and since I so thoughtlessly neglected to provide that as an option in the poll, I decided it was only fair that I do so. Consider it penance for my indiscretion.

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Valiance Online details the mechanics of choosing powers

Powers are a big part of any superhero game; it’s hard to feel like a superhero if your only powers are “Stand In Place” and “File Taxes.” Valiance Online has posted a new development diary in which the developers explain how the various powers in the game are grouped and organized, allowing players to built the sort of character they want from a range of options.

Powers are divided up into groups based on functionality, depending on your combat style. Melee characters get access to melee damage, melee support, melee control, defense, and team defense, whilst ranged characters have access to ranged damage, ranged support, and ranged control. The sets also can be taken as primary or secondary sets, with secondaries always being less powerful than the primary. Check out the full diary for a clearer picture of how the game breaks down its abilities in the macro sense.

Source: Official Site; thanks to MagmaFist for the tip!

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