Meta Category

The category collects all of our more meta features and posts, like The Daily Grind, letters to the editor, and posts about the state-of-the-site. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

WRUP: Come to Big Ron’s, just follow the bones edition

Hey there, folks, it’s your favorite neighborhood everything salesman, Big Ron! Are you looking for great deals on appliances, automobiles, and furniture? Then come on down to Big Ron’s Deal Center! Just follow the bones!

Yes, the bones! We don’t know why they’re there and we don’t know what they come from, but if you keep on the trail of bleached ribcages with too many rips and femurs that disturbingly human, you’ll wind up at Big Ron’s! This week, we’ve got a great deal on a 2010 Corolla you have to see to believe, Maytag fridges starting at just $500, and an ominous black shape hovering at the edge of the property with glowing red eyes that seem to split and recombine! It’s probably harmless!

That’s Big Ron’s Deal Center, located off of route 423 and easily found by following the unidentifiable string of animal remains that litter the roadways, thicker and thicker until you get here! And if you’re the one putting all of the bones on our route, please let us know down in What Are You Playing. We’re going to call the cops. Otherwise, just tell us your weekend plans.

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The Daily Grind: How would you define an MMO gankbox?

A couple of weeks ago, our own Justin wrote a Daily Grind wherein he suggested that EVE Online was a gankbox, earning him some argument from another blogger and sparking an interesting debate about just what a gankbox is.

I’m not sure who first used the term — maybe a commenter, maybe a writer — but it took off like wildfire in our columns and comments years ago and hasn’t died down. I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from any MMO with PvP to survival sandboxes and MOBAs, but in our tags, we’ve defined it thusly:

“Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.”

Personally, I’d probably amend that to be even more nuanced; it’s not just ganking but the threat of constant ganking should you drop your guard that really defines such a game. For example, the majority of my time in classic Ultima Online — definitely a gankbox — was not spent ganking or being ganked, but it was spent protecting myself in a ganker’s culture, whether that was by hiding my keys under a trapped reaggie box, using safe runes everywhere I went, or stockpiling extra equipment to get back on my feet in a hurry. Accordingly, an exorbitant amount of developer time also appeared to be devoted to balancing “freedom” and thwarting the gankers driving customers out of the game.

How would you prefer to see it defined — and which MMORPG do you think best typifies this style of game?

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The Perfect Ten: Our ten best Perfect Tens

Massively OP’s Perfect Ten column, helmed since the days of Old Massively by Justin and now by both Justin and Eliot, is one of my favorites on the site. Sure, it’s a listicle, but there’s something about that format that forces the writer to really trim down and focus and clarify his points. Plus, both Eliot and Justin take the opportunity to use the platform to crack me up.

So in honor of those of you stuck at family gatherings today where you’re super bored, I’ve picked out 10 of my favorite Perfect Tens (OK, it’s really 14 because I had a hard time choosing!) and rounded them up for you below so you don’t even have to hunt for something fun to read. These should entertain ya! Perfect Tenception!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 125: Secrets, Mordor, and Argus

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about walking into Mordor, warping over to Argus, delving into secret conspiracies, battling on a comet, resurrecting super villains, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Daily Grind: What kind of MMO achiever are you?

Yesterday’s post on Richard Bartle’s new unplayer matrix got me thinking once again about my quibbles with the original Bartle quotient, which won’t surprise anyone here, least of all Bartle himself, who’s expressed similar sentiments about his early work (and specifically the test it subsequently spawned).

One thing that always bugged me is how your score masked why you picked what you picked — why you do what you do in the game as presented to you. That wouldn’t matter if people treated Bartle’s theories as descriptive, but developers apply them prescriptively (for example, in WildStar) and tailor games to attract achievers, indeed turning most game content into achiever content. As I wrote a few years ago, a player who explores every last inch of a game map would be an explorer in a game without achievements, but in a game like Guild Wars 2, she’s far more likely to be an achiever on a quest for achievement points. An old-school World of Warcraft PvPer was just as likely to PvP for twink gear and titles as for an actual drive to slay other players as a “killer.” And so on.

All of this is to suggest that in a world where most games reward achievers with the best stuff, most of us are achievers. Are you? And if so, what kind of MMO achiever are you — were you born to competition and leaderboards and prestige-acquisition, or do you “achieve” to meet your goals in other parts of the game, like a roleplayer who raids for the best cosmetics?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG craft skills can you do in real life?

I’ve just gotten back from a family trip during which I bumped into various family members with some interesting craft skills, from gardening to jewelcrafting — yep, one of my brothers-in-law makes jewelry (and it’s pretty nifty too!). That got me thinking about traditional RPG and MMORPG crafts and which ones we’re likely to actually have in our repertoires. I mean, how many of you are really adept blacksmiths?

Me, I’ve got a little bit of furniture crafting and intermediate sewing under my belt, and my riding skill is pretty good, but I’m betting most of you would kick my butt at cooking!

How about it — which MMORPG craft skills can you do in real life?

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WRUP: Items observed in this week’s recycling edition

A 1985 edition of a travel guide to Sweden. Seven broken glass bottles with the words “Sammy sux” written on them in permanent marker. A sealed box which was marked as “Don’s Crap.” Don, sleeping off a bender. Seventeen cans of Mountain Dew Green Label, which would be unremarkable except for the fact that none of them were opened. Half a bed. Half a phone book. All of a half-sized stepladder.

Four ant farms filled with glitter. A completed film manuscript entitled “Star Wars VII: The Force Blows Up Kylo Ren.” Far too many Tabula Rasa collector’s editions to count. Don again, sleeping off another bender. Don’s parole officer, looking for Don. This week’s installment of What Are You Playing. An entire cake with a fist indentation in it. Prom photos. Three bags of human hair. And, of course, raccoons.

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Enter to win a Paladins Realm Pack from Hi-Rez and MOP

Paladins’ Sunsational patch — yeah, it’s really called that! — is live this week in the open beta with lots of summer goodies, a Fourth of July theme, and bans! For cheaters, that is. To celebrate the update, Hi-Rez has granted us a bundle of keys for Realm Packs, which each grant a seven-day booster, 10 radiant chests, two flair chests, as well as the new Frostmare Mount.

Read on to enter to win!

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Massively Overthinking: Do MMORPGs aspire to pro-social mechanics?

Massively OP reader and Patron Avaera has a thoughtful question for the team and readers this week. “I wish more virtual world games thought deeply about what impact they can have for the better,” he writes.

“It seems to me we are living in a time when tribalism, intolerance, and lack of empathy are increasing, with online trolling, harassment and simple nastiness on the rise even before considering where real-world politics seems to be heading. Yet research continues to show that immersive virtual worlds (including MMOs) have significant potential to change us through the type of experiences they offer, with recent examples being that a VR out-of-body experience can reduce fear of death and that social exclusion in a game environment carries a negative effect on real-world emotions. Do you think any MMOs are already using this incredible power to change us as people through pro-social mechanics, activities or narratives? Can you think of any examples where you have been moved or changed by game experiences, for better or worse, and do you think this was a deliberate act by developers? As our genre continues on a trajectory away from massively social roleplay towards cliquish competitive skirmishing, are there any signs that there are still companies willing to test whether virtual world games can be more than just moment-to-moment fun or entertainment?”

I posed Avaera’s question to the whole team for an intriguing Overthinking.

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The Daily Grind: Do you want to see a Guild Wars 3?

At this point, everybody who cares even a little about Guild Wars 2 knows that it’s getting an expansion later this year; even most of the details have leaked out. But every time we talk about Guild Wars 2 — and indeed, earlier this year when I commemorated Guild Wars 1 — people come out of the woodwork to talk about the franchise in a way most games will never know. Most MMORPGs never get a sequel, after all, and a sequel is often seen as a way for a good game to become even better, a chance to start over and fix mistakes.

I think Guild Wars 2 did that, truthfully — the auction hall, the wardrobe UI, the dye system, and the open world are all huge improvements over classic Guild Wars. But there will always be areas where I think Guild Wars 2 dropped the ball, like cosmetics, heroes, guilds, and endgame. There’s room for improvement, the kind an expansion may or may not ever tackle.

So that leaves me dreaming about a possible Guild Wars 3. Do you think the franchise deserves it? What would you want to see in a third installment?

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Ragnarok RE:START progression server closed beta giveaway

Progression servers are the thing to do these days, and old-school MMORPG Ragnarok is getting on board with a new classic experience dubbed Ragnarok RE:START.

“Experience the nostalgia of the classic MMORPG Ragnarok Online with Ragnarok RE:START! iRO takes us back in time to 2003 on their first Progression Server. Experience new content and updates just like the first time! Craft your character as the world evolves by returning to Rune Midgard to party with friends and explore the world with new eyes.”

Want to give it a try? In celebration of the launch, so-and-so has granted Massively OP a truckload of keys for the new server’s headstart. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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Enter to win a copy of Wild Terra from Juvty and Massively OP

Indie sandbox MMORPG Wild Terra (official site, Steam) has been in early access since December, a nostalgia-driven medieval sim that allows players to build up settlements (and then tear them down!). Most recently, the game has released its 8.3 update, which introduces vendor stands and allows players to put loot up for sale in exchange for spice currency.

Developer Juvty Worlds has issued Massively OP 200 keys for the game, worth $15 apiece on Steam, to distribute to our readers. The only caveat is that the game must be available to you on Steam for you to use the key. Read on to enter to win!

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The Daily Grind: Do you appreciate timed content in MMOs?

The last thing you want to worry about when you’re playing a video game, especially an immersive one like an MMORPG, is a damn clock, right? Massively OP reader Rick thinks so — he’s not a fan of time limits (or even timer lockouts) on completing dungeons, boss fights, or other content.

“Are timers a challenge or simply a lazy dev device to make existing content re-usable?” he asks. “I personally HATE them but I know that people enjoy beating the odds and working under pressure.”

In pondering this reader mail, MOP’s Andrew pointed out that passive timers can be just as bad — like timers encountered when sending minions out to tackle away missions you never even see. That’s not even content — it’s nothing but juggling timers!

So let’s talk about the many (annoying) ways MMOs try to tie us to clocks. Do you appreciate timed content in MMOs? Is there one type you do or don’t like versus the others?

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