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]

The Daily Grind: When should MMO devs just stop tweaking?

Yesterday’s reveal of Lord of the Rings Online’s legendary item imbuing system struck me as a promising show of faith from the devs but nevertheless a truly terrible idea because they’re just building a new house on top of a shaky foundation (LIs, not the game). It reminded me of something I once read from a very clever Ultima Online player a few years ago on the news that the veteran game was getting yet another item-fussing system intended to balance the last one:

“Why stop with Enhancing, Imbuing, Reforging, and Refining? They should add Improving, Spiffing, Refracting, Adjusting, Tweaking, and Twerking too, each with one or two hundred random items and math problems to solve. Just keep piling on crap until the system collapses under its own weight and we all end up in GM-crafted armor again because no one knows what’s good anymore.”

I am glad Turbine is doing something about LIs, I really am. But if LOTRO’s legendary item system is so broken, why not just gut it or delete it? Why create yet another potentially flawed system to patch its problems? Why do MMO devs, especially the ones working on older games, keep falling into that trap — why can’t they just stop touching it?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Massively Overthinking: Are boutique MMOs the future?

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Taemys, who just so happens to be a guildie of mine. He’s clever, and so is his concern:

“Are all the smaller, ’boutique’ MMO’s the future? To put it another way, do you think we’ll see anything as big as World of Warcraft or EverQuest again?”

I put his questions to the Massively OP writers, who as usual were happy to overthink them!

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Massively Opinionated: FFXIV vs. FFXIV vs. CoH

Welcome to the second episode of Massively Opinionated! We were blown away by some of the comments you left here on the site and on YouTube. So we decided that we should keep the show around for a little bit longer. And it looks like you want to keep the show around, too. Edany (AmberACurtis) found the show a perfect fit: “This is fantastic! Great idea for fun new content. Right up my alley.” PJ Northbay on YouTube can now be at peace: “Yay! I’ve been wanting something like this from Massively for a long time.” And Age Nightroad got a laugh and had a good time watching the show: “This show is amazing! Had some great laughs and good debates, can’t wait for more!”

We love you guys too! The rules of the Massively Opinionated debate are simple: Our arbitrator, Larry Everett, invites three internet personalities to the show, asking them four questions that they can research ahead of time. The most persuasive panelist with be awarded a point after each argument, and at the end of the show, only one will reign supreme.

Our guests this week come from a wide variety of gaming niches. First, there’s writer at Massively OP and BlizzardWatch Eliot Lefebvre, cosplayer and raider Laura Williams, and writer and roleplayer Matt Daniel. And appropriately, this week we are talking about immersion. Let’s begin.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO biomes do you love and hate?

Environment is super-important to me, both in real life and in video games. My surroundings have a large impact on my mood, with my favorite places lifting my spirits and oppressive ones turning me into Oscar the Grouch.

Thus, I find myself gravitating to certain zones in MMOs. Pastoral settings such as Lord of the Rings Online’s Shire or welcoming woods like World of Warcraft’s Elwynn Forest are safe bets for a dose of Justin happiness, as are Christmasy-type winter wonderlands. But I find jungle zones irritating, lava zones tired, and anything with a sand motif to be only useful as a highway to better places.

Which biomes do you love and hate?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Massively OP Podcast: Episode 11

After a short one-week hiatus, the Massively OP Podcast is back and has brought another guest co-host along for the ride! We spend a lot of time this week looking at older games, including shocking (sort of) revelations about a certain spacey MMO. We’re sure you can guess which one.

Join us on the podcast as we talk about what we’ve been playing in MMOs, the top news stories from the past week, and topics that listeners have submitted!

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs eliminate ‘soulbound’ mechanics?

This morning’s Daily Grind arrives from Kickstarter donor jackfrost, who phrases his question in the form of a rant:

Why do almost all rewards in current gen MMOs have to be some form of soulbound? I hate it.

Me too, frankly. I suppose it got started back in EverQuest with the advent of “no-drop” items, but over the years, themeparks especially (but some sandboxes too) have adopted the mechanic as a way to stifle player trading and keep us returning to the well better known as the dungeon-and-loot-drop-grind (and in recent years, to the well known as the cash shop). It makes the economy easier to manage for the developers, but it also makes it far less fulfilling for the players. Plus it makes no sense! Not being able to pass down old gear to alts and newbies is beyond irritating.

What do you think? Do “soulbound” items and mechanics annoy you too? Should MMOs dump them post haste and return to more engaging and realistic ways of churning old gear out of MMO economies?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Sword and Bored: Behind the scenes

At this point, it’s probably not overly obvious, but we have created Sword and Bored in story arcs. And this comic represents the ending of the second arc.

This also represents the first comic that doesn’t really include Mo. I feels a bit weird to have a comic without him, but I thought it appropriate to experiment. We want Mo to be the main protagonist in the comic, but we believe that the actual funny parts aren’t necessarily him but the things that happen around and to him.

At any rate, Mo will be back next week. Until then, here’s this week’s comic…

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MMO Week in Review: Guild Wars 2 specs and traits – April 26, 2015

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

This week, ArenaNet finally unveiled just how Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns’ revamped specialization and trait system will work. Massively OP’s own Tina Lauro posted her experiences with the game’s Stronghold PvP, and the studio further promoted its ongoing e-sports efforts.

Fancy classic Guild Wars instead? It’s in the midst of its 10th anniversary celebrations. Happy birthday!

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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WRUP: What ever happened with that button thing edition

Does anyone remember this? This was a thing that happened. I wrote a news post about it. A thing was done with a button, stuff took place… I mean, I seriously never bothered checking up on it again, what happened when the timer on that ran out? Does anyone know? Was that the button that kept the world turning? Is the world still turning? We might want to get out and check.

The important thing is that I’m curious about what ever wound up happening with the button, but not curious enough to do the five seconds of research on Google to answer the question. Maybe there were kittens involved, who knows.

Anyhow, that was all I had for the week. I’m packing for a trip again, I’m distracted. Listen, just… head on down to the comments and let us know what you’re playing this weekend, like we did up above. It’s What Are You Playing, you know how the deal works. Read more

The Daily Grind: Would you pay for MMO mods?

The entire internet (only a slight exaggeration there) exploded this week over Valve’s decision to work with selected game studios to allow modders to charge for their amateur game plugins on the Steam Workshop, cutting Valve and said studios a huge slice of the profit pie. Regardless of whether you think paid mods are acceptable, most people seem to agree that Valve hasn’t handled it very well at all, given the number of stolen mods and fraudulent DMCA take-downs flying around the Workshop right about now.

I’ve been modding video games a really long time, both creating my own and obsessively downloading, playing, and tweaking mods made by others. Half the reason I still play World of Warcraft is to tinker with UI addons, and I even created some housing retexes for the late great Star Wars Galaxies. I’ve also made money on some of my non-MMO mods — yes, made money on game mods, 15 years ago when it was a broadly accepted thing. Anyone who was gaming back then remembers Sims paysites, the bandwidth bubble, and the Skindex fiasco; in a weird way, this is all just a little bit of history repeatin’.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best hybrid classes?

I didn’t know hybrid classes were a thing, really, until I picked up classic EverQuest way back in 1999. Most of the roleplaying games I’d played until that point, including pioneering sandbox MMO Ultima Online, were skill-based, and so I more or less picked skills that I liked without worrying about hybrid penalties. (In classic UO, pretty much everyone was a mage, after all!) EQ introduced me to those stock Dungeons and Dragons concepts, however, and the majority of subsequent MMORPGs have clung to classes to make life easy on the designers tasked with balancing player power.

Hybrid penalties or no, a lot of people really still love the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades, of having a variety of skills and playstyles all on one character, and penalizing players for picking non-pure roles has long fallen out of fashion. Skill-based sandboxes, of course, still allow players to pick up swords alongside their shovels, but themeparks like RIFT and Skyforge and Final Fantasy XIV also let you swap around your subclasses so much that pretty much everyone in the game is a hybrid.

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Massively Opinionated: WoW vs. LOTRO vs. the banker

Welcome to Massively Opinionated, Massively Overpowered’s brand-new vidcast! We’ve all argued and bantered with guildmates and forumgoers over which MMO character is the most powerful or why sub-to-play is better than free-to-play. In Massively Opinionated, we’ll funnel those debates into a fiery and fun video program featuring journalists, bloggers, and community members from around the MMORPG world.

The rules are simple: The arbitrator, Massively OP’s own Larry Everett, invites three internet personalities to the show, asking them four questions that they can research to formulate their arguments and bolster their positions as they try to hold their own during the debate. The most persuasive panelist for each topic will be awarded a point, and at the conclusion of the ‘cast, the panelist with the most points will reign supreme!

This week’s panelists, debating topics that revolve around what makes MMOs special, are Mike Byrne from MMOBomb, Richie Procopio aka Bog Otter, and our very own Tina Lauro. Enjoy!

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Perfect Ten: The 10 things every MMO’s official site should have

Are you ready to have you mind absolutely blown open? Because I have an astonishing truth to lay at your feet: While doing this job, I visit a lot of official game sites. A lot of them. Pretty much constantly.

Here’s an equally astonishing truth: Most of them are terrible. And I’m sure basically every person out there who has been forced to navigate through official MMO sites would probably agree with me. Like designers of many other websites, the designers seem to be absolutely certain that I want one thing when I go to the site when what I really want is something entirely different.

Let’s codify this, then. There are a lot of features that every game’s official site should have that very few of them actually do; today, let’s talk ten features that pretty much every official MMO site ought to have… which a depressing number of them lack, sometimes for really incomprehensible reasons.

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