Opinion Category

Opinion pieces are by definition neither neutral nor subjective. Massively Overpowered’s writers’ editorials reflect their own opinions, not necessarily the opinions of the site or company. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: What’s the worst tech annoyance in MMORPGs?

Massively OP reader Minimalistway recently wrote to us with a rant about how bizarrely hard it is to quit MMORPGs and delete your account. “Jagex asks for a copy of a driver’s license or a passport sent by mail (not email!); Square Enix makes you jump between websites to disable your account,” he says. “If Google allows people to delete their accounts easily, there is no excuse for MMO developers to make the process hard!”

I suppose that’s because they don’t really want us to leave, right? They want to give us the option of returning. I’d rather know my account is still there; I remember back when studios would delete old characters, and there are games I never went back to once my toons had been wiped from inactivity. But still, really, a driver’s license?! And here I thought Steam’s insistence that I boot it up on my phone to hunt down an ever-changing authentication key in order to sell a trading card for 4 cents was the height of dumb.

So for today’s Daily Grind, let’s broaden the topic: What’s the worst tech or account annoyance in MMORPGs?

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Guild Chat: Keeping romantic relationships from affecting MMORPG guilds

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered readership can band together to solve the guild-related queries and problems of readers in need.  In this edition, reader Roxxus is worried about forming a romantic attachment with an in-guild love interest in case it affects the guild’s group dynamics and ruins the fun that the pair is currently having as platonic guildmates. Roxxus seems to be concerned about how to handle an online relationship without opening up that blossoming romance to the external influences already present in his or her guild, and the pair is perhaps considering getting together without telling anyone else in the guild. Read on for Roxxus’ full submission as well as my ideas, and don’t forget to leave your own thoughts on the matter in the comments.
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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best launcher?

Launchers! They’re stupid, they’re boring, they exist primarily as a gateway between you (the player) and what you actually want to do (play an MMO). And yet I find myself sometimes having a weird nostalgia for some of these programs. PlayOnline is a pretty terrible and unnecessary piece of software, but that opening tune always gets me, and I remember browsing around it even aside from just jumping into Final Fantasy XI.

Heck, I miss the old World of Warcraft launcher from the game’s inception. I far prefer it to Battle.net or the Blizzard App or The Impediment To Playing Destiny 2 or whatever it’s called at this point. That might just be me getting old and cranky, though.

Then again, that’s part of the thing about launchers – they’re transparent until they aren’t, and for better or worse they have a long history with MMOs. So which MMO has the best launcher? Is it the best because it’s lightweight? Familiar? Reliable? Or just because it hits you just right and you love it despite its many flaws?

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LOTRO Legendarium: Bingo Boffin’s unexpected journey

In addition to playing a lot of fantasy and sci-fi MMORPGs, I’m an avid reader of novels in the same genres. I never quite get tired of heroes growing into their own and then going on a journey of discovery and salvation over the course of one or more books.

It’s natural for me to compare the journeys I read in novels to the ones I experience in MMOs, and in some ways, online RPGs have forgotten or overlooked some of the elements that make the fantasy journey so gripping. Our characters start out already grown, already powerful, already killing machines that will save the world numerous times over. Our grand quest is usually nothing more than seeking even more power, gear, and experience points. Due to this, the whole process of progressing through a game is streamlined into a well-honed but somewhat soulless loop.

But what if a game took the time to reexamine the journey outside of the pressure to provide an optimal leveling and narrative path to the next world boss that needs extermination? What if there was a mission chain that took the inconsequential and made it essential, that was structured in such a way to more resemble books than eroded gameplay design?

Enter Bingo Boffin, the unlikeliest hero of them all, and his unique journey across Middle-earth with you in tow.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the right length for an MMO event?

Is it just me, or is the latest fad among MMORPGs to stage incredibly brief in-game events? Like blink — or have a 12-hour shift — and you’ve missed it. Well, maybe not that short, but events of just a small handful of days seem to be popping up here and there.

To me, a good in-game event knows exactly how long to be around to allow everyone to participate and accomplish their goals without overstaying its welcome. Like a welcome houseguest, I suppose. Events that blip right by me, especially ones that had desirable rewards, can be frustrating, but so can those events that never seem to leave. Ever. Maybe we should start charging them rent or something.

How long do you think is ideal? What’s the right length for an MMO event? For a bonus credit, point to an MMO event you’ve done in the past year that met your timing criteria!

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Betawatch: Crowfall lets races and classes mingle at will (May 19, 2017)

The teaser week for Crowfall is over, and it turns out the tease was all about decoupling races and classes altogether. No longer will all centaurs belong to the same archetype! Make a centaur everything! Of course, you could conceivably play races other than centaur, but why would you do that? You wouldn’t. You can prove you wouldn’t when the open beta arrives by the end of the year.

We’d like to end there, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve got to talk about things other than centaurs this week. For example, the other items on our list here.

And that’s everything. Unless you count all of the other games we have down below in various stages of testing. You can let us know if one of those games jumped into a later test phase in the comments; it’d be silly, really, but it happens all the time.

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The Soapbox: Your favorite MMO is going to die

Your favorite MMO is going to die. Don’t take it personally, though; every other MMO is going to shut down, too. That includes my favorites and everyone else’s favorites.

Do you like Final Fantasy XIV? It’s going to shut down. WildStar? It’ll shut down. Ultima Online? Oh, yes, the shutdown is coming. The Secret World? Guild Wars 2? The Elder Scrolls Online? Destiny (yes, I meant to leave off the 2, I mean the original)? RIFT, Trove, Black Desert, Revelation Online, Crowfall? All of the above will shut down.

But don’t get up in arms about this. Seriously, relax, take a deep breath, maybe hum a little William Shatner tune. All of these games are going to shut down, but that’s just because every single MMO exists in one of three states: not yet launched, shut down, or waiting to be shut down. And as cynical as that may seem, I think accepting that truth is going to do wonders for all of us when it comes time for the next unexpected shutdown. Because it’s going to happen.

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Perfect Ten: The perfect MMO cosmetic system

Whenever I hear about or get into a new MMO, one of the very first things I’ll be asking is if the game has a cosmetic outfit system and how involved it is. Wardrobes used to be a rarity in the genre, although as time went on these systems thankfully became more prevalent.

So yes, I’m a grown adult man and I’m totally into playing dollies with my video game characters. C’mon, it’s a pretty fun thing to do. You get to stand out from the clones around you and express your own personality through fashion that costs you, if not nothing, then far less than you’d buy at the mall.

But not every cosmetic system is created alike. When I was thinking about the best systems found in MMORPGs, I realized that many of them had drawbacks and advantages that differentiated them from other games. So what makes for the “perfect” MMO cosmetic system? I have a few ideas. Several ideas. OK, 10 ideas.

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The Daily Grind: Are you willing to reroll for Secret World Legends?

“I can’t help but think that I’d rather see a single-player adaptation of The Secret World than to lose it forever if Funcom truly does collapse,” MOP’s Justin Olivetti wrote way back in 2015, when the studio was dealing with financial turmoil. Little did he know that eventually The Secret World MMORPG would be turned upside down and rebooted as Secret World Legends. It’s not a single-player title, but it’s arguably a bit less an MMORPG than it used to be, to the point that even Funcom is hedging its bets by calling it a “shared world action RPG” (but also not admitting it has given up on MMORPGs).

Immediately after the announcement in March, almost half of the readers we polled said they were former TSW players who’d try the reboot come relaunch. But since then, we’ve learned much more about what’s coming for the game, including the sobering reality that TSW players won’t get to keep their characters and will instead have to reroll, in spite of the fact that the studio told us it “could have made [character ports from TSW] work given enough resources and time.”

And that brings me back to Justin, who earlier this week questioned whether he has the energy to do it all again — to start from scratch in a gameworld he already knows by heart. “I’m sure for some, it’s a dealbreaker,” he says, sorting through his anxiety, excitement, and frustration. How about you? Now that you know more about what TSW’s relaunch entails, are you still planning on coming back, even though you’ll have to start anew?

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Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs

Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.

Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.

“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?

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Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

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The Daily Grind: How much does optimization affect your MMO play?

When I feel like lying to myself, I tell myself that I don’t care about optimizing my characters in MMOs. I even sometimes convince myself that it was true for a while; I did play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft back before Crusader Strike was even in the game. But the reality is that even then, when I happily shot myself in the foot to avoid raid utility, I still worked overtime to optimize my character. I will gladly walk into an awful build with eyes open, but I will then do everything in my power to make that awful build work.

I have a Red Mage build on Final Fantasy XI that comes as close to being a functional melee attacker as any I’ve seen. I made a DPS Gladiator in version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. The list goes on. But I know there are people out there who will only play with optimized builds, like a friend of mine from City of Heroes who had seven Shield scrappers to optimize AoE farming. And then there are people who hate any hint of utility and choose character builds solely for aesthetics. What about you, dear reader? How much does optimization affect your playing of MMOs? Do you play to optimize your build, do you avoid it, or do you enjoy making terrible builds the best they can be?

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Global Chat: Is Ashes of Creation worth backing?

With all of the hullabaloo going on concerning Ashes of Creation and its Kickstarter campaign, a few bloggers are asking themselves whether or not this is an MMO worth backing, especially if they’ve been burned before by grand promises and poor execution.

“All of this adds up to an enticing package and ought to spark the embers of hope that maybe there will be something new under the sun when it comes to the fantasy MMORPG genre,” The Ancient Gaming Noob wrote. “So why am I not excited about this? Why isn’t this helping me shake off the MMO malaise?”

“I’m not on the hype train by a long shot. Not that I see anything particularly wrong with the game, it’s just way, way too early to even think about commenting on it,” Endgame Viable said.

“Am I going to pony up? Mmmm. Maybe,” mulls Inventory Full. “I’m still thinking about it, although, after reading the Kickstarter page, I’m actually less interested in the game than I was.”

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