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]

Massively OP Podcast Episode 27: SmedSoft

What is John Smedley up to? That’s the question of the hour, as Bree and Justin speculate on the news that the former Daybreak president has started up his own company. Other topics in today’s show include BIG NUMBERS from two MMOs, a prison server that you must pay for, and a superhero game that’s letting you walk on the bad side.

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.

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Hyperspace Beacon: What we need to know about SWTOR’s expansion companions

Tomorrow, the Star Wars: The Old Republic development team will livestream parts of its newest expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. BioWare promises to answer questions about the crafting systems as well as revealing some information about your companions. So why has it taken the devs so long to talk about the crafting and companion system when it’s so integral to pretty much everything in the expansion?

We know from E3 that our choices during the expansion will have lasting ramifications on our personal story. We know that some companions will be chosen directly through the story. We know that some companions will be killed off or will have departed our service because of the choices that we make, but we don’t know how that’s going to affect the systems that are tied to the existing companion systems. Unfortunately, we might not even have all the answers we are looking for when the livestream is done. So I have put together a list of questions that I believe need to be answered during the livestream that are specifically focused on companions and the systems surrounding them.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMO studios interfere with server politics?

Last week, a reader named Bob alerted us to a messy political situation on EverQuest’s Lockjaw progression server. Apparently, characters from a large uberguild were caught breaking rotation — that is, killing mobs in a zone when other players on the server had previously claimed that time slot — leading to Daybreak’s temporary suspension of the entire guild.

Those suspensions were subsequently lifted for being too hasty, but that wasn’t really what set my head spinning. All the while I’m thinking what the what. Daybreak enforces rotation now? Daybreak has to sort out who gets to raid what and when in an official sticky thread on a forum, or at least enforces with disciplinary action what decisions a handful of guilds make for everyone else? Players can’t settle these things on their own? And most importantly, how is this functionally any different from just having a raid finder and instancing, aside from the fact that this takes up actual GM time to mitigate?

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Sword and Bored: Jumping puzzle

My opinion of jumping puzzles is likely opposite of most people who have played games like Guild Wars 2 or Star Wars: The Old Republic: I actually kind of like them. Sure, some of them are extremely frustrating, and I admit that I really am not very good at them. But they are fun, and they make MMOs more interesting than a straight combat simulator.

With the expansion that Mo’s MMO just recently had, there are, of course, going to be new jumping puzzles for Mo and his friends to complete. So let’s see what happens in this week’s comic…

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Wisdom of Nym: Two years since Final Fantasy XIV’s relaunch

I remember a couple of years ago, in February, getting ready to fly across the country for Final Fantasy XIV‘s big press event. I was worried, back then. I thought that the game had a huge uphill climb before it could possibly get any sort of mainstream attention.

Here I am, looking back over two years since the relaunch with a smile on my face. The first major post-expansion patch is coming up, complete with a feature that was an expansion element in one other game along with another huge pile of content. The game is undeniably a success story.

A good portion of the past year has been spent looking forward to and then experiencing Heavensward while still enjoying the game as it was, which is very much to the credit of the team and a religious release of content updates. So let’s talk in brief about the year and look to the game’s third year in its re-released state.

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The Daily Grind: How long do you spend decorating your MMO houses?

I played more Star Wars: The Old Republic than I intended this weekend. The weather on Sunday was crap, so I logged in to my Nar Shaddaa sky palace and didn’t log out until four hours had passed and I’d decorated two of the place’s cavernous rooms. That’s OK, though, because it’d been a while since I’d messed around with MMO housing and I’d missed it.

What about you, player housing fans? How long do you typically spend making your virtual homes just right?

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EVE Evolved: Has the Aegis sovereignty system worked?

It’s been over a month since EVE Online deployed its new sovereignty and territorial warfare system, and the dust is only now beginning to settle. The Aegis update completely revamped sovereignty warfare, replacing the grind of shooting massive structures with massive fleets with a new system based around the Entosis Link module. It was hoped that the new system would lower the barrier to entry for sovereignty warfare and allow smaller but dedicated alliances to capture and hold space against larger opponents. While the old system made large fleets practically mandatory and led to ever-growing coalitions banding together, it was hoped that the new system would encourage a larger number of smaller fights. When fleets of any size can attempt to contest the ownership of a structure, it’s up to the owners to aggressively defend their space or lose it.

There has been considerable noise in the EVE community since the update went live, with plenty of critical feedback from nullsec alliances and even some backlash directed at its designer CCP Fozzie. Despite complaints, it’s clear that the sov system is achieving some of its stated goals: players have reported an increased number of smaller fights, a few small alliances are capturing space, and industrialists are being actively recruited into nullsec alliances again. The past month of warfare has nonetheless highlighted some pretty serious problems with the sovereignty mechanics that CCP will need to address, some of which it plans to tackle in Tuesday’s Galatea update.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the player response to EVE‘s new territorial warfare mechanics, highlight a few remaining problems with the system, and look at the upcoming Galatea sovereignty update.

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The Daily Grind: What sort of things do you try to capture in screenshots?

I’m not as good about taking screenshots as I want to be. I try (oh my God do I try) but I frequently forget to take screenshots of scenes I might want to recall later. What I do feel fairly confident in is my ability to take screenshots of characters, something to remember individuals by, even if much of the time that winds up mostly being my own characters rather than other characters, which is sometimes the last thing I need.

Most of us have screenshots of various points over the course of a game’s lifespan, either to remember the characters we had as they were or just because something funny was on screen. But what sort of things do you try to capture in screenshots? Landscapes? Character shots? Roleplaying scenes? Glitches occurring right before your eyes? Epic battles? Let us know!

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The Game Archaeologist: Star Wars Galaxies’ NGE

It became one of the most infamous moments in MMO history — and perhaps one of the most misunderstood.

For all that the MMO community references Star Wars Galaxies’ New Game Enhancements (NGE) as a synonym for devs breaking a game with a horrible patch, expansion, or business decision, the actual details of the referenced events have become blurred through time, retellings, and a sort of weird mythology.

It’s been 10 years since the NGE damaged a game’s reputation, embittered players for life, and made the mainstream notice that not all was sunshine and daisies in MMOs. So how did this disaster occur and what was so bad about it?

Well, it happened a long time ago in a studio far, far away…

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMO prison?

Fictional prisons can be pretty fascinating to explore in books and video games. I’ve noticed that pretty much every MMO has at least one if not two or more significant prisons, usually in a state of prisoner revolt or break-out.

I have fond memories of plundering the Stormwind Stockade in World of Warcraft, of the prison-planet Belsavis in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and of the mighty (and inexplicably tall) Ziggurat in City of Heroes. More prisoners to beat up? Don’t mind if I do!

What is the best MMO prison in your opinion and why? For bonus conversation, would you play an MMO that takes place entirely inside a fantasy or high-tech prison?

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Leaderboard: Have you gotten married in an MMO?

TERA patched a wedding chapel into the lands of Arborea yesterday, and the occasion got me to wondering about holy matrimony in various other MMOs. I know RIFT makes a big deal of it, and if I remember correctly you can get hitched in one of the Final Fantasy titles. I got married in Star Wars: Galaxies once upon a time, but back then it wasn’t so much a system as it was a tiny entry on your avatar’s character page that was activated after your significant other equipped the proper wedding band.

Oh, and it was an excuse to trash the Massassi temple on Yavin IV with a bunch of rowdy roleplayers, too.

Anyway, what about MOP readers? Have you gotten married in an MMO, or is it one of those things that you roll your eyes at? Vote after the cut!

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The Soapbox: These three MMOs deserve a do-over

Wouldn’t it be cool if every MMORPG that failed to reach its potential were granted some sort of do-over? We’ve seen it happen once, with 2013’s hugely successful A Realm Reborn reboot rising from the ashes of 2010’s Final Fantasy XIV farce.

That’s most definitely an isolated incident that owes a lot to Square’s deep pockets, though, and there are plenty of additional MMORPGs that started off as great ideas and ended up in desperate need of a retool.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most original player-created MMO profession?

Rohan on the Blessing of Kings blog posted yesterday a fascinating article on player bankers in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I knew of players becoming de facto bankers in EVE Online, but I can’t say it’s common in themeparks. We have BioWare’s free-to-play limitations to thank for this one; in TOR, apparently subscribers pose as bankers for F2P players, allowing them to “deposit” money on the subbers’ unlimited accounts and then acting as their brokers for large purchases — for a small fee and a mountain of trust, of course.

It shouldn’t blow me away; I’m a sandbox economy player at heart, after all. But it did. I’m always impressed when players find a way to circumvent irritating game mechanics to interact with each other, creating whole professions where the designers left only blank space.

What’s the most original player-created profession you’ve ever seen in an MMORPG?

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