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]

WoW Factor: Is this the time Blizzard’s changes stick?

Well, folks, I promised you that this week I would talk about my further impressions playing through the Legion alpha. But then I spied a rather fascinating post about the state of the game and the changes being wrought upon World of Warcraft (with thanks to fellow writer Justin and his excellent blog roundup), and it wound up more or less writing a column for me in simultaneous response, agreement, dissension, and clarification. Which is, to be fair, all stuff that comes into play with the Legion alpha, so it’s sort of similar.

If you’re not buying that, don’t worry; we’ll have nothing but the alpha to talk about for a long while. I’ll revisit the topic.

It’s not exactly controversial to say that WoW has changed a lot over the years of its existence, seeing as that’s a statement of fact rather than opinion. I’ve watched one of my favorite specs go from punchline to raid support to heavy DPS to PvP powerhouse to mediocre DPS, and each time it has gotten just a little bit weirder. So why do things need to change so much? Is it helpful to the game? Do we really have any promise that this is the time everything stays the same?

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs provide in-game player performance metrics?

Today’s question is inspired by a question sent into us ages ago by reader Camelotcrusade, and it centers on damage meters and their ilk.

“Should MMOs have accessible, in-game metrics for player performance? What are the pros and cons of building it right into the game, so everyone can be exposed to the same information should they choose to access it? Should it be private, public or optionally shareable?”

A lot of people will object to the idea of damage meters or other player-accessible metric tools simply because they think plugins are akin to cheating, but what if, as Camelotcrusade suggests, they are built right into the game, something everyone can access and learn from?

I tend to favor more information over less when that information can lead to better decision-making. On the other hand, I’ve seen some online video game tyrants equipped with fight parse logs really wreck the game experience for everyone else. It’s one thing when everyone thinks a class is underpowered; it’s another when the numbers prove it and lend credibility to class discrimination, and that’s just one example.

Where do you stand on in-game metrics for performance?

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World really needs player music

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man. Except, you can’t — not in The Secret World. That’s because there is no player music system in this conspiracy-rich horror game. How can that be? A world that is top-notch for ambiance and using sound doesn’t have a robust system in place to celebrate the awesomeness that is music? I’m here to say, it really does need one. We know it is possible to some degree: We already have some missions that utilize flute and organ playing in the game. So let’s expand it a la Lord of the Rings Online, or even ArcheAge.

Now, I can fully appreciate the argument that listening to the players pounding out out-of-tune pieces could very well ruin the ambiance the game has carefully cultivated. That’s true. But I believe there are ways that instrumental abuse can be mitigated.

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Choose My Adventure: Crafting catastrophes and dungeon doldrums in Blade & Soul

Hello, friends, and welcome to the fourth and final installment of Choose My Adventure with Blade & Soul. Last week, as you may recall unless your memory is somehow worse than mine, I asked you to cast your votes to make two decisions about how I should go about wrapping up my time with the game: First, I asked which tradeskill guilds I should join in order to take the game’s crafting system for a spin. The Merry Potters and the Soul Wardens beat out the rest of the competitors with a fairly decisive 39 and 34 votes, respectively, while the next-runner-up, the Acquired Taste, garnered only 21. Second, I asked y’all to choose whether I should spend my last weekend in the game taking part in structured arena PvP or running the game’s first six-player group dungeon, Blackram Narrows. Based on the poll results, however, I may as well have asked whether I should punt wombats into a crocodile-infested lake or end world hunger; the vote wasn’t even a contest, as Blackram Narrows earned its victory with a resounding 114 votes to the arena’s 28. And before anyone says anything, don’t even try to pretend there aren’t at least 28 people on the internet who would vote for the wombat-punting.

Over the course of the weekend, I did as I am programmed – I mean, as you voted for me to do, and… Well, let’s just say this: If you were hoping for an upbeat ending, I’d recommend that you pretend this column was never published. If, however, you’re interested in reading along as I spend several paragraphs balking at dubious design choices and bemoaning wasted potential, then you’ve just hit the jackpot. Either way it’ll be cathartic for me, if nothing else, so let’s dive in.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO had the best revision to an existing system?

There have been very few total relaunches in MMO history, so marking Final Fantasy XIV as having one of the best isn’t exactly disputed. There’s also not much room to debate on whether or not the relaunch was a success. But some of the systems the relaunch has changed up have been made either no better or actively worse on the conversion; cross-class skills, for example, are not in a good space. By contrast, Star Trek Online is in the middle of revamping its skill system yet again, and while that might have issues, it certainly looks to be a positive change.

Revamping systems can always be tetchy, of course – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and there’s always the issue of players who liked how things were rather than how things will be. But the revamps happen just the same. World of Warcraft revamped its entire talent system, Star Wars: The Old Republic revamped its stats and companions, and the list goes on. So what MMO have you played that had what you see as the best revision to an existing system? What major changes did you find made the game not only as good as it was before but even better?

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Perfect Ten: Ten weapons that should be in more MMOs

Swords, spears, axes, maces, and bows for fighters. Wands and fancy-looking staves for mages. Wolverine-style claws and double daggers for thieves. Some useless trinket for healers.

Let’s face it: MMOs (particularly fantasy ones) aren’t often tripping over themselves in an effort to present our characters with weapons outside of the genre norm. If you’ve played one MMO, you’ve probably seen about 90% of the weapon types that you’ll encounter in all of the rest. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with offering these tried-and-true selections to players, I do wish that devs would broaden their horizons once in a while with a pen-and-paper RPG weapons manual.

Credit where it is due, of course. Sometimes MMOs do bust out interesting weapon types that haven’t gotten a lot of play elsewhere, which is both encouraging to discover and discouraging when you move on to another game that pretends it hasn’t even heard of such items. Today we’re going to go through 10 (well, a few more than that) weapons that really should be in more MMOs.

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The Daily Grind: What is your favorite memory from the EverQuest franchise?

It’s interesting to note that the EverQuest video game franchise, as a whole, is quite large — perhaps bigger than you realized. There’s the original EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Online Adventures, Lords of EverQuest, Champions of Norrath, Champions: Return to Arms, EQMac, Legends of Norrath, Landmark, and (hopefully one day!) EverQuest Next. Whew!

With all of those titles, chances are that many of you have visited Norrath at some point in your gaming career. Today’s Daily Grind is all about sharing favorite memories from those experiences.

Personally, I only dipped into EverQuest II for any length of time. While I found the graphics questionable, I was deeply impressed with the feature set and the warm, welcoming community. What about you? Do you have any EverQuest-related memories?

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Global Chat: What is Daybreak thinking with H1Z1?

Daybreak’s announcement earlier this month that it will be splitting H1Z1 into two games triggered a flood of responses from the MMO blogging community, some pronouncing doom while others offering insight into what might be going on behind closed doors.

Healing the Masses considers the move part of an ongoing scam with the game and “abnormally idiotic.” The Ancient Gaming Noob predicts that Daybreak will further change at least one of these games’ names to avoid confusion. Inventory Full notes that splitting MMOs up into two or more games or parts is hardly new. Tyrannodorkus said that the different game modes probably warrant separate development but selling them as two titles is a “scummy move.” And Me vs. Myself and I finds himself confused, bewildered, and losing faith in Daybreak.

We’ve got more captivating discussion from the MMO blogosphere after the break, including a look at World of Warcraft’s impermanence, an exploration of Otherland, arguments over the holy trinity, and more!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 52: Horror sloth!

The horror! The horror… sloth! Oh, the meme alarm is ringing and Bree and Justin are racing to respond to the latest weirdness in the MMO industry. Whether it be a game that’s splitting in two to make more money, costumes that are full of themselves, or a sleepy tree creature that’s being shoehorned into a boss role, these podcasters are on top of the MMO industry’s latest developments.

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: An open letter to the creators of the SWTOR Cartel Packs

Dear BioWare,

First off, it might be unfair that I’m addressing this open letter to the whole staff of BioWare when I really should center it on the creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic. But I honestly don’t know how deep the problem goes. I might even be overshooting the problem still by addressing it to BioWare Austin, the creators of SWTOR. Maybe I should narrow it down to the designers and marketers of the BioWare’s cashshop. I’ve already made my complaints about the design and story of Chapter 10 of Knights of the Fallen Empire, but the issues with this latest update don’t end there.

I am disappointed by the execution of the latest cartel packs on many, many levels. It was difficult enough for me to accept these lottery boxes in the first place. It concerns me that the best looking and most desired items in the game do not come from hard work and dedication, but rather how much extra money you’ve thrown at the game (though I do realize you can make cartel coins by inadvertently becoming a part of the sales team, aka the refer-a-friend program). I don’t begrudge the developers and publishers of online video games the desire to make money. After all, their families have to eat, too. However, my acceptance has been pushed beyond its limit by two items: the Grand Chance Cube and the Unstable Arbiter’s Lightsaber.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

Last week on the Massively OP Podcast, we tried to answer a question from long-time listener Spagomat, who told us he keeps going back to older MMORPGs because newer ones just feel like the same design tropes playing out, over and over again. “It feels as if the genre has discovered a collection of design boundaries over time and can’t figure out how to surmount them,” he lamented.

“So I was wondering if you could lay out, say, a list of the top-10 design innovations of the past 3-5 years. Whether well-known and influential or tried in some small game and mostly undiscovered, anything you could say has changed the landscape, or could be a seed for change in the future.”

While Justin and I came up with a few, some of them were definitely older than five years, like level-nullification, and others aren’t catching on as well as we might want, like co-op harvesting nodes. Can you guys do better? What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

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Beta impressions of Motiga’s MOBA Gigantic

About a week ago, I got an e-mail granting me access to the closed beta test of Motiga’s in-development MOBA title, Gigantic. Now, most of you are probably well aware of the hurdles the studio has been facing, such as having recently laid off a significant portion of Gigantic’s development team on account of insufficient finances. Although Motiga is still “aggressively” negotiating with investors to reinfuse life (i.e., money) into the game, it seems that things are not looking particularly bright for Gigantic’s future.

In spite of that, I’ve spent the past week or so dabbling in the game to see how it’s shaping up. If things pan out for Motiga — and I certainly hope that they will — then we can consider this a preview of things to come. But if they don’t, then I suppose I can at least give you some impressions on what may have been. At any rate, after taking the game for more than a few spins, I think it’s about time I share my thoughts.

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Wisdom of Nym: Analyzing Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 3.2 notes

It’s patch day, ladies and gentlemen! All right, so it’s the day before patch day. It’s close to patch day. It’s patch day adjacent. And as it always happens, we have a full set of Final Fantasy XIV‘s patch notes right in front of us, albeit one without all of the things we’re necessarily going to find in the patch proper.

I think the censors have gotten a bit overzealous in obscuring nearly every single quest title, but apparently that’s the world we live in and so we may as well all learn to accept it.

As always, there’s stuff that we already know about in the patch and things that we didn’t know about, and there’s stuff we can’t fully analyze without having the patch in front of us. So let’s take a look at what’s going on in the patch that we know of now, piece by piece, and we’ll analyze what’s going on between the lines of explicit content and additions that we already knew about.

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