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There’s an interesting discussion which pops up on the Final Fantasy XIV Reddit from time to time regarding the differences between American and Japanese players. For this topic, the most pertinent discussion is one of strategy. The American community, as a whole, prefers to have static groups of players who will often undertake risky but fast strategies; if the strategy works, it’s a quick and solid clear, but as soon as someone screws up it’s all down the tubes. By contrast, the Japanese community prefers strategies which are safer and more reliable, giving everyone more leeway… and possibly resulting in a slow clear when you get the group together.
Obviously, this applies to other games. From World of Warcraft to Black Desert, you always have the option of playing it safe or going big. Pulling one enemy at a time to farm for drops means you’re unlikely to ever get overwhelmed, which can certainly happen if you pull half a dozen… but if you succeed, that half a dozen can probable be minced faster than pulling them one by one. So what about you, dear readers? Do you prefer safe strategies or fast strategies in MMOs? Are you happier with a sure-fire win, or would you rather risk losing in exchange for a big victory?
Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of time in MMORPGs. It’s one of those things that developers probably don’t want you thinking about too closely, since it could create a crack in the world illusion that they’ve created. But really, how does time work in these games? Are you forever frozen in the same fixed point in history, advancing only to a new era when a patch or expansion releases? Does the timeline advance only as you go through new quests and hit arbitrary milestones?
Even more fascinating is when developers decide to have a little fun with their storytelling by throwing players into the past and future via time travel. It’s not even strictly for science-fiction games, either; plenty of fantasy MMOs work in time travel at one point or the other. It can be a great way of expanding upon the game’s lore and giving players an insight into events that led up to the modern era.
Today we’re going to look at 10 instances of how MMORPGs have used time travel with reckless regard to paradoxes and splintering the world into millions of alternate universes.
When I took the trip to ZeniMax Online Studios to check out Morrowind a couple of months back, I was sitting at a table with other games press and a handful of ZOS developers, including Creative Director Rich Lambert and Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler. The conversation wasn’t exactly off the record, but it wasn’t really an interview setting either. We were just talking, mostly about our lives: how Brian had to leave soon because he might get in trouble with his girlfriend and how Rich spent many overnights at the same hotel that the press had been staying in because he was at the office late and had to be there again early the next day.
During the course of the conversation, we ended up talking about how the press had originally received the Elder Scrolls Online and how it received it since the console launch. It’s not a big secret that I said some pretty critical things about ESO shortly after its PC launch. Rich pointed out during the conversation, possibly not knowing the outlet I was from, that he was surprised at how the opinions had turned around, especially Massively’s. And when he said “Massively,” I don’t think he realized that it was specifically my opinion that had that changed, drastically, since I’ve been the site’s ESO columnist since before the game’s launch.
Here’s the situation: It’s April 2017, and you have a friend approach you who is open to the idea of playing MMORPGs, although he or she has never touched one. After looking down the list on Massively OP’s games page, your friend feels overwhelmed at the choices and has no idea where to start or which game to try first.
Knowing that some of these MMOs have been out for a while and being a little aware of the waning and waxing nature of the games, your friend asks you which MMO or MMOs would you recommend as an ideal starting point.
How would you respond? Would you encourage your friend to wait for an upcoming release so that he or she can get in on the ground floor? Would you pick one of the more popular titles that has a large crowd? Or would you recommend an MMO that is the most newbie-friendly game in town?
Do you want to date my space avatar? She’s a star and she’s hotter than a supernova by far. Or maybe you’re a loony tooner? What’s the socially acceptable way to reference your character in an MMORPG without coming across like some weirdo from another gaming era? Bree and Justin will devote their lives to figuring out this question.
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I often find that playing Guild Wars 2
leaves me with more questions than answers when it comes to lore and story predictions, build strategies and rotations, and efficient raid clearing, so I spend plenty of time listening to the advice and opinions offered by my fellow players to both improve my own gaming experience and engage with my favourite MMO when I’m not logged in. My YouTube subscription list reads like a who’s who of Guild Wars 2
content creators and I’m never stuck for entertaining and informative videos to watch during my commutes to classes, so I thought it was about time that I took some time to share my favourites with you in case any are missing in your own subscription lists.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll list some fantastic YouTubers who you should most definitely check out if you’re not already familiar with them. Many of the names making the list are massively popular and you’d have to have lived under a rock to be unfamiliar with their work, but others deserve much more attention that they get for the fantastic GW2 content they create and might well be new to you. Have a watch of the videos included below and don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoy what you see and, of course, add your favourite GW2 YouTubers in the comments.
After a week-long delay, Star Wars: The Old Republic
launches its first major patch to the Knights of the Eternal Throne
expansion as Update 5.2: The War For Iokath today. The update continues your story directly where Eternal Throne
left off and reintroduces classic companions Malavai Quinn and Elara Dorne.
Creative Director Charles Boyd spoke at length and answered a few of our most pressing questions about the update — everything from Quinn and Galactic Command ranks to raiding dynamics and win trading. Boyd doesn’t shy away from addressing any of them. Watch our interview with him in the video below to get caught up on everything coming in the update — plus check out the update’s official trailer!
In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).
Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.
For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?
When World of Warcraft was in beta and I first gave it a go, I remember being absolutely captivated by questing. It wasn’t as if no MMORPGs before hadn’t included quests. Most of them had, in some way or another, be they Ultima Online’s escort quests, EverQuest’s epics, or Star Wars Galaxies’ missions. The thing that made all the games prior to Blizzard’s 2004 spectacle so different was that questing wasn’t the primary thing to do to advance your character to the cap — it wasn’t the core gameplay element at all. So those of us who were tired of grinding out mobs to level up welcomed a different paradigm, not quite realizing that we were seeing a huge shift in the way MMORPGs were going to be designed from then on out in terms of what players were expected to do — and what we would no longer be able to do at all.
Fast-forward to today: Now when an MMORPG is announced and looks to be primarily quest-driven, at least to the cap, players moan and groan about boring and tedious quest grinds. Just another themepark, people say. I’d rather log out than do one more pointless quest.
Are you also sick of MMORPG questing?
Boy, I will be really miffed
if this winds up taking more time than I have until Final Fantasy XIV
‘s second expansion arrives. I will be put out
. But there was a lot of stuff here to review! So far we’ve covered a whole lot of story in the first two
parts of this series, but there’s… still
a bit more story to resolve here! Yeesh. This expansion had some stuff in it.
Of course, it also had other stuff in it, so this time around we can start going into other useful stuff like new jobs and class design. Which is a good thing, since, again, we’ve got a little while longer until Stormblood arrives, but not forever. So enough preamble; let’s finish up talking about the stories in Heavensward, especially as we’re moving into the parts that just unambiguously did not land well.
A couple of weeks ago, Justin and I fielded an epic podcast question from a listener (heya Josh!) about guild systems, specifically about the Asheron’s Call monarchy system. As far as we know, that specific system — a pyramid-like system of patrons and vassals whose social interactions created experience and benefits for everyone without the formal hierarchical structure of a stock guild — has never been fully duplicated. It’s a damn shame because it was amazing. Turbine solved the guild problem in 1999: Instead of dumping people into military-style guilds to be just another worker bee for the queen, it incentivized individual, personal relationships, upward and downward.
That got me wondering what else hasn’t ever been duplicated. It seems like it could be a pretty short list, as so many retro MMORPGs have popped up in the last few years promising to resurrect a ton of old-school features, good and bad. So you help me fill in the gaps: What’s the best old-school MMORPG feature that has never made a comeback?
For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online
players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017
last week in
Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE
and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans
to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery
that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
There are a number of issues that I have with the character creator for Black Desert, but I greatly enjoy and appreciate the fact that I can actually have tattoos. Not just a little thing on the side of my character’s face, either; my characters can have scrawling marks along their bodies if I so desire. It’s a little thing, and there are many games in which it would be rarely, if ever, actually seen by others… but I like it. And it makes me sad how few games actually offer that option.
It is not unique in this regard, though. I will never stop appreciating the fact that we get new hairstyles in Final Fantasy XIV on a regular basis, usually at least two per patch, and they always offer new options for characters. I feel like Star Trek Online has something really nice in both allowing you to slide your character’s proportions around within constrained rules, and I also like the option to choose between your idle poses. Many of these features aren’t as expanded as they could be, but they’re still options I wish more games had. So what about you? What option do you wish showed up in more MMO character creators?