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]

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s 5.5 adds cringeworthy changes in the name of balance

Today, when I talk about the balance of a class, I hope you’ll understand that I come from the perspective of a PvEer and raider. I also have a tendency to favor classes that are a little bit more difficult to play. So when I say that I take issue with some of the changes that Star Wars: The Old Republic has made with Update 5.5, understand that I already believe that my favored class is starting from a disadvantage.

Update 5.5 was supposed to bring the classes into a kind of balance. To understand what balance is about in SWTOR, we will have to go back to a post that Eric Musco made back in June of this year. In it, he details the target markers for each of the different types of DPS without giving specific numbers as to what those targets are. Musco quotes the BioWare combat team: “The deeper reason for a ‘buff’ or a ‘nerf’ lies in a Discipline’s ability to perform at their target DPS.” I will be referring back to this post as I talk about the class that I favor the most: Marauder.

So let’s dive into the deep end.

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But seriously, lockboxes suck, even if the ESRB doesn’t think they’re gambling. Stop buying lockboxes.

So, MMO players. Are you tired of hearing about lockboxes and gambleboxes? It feels like we’ve been complaining about them for like six or seven years now, probably because we have. It wasn’t cute back when City of Heroes was trying it, nope. Heck, it wasn’t cute back when Star Wars Galaxies was trying it with card packs. Now it’s every damn game, and it’s gone way beyond MMOs. I’m not sick of hearing about it myself. I’m just sick of dealing with it like a pestilence making me hate the games and developers who exploit them.

Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: As more AAA online gaming studios figure out that lockbox gambling garbage is a fast ticket to easy money, more mainstream gamers are catching wind of the scam and raising objections, so it’s not just MMO players all by our lonesomes anymore. Indeed, this week multiple game critics, YouTubers, and review services have come out against lockboxes, from Boogie to TotalBiscuit, the latter of whom has called for ESRB intervention. Reviews aggregator OpenCritic has further said it’s “going to take a stand against loot boxes” by taking crappy business practices into account. The ESRB doesn’t care, by the way, and as blogger Isarii has pointed, the self-regulatory body has conveniently twisted the meaning of gambling to avoid dealing with the problem, thereby failing to protect us from it, but that’s just making people angrier.

So hey, you know what, studios? Keep screwing up with lootboxes. Keep attracting mainstream anger, keep disrespecting us, until it all boils over, one way or another, and you can’t exploit us anymore. And in the meantime, people? Stop. Buying. Lockboxes.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV has a serious housing problem for basically no reason

Patch 4.1 arrived in Final Fantasy XIV, and the Shirogane housing rush came and went exactly how everyone familiar with the game had been expecting for months on end. The plots available sold out in a matter of minutes, the people who were lucky enough to get in ahead of the queues were the ones who got new houses, and everyone else was left to rant and rave. Frankly, it all worked great, technically speaking; there were no sudden disconnections, no horrid lag spikes, no zone crashes, nothing. Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to and nothing broke, which means that by definition, nothing went wrong.

Well, unless you count shining a harsh light on the game’s horribly misguided housing design as “something going wrong.”

A lot of discussions about this seem to be missing the point. It’s not that what happened with Shirogane housing was a disaster; it was a model of efficiency and the game working as intended. Calling it a disaster is mischaracterizing the situation, making it seem like something didn’t work, when the real problem is an underlying issue of an open-world housing system that completely fails to adequately serve the needs of players.

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The Daily Grind: What PvP MMO would you play if it were PvE only?

Depending on where you’re sitting, we are either in an age of PvP sandboxes everywhere or starving for games with well-organized and meaningful PvP experiences. Maybe both? It’s a weird era.

I am not a PvP type of gamer. I’ve tasted it, I’ve tried it, and I have never found it to my liking. I don’t begrudge those who do, of course, but I do suspect there’s an Illuminati-level conspiracy about the purpose of it. Anyway! One thought that occasionally crosses my mind is that there are some PvP-centric MMOs that — PvP aside — look kind of cool and have interesting mechanics. And that I wouldn’t mind playing them, you know, if the player population wasn’t out to murder my face.

I’ve heard all of the arguments about how some of these games wouldn’t hold up if you removed the PvP portion, but even so… what PvP MMO would you play if it were PvE only?

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EVE Vegas 2017: Structure warfare is about to get very cool in EVE Online

If I had to pick out one thing that EVE Online does exceptionally well, apart from the political betrayals and thefts that regularly grace the gaming headlines, it would be the ability to build a real home that you’d want to protect. This year we’ve seen players erect thousands of citadels and engineering complexes all over New Eden, from the colossal 300 billion ISK Keepstars owned by the largest military alliances to tiny Astrahus citadels and Raitaru factory stations owned by one-man corporations. The stage is set for the next wave of Upwell structures with refineries and moon mining gameplay hitting on October 24th in the Lifeblood expansion.

While adoption rates of the new structures have been immense, not everything about them has gone over well with players. The game is becoming littered with cheap and often abandoned structures mostly because they’re difficult to destroy and there’s no incentive to do so. The battles that occur when players do fight over structures have also become stagnant thanks to the emergence of a few clearly optimum strategies. So while developers prepare to launch into the future with Upwell refineries and beyond, they took a pause at EVE Vegas 2017 to peer back at the past year and committed to some big improvements to structure warfare. … And this time they might have goddamn nailed it.

Read on for a full breakdown of the new details of EVE‘s upcoming moon mining feature and a look at the future of structure warfare with the Upwell Firmware Upgrade 2.0 update.

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The Daily Grind: Why does EVE survive where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

MOP reader Tobasco da Gama pointed us to a recent Reddit thread about why EVE Online persists, even in a weakened state, where other hardcore PvP sandboxes fail. The thread OP posits that in spite of what he calls “CCP’s criminal level of mismanagement and incompetence,” EVE has outlasted other games of its ilk, from Darkfall and Mortal Online to Albion Online and pre-Trammel Ultima Online. The reason? He argues it’s because the vast majority of players who don’t quit outright never leave high-sec and aren’t actually playing the “hardcore” PvP game that New Eden is known for at all. In other words? Most people playing EVE are carebears.

Fightin’ words, right? It makes a lot of sense to me, frankly, and since my husband still plays EVE, I’ve seen the phenomenon in action, that the toxic part of the playerbase perpetually eclipses the majority of normal folks just happily space mining and killing pirates and watching their skill bars go up.

Why do you think EVE survives where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

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Smart Social Gaming: Why people play social games and other topics non-gamers don’t get

While those of us who write for MassivelyOP do try give you all the scientific resources we can to help you fight back against your family, friends, and co-workers who may still not get your hobby or why you may let your child participate in gaming culture, it’s not our primary function – that’d be covering and analyzing the MMO genre.

Enter SmartSocialGamers.org, an “online resource that provides guidance, tips and expert advice for everyone to have a positive social games experience.” While I’d normally smirk and wonder who really thinks he or she has the clout to do something like that, in digging through it I found that Dr. Rachel Kowert, of The Video Game Debate fame, penned several of the top tips, including one that starts off using Quantic Foundry’s Gamer Motivation Model. That’s some clout. Let’s take a look!

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Leaderboard: Are you one of the 2M people playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds today?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds just keeps on growing globally: It’s completely outstripped every other game on Steam in terms of concurrency, having now set a new record of 2M concurrent this weekend. As GIbiz points out, its closest competitor now is Valve’s own Dota 2, which saw 700K concurrency over the same period. That’s up a million for PUBG just since last month, with 13M copies sold to date. Oh, and did I mention it’s still in early access?

We’ve previously noted that the game is primarily pulling from the CSGO audience, but now it looks to be hitting the other top games too – H1Z1 especially, whose peak concurrency has dropped a full third since August – and I have a few guildies playing who normally play MMOs. How about you? Are you one of the 2M people playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds today? Let’s take it to a Leaderboard poll.

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Guild Chat: Coming back to an MMORPG guild after a long hiatus

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which readers in need can source some solid advice to help them solve their guild-related issues. This time, an anonymous reader is wondering how to approach returning to a guild after being offline for some time. The submission asks for our tips on rejoining a once-friendly guild that was the reader’s in-game home before she took a long break from her MMO of choice. While she enjoyed the vast majority of her time spent with her guild, it was in part because of some tension in the guild that she fell out of love with the MMO for a while. Now that she’s back, our anonymous reader is wondering whether or not to accept the guild invite that winged its way to her when she logged back in, and if so, how to reintegrate with her old guildmates.

Read below for the full submission and my thoughts on coming back to a guild after a long hiatus.

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Wisdom of Nym: The key bits of Final Fantasy XIV’s 4.1 patch notes

Here we are, folks, staring down the barrel of the latest major patch. If you’re feeling a minor set of trepidation simply because that means it’s time to contend with Final Fantasy XIV housing and all the racing that implies… well, I’m right there with you. But hey, however that turns out tomorrow morning, there’s new stuff to do in the actual patch, and I always do like to pick apart the patch notes when the time rolls around.

The notes are as extensive as ever, of course, so I’m going to be hitting the highlights rather than going line-by-line. The patch as a whole does feel a little bit thinner, but there are some pretty notable changes tucked in there that you either didn’t notice or did notice and might not have internalized. So let’s take a trip down patch note lane.

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The Daily Grind: Is there MMORPG lingo that you just cannot stand?

In past articles, we’ve coined some MMO terminology neologisms and expressed confusion over obscure MMO slang, but it’s been a while since we talked about the terms we really do not like, the stuff that makes us cringe.

I started thinking about this after a Lifehacker piece that suggested slang like “ROFL” and “LOL” have long since been supplanted by “haha” and “lol,” though there’s apparently a cultural fight between purveyors of those two as some people look at one or the other and flinch in revulsion.

In the MMO world, I have to say I would be thrilled to never see things like “gg,” “carebear,” “gimp,” “dkp” – ironic usage, I suppose, notwithstanding. In fact, there are quite a few terms that I’d say have already begun dying since the early days, like “puller,” “medding,” “creep,” “oom,” “named,” “leech,” “PL,” “bank sitting,” “kiting,” “reds,” and so on.

Plus there’s toon, which I know drives some of you guys crazy.

Is there MMORPG lingo that you just cannot stand?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMOs do the best job with patch notes?

To the surprise of no one, working here involves reading lots of patch notes. Some games do a better job with this than others. Final Fantasy XIV does a pretty good job with the notes, but they’re still enormous and sometimes difficult to navigate; still, it’s better than the patch notes for Star Wars: The Old Republic, which always struck me as needlessly obtuse and unclear. World of Warcraft has gone back and forth over the years, although they tend to at least be readable (and the “fake patch notes” every April 1st are usually great).

By contrast, I quite like the trick that some games such as Eternal Crusade use, putting the biggest and most relevant changes front-and-center before launching into the detailed patch notes. And I would be remiss to not mention the old Final Fantasy XI patch notes, including such wonderful vagueness as “altered the drop rates on certain items.” That’s real clear. What do you say, readers? Which MMOs do the best job with patch notes?

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The Game Archaeologist: Ultima Worlds Online Origin

While the heady days of Ultima Online’s dominant position over the industry are long gone, the MMORPG continues to operate and expand, and many players have fond memories of the unique experience that game offered. In fact, some titles like Legends of Aria and (obviously) Shroud of the Avatar are doing their best to claim the unofficial title of “Ultima Online spiritual successor” in the hopes of reuniting veteran MMO players with the special qualities that made this game great.

These aren’t the first games to try to grasp the holy grail of an Ultima Online sequel. There were actually two such projects that went into heavy production in the late 1990s and early 2000s — both ending with premature cancellation and frustration on the part of developers and fans.

The second of these, Ultima X Odyssey, I covered a while back. Today, we’re going to take a look at the first MMO that attempted to mix the Ultima Online formula with a few new twists. Ultima Worlds Online Origin might not be as well-known (or as well-titled), but its history is just as fascinating as UXO’s.

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