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 Overthinking: Random encounters in MMORPGs

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor TheChiHawk, and it’s coming from an unusually not-so-massive corner of gamesdom for us:

Are there any MMORPGs that employ a Left 4 Dead 2 type of “director feature”? It occurred to me that I still play L4D2 somewhat regularly because it continues to be fun due to the random element each time you play the same campaign. By contrast, the static layout of every single MMO I’ve played stands in stark contrast; you always know exactly what needs to be done. BORING! L4D2 would seem to be a perfect model for keeping things fun and uncertain with each new dungeon delve in an MMO. Why hasn’t anyone incorporated this into MMO games?

The director feature TheChiHawk is talking about is basically an AI governor for the whole game — with a twist. I’ll let the Left 4 Dead Wikia explain:

The Director, sometimes referred to as the AI Director, or simply as AID, is the artificial intelligence of Left 4 Dead that features a dynamic system for game dramatics, pacing, and difficulty. Instead of set spawn points for enemies, the Director places enemies in varying positions and numbers based upon each player’s current situation, status, skill, and location, creating a new experience for each play-through. The Director also creates mood and tension with emotional cues such as visual effects, dynamic music and character communication. Moreover, the Director is responsible for spawning additional health, ammo, weapons, and Special Infected, like the Witch or the Tank.

So let’s talk about MMO AI! I posed Chi’s question to the MOP team. Which MMOs have similar features? How do they work? Do they solve any major problems with MMO AI?

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Perfect Ten: Weirdly specific quests we keep encountering in MMOs

You know how you wince whenever you think of typing /played into your MMO and realize just how many hours you’ve given to a pretend world? I can only cringe at the thought of seeing a tally of how many in-game quests I’ve performed since 2001. At least 20. Probably more.

Game developers are quick to tell you that there are really only a small number of quest archetypes, including “kill 10 rats,” “FedEx,” “click glowies,” and “escort the suicidal NPC.” Yet within those categories are thousands of sub-types of missions, from the unimaginative to the truly bizarre. The best ones arrest our attention, keep us enthralled, and leave us wanting more.

Having done so many quests over a decade and a half, I’ve noticed that even some of the stranger quest sub-types tend to pop up across a spread of MMOs. When you’re done killing 10 boars for their livers, take a gander at this list of weirdly specific quests that we keep encountering.

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Ask Mo: If Star Wars Galaxies is so smart, why ain’t it rich?

Star Wars Galaxies would have been 12 years old this week, had it lived a day past Star Wars: The Old Republic. That makes this the perfect time to dig up and try to answer an old email from longtime Massively OP reader Hagu the Pally in this week’s Ask Mo.

Why did SWG have so little influence on games and developers? A recent comment was, “There is not a lot of evidence that SWG had significant impact on anything in MMOs. Is it even hyperbole to say Meridian 59 influenced MMOs more than SWG?”

As a crafter, I read so many people who loved the crafting. It’s famous. Yet “all” the subsequent developers and games have not even tried; not pale imitations, they just didn’t seem to go that way at all. Same for entertainers. etc.

One can say WoW does raiding and SWTOR does story better than other MMOs, but the other games do attempt them. If people listed their top SWG features, how many were copied by other games? I can think of the EQ, EQ2, WoW, GW2, RIFT, EVE (PLEX-like is an adjective for reviewers) features that seemed to have influenced other games.

Am I just ignorant of a lot of ways SWG changed the world? Why did such a seminal game that resonated so passionately with some people not have more downstream impact?

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The Daily Grind: Do you read MMO dev blogs?

I read a lot of dev blogs. It kind of goes with the territory, since part of this job entails picking through studio press releases and website updates and separating the fluff from the stuff that makes for interesting news posts.

If it weren’t for this job, though, I probably wouldn’t read them. I prefer to just explore stuff on my own in a given game, rather than have most of the changes spelled out for me in a bullet-point list. It also probably helps that I’m not much of a min-maxer, so buffs and nerfs normally don’t even register on my radar.

What about you, MOP readers? Do you read dev blogs? Why or why not?

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Leaderboard: Which Wargaming title is your favorite?

World of Tanks never interested me much. World of Warplanes nailed the subject matter but unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations for an aerial combat title. World of Warships, on the other hand, is surprisingly enjoyable. Granted, I’ve only played it over a beta weekend at this point, but there’s something oddly satisfying about the title that I can’t quite verbalize just yet.

What about you, Wargaming fans? Which of the company’s three action battlers is your favorite? Vote after the cut!

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Massively Opinionated: What is the biggest PR mistake an MMO’s ever made?

The Electronic Entertainment Expo presented a lot of opportunities for public relations mistakes, which led me to wonder about the biggest mistakes an MMO’s ever made, the topic of today’s Massively Opinionated debate vidcast! We also have multiple questions from the Patreon backers, and an interesting question about changing MMO systems mid-stream.

This week’s panelists hail from all over the internet: Mike Byrne is the Editor-in-Chief at MMO Bomb, Cosmic Engine can be found on YouTube doing video game reviews, and Tina Lauro can be found right here on MassivelyOP and the Predestination game website.

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Marvel Heroics: How to get the most for free in Marvel Heroes

One of the questions that I received after my debut Marvel Heroes column was, “Can you explain how to play this game for free?” And sure, I could’ve been snarky and replied, “You just boot up the game and play without spending money on it,” but then I realized that this was asked by one of my friends who is twice my muscle mass and I should probably not tick him off.

Actually, it’s a good question. Players going into Marvel Heroes for the first time are often understandably wary about the ins and outs of its business model, all the while nervously twitching in anticipation of the moment when the game decides to slap down a pay wall or shove a guilt trip down their throats for not coughing up cash. The truth is that this game is remarkably generous in what it gives for free and rarely if ever pressures you to buy. I spend money on this game because I want to, not because I have to.

But if you wanted to play 100% for free and get the most out of it? There’s a guide for that too, and it’s after the break!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the prettiest MMO?

Judging video game eye candy is one of the most subjective activities in our hobby, is it not? Everyone has a different standard (and tolerance) for beauty, which can extend to art style, palettes, locales, animation, and lens flares. We know which way J.J. Abrams will vote whenever he sees that last one.

There are a lot of good-looking MMOs on the market right now. I enjoy the colorful zaniness of WildStar, the gorgeous “painterly aesthetic” of Guild Wars 2, and even the old-school talent behind Lord of the Rings Online. But I think that there’s beauty in most online games if you look for it.

So in your opinion, what is the prettiest MMO on the market? Bonus points to your position if you post a screenshot to back it up!

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Tamriel Infinium: The restoration of Elder Scrolls Online’s Orsinium

Bethesda, the parent company of ZeniMax Online studios, had an amazing showing at E3 this year, but unfortunately, no one from the Elder Scrolls Online team was there to talk about anything that was happening with the game despite the console launch landing literally the week before. I don’t want to speculate on how much Bethsoft actually cares for the game — and maybe they’re all too busy working on the launch — but I am quite disheartened that there was no presence at all.

I guess I can be happy that we did get a fly-by trailer and some never-before-seen images of Orsinium. And we did get a tease of the Dark Brotherhood at the very end of the trailer. Unfortunately, it was a tease similar to one we saw about a year ago. Don’t get me wrong; I’m truly excited to see the Imperial City and all the rest coming to the game; I’d just like to have seen more than a couple of fly-bys.

Still, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to Elder Scrolls legends or the story of ESO. So let’s discuss everything we saw in the ESO E3 trailer.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best way to boost MMO populations?

An anonymous Kickstarter donor pinged us with this question for this morning’s Daily Grind:

With the breadth of niche MMOs available, how will companies resort to increasing players?

I presume our donor refers to the absolute deluge of smaller indie titles that we’ve seen crop up in development over the last few years thanks to Kickstarter. While some folks praise the creativity that these niche titles promise in a field of higher-budget WoW-style themeparks, others see only a future of flopped games and communities spread far too thin to sustain themselves. “Niche” can bring dilution as much as diversity.

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Sword and Bored: Teleport

I promised Jef that I would never publicly show the stick-figure sketches that he does for these comics before I draw them. And usually I understand exactly what’s going on in the sketches despite Jef’s saying that they are awful. However, when he showed me this one for the first time, I totally didn’t get it. It had nothing to do with the quality of the drawing; it had more to do with my ignorance.

I asked, “Is this a thing that happens in MMOs?” And he said that one particular MMO has this issue, and it’s hilarious to see how certain classes in that game handle it. That, of course, brings us to this week’s comic…

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