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]

The Soapbox: Making your own fun in MMORPGs

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, a developer at Missing Worlds Media. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

Howdy, all. I’m Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, project lead at City of Titans, and I’d like to spend a few moments talking about the things that we, as game designers, can’t do for players.
I call it making your own fun.

There are several things that make an MMO an MMO, but one of the most important elements is the entire “massively” part of “massively multiplayer online.” More than just a team, and bigger than a raid, it’s everyone around you.

And people get rewards from being in this ocean of players, whether they’re showing off their best armor, getting a little help in a public event, or playing the auction house economy. None of those systems would work without a lot of other people around.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Hands-on with SWTOR’s Rise of the Emperor update

If you read the last Hyperspace Beacon, then you know that BioWare’s announcement that Ziost is finally hitting Star Wars: The Old Republic excited me beyond reason. Ziost is one of those planets that really should make a mark on the SWTOR universe because of its significance in Star Wars ancient history. Unfortunately, that also means that BioWare has a lot to live up to when it comes to creating this planet. We are, of course, talking about the former capital world of the Sith Empire and the home of the first Dark Lord of the Sith Ajunta Pall.

This past weekend I played through the Ziost storyline myself. And to make sure I had a rounded perspective, I watched a few videos playthroughs of the planetary quests too. Specifically, I’d like to mention Vulkk, who produces a monstrous swath of videos about all the SWTOR content. I watched his Republic playthrough just to make sure that I didn’t really miss anything as far as the story was concerned.

As you will come to understand after reading this, the story on Ziost feels incomplete, and frankly, the quest layout is really weird compared to all the previous quests.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs eliminate ‘soulbound’ mechanics?

This morning’s Daily Grind arrives from Kickstarter donor jackfrost, who phrases his question in the form of a rant:

Why do almost all rewards in current gen MMOs have to be some form of soulbound? I hate it.

Me too, frankly. I suppose it got started back in EverQuest with the advent of “no-drop” items, but over the years, themeparks especially (but some sandboxes too) have adopted the mechanic as a way to stifle player trading and keep us returning to the well better known as the dungeon-and-loot-drop-grind (and in recent years, to the well known as the cash shop). It makes the economy easier to manage for the developers, but it also makes it far less fulfilling for the players. Plus it makes no sense! Not being able to pass down old gear to alts and newbies is beyond irritating.

What do you think? Do “soulbound” items and mechanics annoy you too? Should MMOs dump them post haste and return to more engaging and realistic ways of churning old gear out of MMO economies?

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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Sword and Bored: Behind the scenes

At this point, it’s probably not overly obvious, but we have created Sword and Bored in story arcs. And this comic represents the ending of the second arc.

This also represents the first comic that doesn’t really include Mo. I feels a bit weird to have a comic without him, but I thought it appropriate to experiment. We want Mo to be the main protagonist in the comic, but we believe that the actual funny parts aren’t necessarily him but the things that happen around and to him.

At any rate, Mo will be back next week. Until then, here’s this week’s comic…

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Wisdom of Nym: How to catch up in Final Fantasy XIV (before Heavensward arrives)

Let’s assume you’ve just recently gotten to the level cap in Final Fantasy XIV and you’re ready to start in on catching up to the main scenario before Heavensward drops. Where do you start?

I don’t really agree with the official decision to gate people out of Ishgard if they haven’t cleared the story up through the 2.55 patch, but it was made and I didn’t get a vote there, so it’s kind of academic. The point is that if you’re hitting that level for the first time, you have five major patches of stuff between you and getting to Ishgard in June. So how do you make sure that your fresh character can get all the way up there? Is it even possible?

The answer is most definitely yes, but you’re going to have to put some time in. Most of the gating you’ll have to deal with, though, is a matter of getting the gear you need to take on the later challenges that the story throws at you.

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The Daily Grind: What did you accomplish in your MMOs this weekend?

I didn’t get a whole lot of gaming time this weekend, but I did manage to log a couple of hours in GTA Online. I mostly ran heists with pickup groups, but I also bought my first aircraft and spent a fair few minutes flying around snapping screenshots and prepping video clips for use in Rockstar’s editor.

How about you, MOP readers? What did you do in your MMOs this weekend?

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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Guild Chat: Guild size and its effect on cohesion

Welcome along to Guild Chat, my cozy corner of the internet in which we can discuss all things guilds, the place where we all gather to give advice to a reader in need. Come on in and pull up a plush purple couch, everybody! I’ll pop the kettle on while we get settled in, all ready to deal with this month’s issue. This edition of Guild Chat is focused on a question sent in from Massively Overpowered reader Loyheta that asks about balancing the size of a guild’s roster with its inclusiveness and activity levels. As pointed out, the balance can be hard to strike: Many of the largest guilds become somewhat fractured and cliques inevitably form, whereas smaller guilds may be very friendly but often rely on new players suiting the commonality of the existing core members. Read Loyheta’s question in full below to get up to speed, and don’t forget to pop your own two cents on the topic in the comments below.

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The Daily Grind: What character look are you most proud of?

The image above was used as a header elsewhere, but other than the fact that I never fixed her belt (it was a placeholder belt since I knew I’d be replacing the gear there quickly) I’m still proud of how good that set looked on my Blood Elf in World of Warcraft. It feels like an archetypical sort of Blood Knight look, even though it’s assembled from bits and pieces of other sets. Just like my favorite looks in Final Fantasy XIV or Star Wars: The Old Republic, a collection of pieces that works right for the character and possibly no one else.

Obviously, some of you don’t care about this stuff, and that’s fine. But for those of you who do, what character look are you most proud of? What outfit made you stop, take screenshots, and nod in approval?

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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The Game Archaeologist: What Star Wars Galaxies life was like before the NGE

A decade after Star Wars Galaxies’ “New Game Enhancements” hit the game, controversy, grumbling, and revelations still pop up about the notorious decision to overhaul the entire game. Some maintain that it ruined the game, while others acknowledge that what came after actually ended up being better.

As the 2003 to 2005 pre-NGE era is quickly vanishing into the distant past, I wanted to preserve some of the history of what the game was like before that fateful patch day. To aid in this project, I asked six Star Wars Galaxies veterans to share some of their memories and stories from that time. Here’s what they had to say about what in-game life was like in those first few years.

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The Daily Grind: Would you pay for MMO mods?

The entire internet (only a slight exaggeration there) exploded this week over Valve’s decision to work with selected game studios to allow modders to charge for their amateur game plugins on the Steam Workshop, cutting Valve and said studios a huge slice of the profit pie. Regardless of whether you think paid mods are acceptable, most people seem to agree that Valve hasn’t handled it very well at all, given the number of stolen mods and fraudulent DMCA take-downs flying around the Workshop right about now.

I’ve been modding video games a really long time, both creating my own and obsessively downloading, playing, and tweaking mods made by others. Half the reason I still play World of Warcraft is to tinker with UI addons, and I even created some housing retexes for the late great Star Wars Galaxies. I’ve also made money on some of my non-MMO mods — yes, made money on game mods, 15 years ago when it was a broadly accepted thing. Anyone who was gaming back then remembers Sims paysites, the bandwidth bubble, and the Skindex fiasco; in a weird way, this is all just a little bit of history repeatin’.

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GTA Online: All the open world feels, none of the MMO grind

Any minute now I’m going to log out of Grand Theft Auto Online so I can finish this not-a-review. Seriously, I’ve played this game for, oh, 65 hours since it launched on the PC last week? At least that’s what Steam says. I’m not sure I believe it, though, because it feels like five minutes, and the few times that I’ve managed to log off and go outside have been sweet, sweet sorrow.

Say what you will about Rockstar’s fondness for smutty protagonists and its penchant for dialogue that would make Joe Pesci blush, but no company does action sandbox gameplay better than these guys. And hey, most of the really objectionable content lurks in GTA V’s story-driven single-player campaign, which leaves GTAO as a sort of virtual playground for adults, the likes of which most modern-day MMOs can only dream of providing.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best hybrid classes?

I didn’t know hybrid classes were a thing, really, until I picked up classic EverQuest way back in 1999. Most of the roleplaying games I’d played until that point, including pioneering sandbox MMO Ultima Online, were skill-based, and so I more or less picked skills that I liked without worrying about hybrid penalties. (In classic UO, pretty much everyone was a mage, after all!) EQ introduced me to those stock Dungeons and Dragons concepts, however, and the majority of subsequent MMORPGs have clung to classes to make life easy on the designers tasked with balancing player power.

Hybrid penalties or no, a lot of people really still love the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades, of having a variety of skills and playstyles all on one character, and penalizing players for picking non-pure roles has long fallen out of fashion. Skill-based sandboxes, of course, still allow players to pick up swords alongside their shovels, but themeparks like RIFT and Skyforge and Final Fantasy XIV also let you swap around your subclasses so much that pretty much everyone in the game is a hybrid.

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Massively Overthinking: Overcoming ‘Barrens chat’ culture

Tonight’s Massively Overthinking aims to address a core problem facing the whole internet, not just games: antisocial behavior. Our question comes from Kickstarter donor Katie MacAlister, who wonders,

What can be done to combat the “anonymity on the Internet breeds douchecravats” mentality that pervades MMOs? Barrens chat, trade chat…for every “good” soul, there’s a handful of twits. What can the MMO world do to fight this?”

I asked our writers about the best ways players and studios can overcome this ever-present problem.

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