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Well, folks, we’re officially living in a post-BlizzCon world. Until the next one. The point is, we’re done with that convention, and all that’s left is considering what is coming next for World of Warcraft and how close we got to all of the various elements that I said we really needed to come out of the convention. So how did Blizzard do?
Pretty well, actually. If you missed the four liveblogs I did and didn’t see my reactions in real-time, I suppose that’s news. (The Grand Magistrix has power over time.)
As with any convention, there was good and bad. Now that we’ve all had a few days to digest the information that’s come out of the weekend festivities, it’s a good time to examine the systems that were announced, the order of the presentation, and how well the job of managing expectations while building hype has been achieved. It’s not perfect, and it’s too early to call it even a return to form, but this far nothing has knocked my cautious optimism off the rails, so that’s something.
A Massively OP commenter recently opined that “without gear progression, [a game] is a MOBA not an MMORPG,” and I would really love to talk about that because I’ve seen similar sentiments crop up a lot in the last year.
Many of my personal favorite MMORPGs are usually those that do away with gear progression or render it unimportant. Classic Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars, City of Heroes — never mind sandboxes like pre-Trammel Ultima Online or Glitch — all had minimal gear progression if they had any at all. Detractors might crow that Guild Wars 2 went back on plans to avoid gear progression, but I think most of us would still agree it’s relatively tame compared to the gear-grinds of themeparks like World of Warcraft. Are those not MMORPGs?
I agree that without some form of character customization or advancement, either vertical or horizontal, something that goes beyond swapping in a cash-shop skin for your avatar between matches, a game tips away from being an MMORPG. But I don’t think it needs to be gear. In fact, I think gear-based progression is cheap and lazy choice for an MMORPG to begin with.
What do you folks think? What’s the true deciding line between whether something’s an MMORPG or mere MOBA or online shooter? Is an MMORPG still an MMORPG without gear progression?
This past week, news about Black Desert’s IP blocking has reminded me once again how IP-blocking, region-locking, and the resulting isolated MMO communities are becoming far too normal and making it harder than ever to meet and team up with people around the world, which is part of the magic that brought so many of us to the genre in the first place.
It’s also brought some community ugliness to the fore.
Some people argue that IP blocking and the ensuing regionalization of MMORPGs is necessary because it ensures that groups can communicate in the same language and aren’t forced to suffer the side-effects of low pings from groupmates far away. And others… well, there’s no other way to put it: Some people are openly, proudly xenophobic in their desire to keep servers free of one specific nationality or other.
Are you as weary of IP blocking as I am, or do you think there are cases when it’s justified and more of a help to an MMO community than a hindrance? These are the questions I posed to the MOP writers in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
In the beginning, there was surprise. Funcom is making a single-player experience based on The Secret World?! After a few seconds that shock melted away into excitement. Oh heck yeah — sign me up! Who hasn’t thought that TSW could make a killer single-player game (if not already be one, heh)? Then came the eagerness and anticipation as I waited for The Park, compounded even more by getting a taste of the game during my tour, then made nearly unbearable as I stared at the game on my Steam list while waiting to stream it. Finally, Halloween came and I was able to dive headfirst into the experience, full of hope, excitement, and even a little nervousness. And why not? It felt like a first date with TSW’s future. If things went well, the studio would be in a better place, which would mean more security for my favorite MMO. Success could mean good things for TSW, from more exposure to more development resources. First impressions were important.
I’m not normally one to kiss and tell, but The Park was not a disappointment. Everything about that date was awesome. I spent three full hours alternating between running and tiptoeing while exploring every nook and cranny, examining every single scrap of paper. (How I missed one achievement, I still have no clue!) It was a roller coaster ride — at one point literally — of emotions that was worth every second. And everything about the game tells me it is a portent of good things to come.
I like to think that I’m a better person now than I was when I first loaded up Final Fantasy XI. That’s how long I’ve been playing MMOs: I loaded up that game on the day it launched, started playing, and have looked back many times since. It’s nearly a third of my life, and I’ve gone from being just some guy to being… still just some guy, but some guy who has a career analyzing and writing about these games. And in the process, I think and hope I’ve become a better person.
Do I credit all of that to online games? Of course not. That’d be ridiculous. But I do think that playing MMOs can make you a better person. Not should, and not necessarily will, but I think that with time and experience, the possibility is there that they can. And I think that when taken in the right spirit, these lessons can help you be a better person in your day-to-day life. No, not by trying to get stronger by wandering out and smacking random wildlife with a sharp bit of metal but by applying lessons elsewhere.
I’m back in Lord of the Rings Online this week, and though I’m still working my way through western Gondor at the moment, I really looking forward to seeing Turbine’s take on Minas Tirith.
It may not end up being my favorite zone, because it will be pretty hard to top Rivendell and East Rohan, but I’m sure it’ll be up there among my favorites. What about you, LOTRO fans? What’s your favorite zone?
A Massively OP reader named Ohnix recently sent us a question just perfect for Ask Mo. Let’s debate guilds!
I play EverQuest II quite a bit (and EverQuest before that) and have come to ponder if guilds are unintentionally dividing the membership base by making guild-specific achievements for raid-level content. This mechanic appears to focus a select few players from a single guild into a specific goal and that does not allow for mixed guild raids to form and perform the same raid to gain the same achievement. In the long term this mechanic isolates the members of each guild from each other and therefore diminishes the opportunities for individuals or smaller groups to participate. There are not always exactly enough players to fill each raid for the folks who would like to raid.
I’ll go a step further: I’ll say that guilds and guild achievements divide MMO communities and playerbases period.
Sandbox lovers must be in heaven lately with so many new choices arising in MMO circles. It seems as though most of the newer titles announced have widely embraced sandbox elements, even if integrating them with a more theme park structure.
And I’ve watched as a segment of the community has rejoiced over the resurgence of sandbox games, although I’ve also seen consternation and debate over how these MMOs are made. Should they have PvP? If so, how much? What about housing? What type of economy should it run? Should there be any developer-created story or should it be left fully in the players’ hands?
Good luck trying to get any consensus there because the only constant I’ve witnessed is how people will say, “I want New Game Online to be practically identical to Nostalic Old Game I Used To Play Online.” Whatever that may be.
What did you expect? Of course we’re going to be talking about BlizzCon on today’s show. While there were no major surprises, there’s certainly enough to chew on, especially in regard to Overwatch and World of Warcraft. Bree and Justin (but mostly Bree) have a lot to say about the convention and its reveals.
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.
I’ve always been a sucker for vanity pets in MMOs. It’s not just the layer of customization and ownership pride that lugging along one of them provides but the feeling of having a loyal companion join me on my many adventures through these worlds. Plus, they’re something else to collect that can actually be used, albeit typically in limited ways.
So I was overjoyed when I first started playing Marvel Heroes to discover not only that the game had a pet system but that pets actually had a purpose. Since then I’ve accumulated a half-dozen pint-sized pals and almost always had one of them out, even if Doctor Doom ended up giving Doom H.E.R.B.I.E. the stink-eye because of the pale imitation.
Today let’s talk about how you get pets and what they do for you!
It’s a running joke among MMO players that BlizzCon is bad for our wallets, not because we overindulge in murloc plushies but because resisting the allure of the resub is hard. Blizzard weaves a spell for two days straight, getting everyone pumped for World of Warcraft all over again, usually with promises of content and quality-of-life fixes that aren’t actually going to show up for another year.
But that nostalgia pull!
It’s a miracle that I didn’t cough up $15 this weekend, and were I not preoccupied with Heart of Thorns, I might have capitulated as I did last year and the years before that. I’d be dancing on a mailbox in Stormwind right now, is what I’m saying. Even MOP’s Justin Olivetti, who told me on this week’s podcast that he hasn’t played WoW hardcore since Wrath, said he was tempted to go back, even just for a moment.
How about you? Did BlizzCon make you want to resub to WoW? Did you preorder Legion and snag a freebie level 100, or are you more done than ever?
There are a lot of things that I really like about Final Fantasy XIV
, a fact that should come as a surprise to practically no one reading this column. This specific week, however, I’m happy that the game’s developers have a longstanding tradition of making the patch notes for large patches available well in advance of the actual patch. Sure, certain elements are omitted before the full notes, such as the recipes that could otherwise lead to widespread market inflation, but the gist of the notes are available in advance.
Patch 3.1 is no different, and as such I’ve had a couple of days to mull over the notes. The obvious big features like Void Ark and the exploratory missions are things to be discussed as the patch is actually played, and you know that’s going to be the subject of the column over the next few weeks. But some things can be analyzed just from the notes, and so I’m going to examine the notes, consider what we know, and rant about a colossally dumb decision that has been made.
I updated Lord of the Rings Online over the weekend, and as I was looking at the game in my Steam list, I was surprised that it showed over 400 hours logged. That’s just on Steam, too, and I’m sure I have three or four times that in total because I played heavily at launch and throughout 2007, well before I even started using Steam.
I doubt LOTRO is my most-played MMO, though, simply because of the crazy amount of life I wasted on Star Wars Galaxies back in the day!
What about you, MOP readers? Which MMO have you played the most? Can you estimate your total hours?