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: When social play in MMOs is predatory by design

Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.

"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."

"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."

I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.

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Choose My Adventure: A high-level venture in WildStar

First and foremost, before I start talking about my last week of adventures in WildStar, I'd like to thank the developers for giving me an opportunity I rarely have in this column. Nine times out of ten the reality of the column means I don't get to actually see high-level play at all; I don't know that I'd classify this week's adventure as being indicative of the whole level cap experience, but it gives me a better picture of it than just sitting down at level 10 or whatever.

I'd also like to thank a friend for accompanying me up to the high-level portion of the game, since she was curious about it as well. Teamwork, people, that's what MMOs are all about.

When I originally played WildStar, I had in fact reached level cap and done a fair number of the initial crop of dailies during one of the earlier patches. Thus, my friend and I decided to unlock the Primal Matrix and head out to Arcterra, which was added too recently for either of us to have seen it in the past. Yes, that meant I wasn't going to be in an area going "oh, I remember this," but it meant that I'd have a good idea about that part of the endgame.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMOs have the best combat feedback?

I'm quite fond of 20XX, but I really hate the upgrades you can pick up in the game that eliminate hit stun. Sure, it means you don't get knocked back by things, but it also means you can easily overlook when you're taking damage until you explode. I consider that slightly less than a desirable outcome, you know?

MMOs, in general, do not have the same sort of combat feedback as platformers, but they can have similar problems. One of the problems I found in early versions of The Elder Scrolls Online was combat feeling floaty and devoid of impact, making it hard to tell if my attacks were actually making a difference. (That's no longer the case, I should note.) Similarly, I've always found Final Fantasy XI with its slow pace to give you a pretty clear picture of whether or not your attacks are landing and doing something; the answer might be "no," but at least you have an answer.

Of course, there are lots of different games with many different combat styles; TERA has excellent feedback about whether you're doing well in combat, with everything feeling like it has a solid impact, but the similarly designed WildStar sometimes feels devoid of a strong sense of impact. So let's turn the question over to you. Which MMOs have the best combat feedback? Which games are great about making you feel like you're hitting something and causing an impact, and which ones leave you unsure?

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark -- and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week's roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

"The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down," The Ancient Gaming Noob said. "The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place."

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: "That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion."

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World's combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it's hard to go back to the "olden days," deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Battle Bards Episode 94: Drakensang Online

Do you find the German language to be inherently terrifying? Then you’re going to love the soundtrack to this German MMORPG! Actually, it’s quite lovely and a diamond in the rough, at least according to some of the Battle Bards. Today’s episode ventures into territory marked by a drakensang — a “dragon’s song” — and emerges refreshed and renewed.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 94: Drakensang Online (or download it) now:

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Tamriel Infinium: Battlegrounds will change Elder Scrolls Online PvP forever

I've read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild -- including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are... coming. And that's it. This really surprised me. It's superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn't changing the formula -- or the battlegrounds really aren't anything to write home about.

If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler's word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they're a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it's actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.

Battlegrounds aren't perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let's take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.

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The Daily Grind: How should MMOs repurpose older content?

Recently World of Warcraft introduced Mists of Pandaria timewalking dungeons, which allowed me (believe it or not) to experience these dungeons for the very first time. What can I say? I wasn't there for this era.

I actually think that the whole timewalking concept is pretty neat because it always bugs me that MMOs seem to abandon older content when they keep adding new zones, new dungeons, and new expansions. There's so much potential to reuse areas and systems, and one would think that such repurposing would be cost-effective for the dev team as well.

What do you think? How should MMOs repurpose older content? What would you like to see happen with the long-neglected areas in your game?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 108: PAX East power-up

As Massively OP is on the scene at PAX East this year, we've got plenty of juicy news and interviews to discuss on the show! What game is coming to console this year? What secret is Eliot hiding? Which MMO just got a name change? Find out in today's episode!

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.

Listen to the show right now:

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Guild Chat: Dealing with MMORPG guild inactivity

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered community gets together to help crack guild problems presented by readers in need of assistance. In this edition, we're going to take a slightly different spin on things and deal with two thematically linked reader submissions in one article since both readers have requested help with inactive guilds. My first submission from an anonymous reader asks a very simple question of us: What can be done to save a guild that is dying from inactivity? Our second submission comes from reader Razornus and looks at the matter from the perspective of a guild member rather than a leader, so we can discuss both sides of the coin and determine the best course of action for both types of player.

See below for each reader's full submission and leave your specific advice for both parties in the comments.

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PAX East 2017: The Elder Scrolls Online's battlegrounds are exactly that

My absolute first appointment at PAX East 2017 was to stop by The Elder Scrolls Online display to check out the new battlegrounds coming up with the game's Morrowind expansion. This should not have been difficult to do, but it was made quite difficult by unnecessarily awful traffic. Seriously, it was bumper-to-bumper through long stretches of the Mass Pike, despite the fact that there was barely any snow falling and no road accumulation. I was a little bit late, in fact.

Why am I telling you this story? Because the reality is that it's the most interesting story that I have beyond the title line.

I don't mean to imply that I was disappointed by The Elder Scrolls Online's battleground gameplay because I wasn't. It was solid! I would go so far as to say it was exactly what your mind pictures when you put the game's title and "battleground" into the same sentence. The problem with describing it is just... well, again, it's exactly what your mind pictures. It is a battleground, and it is in The Elder Scrolls Online. That's it.

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The Daily Grind: What were you disappointed to not hear about from PAX East?

As the man on the ground at PAX East this year (and every year), I bear the brunt of your displeasure if there was something I straight-up did not attend or cover. If you were really hoping to hear about Quake or Mass Effect: Andromeda or Whatever Other Non-MMO Games Were On The Floor I Wasn't Keeping Close Track from me, all I can do is shrug and apologize for disappointing you. I had the appointments I had, and I did the best I could with what I could actually be told.

Of course, this is more about what you were disappointed about that specifically swirled around the soul. Were you disappointed by the lack of an on-hand demo for TERA's console version? The non-presence of DC Universe Online? A dearth of new announcements for Conan Exiles or The Secret World? What were you disappointed to not hear about from PAX East? Were there specific games or studios that you feel didn't offer enough if anything to convention-goers?

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PAX East 2017: Introducing Rend, a three-way survival sandbox from Frostkeep Studios

I don't really like survival games, typically -- I understand why a lot of people do like them, don't get me wrong, but I don't care for them myself, for a whole forest of reasons. To make a survival game that I want to play, you have to really come at the genre from a side angle, which can be hard to do while retaining the things that people like about the genre.

At this early juncture, I can't say that Rend (official site) will do all of that. But I can say that the groundwork is in place for something that might be worth getting excited about.

I was incredibly fortunate to be granted one of the first meetings with Frostkeep Studios and a first look at Rend itself, in a conspiratorial PAX meeting on the second floor of a fish restaurant on the Boston piers. It felt a bit as if I were being shown something that should not be seen, some artifact of great power that had been hidden away from prying eyes. Perhaps that's as it should be.

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What ever happened to Darkfall, Fallen Earth, and Runes of Magic?

It bears repeating that here on Massively OP, we cover an immensely wide field of live games -- so many that it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of what's happening in each one (which is why our readers are invaluable in winging us tips about their favorite MMOs!). And while there's never any shortage of news and happenings in the field of MMORPGs as a whole, once in a while we realize that it's been a good long time since we heard anything about certain games that we used to discuss a lot in the past.

When that happens to me, I'll often head off on a little fool's errand to scout the website, Twitter feed, forums, and Reddit to see what's going on. I hate to be out of the loop on games, especially ones that used to be more prominent in the news, but more often than not, the lack of news is because there's been a lack of news.

You ever caught yourself going, "What ever happened to the original Darkfall? Or Runes of Magic? Or Fallen Earth?" I totally have, which is why I went on expeditions to see what I could uncover. So let's catch up with these three games and see what is up!

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