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: Star Wars The Old Republic’s mid-term report card

You would probably expect me to cover the new Star Wars: The Old Republic Manaan stronghold because it just released yesterday, and indeed, I will be covering that in my livestream with MJ this afternoon. But if you came here for my elevator-pitch impressions of the new stronghold, I can only say that it is mixed. There are some really great things about the new stronghold and some really bad things about the new stronghold; the base would have a bigger impact if there were visuals connected with it. I will lay that all out in the livestream with MJ.

Here, I would like to give my impressions of where Star Wars: The Old Republic sits in the middle of the year. As always, I like to use the Bartle Taxonomy to see how it appeals to different types of players. Bartle’s archetypes are Socializers, Achievers, Explorers, and Killers. I’ll get more into the details of what that all means in a bit. No one will fit any one of these archetypes 100%, but people will tend to lean heavily into one category or another.

Massively OP writers took a test based on Bartle’s Taxonomy a while back, and although it doesn’t cover everything that players are interested in, I believe it gives a good impression of what players of MMORPGs are looking for. Below, I have pulled apart the key features that each archetype is looking for in SWTOR and measured them with a letter grade scale.

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Perfect Ten: EverQuest’s EverExpanding franchise

When Daybreak announced last year that it was cancelling the highly anticipated EverQuest Next project, the series’ forward momentum lurched to a halt. This wasn’t helped by other EverQuest entities that have been retired over the past few years, leaving only the two aging flagship MMOs to carry on the legacy of the franchise.

For franchise it is. It might be fuzzy in people’s memories (or simply absent from them), but there was an era where EverQuest was the MMORPG at the top of everything, and Sony Online Entertainment wasted no time in capitalizing on its popularity. Spin-offs, sequels, and alternative versions spawned into being, creating a library of EverQuest games.

In fact, there are more than enough to fill up a full list of 10 titles — and then some! So today let’s look at some of the lesser-known entries in EverQuest’s ever-expanding franchise and muse about what might come to this series in the future.

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The Daily Grind: What MMORPG would do better with a different business model?

When it comes to ArcheAge, it’s generally accepted that this is a pretty great fantasy sandbox that was absolutely sunk by a terrible business model (and a few other regrettable studio choices). The topic keeps popping up among that community over whether or not a subscription-only server would do a lot better today.

Switching business models is something many MMOs experiment with from time to time. We’ve certainly seen many subscription games go free-to-play, and Secret World Legends recently restarted with a F2P model instead of B2P.

Looking at the vast array of MMOs out there, which game do you think would do better if it had a different business model? You could even argue here to modify the extent of the current business model to something, say, less pay-to-win or restrictive.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 126: Firefall gets extinguished

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree mourn the passing of Firefall, find out what’s behind Tibia’s secret door, muse about World of Warcraft’s next expansion, and more!

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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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s living world season 3 in review

The Guild Wars 2 story arc found in the Living World’s third season has contained more twists and surprises than even I had anticipated, and I feel that an in-depth recap of the season to date will help keep the meandering threads of lore fresh in our heads as we await the final episode of the season. Although I have an extensive back catalogue of episode deep dives for those who want more detailed information, I felt the need to summarise the key events of the season in one place for simplicity’s sake, especially since that last episode will be upon us relatively soon if the usual ArenaNet content release cadence is anything to go by.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, you’ll find a complete summary of the Living World season so far, complete with links to more in-depth coverage of each episode for those who perhaps missed a little story along the way. Remember to log into the game to bank the current episode, Flashpoint, while it’s live to save the need for a gem purchase down the line.

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The Daily Grind: How long does it take you to know an MMO’s not for you?

During my long car trips a few weeks back, I filled some of my hours in the passenger seat testing mobile games. Ahead of time, I downloaded something like 40 or 50 new-to-me games that looked interesting, then on the ride I just started logging into each one, thumbing around to get a feel for whether I thought it was something I’d like for a minute or two, then logging back out again. I’d say nine out of ten I then immediately deleted, having snap-judged they didn’t make the cut. Call it speed dating for mobile app testing, but I feel like when I know, I know.

For MMORPGs, I don’t do this so much. For starters, the barrier to play is usually much higher, so I wouldn’t download 50 iffy-looking MMOs to begin with. And while my personal threshold for “how long I need to play to give anything like a legitimate review” is much higher, I suspect I probably “know” whether it’s something I will want to keep playing myself after 20 minutes, not one. The difference is I’ll probably try that same MMO again in the future after some iterations just in case my first judgment is wrong (because hey, MMOs usually improve with age!). Mobile games, not so much.

How long must you play an MMO to know for sure it’s not currently for you?

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Wisdom of Nym: Diving into Omega in Final Fantasy XIV

It’s kind of ironic that Omega may be the first time in Final Fantasy XIV where the eponymous foe is our actual antagonist. The Binding Coil of Bahamut and Alexander both featured the named Primals, but in both cases we weren’t really picking apart anything they did; Bahamut was just doing what came naturally while Allagan devices prodded at him, and Alexander was essentially fulfilling something that had already happened. Omega, on the other hand, is aware of us and not our biggest fan to begin with.

I wound up powering through the entirety of Omega’s normal mode on the same day it was released, somewhat to my surprise. (It was a bit of a highlight.) Obviously, not everything is going to be clear on just one playthrough, but now that we’ve gotten our first week or so with our new high-end endgame stuff, it seems like a good chance to pick apart what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth considering with this new raid. Both in terms of story and mechanics, I might note.

Please note, of course, that there may be minor spoilers within. There’s nothing that gives away big chunks of plot, but if you haven’t yet done Omega and really want to remain wholly unspoiled… tread lightly.

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The Daily Grind: How do you solve a problem like Maria (in MMOs)?

OK, so there’s no Maria, but I’m pretty sure everyone has that one guildie who is basically a goofball, screw-around, flibbertigibbet Leeroy. And yes that’s how you spell flibbertigibbet. I looked it up!

My guild has a guy — no names because I adore him anyway, and he knows who he is — who is famously fond of stopping a whole raid dead in its tracks by jumping into lava just to see what happens. I was in World of Warcraft one time helping his character and AFKed while following him to go make tea… only to come back and find he’d run me off a cliff in Horde territory. (I deserved it, he joked later, because I copped to boiling my tea water in the microwave. This is apparently a serious offense in England.)

But that time he took his mage and rushed straight into a raid boss to pull it, forcing us to abandon our carefully laid plans and wing it? I was laughing, I admit, but some of our more uptight raiders weren’t amused.

Does your guild have a Maria/Leeroy, and how do you keep him or her in check, enjoying the antics and spontaneous fun without going totally bonkers? How do you convince a prankster guildie to take anything seriously in a video game?

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EVE Evolved: Does EVE Online need more conflict-drivers?

Of all the terminology associated with EVE Online, the one thing that’s always made me a bit uncomfortable is to hear players describe PvP as “generating content.” It’s an oddly sterile euphemism that seemed to surface years ago during the era of the blue donut when large alliances organised faux wars for the entertainment of their restless troops, and it doesn’t sit right with me. PvP in EVE is supposed to be about real conflict for solid reasons, not generating content for its own sake. It’s about smashing a gang of battleships into a pirate blockade to get revenge, suicide ganking an idiot for transporting PLEX in a frigate, or forcibly dismantling another alliance’s station because you just hate them so much.

EVE PvP can be visceral and highly personal, not just something fun to do or a game of strategy but a way to settle old grudges and punish people for whatever the hell you want. World War Bee was a brutal mix of Machiavellian politics and massive fleets of highly motivated players coming together, not just for some fun gameplay but to try and completely annihilate the goons. So what the hell happened? Why are so many people sitting in nullsec fortresses and farming ISK, building huge capital fleets and complaining about the “lack of content” in PvP today? Does EVE‘s conflict engine need a tune-up?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the factors limiting real conflict in EVE today and suggest three possibly controversial changes that would drive further conflict in New Eden.

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The Daily Grind: Do veteran rewards make you more likely to subscribe to an MMO?

I believe I’ve gone on the record before as saying I rather like veteran rewards. It’s nice to know that subscribing to Final Fantasy XIV for long enough (and with the newest campaigns, during the right periods of time) results in cool stuff coming my way. But I was thinking about it the other day, and the reality is that I would still be subscribed without any sort of veteran rewards. The veteran rewards are, ultimately, nothing more than fluff.

That got me thinking about other games with similar setups, like City of Heroes and its elaborate reward matrix with its free-to-play design or the various subscription rewards for Star Trek Online. I may like the rewards, but I can’t say that any of the rewards actually influence my subscription in a meaningful fashion. Either I want to subscribe or I don’t; the extra doodads don’t motivate me in any way. They’re just a nice benefit to doing something I was already planning to do.

Maybe that’s the reason why games like World of Warcraft still have no subscriber rewards, simply because the effort in putting them together won’t actually produce more subscribers. What do you think? Do veteran rewards make you more likely to subscribe to an MMO?

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The Game Archaeologist: Where are all of the open-source MMOs?

Recently we had an interesting question come in from reader and Patron Rasmus Praestholm, who asked me to do a little investigating: “What (if anything of substance) exists in the MMO field that’s not only free, but open source? The topic of open source came up briefly in a recent column, where Ryzom was noted to have gone open source at some point. But have any serious efforts actually gotten anywhere starting out as open source?”

As some graphical MMORPGs pass the two-decade mark in video game history and are being either cancelled or retired to maintenance mode, it’s an increasingly important topic when it comes to keeping these games alive. Not only that, the question of open source MMOs involves the community in continued development, with the studio handing over the keys to an aging car to see what can be done by resourceful fans.

But has anything much been done with open source projects in the realm of MMORPGs? Is this something that we should be demanding more of as online gaming starts using more accessible platforms such as SpatialOS? Let’s dig a bit into this topic and see what we turn up.

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The Daily Grind: How do you handle interest in multiple MMOs?

Friends and readers know that I have a serious issue with being overwhelmed in all of the MMORPG options out there. I keep wanting to play, well, everything, because there are so many interesting games out there and the online, constantly developing nature of MMOs means that if I’m not playing them now, I’ll keep falling behind. At least, that’s how it feels.

So I’ve worked on strategies for how to handle interest in multiple MMOs, henceforth known as “juggling.” Recently I came to the conclusion that I can handle about a three-game rotation at a time without going too nuts and losing all focus.

Assuming that you are looking at more than one game at a time, how do you handle that? Do you have a schedule, copious amounts of time, or are content to get around to playing a little here and there when the opportunity presents itself?

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Betawatch: Albion Online gets ramped up for launch (July 7, 2017)

It’s really just about time for Albion Online to launch, isn’t it? Less than two weeks to go, now, so the title is winding down its beta on July 9th in anticipation. That also means certain founder packs will no longer be sold after Sunday. There’s a big beta finale planned, though, so don’t worry that it’ll pass without incident.

Of course, betas on a whole aren’t hitting any sort of finale. Look, we’ve got more news about them just below.

And yes, Virginia, there is a list of games in testing just below. Did something slip into a new test phase or tacitly launch without telling us? Then please, let us know in the comments. Or talk about betas you’re involved with, that’s also cool.

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