ask mo

Ask Mo is Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce’s designated spot for answering letters to the editor. Have a question for the team? Send it in! [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]

Massively OP’s 2016 awards debrief and annual recap

As we did in 2014 and 2015, today I’m going to recap our annual awards and other meta articles from the end of 2016. We gave out 19 formal awards this past year, seven of them more or less new to the site and proposed by readers, all in addition to dozens of other recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. It was easily our biggest content dump to date, and I’m pretty proud of it. In fact, I’m already planning December 2017!

Following our deep-dive into our awards and the attached reader polls, I’ll be recapping all of the end-year articles in one convenient place in case you missed something over the holidays. This sucker’s gonna be long. Let’s do this.

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Ask Mo: Scoring last year’s Massively OP MMORPG predictions

As we do every year, today we’re going to squint back a year, into the depths of a Massively Overthinking from the tail end of 2015 when we issued our predictions for 2016. Sure, sure, it’s a little unfair since we usually egg each other on to make wild and bold assertions for the fun of it — plus that makes the hits all the sweeter — but all the same: Did we nail it or fail it?

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Ask Mo: Was Star Wars Galaxies really that great?

This round of Ask Mo features a question from BalsBigBrother that I’ve shamelessly poached from the Massively OP Podcast mailbag. The truth is, we’ve put this question off for many, many months because the answer is more complicated than a couple of minutes of chatter can address. Besides, what better time than what should’ve been Star Wars Galaxies’ 13th birthday?

“Was Star Wars Galaxies really that good, or was it simply the lack of choice that made people stick with it and form their attachments? After putting so much time into it, were they loath to give it up and simply smoothed over any faults in their memories since its closure? I have heard Bree talk about the deep and involved progression that the game had, but was it really fun? Take, for example, MJ’s entertainer: If all that progression boils down to is your character standing in place performing the dance moves over and over to raise an arbitrary number so you can then get a few more moves and keep on standing in place performing dance moves, is that actually fun? Or was it just a waster of time that would have been better spent elsewhere? Would a game like SWG be able to survive in today’s market place? I have a feeling that a lot of people are wanting more active involved mechanics with which to spend their gaming time, and watching progress bars or arbitrary numbers increase on a character page is not going to cut it anymore.”

Yeah. It really was that good.

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Ask Mo: Re-reviewing MMORPGs and birthday shenanigans

Mo’s been collecting letters to the editor for me to address in Ask Mo for the past month or two, and this one from longtime Massively OP community member Siphaed keeps floating to the top:

“Why is it that MMOs get a one-and-done review within a month of a game’s release date? With the way these games are persistent living worlds that keep changing, updating, and evolving over time, shouldn’t there be follow up reviews? Would this not be better for potential customers of these game as well as individuals who are searching sites for reviews and only come across ancient ones that don’t reflect the more recent state of the product? This would also allow a better reflection of the game’s post-launch condition as normal standing. The chaos that ensues with a game’s launch could throw of customers for good without further review down the road. Servers, overpopulation, down time, patches, and so on. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect launch.”

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Ask Mo: Massively OP’s 2015 awards debrief

Massively OP’s formal 2015 awards technically ended on Friday, though we’ve got a few stragglers and roundups left to go. As I do every year, today I’ll round up all the awards in one place, discuss the thought process behind the selections, and compare our staff votes to the popular votes (which are still technically ongoing for another week). Follow along for a deep-dive into our 2015 awards!

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Ask Mo: The absurd advantages of MMO guilds

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.

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Ask Mo: The state of Massively Overpowered

Ask Mo is back, and today Mo and I are answering a few meta questions about Massively OP itself. Our first question is from long-time supporter Pierre:

Hello guys! I’ve been worrying for a long time now about something. I think I know the answer to my question, but I wanted to be sure because MOP is such a great website and I feel you’re in your element with the freedom you get from running the site yourself, and I don’t want to see the site disappear in the near future. So my question basically is: How does it go financially? Can the site live on with all the incomes from the Patreon (not much but normal for Patreon) and from advertising? Do you need another Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign?

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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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Ask Mo: Why MMORPGs still need traditional chat

I dug this intriguing question out of our brimming-over letters-to-the-editor bin, and it’s particularly timely given the recent launch of Wander, notable for its curious glyph-based chat and language system. Massively-that-was reader NerdWithABigStick wrote in to ask about MMO chat, calling back the decision made by the devs of Divinity: Original Sin to shut down global chat within a few minutes of launch.

This resonated with me. The first thing I do when joining a game is seek out general chat and immediately turn it off. It’s only in the last six years or so that I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of “snark” in chat. There was definitely a time when chat was fun, helpful, and yes, even entertaining. People shared their positive excitement, and while the occasional asshole did show up, it was the exception, not the norm. That time is long gone, sadly. After working a full day at the office and signing in to a game that I am loving, the very last thing I want to do is to have that happiness and the joy of the experience ruined by reading negative remarks and armchair designer opinions full of Family Guy-style “humor” and poop-slinging. So I’ve gotten into the habit of turning those channels off, sometimes even hiding the chat window entirely.

So I keep wondering whether more game studios, particularly MMO studios, will ever embrace D:OS’s attitude? Will they ever say, “You know what, this really isn’t helping our game — or our community — at all. It’s not adding anything to the game experience or the social experience. In fact it’s detracting from both. Let’s shut it off.”

Heck, I hope not!

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Ask Mo: The trouble with roleplaying in MMORPGs

Long ago on Massively-that-was, a reader named Avaera sent in a long list of fabulous questions worth addressing. I’m tackling another in today’s edition of Ask Mo:

Would you welcome a large scale roleplaying-enforced MMORPG? One where you simply have to interact with other players in-character? One of the things that I miss most from the transition from playing MUDs to playing MMOs is the lack of memorable characters who chose to take on unique roles in our virtual societies. Most big-budget MMORPGs have great tools for player communication and cooperation, but the “role” part of RPG usually equates to the job or skills that you as the player will bring to a combat encounter. I’d love to see what a game is like in which you have to play as your character in all aspects. Just to be clear, I don’t mean using “thees” and “thous” or sitting in a pub and emoting but rather gradually crafting a virtual persona through your gameplay decisions and interactions with other characters (both enemy and ally alike). Is there a big-budget MMORPG out there already that has been designed from the ground up for mandatory in-character play, and I’ve just never heard of it?

I can think of only one, and that’s a damn shame. And it’s not even out yet.

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Ask Mo: Jobs in the MMO industry, jobs in MMOs

Today, we’re reintroducing our general MMO advice column, here named Ask Mo: the column where you ask Mo questions, and he… lets me answer them for him because he doesn’t talk, see. That’s his thing. The first question is an oldie but goodie that arrived in our inbox recently:

I have always been a huge fan of MMOs, since the original days of EverQuest. I grew up, went to college and eventually got into the video game industry proper where I worked in QA. I have recently had to leave the industry to do what’s best for my family, but my passion goes unfulfilled: I never got to work on an MMO. I am limited in that I cannot leave my current location, but I still want to try to work with the MMO industry. My skill set largely revolves around project management and people management, so I don’t know what I could work toward doing in the MMO world. What I was hoping for was perhaps to glean some of your great knowledge of the MMO circles to perhaps provide some direction, some hope that I may still be able to get there some day.

Flee, flee for your lives!

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