blogosphere

Exploring the psychology behind losses, gains, and grouping results in video games

Getting five batches of 100 gold feels better than one batch of 500 gold, and being forced to spend three separate 100 gold fees feels worse than one 300 gold fee. And that fee is likely to make all that 500 gold not feel like it mattered. You probably know all of that just from experience, but perhaps you’d like to see it in action with a new piece from the Psychology of Video Games blog discussing how grouping results (or intentionally not doing so) produces a different valuation of rewards.

To summarize quickly, we tend to prioritize losses as more important than gains, so losing 100 gold has a bigger impact than gaining 100 gold in our brains. However, both losses and gains have a certain point where we stop noticing them, so losing 1500 gold doesn’t feel much worse than losing 1300 gold. Thus, from a psychological standpoint, it makes sense to have losses come in big chunks and rewards come in several smaller chunks, so that each individual good thing gets evaluated separately while the bad stuff gets shuffled off faster. Read through the whole piece for a more thorough overview of why it works; it’s pretty interesting.

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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMO developer quotes of 2017

Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.

Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.

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Crowfall’s crafting looks more and more like Star Wars Galaxies’

Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.

For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!

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Wild West Online seems to be dropping FFA PvP in favor of faction-based PvP

Still bummed out about Wild West Online’s delay to 2018? Wait until you see the game’s latest dev blog! 612 Games doesn’t mention the delay but does go into detail about some of the bigger changes on the way.

For a start, the game seems to be shedding its free-for-all PvP stylings, as the developers are adding three factions. They’re saying it’s about roleplay flair, but as in other faction-based MMOs, you’ll be locked to grouping with just your same side, and you won’t be able to team kill – you’ll be able to fight just those on the other sides. That more or less puts an end to the game’s original plan to allow free-for-all PvP and looting hemmed in by merely a flimsy bounty system.

“Most Wanted Status is going to be removed from the game and replaced with other mechanics to prevent Kill On Sight style grieving,” 612 Games says. “So under no circumstances when you are killed will you lose your items except gold or quest/event related items such as relic artifacts etc.”

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Saga of Lucimia lays the foundation for a holiday alpha test

Forget cookies with Santa and New Year countdowns: Saga of Lucimia hopes that you’ll be too immersed in its next alpha test to care about real-life trivialities.

The team revealed that it will be running a ninth early access alpha test from December 22nd through January 5th, which is substantially longer than previous weekend tests. “There are a slew of new mechanics and features in place,” the team said, “and we will be doing a blog post closer to the date to let people know exactly what to expect while still leaving room for plenty of Easter eggs for our community to discover!”

Saga of Lucimia has been making a lot of news lately with its announcement of independent funding and the defense of a lack of in-game minimap or looking for dungeon tool. We’ve gotten in on the discussion here too, with both a soapbox and today’s podcast tackling the issues of immersion, inconvenience, and UI standards.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO needs a better music system – or any music system?

If you ask any Star Wars Galaxies veteran about the game’s most amazing features, I guarantee that the music and dance system will make the list, even if that player never picked up a slitherhorn to join in. There was just nothing comparable to a 20-man band playing in harmony while dancers synchronized their routines, and everyone was grateful for a musician who could whip out a nalargon for a tune while we waited for the shuttle.

That’s why it breaks my heart when I see articles like these gushing about the – I’ll say it – rudimentary music systems in Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV. The performances and events are thrilling, and I’m glad to see other bloggers finding joy in stumbling upon them! But these systems can’t hold a candle to what was standard fare as long ago as 2003 – never mind what a game community like Lord of the Rings Online’s can and does deliver on a daily basis. Imagine how these folks’ minds would be utterly blown by Weatherstock!

I’m glad even rudimentary music systems still exist in MMORPGs, but they can be so much more. Which MMO needs a better music system – or any music system?

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The Game Archaeologist: Vanguard Saga of Heroes

The significance of Vanguard’s development, release, long-running drama, second chance, and eventual closure should be of great interest not just to game historians but to everyone who plays MMOs, period. What happened with this game caused a huge fallout in the industry, and we are still feeling some of its effects even today.

As our own Bree once put it in her blog, “Vanguard’s implosion was a big deal at the time and marked the beginning of the post-World of Warcraft destruction of the industry that hobbled Age of Conan and Warhammer Online a few years later.”

While the crash and burn of Vanguard was a very well-known tale several years ago, I’m wondering if today there might be many who are quite unfamiliar with what happened to this unassuming title back around 2007. Let me put on my old fogey glasses and we shall begin!

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Massively Overthinking: Taking risks in MMORPGs

Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?

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Eleven resurfaces with an update on its Glitch remake

After over a year of silence, the volunteer team behind one of Glitch’s remakes has emerged for an update. Eleven’s team let the community know that while it hadn’t given up on resurrecting Tiny Speck’s unique MMO, it has been slow going.

“We’re still hard at work on this, but the current focus of development effort involves a bunch of server-side reliability and data consistency work which isn’t particularly shiny or fun to write about,” the team said. “Other eventual work involves recreating the locations (190 or so) that weren’t in the Tiny Speck asset release and figuring out the future of the client.”

Eleven’s team encouraged fans to hang out on the alpha forums for more up-to-date information and project announcements. Meanwhile, fellow Glitch reboot Children of Ur has been quiet ever since its last blog post back in May.

Source: Eleven

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Battle Bards Episode 110: Acoustic guitar

The Battle Bards are quite familiar with the power of the strummed guitar and lute, knowing that such simple instruments can bring down walls, devastate armies, and dethrone monarchs. But on their off days, acoustic guitars are simply pleasurable to hear and are sprinkled throughout many a-MMO’s soundtrack. It’s six-stringed serenity in the 110th episode of this podcast!

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 iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 110: Acoustic Guitar (or download it) now:

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Global Chat: Saying goodbye to Marvel Heroes

Few people are happy to see an MMO go down, especially in the manner that Marvel Heroes is going from a popular and well-liked game to a neglected title that’s been stripped of its relationship with the IP holder. A couple of MMO bloggers marked the somber occasion of the news with their own thoughts.

“Gazillion released the game as a steaming hot mess, but they diligently cleaned it up and made it a bright spot in the MMO world, particularly that they were at an intersection point between all of the Marvel characters,” said Parallel Context.

“Of all the MMOs I have played over the years, I never would have guessed this would be the first to go,” Occasional Hero wrote. “It’s never been one of my main games, but it’s always been something I come back to from time to time.”

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Massively Overthinking: What are you grateful for in the MMORPG genre?

I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the first time in my life this month, and it turns out that it’s freaking hard. Why? Because it’s humbling beyond belief. The list of things I need to be grateful for is endless. Even if I limit it to just Massively OP, I could go on thanking the writers all day. Instead of doing that again, this year I want to thank the spouses and roommates and SOs and other familial enablers of our writers, without whom this site probably would not exist. The reality is that in many cases, their love, support, financial maneuvering, and childcare behind the scenes allows us to keep writing. So thank you, to all of them – Paul, Joy, and Elaine especially – for helping us live this weird dream.

Now let’s turn it to the genre itself. What are you grateful for in the MMORPG genre?

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Ship of Heroes resurrects the crowd controller playstyle

Do you miss playing your Controller in City of Heroes? One of that game’s spiritual successors wants to resurrect the concept of a mez-happy superhero who throws down crowd control and status effects as a way to exert domination over a battlefield.

The Ship of Heroes team delved into crowd control powers in this week’s blog post, saying that mez abilities “make a game more complex and give players greater flexibility in how they defeat enemies.” The developers listed nine specific crowd control powers they are considering, with at least five of these being included for launch. These powers range from slows to sleeps, from confuse to terrify.

Even if mezzing isn’t your thing, there are always debuffs to toss onto enemies to make their defeat easier and buffs to share with allies to bolster your team. Fifteen examples of each type of debuff and buff powers were listed, which should be more than enough to spark your imagination as you think of what kind of hero you want to build when this game goes live.

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