column

Wisdom of Nym: Actual mechanical issues for jobs in Final Fantasy XIV, part one

There are a lot of people who are quick to complain about issues with their personal favorite jobs in Final Fantasy XIV. No matter what job you’re playing, there are people that will eagerly point out all of the screamingly wrong things with the job whilst completely ignoring how well the jobs actually do work together. When you can seriously clear stuff with anything, someone is doing something right, and that’s why a lot of the complaints come down to “well, I don’t like it, so it’s bad.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the game’s jobs are devoid of mechanical issues. They’re pretty well balanced at the moment (not perfectly, but acceptably so), but each job does have certain mechanical issues that are probably going to need to wait until the next expansion to really be properly fixed up. So, while that next expansion is probably a bit more than a year away now (June 2019, I’d imagine), let’s take a look at the actual mechanical issues facing all 15 jobs.

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Whatever happened to Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately? That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing!

In this special pirate edition of the column, we’ll be visiting the fates ‘n’ fortunes of Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates. Yo ho!

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WoW Factor: How could multiclassing work in World of Warcraft?

Not so long ago, our editor-in-chief was talking about how World of Warcraft needs some form of multiclassing system. So let’s talk about how the game could do that, yes? That’s something we haven’t talked about.

It’s actually one of those weird things that has, for various reasons, never actually come up at all as a promised feature of any sort, especially as the various specs within a class have become more and more diversified. In the earliest days, an Enhancement Shaman and an Elemental Shaman both had the same tools and had talents to emphasized different ones; these days, they share a minority of abilities and mostly get their own unique kit. You can swap between specs pretty freely, but not between classes.

But that’s not to say we couldn’t get some form of multi-classing. Heck, it felt like the various spec-bending talents for Druids were already halfway toward this sort of support, and Druids themselves sort of lean into the direction of multiple classes under one roof. So with absolutely no indication that such a feature has ever been seriously discussed beyond fan theories, let’s look at how this could work in World of Warcraft.

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Chaos Theory: Do you need to sub to enjoy Secret World Legends?

A question I am asked quite a bit about free-to-play games is whether or not one needs to sub to really play. It is a fair question: We’ve got enough examples in the industry where not subbing can cripple you to the point that it is less than no fun and not worth even trying to play. So how about Secret World Legends? You’ve heard how great that story is and your interest is piqued, but you’ve been burned before. Do you need to pay for patron status to have a worthwhile experience playing? No. And yes.

The answer actually depends on what you want from the game and your preferred style of play. Can you play SWL and have a blast immersed in the amazing atmosphere and story without paying a dime? Absolutely! To get the most out of the game if you play more hardcore, however, you definitely want to become a patron.

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Perfect Ten: The tabletop GMs behind MMOs

One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.

Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.

I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.

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Wisdom of Nym: What cosmetic features could other jobs get in Final Fantasy XIV?

About a month back, I got a comment in this column with an absolutely spectacular question. We’ve got two cosmetic systems that basically only concern two jobs in the game, Bards and Summoners. What could other jobs get for similar systems, stuff that’s going to be fun to play with but wouldn’t actually affect any sort of gameplay?

This question almost immediately struck me as marvelous, because one of the things I love about Final Fantasy XIV is its attention to detail with stuff like this. A music system can be added to the game that only works for Bards, because that’s a thing Bards do and you can just be a Bard if you want to. So why shouldn’t other jobs get similar toys?

It was also the first time that I’d really thought about egi glamours as being in the same category, and that category has somewhat suffered from a lack of updates lately. So let’s talk about these sorts of enhancements, more character options for out-of-combat customization.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 2

Probably the most challenging aspect of creating a “top 32” list of the best World of Warcraft music isn’t coming up with a track list. Heck, that’s the easy part, considering how many great tunes Blizzard’s composers have added to this MMO over the years. No, the difficult job is taking those 32 tracks and then ranking them as part of a countdown.

What makes one track better than another? Do I go by perceived popularity or by my own preferences (hint: I went with the latter while remaining influenced by the former). Is it a slight to put tracks further down on the list? What happens when we count down to the number one spot… and still haven’t included a track that a fan considers essential to such a list?

I’ll have to get over these worries and fears. That’s on me. For your part, all you need to do is enjoy the next batch of World of Warcraft’s best tunes as we travel through the 20s!

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The Game Archaeologist: BBS door games

When you think of MMORPGs, I wouldn’t blame you if your mind stayed rooted firmly in the past decade or so, perhaps taking a brief vacation to 1997 before returning to today’s 3-D polygonal glory. But it’s not like people just woke up in the late 90’s, looked at each other, and said, “Hmm. Online multiplayer RPGs. Let’s make it happen!”

On the contrary, history had been building up to that moment for quite some time. Tabletop RPGs and computer MUDs (multi-user dungeons) were both important ancestors of modern MMOs, just as was a mostly forgotten piece of software lore: the bulletin board system, also known as the BBS.

In layman’s terms, BBSes were like pocket internets — host computers that allowed anyone to dial up and use special programs remotely. While BBSes weren’t (initially) tied together like the world wide web, they featured a lot of the elements that would make the world wide web so popular, such as email, forums, and, yes, online games.

Today’s special Game Archaeologist will take a brief look at the history of the BBS, as well as a couple of its games that could be considered “MORPGs” (the “massively” part would be a while in coming). Dial up, gentle readers, and make your hissing modem noises!

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WoW Factor: First impressions of allied race leveling in World of Warcraft

Last week, I wrote about the addition of allied races without having actually gotten to play around with them much. You have to understand that at some point in the past I angered an elder deity of some sort, a fact which I myself was not previously aware of, but which remains the only real way to explain World of Warcraft releasing its pre-orders on the same day that my other game of choice released a major update which demanded my attention.

Or it was just bad luck, but “angered the gods” feels like a more all-encompassing explanation of same.

The bright side, though, is that it meant I finally had a chance to experience both big new things at the same time, enjoying the worldwide level scaling at the same time as I was enjoying my new allied race characters. So now that we’ve talked a little bit about the conceptual side of things, let’s talk about the actual leveling experience beyond the first unlocks.

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The Survivalist: ARK’s latest exploit highlights how cheaters ruin official servers

Let’s talk exploits. And no, this is definitely not a how-to guide! For shame! If you are a person who exploits, a pox on you. No, we are going to discuss how exploits — and more importantly, how those exploits are handled — can seriously harm, if not irreparably damage, a survival game.

This exact principle was highlighted this week with Studio WildCard’s announcement and its accompanying emergency update for ARK: Survival Evolved. I applaud the studio for jumping on the fix, even when it meant a surprise major version change that locked folks out of unofficial servers until they updated. However, how the exploit and the exploiters were handled is a different matter. In survival sandbox games, cheaters can ruin the long-term experience for the entire server, as does the subsequent action (or inaction) against those cheaters.

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Perfect Ten: RIFT features that deserve praise

Maybe it will be short-lived, but it is exciting to see attention and excitement return to the sphere of RIFT following the announcement of the upcoming Prime server ruleset. I’ve gone from not thinking much of this title in my absence to somewhat missing it to absolutely craving it within the span of a week, and I’m sure that’s only going to get worse.

Seeing friends and commenters talk about RIFT has reminded me of just how many incredible features and qualities this MMO has. Sure, it’s made a lot of missteps and just about nobody really loves the business model, but there is a genuinely good game here that has a feature set that most MMOs could only dream about having on the back of the box.

So whether you’re thinking about returning to RIFT this spring or perhaps taking it up for the first time, here are 10 features from the game that I feel deserve public kudos.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: My Guild Wars 2 goals for 2018

It’s the time of year for spring-cleaning and goal-setting, where we look ahead to a fresh start filled with plenty of days left for accomplishing all the things we didn’t quite get around to in the previous year. I love taking stock of my yearly MMO progress, especially in Guild Wars 2, and using that reflection to form some new goals to keep my focus and make things challenging in the year ahead. I’ve decided to share my 2018 GW2 to-do list with you all in the hope that it might inspire you to create one yourself.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll explain my 2018 goals. Some of my goals are far more ambitious than others, while a few on my list are simply continuations of goals I set for myself year-on-year. I never truly aim to complete my entire list, but it does serve as a fantastic point of reference for times when I feel a little directionless or restless and need some inspiration. Don’t forget to share your goals with me in the comments; who knows, perhaps some of your goals would be added to my list too!

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EVE Evolved: A matter of balance in EVE Online

Throughout its almost 15-year lifetime, EVE Online has walked a fine line between developing new features and iterating on existing gameplay. Development has to push forward on new features to keep the game fresh and attract new players, but balance issues can emerge in existing gameplay that equally make the game stale or less enjoyable. CCP Games hasn’t always responded to these issues in a timely manner, at times leaving known balance issues in the game for months or even years because development resources weren’t available to tackle those specific issues.

This strategy has been challenged recently by Council of Stellar Management member Jin’taan in his article “Balance is not optional,” in which he argues that CCP shouldn’t even be making balance changes compete for development time with other features. Player Capri Sun KraftFoods followed up with a look at EVE‘s modular item attribute system, arguing that almost any balance change can be implemented quickly and easily just by tweaking the right attributes. Could it be that easy to iterate on EVE‘s frequent balance issues, or does the nature of the game necessitate caution?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the case for quicker iterative updates on balance issues, look at some of the challenges with balancing a game like EVE, and look at CCP’s new balance team.

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