community discussion

The Daily Grind: Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

If you’ve been playing MMOs long enough, you’ve probably lived through at least one sunset of a beloved game world. In fact, I bet most of you were personally affected by more than one. I sure have been. I also bet you’ve had to wade through your share of “let it go” trolling across the internet whenever you mention it from people who either haven’t been affected or weren’t that attached to the game worlds, their characters, and their fellow players as you were.

All that said, there are some games I’ve said goodbye to that didn’t hit me as hard as they should’ve. For example, while I consider Asheron’s Call an extremely important MMO and loved it in its day, I knew how tiny it was and had already watched its sequel sunset once, so the final curtain didn’t bring tears to my eyes. By contrast, there have been other MMOs cruelly cut down in their content prime, and those gutted me so much more.

Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

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The Daily Grind: Are there MMO characters you don’t want to play but wouldn’t delete?

My primary servers on World of Warcraft are easy to spot, because they both have a dozen characters on them. Then there are a few other servers with single characters left there. These are characters I haven’t played in years, characters I no longer wish to play, but ones I keep around just because. Some of them just look really unexpectedly nice, some of them have the advantage of familiarity, and one of them is an Orc Warrior named Grignr.

If you don’t understand why that’s important, a bit of searching will explain.

Anyhow, none of these characters factor into my playing or overall plans; they’re just characters I can’t bring myself to discard. So what about you, dear readers? Are there MMO characters you don’t want to play but also can’t bring yourself to delete? The sort that will forever sit there, unneeded for play, but making you happy by their mere continued existence in some small way?

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The Daily Grind: What skills would you like to see added to MMOs?

One of the features that captivates and draws players to Project Gorgon is the quirky indie MMO’s design of infusing the game with a wide and bizarre assortment of skills that you don’t typically see in other online RPGs. After all, this is a game that includes such skills as Flower Arrangement, Beast Speech, Psychology, Civic Pride, Holistic Wellness, Poetry Appreciation, and Howling.

It has me excited because I’ve grown tired of what I see as a limited skill set that inhabits most combat-centric MMOs. I want games to remember their pen-and-paper roots and come up with skills that go beyond “the best and fastest way to murder.” And if that takes the form of poetry, then so be it.

If you were able to add skills to an MMO, what would they be? What skills would enhance your gameplay experience and make your title that much more interesting and immersive?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.

“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”

I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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The Daily Grind: Would you cheat in an MMO if you could get away with it?

A friend of mine in Final Fantasy XI cheated at one point in a way no one was ever going to find out. He bought some gil, because the economy in that game was honestly a mess (thanks in no small part to a concentrated effort by a small part of the Japanese playerbase), which meant that he could buy more stuff without as much tedious farming. But no one was really ever going to get him for it; the developers were more concerned with finding the people selling gil, not buying it, and the only people who knew were people who had not intent of selling him out.

They say, of course, that character is what you do in the dark. Flashy, obvious cheating is the sort of thing you can wind up getting banned for. But what if you could cheat in such a way that either no one would ever find out or you knew you would never face consequences for it? Would you cheat in an MMO if you could get away with it? Or would you still consider it just plain dirty pool?

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The Daily Grind: Which game is the best MMO ambassador?

The other day I was listening to a podcast in which the host was making a case that Final Fantasy XIV was one of the best MMO ambassadors out there right now. That is, it was a “gateway” title that served to lure in and introduce players to MMORPGs who might not otherwise ever try them.

I’ve heard this concept bandied about before, and honestly, I like it. I think it’s important to make converts of outside players to keep the MMO community from getting too stale and complacent. We need new lifeblood to keep these games from dying out, and even past that, if we love these games and see their virtue, we’ll want to introduce a friend or family member to what makes them special!

So which game do you think makes for the best MMO ambassador? If you were to try to woo a friend to MMOs, which title would you use to suck them into the genre?

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The Daily Grind: How much time do you log in a typical MMORPG session?

The Pantheon community is discussing a really interesting question about the two-hour gamer this week: “How much do you expect to get done within a two-hour time frame?” The answers on the forum so far naturally skew toward the type of old-school gamers who are Pantheon superfans to begin with, so I wondered whether that would be the same for the greater MMORPG population. After all, MMOs (and other online games) have consistently rewritten the script for how much time they expect you to put in toward any given activity; while once it was no big thing to sit for a day camping a piece of gear, modern online games tailor matches and dungeon-runs for much shorter periods, sometimes in that 30-minute sweet spot.

So today’s Daily Grind is two-fold: First, how much time do you allot to a typical play session – do you consider yourself a two-hour gamer, playing in roughly two-hour chunks, or are your playtime chunks smaller (or longer)? And secondly, what do you expect to accomplish in that amount of time?

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about ‘buying runs’ in MMORPGs?

Long ago in classic Guild Wars, I used to be fond of buying runs – probably the earliest was the Beacon’s Perch to Droknar’s Forge run. You’d take your alt to Beacon’s, pay the runner a few plat, then sit back as the runner warped the party along an extremely dangerous route past the majority of the game to the zone where you could craft good-looking, max-level armor, then you’d port back and keep playing and not need to worry about tedious armor upgrades along the way. It was actually a lot of fun to watch the specialized runner “work” and to chit-chat with other folks in the running party. And yep, it was all legal gameplay. Other games have similar mechanics in spite of not having party warping; you’ve probably heard of gamers in themeparks like World of Warcraft buying a “spot” on a raid that will essentially carry them and give them the loot they’re after.

In Guild Wars 2, however, you’d probably best watch out if you’re into that type of gameplay: ArenaNet clarified last week that it’s OK with people buying runs in-game, but the studio says a lot of people in the running business are actually involved in third-party RMT, which the company considers illegal, so you buy runs at the risk of account bans if you transact with the wrong group.

What do you think about “buying runs” in MMORPGs?

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The Daily Grind: Would you like more MMOs to offer browser-based clients?

There was a time when it seemed like the downloadable client was going to be an inevitable casualty of the march of technology. Games like City of Steam bet themselves entirely on the idea that you could just play a full MMO in your browser, no client download needed. Why waste time with streaming clients like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2 when you could just load up your browser?

Except that anyone with memory will realize that’s not even close to what happened. While various games have experimented with lowering the time between “start downloading” and “start playing,” at the end of the day we’re still downloading clients to play. It’s arguable that having more MMO options on central services like Steam has actually done more for availability, as you don’t need to hunt the titles down individually.

But just because there was never a huge sea change that completely rewrote the way we download and play MMOs doesn’t mean that the core idea doesn’t have merits. A browser-based game has a smaller footprint, after all, and it also means you can play from a wider variety of computers. Heck, some games like RuneScape have done quite well while embracing browser clients. So what do you think? Would you like to see more MMOs offer browser-based clients? Or was that a notion that’s really been made obsolete and irrelevant with more mobile gaming options?

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The Daily Grind: Do ranged fighters have too much of an advantage in MMOs?

When I sit down to tally up all of the different weapon playstyles that I enjoy in various MMOs, one theme pops out at me: I loved ranged damage. Pretty much all of my characters use some sort of ranged attacks, whether they be rifles, crossbows, or spells. And I’ve always been slightly worried that devs might catch on to the fact that this playstyle is OP in some way.

Do ranged fighters have too much of an advantage in MMOs? After all, we can attack from far away, and if our opponent is melee only, then it’s like “free hit city” until or unless that character can close the gap. We also enjoy practically zero delay in starting up fights and unfettered views of the action. I honestly never understood why melee fighters would be content to only see a boss’ shin most of the time or be content with their bodies blocking out the enemy mobs.

In PvP, I know that this can be an even greater problem unless the devs and other players have ways to counter this advantage. But maybe it’s not as big of a deal? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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The Daily Grind: What would it take to get you back into WoW?

This week, I found myself discussing with MOP’s Justin and Eliot my current disillusionment with World of Warcraft, specifically for its allied races. I’m happy for people in love with Allied races, but they do nothing for me. It would take world and class updates to get me to go back to WoW and go through the effort of catching up. Without that? It’s time I could be spending in one of my “home” MMOs, so there I stay.

But dang. If WoW added bards? Dual-classing? A crafting system that actually cared about crafters? A more (as Eliot put it) open class structure in general? Real housing? They’d already have my resub, and I’d be right next to Justin grinding gold for tokens.

What would it take to get you back into WoW? Did allied races do it for you? Are you holding out for legacy? Or is there nothing at all?

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The Daily Grind: Are there MMOs you keep getting sucked back to?

There are a lot of games which I like that I leave but still think about going back to, like Star Trek Online and Guild Wars 2. More often than not, I’m not playing them simply because I don’t have enough time in the day to do so, since I’ve got two games on my docket anyway and a third title rotating for Choose My Adventure. That’s all well and good, and I understand exactly why those games draw me back.

But then there are games like Revelation Online and Blade & Soul. These are not games I dislike, but it seems that I regularly find myself thinking about them and looking longingly in their direction, wondering about how fun they must be. And then I play them and I don’t have much fun, and I stop, and I’m left wondering why I keep getting drawn in again.

I think we’ve all got a few titles like that. There are always games we wind up playing time and again, games we know we aren’t going to like but which manage to just suck us in because we really want to like them. But maybe I’m wrong. Tell me, dear readers, are there MMOs you keep getting sucked back to even though you don’t like them? Not necessarily that they’re bad games, they’re just not for you?

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs?

Don’t look now, but PvP is coming — and it’s coming to almost every new MMO in development. It only recently hit me just how many upcoming games are being centered around PvP as a core mechanic. Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Ashes of Creation, Wild West Online, Worlds Adrift, Dual Universe, Chronicles of Elyria, every survival sandbox you could name… all PvP, pretty much all of the time.

I don’t outright resent PvP from being in MMOs, but as a primarily PvE player, it concerns me to see a flood of this washing over titles that I would otherwise have no reservations about playing. Many of the worlds and mechanics of these games have appeal, but not at the expense of having some jerk ambush me and kill me in 1.5 seconds flat at any moment.

Heck, even Sea of Thieves’ piracy gameplay loop has triggered alarms in my head that captains will be looking to swarm the title with griefing tactics once they’re done playing the “proper” way.

Maybe I’m overreacting. How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs? Why do you think we are seeing a rise of such games?

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