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Guest Interview: Lusternia, MUDs, and the evolution of MMOs

This guest interview was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s 2015 Kickstarter campaign by donor Brett Richards, who interviewed Lusternia Producer Robb French in lieu of a Soapbox. Any opinions here represent the views of our guest interviewer and his interviewee, not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

MUDs like Lusternia (official site) get little love in the MMO community but are still wildly popular among a select group of players as one of the last bastions of text-based gaming. I credit Lusternia for helping me survive and overcome quite a dark period of depression and self-doubt in my younger days. I believe that the immersive world and wonderful players I’ve met there provided me the freedom to experiment with and eventually express parts of my identity with an online persona that I couldn’t otherwise, not to mention improved my social and computer skills to no end. The self-awareness I developed through play has helped me become a healthier and more complete person in real life – or at least I hope so!

That’s why I’ve chosen to interview Lusternia Producer Robb French for my donated piece here on MOP. Let me slip into my alter ego, Elryn, to have a chat with Estarra, the Creatrix of the Multiverse known as Lusternia.

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The Soapbox: Advertising, blacklisting, and critique – The broken incentives of gaming media

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by D. Emery Bunn. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

Gaming media is broken. “Honest reviews” can come off like a sarcastic jab, especially with massive site-spanning advertisements mere pixels from the reviews themselves. Add in the lure of exclusives, and “fair and unbiased” sounds like a joke to many.

But gaming media and the industry it covers aren’t broken from some form of malevolent hatred and a greedy desire to part gamers from their money. Regrettably, three things combine to create an environment where criticism can destroy a media outlet entirely, even when criticism is a vital part of journalism itself.

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The Soapbox: Making your own fun in MMORPGs

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, a developer at Missing Worlds Media. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

Howdy, all. I’m Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, project lead at City of Titans, and I’d like to spend a few moments talking about the things that we, as game designers, can’t do for players.
I call it making your own fun.

There are several things that make an MMO an MMO, but one of the most important elements is the entire “massively” part of “massively multiplayer online.” More than just a team, and bigger than a raid, it’s everyone around you.

And people get rewards from being in this ocean of players, whether they’re showing off their best armor, getting a little help in a public event, or playing the auction house economy. None of those systems would work without a lot of other people around.

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The Soapbox: The trap of the I-win button

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by a longtime reader named Syndar. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

Everyone grows up knowing that it is more fun to win at whatever we’re doing than to lose, and so it goes in the gaming industry too. No matter what genre of games we play online or offline, we want to be the winner, some of us by any means or method. And so some people look for the easiest way to win.

The superficial point of games on the whole may be simple enjoyment, but those who look beneath seek to figure out the mechanics and maximize their performance too. In MMORPGs, that means sorting out how best to charge onward to the endgame or how to defeat the enemy. As online games evolve through their life cycle, we hear players complain that their class is not competitive because of some other class, and so all too often, developers fall into an impossible balancing patch cycle, making more and more corrective adjustments as the classes take turns at the top of the “overpowered” pile. As ridiculous as it seems, we’re hardly happy until we have that magical I-win button, and without adequate testing, that’s exactly what the developers deliver to us.

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The Soapbox: The misguided quest for MMO stickiness

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by Tyler F.M. Edwards, who blogs at www.superior-realities.com. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

The concept of “stickiness” is always a hot topic in the MMO community — stickiness being the sum of those game qualities that ensure player retention and keep people coming back. Fans and journalists talk about it often, and I don’t doubt that MMO developers devote an enormous amount of time and money to making their games sufficiently sticky.

But this obsession with stickiness can do more harm than good, and when developers focus on retention, they risk losing sight of what really matters: making games that are fun to play.

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