Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
During last week’s podcast, Justin and I bumped into a tangential topic about competitive PvE and how relatively rare it is in MMORPGs, which seems weird, right? It was once the nature of MMOs to make us scuffle with other guilds in open-world dungeons, but with the dawn of instanced PvE content, devs didn’t replace that type of content the same way they’ve embraced raiding and PvP. You’ve got achievements, sure, and gear show-offs, but outside of Guild Wars-esque challenge missions and WildStar PvE leaderboards, it’s just not something most MMOs bother with.
Why is that? Should they? And how do you want to see it done? I posed all these questions to the Massively OP team this week for Massively Overthinking!
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week, Warface brought a little holiday cheer into its relentless warzones. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Overwatch, Elder Scrolls Online, Minecraft, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
MOP’s Justin Olivetti created the music-centered Jukebox Heroes column back on Massively-that-was and brought it along to us here, and to this day it’s one of my favorites. It’s also one of our most contentious, which might seem weird since it covers not pay-to-win or crowdfunding or internet warlords but… music. Video game music. It turns out that you folks have incredibly strong opinions about your video game music, and not a top 10 list of tracks goes by when Justin isn’t barraged with “you forgot X” and “why isn’t Y on this list” and “obviously bias, doesn’t include X” commentary.
So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, we’re turning the whole team’s attention to video game music — specifically, MMORPG soundtracks and individual pieces. Which ones are our very favorites? Which ones do we keep on listening to long after we’ve left the games? We’re confident you’ll populate the comments with everything we’re missing!
Istaria, which you might remember as Horizons way back in the day, has this week released Niesa’s Fate, the 16.1 update for the dragon-encrusted MMORPG. Cue lore!
“Niesa was a well-known and brilliant alchemist who was also in love with Giltekh Framtor, her one-time apprentice, but now a Master Alchemist in his own right. Ten years ago she vanished in the Eastern Deadlands while searching for components to a potion she claimed ‘would change everything’ about the war. Begin your quest in Aradoth, and solve what happened Niesa.”
Players of this classic MMO can also expect epic boss and item changes, a huge icon art revamp, new decorations in a number of buildings, a new combat dummy, new epic allies, and sweet dryad wings.
Istaria — the MMO that will forever be linked to its former title of Horizons with any mention of it, making one wonder why the name change was needed — just blew out the candles on its 12th birthday cake. Believe it or not, this game has been chugging along since 2003!
So what did Istaria and its community wish for on this occasion? Apparently, a spiffy anniversary patch! This week’s update isn’t huge, but considering that this is one of those games that gets a patch once every six months or so, it’s something to celebrate.
The anniversary patch introduced new combat pets, brought back the winter festival, and added more travel scrolls. There’s also a large assortment of streamlining, bug fixes, and small features (such as allowing players to preview what grow-up dragons will look like).
Istaria (formerly Horizons) is attempting to make good on its former promise of shoring up the game this year, as it’s just released a summer update with a slew of small but important bug fixes and changes. Of particular note are improvements to resource nodes on the Abandoned Isle, new tier 4 and 5 crafting boons, and fixes to bird tweets.
“While these sorts of updates are not as exciting as new content, they are important and why the developers have committed a block of time for this work,” the team posted. “The next set of updates and fixes are just around the corner, and the devs are already moving forward with the next portion of work, so stay tuned!”
Not every MMO patch has to be a field of explorable content through which adventurers romp barefoot and fancy-free. Sometimes the unglamorous work of bug fixes and tech upgrades need to take priority with the dev team.
Such is the case with Istaria (formerly Horizons), which posted a preview of what’s coming for the game. The team says that the early 2015 City Under Siege patch was the big content release of the year, as the devs are moving on to shore up the tech, improve art assets, and polish the content for the rest of the year.
Through these, Istaria players should experience better game performance while saying goodbye to frustrating issues, such as “the monster moonwalk.” The team also has long-term plans to upgrade the title’s client and server technology.