Earlier this week, we posted our award for the biggest MMORPG story of the year -- the one we thought had the biggest impact on our genre. But in tonight's Massively Overthinking, we're going to put aside the bigger picture and talk about just the stories we liked, the stories we're proud of, the stories that define us, the stories we wish we could write all day long. I asked our writers to pick one story they wrote and one story somebody else on MOP wrote and talk about why they matter. We'd love to hear what you folks think about our best work too -- it helps us decide what you want to hear about in the future.
Massively Overthinking is a weekly feature in which the Massively Overpowered writers take turns weighing in on a particular MMO-related topic before turning the discussion over to the readership. [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]
One of the fun things we implemented on the site this year is a database of quotes from developers (among other entries) that are relevant to the MMORPG industry. In the spirit of the end-of-the-year posts that we've begun rolling out, today's Massively Overthinking is a simple but fun one: I asked our writers to submit a favorite or memorable MMO developer quote from 2016 and explain why it matters. When we're done, we invite you to do the same in the comments! (And yes, the best ones will be chucked into that widget for posterity!)
Earlier this week, Daybreak told players it wanted to get back to time-limited events in DC Universe Online. "Events make logging in every day that much more special," the announcement quotes Jack "Jackster" Emmert, now ensconced as the Austin studio's CEO. "I know that I've got to complete that event before it ends!"
While the specific event Daybreak is cooking up actually sounds fairly fleshed out and nice -- a new zone, new quests, and a raid -- I start to fidget at the idea that the content will be time-limited or temporary. Sure, I understand why studios would want to funnel players to a central but dynamic content stream and get us all to pony up. But exploiting players' "fear of missing out" -- FOMO -- seems like a crappy way to design game content for the long-term, and it bugs me. Am I alone?
That's the topic I've posed to our writers for this week's Massively Overthinking. How do you feel about time-limited events in MMORPGs? Are they a waste of resources or a necessary evil? Who does them right, and who does them wrong?
It's Thanksgiving here in the US, and we wish you all a happy one, whether you're celebrating locally or not. For this week's Massively Overthinking and in honor of the season, I asked our team about the people within the MMORPG industry they're thankful for. Mentors, guildies, artists, designers, visionaries? QA testers, community managers, commenters, donors, those wacky folks who Kickstart our dreams? Let's talk about our favorite people and why we're glad they're making the genre a better place to play.
Eleven years ago this week, the New Game Enhancements patch descended on Star Wars Galaxies, forever changing the trajectory of the game, SOE, and maybe even sandbox MMORPGs in general by completely uprooting the character development process of the MMO and gutting beloved professions, not to mention breaking essential pieces of the game's crafting economy. The ensuing fallout caused a mass-exodus from the game, tarnished gamer trust in SOE, and guaranteed that we'd still be talking about it more than a decade later. And though I've long argued that the game that sunsetted in 2011 was as far removed from the NGE as the NGE was from the game that launched in 2003, I'm first in line to declare that the NGE implemented in 2005 was an unmitigated disaster.
For this edition of Massively Overthinking, I don't want to talk about Star Wars Galaxies' NGE. I want to talk about all the other NGEs in MMORPG history -- all those other massive patches and updates and expansions that shattered or altered an MMO so fundamentally that gamers never looked at it the same way again and indeed considered it irreparably ruined. What's the most brutal NGE (that wasn't that NGE) that you can think of? That's the question I posed to our writers this week.
Massively OP reader and listener Suikoden79 recently wrote in to the podcast with a gem of a question I thought would be more fun for the whole team instead of just our podcasters. He told us that he used to be a subscription type of MMO player, but as his family and responsibilities have grown, he's shifted from being hardcore to casual, and so now he appreciates being able to scope out a game before deciding whether to spend money -- and when he likes a game, he does shell out. Here comes the but:
I posed Suikoden79's question to the Massively OP team for this week's Massively Overthinking.
MOP reader Kastaguro sent us an interesting question last month about MMORPGs, board games, and a possible playerbase shift.
"I was wondering if any of you play board games? I have noticed that all the people I know who used to play MMORPG have stopped playing them. We are all older and have been playing MMORPGs since the late '90s, and they all give the same reason for quitting MMOs: They just don't like the direction they are going and can't stand the communities anymore. Instead, they have massive get-togethers with hardcore roleplaying board games, and I have to admit they are really fun. What do you guys think about this? Do you know anyone who quit MMOs for board games that can last for hours at a time?"
MOP's Andrew proposed that we expand the question to include tabletop pen-and-paper games too, so that's exactly what we'll do as we tackle Kastaguro's Massively Overthinking topic. Do you hardcore MMORPG writers and gamers also play board games or pen-and-paper games? What's your favorite? Do you think there's been a shift among online RPG players to more local or personal party games, and if so, is it because of changing lifestyles or something significantly wrong in the MMORPG market itself?
Earlier this week, Redditor maxpower888 started an epic thread on the /r/mmorpg sub asking everyone to chime in and name his or her top five MMORPGs of all time. I thought it was a nifty thread to skim to see how many times the same games kept popping up (and the same games turned up in combination with each other).
"You can tell how old people are by their lists," one gamer objected, but I don't think that's necessarily true!
So for this week's Overthinking, we're going to join in the fun, then explain our choices and puzzle out what those choices say about us -- don't forget to click the entries to expand them for explanations! You should do the same down in the comments!
Toxicity. It's plagued online spaces since long before there were MMORPGs and other online video games, as any old school BBS user can attest. But it's a problem we deal with all the same, maybe more now as lines between genres have blurred and gaming evolves into an accepted mainstream activity.
"How can devs and players together make sure that MMO communities do not turn toxic? Would love to hear some best practice from other games."
Let's tackle toxicity in this week's Massively Overthinking. Which studios are dealing with it best right now -- and how? What actually works to keep communities clean and friendly? What works for preventing the problem vs. curing the problem? What would you like to see done that no one's trying at all?
No one wants to play Uncle Owen, a certain MMORPG exec famously said -- except, you know, for all the people who really, really do. Including me!
Massively OP Patron Duane has a juicy question in keeping with that theme this week:
"What are some class/job/profession archetypes that you have never seen in an MMO that you would like to see? You can include include combat, crafting, gathering, or any other professions you like!"
I posed Duane's question to the Massively OP writers this week -- feel free to add to our list in the comments!
The announcement of a new sandbox MMORPG last week -- New World, by none other than Amazon Game Studios itself -- has had both the Massively OP community and the broader MMORPG community chattering with excitement followed by calls to temper that excitement before it runs away with us. Where one person sees the salvation of the entire genre and the investment of a major tech company as a sign that MMOs are still feasible, another whispers the word gankbox and points to Amazon's heavy Twitch integration as a certain sign of doom.
So for this week's Overthinking, I polled the Massively OP staff on their thoughts, hopes, and fears about the game. Is a sandbox the right move for Amazon? Does Amazon really understand what MMO players want to play, pay for, and watch? Is Twitch going to be a problem? What about the "murderous player bandits" line that has everyone in a tizzy? Is New World the sandbox we've always wanted or the sandbox we deserve? Let's talk about the New World order.
In last week's Daily Grind about whether or not MMOs are better the second time you play them, the topic of burnout came up.
"I find that MMOs have become, in my own perception, a kind of homogeneous mass in my mind that is a barrier in itself to involvement, like there is nothing new any more," commenter Gibbins wrote. "Playing any MMO at this point is like going back to something I gave up and mostly I spend less time before walking away." To which another commenter, Mukk, observed, "MMO burnout, it seems..."
But is it really burnout? How do you know when you can say, "It's not you, it's me"? How do you determine whether you've outgrown a genre, or it's changed so much that it's grown away from you? And are you suffering, or have you ever suffered, from MMORPG burnout?
These are the questions I presented to the Massively OP writers this week. Onward!
I have a confession to make: I pretty much never buy collector's editions of anything, especially MMORPGs. Call me cheap, I guess, but there's rarely anything in them I want to pay extra for. The one exception I can specifically recall? It was TES4: Oblivion. I can't even remember why I did it, but I did. And I saw my kid playing with the special coin/septim the other day, so that survived four household moves in the meantime, apparently.
The Exiled's Alexander Zacherl has collector's editions on the brain today too. Here's the question he's posed us:
"Why do you (not) buy founders packs / collector's editions for MMOs? Do you get them for the exclusives, early access or just for a bargain subscription/credits?"
Let's talk CEs! Do you buy them? If so, why not? If not, why not?