massively overthinking

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]

Massively Overthinking: Nickel-and-diming in MMORPGs

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:

“What I’ve noticed is that I’ve spent more money in the last three months on games that gave me everything upfront except extra content (like DLC) versus games that nickel-and-dimed me on every little thing along the way. Take Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online, for example. I’m actually more relaxed with my wallet because I know that all I really have to buy is content, and I can purchase that content when I am ready for it; so I spend more along the way. The DC Universe Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic model, on the other hand, makes me tighten my wallet against spending because I never know what stupid inhibitor I’m going to have to spend $1 or $2 on next. If someone is dedicated to a game, I suggest subbing because it’s usually a good value. But when will some of these studios figure out that if they just make the game experience fun, most F2P people will spend money? I’m all for charging for extra content, but everyone should have the same playing field as far as game experience. What do you guys think? Does the nickel-and-dime model really work better than the free-for-all, charge-for-content-only model?”

I posed Suikoden79’s question to the Massively OP team for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Massively Overthinking: The MMORPG board games connection

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?
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Massively Overthinking: Our five favorite MMORPGs of all time

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!

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Massively Overthinking: Real solutions to the MMO toxicity problem

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.

And solving the MMO toxicity problem is the topic MOP Patron and The Exiled developer Alexander Zacherl has posed for us today.

“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?

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Massively Overthinking: The classes MMORPGs never do

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!

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Massively Overthinking: Hopes and fears for Amazon’s New World

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.

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Massively Overthinking: Are you suffering from MMORPG burnout?

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!

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMORPG collector’s editions worth the money?

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?

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Massively Overthinking: Prestige systems in MMORPGs

Last week, an interesting question dropped into our team inbox. It was from a game developer — I don’t know for which game — named Matthew.

“As a developer, I’d be really interested to know what MMO gamers think about the idea of a ‘prestige system’ in an MMO, akin to Call of Duty’s, to encourage players who reach the endgame content to play through the game again from level 1 (with a different approach). Especially in the context of a game that has enough choices and options to make replaying the game interesting. My small studio doesn’t have the resource to produce an expansive endgame, and this seems like it could be a viable option.”

There are a handful of MMORPGs that try this already — Mabinogi is coming to mind — but it’s very rare in the RPG genre in general, and I bet you guys can think up a few reasons why. So let’s tackle the question for this week’s Overthinking: Which games have prestige systems that encourage you to replay your character from level 1, why do you think it’s so rare in MMORPGs, and how would you like to see such a system play out in a genre that prides itself on character development and permanence?

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Massively Overthinking: What’s the worst MMORPG for duos?

Massively OP reader Styopa recently wrote in to us to propose that we write about the best MMORPGs for duoing. I was all set to do it… until I realized we’ve already done it! In fact, it was the first Overthinking we did over here on the new site.

So if Styopa doesn’t mind, I’d like to turn the question around for this week’s Massively Overthinking: What’s the worst MMORPGs for duos and couples and twinsies? Which games just do not work for folks who always play in pairs, and what makes it fail compared to the games we held up as the best?

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Massively Overthinking: Please complain about MMOs, loudly and insistently

Last weekend, the blogosphere exploded over an article that essentially told the MMORPG community to shut up, sit down, and stop complaining about things like lockboxes (“they’re not hurting anyone”) and pay-to-win (“you can’t win in PVE because you’re not competing against anyone”). People reacted rather viscerally to it, from our own writers on their home blogs to fellow bloggers (that last one is not safe for work, I’m afraid — I did mean “viscerally”). I’d like to take this edition of Massively Overthinking to let our staff weigh in on the argument. Where’s the line between critique and complaint? Do you agree that we should all stop whining and take our lumps? Is complaining about the genre’s troubles even productive anymore? What exactly is the role of journalists and player advocates in a world where complaining is off the table? And finally, please complain about something.

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Massively Overthinking: Guilty pleasures in MMORPGs

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Patron Duane, who asks,

“Do you take simple joy in MMO mechanics that are often referred to pejoratively, like monster/crafting/gathering grinds, linear gameplay/storyline, or casual design?”

It’s tempting to say no way, we play the way we want, isn’t it? But I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling embarrassed about playing certain games or indulging in certain types of gameplay. A podcast listener once called me out on that as I tried to make excuses for why I was playing World of Warcraft, as if I subconsciously or consciously thought it wrecked my street cred to be playing it unironically.

So let’s tackle Duane’s question. What are your guilty pleasures in MMORPGs? What MMO gameplay bits do you adore in spite of everyone else’s snobbishness?

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Massively Overthinking: The best combat systems in MMORPGs

One of the big problems in the MMORPG genre as I see it is game studios’ inclination to prioritize combat above all else, turning what once was a genre stuffed with virtual worlds and multi-faceted gameplay activities into single-minded murder simulations. So you’d think they’d be really freakin’ good at combat, right?

Yeah, maybe not so much.

So today’s Massively Overthinking question comes from Das Tal — sorry, The Exiled — developer Alexander Zacherl, who asks:

“Which MMO has (had?) the best combat system? Consider abilities, targeting, movement, and so on!”

I posed his questions to the team. Onward, and bring your sword of trollslaying!

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