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: The state of WildStar

This week’s Massively Overthinking focuses entirely on WildStar, out of whose devs we’ve been trying to get answers — never mind reassurance about the game — for many months. But Carbine just isn’t up for interviews, and after the half year Carbine has had, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. But like a lot of people, I had hopes that WildStar’s free-to-play transition would turn it around. Instead, analysts lost faith, quarterly financials showed only a small bump (and a loss year-over-year), Carbine got yet another new game director, PvP servers were abandoned and merged, and the game’s former community manager told Reddit that the studio had “killed every desire [he] had to work in the industry anymore.” Last week, systems lead Brett Scheinert left the company, refusing to discuss his reasons, sending the community into further worry.

So what’s going on here? What’s Carbine up to, and what does WildStar need to do to still be alive in 2017? I posed these questions to the Massively OP team.

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Massively Overthinking: The curse of player-generated MMO content

The influx of new player-generated-content-oriented MMOs might make you think that PGC is on the rise, but if you’ve been around the genre for a long time, you’re just watching history repeat itself. Time and time again, we’ve seen games push their player-generated content tools only to let them fall by the wayside. Massively OP reader The_Grand_Nagus has a prime example:

Neverwinter was launched with the foundry as one of the flagship features of the game. But since launch, the foundry has gotten less and less attention and mention, and now it gets virtually no official acknowledgement or development, and NW is getting the standard content development that every MMO gets. What happened to the foundry? What went wrong? What changed the minds of the devs from NW being a foundry focused game? What about Cryptic’s other games, like Star Trek Online? Has Cryptic given up on the foundry in general?”

Let’s talk about player-generated mission content in general and Cryptic’s Foundry in specific in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do we want these tools? Are they worthwhile? Why are so many games pushing for player-run content and servers when existing MMOs seem to suggest that content isn’t profitable?

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Massively Overthinking: The new normal of early access MMORPGs

This week’s topic comes from Massively OP reader Zadira.

Daybreak has just passed it two-year anniversary for Landmark, and it still has its early access reward options for sale. One of the bonuses that we were to get was a two-day headstart when the game gets released. When I first bought my $99 Trailblazer Pack, I had no idea that people would still be buying it and being able to get the same rewards two years later. So what is ‘normal’ now for a game when it comes to early release?”

What do you expect from a studio in 2016 when it goes into early access? What do you think about the way early access has been used in the past few years? And who is doing it right? I posed these questions to our staff for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Massively Overthinking: The Star Citizen money machine

Massively OP reader Ichi has posed us an interesting question. At the end of 2015, a lot of gamers, including some of our own writers, said they expected Star Citizen’s funding to slow way down. Massively OP’s Brendan Drain argued quite convincingly that he expected the 100 million mark to be a sort of mental hurdle for backers.

“Pledges have slowed down dramatically throughout this past year and were given the final push to 100m by a combination of factors including the Alpha 2.0 reveals at CitizenCon, the [Internet Warlord] drama, and a series of aggressive sales and marketing pushes,” he wrote in early December. “People also have a strong psychological attraction to round numbers, so there’s been a lot of organic movement within the community to help it hit the 100 million mark and we won’t see that same fervor in the future. If we go by the current development schedule, I would expect passive organic growth will push it to 105 million by launch, and with aggressive enough marketing it could top out at 120-125 million.”

A few months later, the game’s crowdfunding tally sits over $108 million (trigger warning: sweet, sweet spreadsheet porn), and it’s just split into two different crowdfunding packages. So what’s going on here? Is it slowing down? Why is this thing still making so much money? Is it brilliant marketing, actual quality, or as Ichi put it, some sort of mass hysteria? I posed these questions to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Massively Overthinking: The best government for an MMO guild

This week’s question comes to us from Das Tal developer Alexander Zacherl, who says his team is in the process of implementing a direct democracy scheme as the default model for guild leadership. But he acknowledges other models, like oligarchies and dictatorships, and wonders what most people actually do.

“How is your guild being governed? What do you believe is the greatest governance model for a successful MMO guild?”

I posed these questions to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Massively Overthinking.
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Massively Overthinking: Old MMORPGs, disco, and pop culture phenomena

A reader named Rob provides this week’s Massively Overthinking topic. It’s a really good one!

“Why isn’t playing an old MMO from a previous decade seen the same as, say disco dancing in 1986? Seems MMOs have a longer shelf life than other pop culture phenomena.”

Is he right? If so, why? I posed Rob’s question to the Massively OP staff and Patrons.

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Massively Overthinking: The cynicism of modern MMO Kickstarters

This week we’ve been abuzz about Smed’s Hero’s Song Kickstarter cancellation – the KS more than the game, mostly because the game is happening regardless, but the Kickstarter might be more a window into the genre and the wider gaming industry than the game itself.

Our audience has seemed particularly prickly lately about so-called “rockstar devs” taking “AAA games” to Kickstarter for “no-strings” money and promotion instead of to investors or publishers, which might be leading to the corporatization of Kickstarter and squeezing out of smaller studios. We talked about that last month too when we asked our readers whether they planned to Kickstart anything in the new year.

So let’s talk about the present and future of crowdfunding. Are you over it? Is it dead? Is it being killed off by so-called “rockstar” devs, or is that sour grapes? If you’ve backed games, how many have delivered? What are your criteria for backing games in 2016? These are the questions I posed to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Massively Overthinking: The MMO dev brains we’d like to pick

This week’s Overthinking question comes to us from longtime Patron Roger.

“If you guys could magically open a connection to any dev team, which team would it be? I’ll assume this power includes their answering you as well.”

Sometimes we have this power already! More often than not, however, the devs are piloted by well-intentioned PR machines, and if there’s a question they don’t want to answer, they pretty much don’t have to, which is why so many MMO interviews are a waste of air and time and pixels.

I posed Roger’s question to our staff. Let’s say you have carte blanche to interrogate anyone or any team in the industry. Whom would you want to talk to, and what would you ask if you knew you could get a true and straight answer?
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Massively Overthinking: Just how massive is massively multiplayer?

Recent tweaks to the taxonomy structure of Massively OP and coverage of what we formerly called “Not-So-Massive” games prompted a resurgence of internal discussion about the types of games we cover and just what the genres mean. MOBAs are easy to separate out, but the line between “multiplayer” and “massively multiplayer” is just as hard to define now as it was five or 10 years ago when we were first struggling with blurring lines. Are Marvel Heroes, Trove, and Devilian, for example, massive “enough” to make them more like EverQuest and World of Warcraft than they are like Diablo III and World of Tanks? Do we care whether a developer has adopted or shunned the word “MMO” when covering a game as one? What precisely makes a game massive — what’s the magic quantity or quality?

I posed these questions to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Massively Overthinking: Let’s play with the Gamer Motivation Model

Over the winter holidays, we wrote about game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which has published what it calls its “Gamer Motivation Model” — essentially, it’s an updated Bartle test for modern gamers that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations.” More recently, co-founder Dr. Nick Yee — yes, that Nick Yee — has discussed how gamer motivations align with personality traits.

In light of the fun we had taking the Bartle test a few months ago and the news that Bartle himself is publishing new books offering insight into our genre, we thought we’d take the Gamer Motivation test ourselves, share our results and our thoughts on the test, and provoke you to do the same.

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Massively Overthinking: The MMO with the brightest future

Imagine you have a friend who wants to play an MMO but doesn’t want to get involved in a game that’s in decline or might not be around in five years. Where do you steer that friend? Which current or forthcoming MMO has the brightest future?

I posed this question to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Overthinking in honor of the New Year ahead.

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Massively Overthinking: One MMO wish for 2016

We gave out a lot of awards this month for things games did in 2015, and we talked about what we think will happen in 2016. But what about what we wish would happen next year? Do you have hopes and dreams about our genre’s upcoming year? If you could make one single wish about the coming year of MMOs, what would it be?

I posed these questions to the Massively OP team for this week’s Massively Overthinking, and we’d love for you to join in.
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Massively Overthinking: The next big Star Wars MMORPG

In honor of Star Wars week (and rumors that EA is working on another Star Wars game), let’s talk Star Wars MMOs.

Star Wars Galaxies is much beloved around these parts, and I think most of us would agree that Star Wars: The Old Republic has matured into a worthy and popular MMORPG as well. Let’s take a moment to salute the passing of Clone Wars Adventures while we’re at it.

But the last Star Wars MMO launched in 2011. Is it time for a new MMO that is Star Warsy and iconic? What time period would you pick? What would the ground rules be? Tell me all about the third (well, fourth) Star Wars MMO of your dreams for this edition of Massively Overthinking.

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