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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs get rid of levels?

I would like to say that when I was a kid playing my first MMORPGs, I was impervious to the grind, that I embraced taking many months to level a skill or hit a level cap. But that would be a lie. I stuck a rock on my keyboard to AFK macro overnight in Ultima Online, and a friend of mine would log into my EverQuest account sometimes while I slept to catch me up in levels. I hated it. I have always hated it. Oh, I’d spend hours per day in those early games, but I wanted to chill with friends, make stuff, run dungeons with people without worrying about level discrepancies and gear and all the obnoxious mechanics designed so transparently to slow me down and make me pay to grind. And I’ve felt this way for 20 years.

This is why a recent tweet of Raph Koster’s, quoting Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor, resonated with me:

“Removing levels as a gameplay factor was the best decision for retention ever made in Elder Scrolls Online.” -Matt Firor

It’s affirmation that I’m not alone: A huge portion of the MMORPG playerbase will pay for content that pushes us together by invalidating level grinds rather than keeps us apart. Is it not time? Can we just be done with the old canard that people “need” leveling make-work to feel achievement or investment in a game, when metrics prove otherwise? Should MMOs get rid of levels?

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MMO Week in Review: Following the Path of Fire back to Guild Wars 2 (September 24, 2017)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion launched on Friday, sending fans of Tyria and nostalgia back into the Elonian deserts. How many of those 11 million total accounts are playing? Probably not all of them, to be sure, but enough to cause more than a few disconnects and instance-creation problems through the weekend, especially in the EU but felt across the game’s territories. The demand bodes well for the game’s long-term finances (if not its short-term charm).

Don’t miss our coverage of the update; we streamed the launch on Friday, got our accounts in order, and debated the game’s material storage nerfs. MOP’s Choose My Adventure series will also cover Guild Wars 2 for the next month, so keep an eye out for that, a special guest on the podcast, and our impressions of the launch!

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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The MOP Up: Monster Hunter World’s Tokyo reveals (September 24, 2017)

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!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from LawbreakersHyper UniversePlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Pokemon GoWorld of TanksDC Universe OnlineCrossoutMonster Hunter WorldRunes of MagicAtlantica OnlineRevelation OnlineLeague of LegendsCrossfireHeroes of the Storm, OverwatchPath of Exile, and Dungeon Fighter Online, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: Drop. Your. Sword.

“It’s possible, pig, I might be bluffing. It’s conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I’m only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again… perhaps I have the strength after all. DROP… YOUR… SWORD!”

Can’t imagine why this screenshot of Secret World Legends from Winterskorn has me thinking of The Princess Bride. It’s inconceivable. Also, that sword doesn’t look like it can cut very well, just saying!

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite small act of kindness from a stranger in an MMO?

At one point in Final Fantasy XI, I was stuck in Ordelle’s Caves. A friend had been helping me get my RSE deep within the caves, and then he had to log off… and I was stuck without a map or any guidance, far too low-level to get out. But then a high-level Thief saw me, partied with me, and helped guide me out while I kept myself in Sneak and Invisible behind her.

I never saw her again, or if I did, I didn’t recognize her and she didn’t recognize me. But she still did something really kind for me, and I’ve never forgotten that.

Today, let’s be good about that. The best MMO experiences are built upon a thousand small acts of kindness. The Warrior in World of Warcraft who doesn’t roll on the armor piece you want because it’s a bigger upgrade for you. The Inquisitor who stops and helps you fight off a group of enemies in Star Wars: The Old Republic while you’re on your Trooper. Even just the nasty-looking cruiser in EVE Online that could demolish your mining ship but chooses to let you go by. So what’s your favorite small act of kindness from a stranger in an MMO?

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Make My MMO: Ship of Character Customization (September 23, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Ship of Heroes continued proving itself worthy as a City of Heroes successor with a new video demo of its character creation — which ought to look pretty familiar to fans of the pre-eminent superhero MMORPG.

In the realm of Star Citizen drama, we speculated on the game’s post-launch monetization plans and posted the team’s new count of bugs yet to fix before alpha 3.0 reaches the Evocati. (It’s 7.)

Meanwhile, War of Conquest has already achieved its Kickstarter goal, Project Gorgon teased its next patch, we learned about Pantropy, Crowfall stirred dissent over its harvesting plans, and Guardians of Ember, which raised $77000 in funding from players on Indiegogo, formally launched out of early access.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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WRUP: Can talk, Path of Fire edition

Welcome to another installment of What Are You Playing and… oh, jeez. Where are all of you? See, this is what I was worried about. There’s no one here this weekend, you’re all off playing Guild Wars 2. Me, I’m stuck here just… talking to myself.

See, I already had my big expansion launch this year. That was the one I was looking forward to like the birth of a child. It’s not as if I’m not going to play Guild Wars 2 with the expansion, that’s already a plan, but now I’m totally free to talk and no one wants to listen. You’re all just playing with new elite specializations and I’m… left over here. Wishing and hoping, and so forth. And if I just show up to join in, then I’ll look like the tagalong.

Sigh. Well, those of you who are here can let me know about your weekend plans down in the comments, that’s something. Meanwhile, I will… well, probably jump into the expansion myself, but later. I have standards. No bandwagons for me.

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The Daily Grind: Do any MMO monsters creep you out?

I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered truly disturbing and creepy MMO mobs. I think it’s by the virtue that they are in an MMO means that they’re usually all over the place, and any initial disturbance grows lessened with familiarity.

However, I’m sure there are exceptions. The Bogeyman in Secret World is pretty creeptacular, especially his appearance in the spin-off The Park. I know that some of my friends who suffer from acute arachnophobia are all “nope nope nope” when giant spiders scuttle across the screen.

Are there any MMO monsters that creep you out? What is it about them that gives you the heebie-jeebies?

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Betawatch: Fortnite rolls out a free-for-all mode that’s free for all (September 22, 2017)

Remember when Fortnite’s whole thing was that it was going to be about co-op survival gameplay without any PvP aspects? That clearly didn’t last, as it turns out the game’s new Battle Royale mode is going to be free-to-play and seems to be getting an unexpected share of the game’s development. Oh, and the game accidentally turned on cross-platform play before turning it right back off, so that was great too.

In unrelated news, we bid farewell to Guardians of Ember as it has actually, like, launched now. It’s not in early access any more! It’s just access. Guild Wars 2 has also dropped its second expansion, and The Elder Scrolls Online has its latest DLC up on the test server.

More beta news? Yes indeed! Including titles you might not have seen this week otherwise.

  • All right, Pantropy, do you really think that the only thing you need to seduce someone into survival sandbox games is to include a bunch of stompy mechs? Because you are very possibly right.
  • The stress testing for MU Legend is running on September 23rd, which is the server equivalent of packing tons of college freshmen into a phone booth and daring them to fall out. Taking part will earn you 500 Bound Redzen for use in the future, so if the simple joy of stress testing isn’t enough, do it for the bribery.
  • You’ve missed the first alpha testing weekend for Closers, but there are several more weekends coming up, such as this weekend. Would you like a whole schedule for the next few weeks? You’ve got one.
  • The closed alpha weekends for Survived By are starting very soon, with several closed alpha weekends planned over the next several weeks. Exact dates aren’t given, unfortunately, but considering that there are only so many people being invited, that seems at least moderately sensible.
  • Around 350 players took place in the second OrbusVR closed beta, and you can catch up on the notes from that second beta right now. It’s a good chance to keep an eye on the game when you’re not keeping both eyes in the headset.

And as we always do, there’s a list of titles in testing and early access just below, because that’s how we operate. Did something hop to another phase of testing without letting us know? Fix that oversight in the comments. You can also use the comments for other comments, of course.

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Massively Overthinking: How will Star Citizen make money after launch?

During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.

“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”

Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPGs will make to to 20 years?

Unless it mysteriously shutters between now and Monday, Ultima Online is turning 20 next week. Our Game Archaeologist will surely object to an assertion that UO is the first MMORPG to turn 20, but even if you do count pre-MMORPG titles as MMOs or include non-continuous or non-graphical games, UO is still among the very few MMOs to get there alive.

I’ve started thinking about numbers like that in light of Black Desert studio Pearl Abyss’ assertion a few weeks back that online PC games and MMOs have “an extremely long life cycle” on average between 10 and 11 years, implying that PA intends to support its games with those lifespans in mind.

There are a few MMOs coming up on 20 years now other than UO, including classic EverQuest. Alas, others, like Asheron’s Call, were sunsetted before they got close. Consider the MMOs you’re playing now: Which of those MMORPGs have a hope of making it to 20 years?

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Enter to win a Neverwinter gorgon mount on Xbox One and PS4 from PWE and MOP

To celebrate the arrival of the Tomb of Annhilation expansion for Neverwinter on console, PWE has granted Massively OP 100 Firesoul Gorgon mount keys to give away to our readers– 50 apiece for PlayStation 4 (Teal Stained Gorgon) and Xbox One (Vert Stained Gorgon). Quick, to your color wheels!

“Gorgons are dangerous and hard to control, but this beast unique to the jungles of Chult has been tamed and its metallic scales have been stained bright green and teal. These uncommon mounts are ready to charge through the dangers of Chult with plumes of smoke billowing from their nostrils.”

Both grant +50 movement speed and include two insignia slots. The codes can be redeemed only once per account and expire at the end of 2017, and the mounts are bind-on-pickup. Critically, these codes are redeemable on console only in the regions as outlined below, so if you’re a PC person, you can skip this one!

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The Daily Grind: Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay?

Growing up mostly on consoles, inventory management was not a big part of gaming when I was younger. Downright irrelevant, even; the question was how many cottages I had on-hand in the original Final Fantasy, not whether or not I could fit them in my inventory. (Which makes sense, since by the time you’ve fit an entire cottage into your backpack you might as well be able to fit ninety-eight more.) But MMOs work on stricter requirements, and thus we have ongoing changes with games like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft giving me more space even as they give me more stuff to manage.

The latest bit of inventory management hassle for Guild Wars 2, though, makes me wonder if this is really just a matter of chasing old ideas when there are better options available. That might be more a function of annoyance than a useful idea, but then I remember that the games I remember most fondly are not ones in which I recall inventory management; at best, I forget those irritations (such was the case with City of Heroes, where I actually forgot about the glut of Enhancement drops even at launch, much less the later crafting materials). What do you think, readers? Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay? Or should it be something you don’t have to worry about any longer?

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