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WRUP: Pamela, my love edition

Pamela, my love! I wrote you this missive on this “web-site” so that everyone may see it, especially the numerous men whose homes you have broken into for the purposes of armed and nonsensical assault. I fear I cannot contain my love for you any longer, and indeed my loins have burned for you ever since I set them aflame at the Fifteenth Annual Loin Immolation as Proof of Romantic Ardor Competition in Newark in December. Which, I might note, I really would have won if not for that guy with the flamethrower codpiece.

In short, I can no longer contain myself, and I fear that I may find myself overwhelmed by love for you in the near future. If this happens, Pamela, my love, if I can no longer keep my love for you caged within my breast, I wish you to know that it’s your fault, I completely blame you, and when they find me at my writing-desk they will know that it’s your fault. You will get the chair this time. Farewell, Pamela!

Note: for the entertainment of those assembled, a brief section known as “What Are You Playing” shall follow a brief intermission. Your entries are welcomed below, &c.

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The Daily Grind: What kind of MMO cities do you like?

I might be the very odd man out on this, but a large urban area (fantasy or otherwise) in an MMO is not a selling point for me. On the contrary, I really dislike big cities in MMOs and RPGs because I hate having to spend the first hour or so getting my bearings and trying to shrug off the feeling of claustrophobia. So my preference for towns in-game tend to lie with smaller villages and scaled-down metropolises, such as RIFT’s Sanctum. Give me all of my services in a compact area and then let me head out exploring, and I’m happy.

When it comes to cities in MMOs, what do you like? Big or small? Organized or sprawling? Do you like cities that feel alive with small details or do you only view them as centralized facility platforms? What about verticality, style, and secrets? What MMO city best exemplifies your preferences?

Lots of questions — and I bet you have lots of answers to this as well!

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Betawatch: Tree of Savior is going international soon (February 26, 2016)

Good news, Tree of Savior fans – the game is slated to hit the international stage soon. How soon? That’s still up in the air. But it does mean that the game is going to be coming over here after what seems like endless waffling and a long period of back-and-forth. Good news if you are super interested in the trees which saved people from… rivers, or something. (I am not actually clear on the game’s premise.)

It’s been a quieter week than the past few for betas, but still, there have been developments:

If none of that tickles your fancy, that’s all right, as we still have our full list of beta titles just below. Let us know if something has carefully snuck beneath our radar in the comments!

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WoW Factor: Is this the time Blizzard’s changes stick?

Well, folks, I promised you that this week I would talk about my further impressions playing through the Legion alpha. But then I spied a rather fascinating post about the state of the game and the changes being wrought upon World of Warcraft (with thanks to fellow writer Justin and his excellent blog roundup), and it wound up more or less writing a column for me in simultaneous response, agreement, dissension, and clarification. Which is, to be fair, all stuff that comes into play with the Legion alpha, so it’s sort of similar.

If you’re not buying that, don’t worry; we’ll have nothing but the alpha to talk about for a long while. I’ll revisit the topic.

It’s not exactly controversial to say that WoW has changed a lot over the years of its existence, seeing as that’s a statement of fact rather than opinion. I’ve watched one of my favorite specs go from punchline to raid support to heavy DPS to PvP powerhouse to mediocre DPS, and each time it has gotten just a little bit weirder. So why do things need to change so much? Is it helpful to the game? Do we really have any promise that this is the time everything stays the same?

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs provide in-game player performance metrics?

Today’s question is inspired by a question sent into us ages ago by reader Camelotcrusade, and it centers on damage meters and their ilk.

“Should MMOs have accessible, in-game metrics for player performance? What are the pros and cons of building it right into the game, so everyone can be exposed to the same information should they choose to access it? Should it be private, public or optionally shareable?”

A lot of people will object to the idea of damage meters or other player-accessible metric tools simply because they think plugins are akin to cheating, but what if, as Camelotcrusade suggests, they are built right into the game, something everyone can access and learn from?

I tend to favor more information over less when that information can lead to better decision-making. On the other hand, I’ve seen some online video game tyrants equipped with fight parse logs really wreck the game experience for everyone else. It’s one thing when everyone thinks a class is underpowered; it’s another when the numbers prove it and lend credibility to class discrimination, and that’s just one example.

Where do you stand on in-game metrics for performance?

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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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Meta: Massively OP website maintenance this weekend

Hello, loyal readers! MassivelyOP.com will be undergoing extended maintenance this weekend beginning at 2 a.m. EST on Saturday, February 27th, 2016. Downtime is expected to be at minimum three hours and likely a few more, during which time neither our articles nor our comment system will be consistently available. Comments posted during this period may be lost.

Our email should be unaffected, and we’ll be reachable via social media during the downtime as well. Anyone who is awake is welcome to commiserate with Dave (our tech engineer) and me overnight. Woo! (Bring tea. And gifs.)

If all goes well, we’ll be back up before Daily Grind o’clock on Saturday morning with significantly faster website service on the front- and back-end. If we’re not, blame Mo. Just kidding: We’ll keep everyone posted on the site surgery via social media. (And send more tea.)

Wish us luck!

-Bree

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The Daily Grind: What MMO had the best revision to an existing system?

There have been very few total relaunches in MMO history, so marking Final Fantasy XIV as having one of the best isn’t exactly disputed. There’s also not much room to debate on whether or not the relaunch was a success. But some of the systems the relaunch has changed up have been made either no better or actively worse on the conversion; cross-class skills, for example, are not in a good space. By contrast, Star Trek Online is in the middle of revamping its skill system yet again, and while that might have issues, it certainly looks to be a positive change.

Revamping systems can always be tetchy, of course – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and there’s always the issue of players who liked how things were rather than how things will be. But the revamps happen just the same. World of Warcraft revamped its entire talent system, Star Wars: The Old Republic revamped its stats and companions, and the list goes on. So what MMO have you played that had what you see as the best revision to an existing system? What major changes did you find made the game not only as good as it was before but even better?

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The Daily Grind: What is your favorite memory from the EverQuest franchise?

It’s interesting to note that the EverQuest video game franchise, as a whole, is quite large — perhaps bigger than you realized. There’s the original EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Online Adventures, Lords of EverQuest, Champions of Norrath, Champions: Return to Arms, EQMac, Legends of Norrath, Landmark, and (hopefully one day!) EverQuest Next. Whew!

With all of those titles, chances are that many of you have visited Norrath at some point in your gaming career. Today’s Daily Grind is all about sharing favorite memories from those experiences.

Personally, I only dipped into EverQuest II for any length of time. While I found the graphics questionable, I was deeply impressed with the feature set and the warm, welcoming community. What about you? Do you have any EverQuest-related memories?

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Global Chat: What is Daybreak thinking with H1Z1?

Daybreak’s announcement earlier this month that it will be splitting H1Z1 into two games triggered a flood of responses from the MMO blogging community, some pronouncing doom while others offering insight into what might be going on behind closed doors.

Healing the Masses considers the move part of an ongoing scam with the game and “abnormally idiotic.” The Ancient Gaming Noob predicts that Daybreak will further change at least one of these games’ names to avoid confusion. Inventory Full notes that splitting MMOs up into two or more games or parts is hardly new. Tyrannodorkus said that the different game modes probably warrant separate development but selling them as two titles is a “scummy move.” And Me vs. Myself and I finds himself confused, bewildered, and losing faith in Daybreak.

We’ve got more captivating discussion from the MMO blogosphere after the break, including a look at World of Warcraft’s impermanence, an exploration of Otherland, arguments over the holy trinity, and more!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

Last week on the Massively OP Podcast, we tried to answer a question from long-time listener Spagomat, who told us he keeps going back to older MMORPGs because newer ones just feel like the same design tropes playing out, over and over again. “It feels as if the genre has discovered a collection of design boundaries over time and can’t figure out how to surmount them,” he lamented.

“So I was wondering if you could lay out, say, a list of the top-10 design innovations of the past 3-5 years. Whether well-known and influential or tried in some small game and mostly undiscovered, anything you could say has changed the landscape, or could be a seed for change in the future.”

While Justin and I came up with a few, some of them were definitely older than five years, like level-nullification, and others aren’t catching on as well as we might want, like co-op harvesting nodes. Can you guys do better? What’s the greatest MMO innovation of the last few years?

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMORPG boss fight?

World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade was very definitely not my favorite WoW expansion, but it had some fantastic dungeons. Karazhan leaps to mind as being a superb small-raid experience, and of the many boss encounters it offered, the Opera Event stands in my memory as being one of my favorite boss fights ever.

While it’s a bit of a cakewalk for the modern character (as evidenced by the fact that Eliot got this screenshot for me last week, solo — thanks Eliot!), back then the Opera Event was challenging, randomly offering your group one of three encounters as part of the play: spoofs on Romeo and Juliet, Little Red Riding Hood, and my favorite, The Wizard of Oz. The last was a boss fight that rewarded exceptional crowd control as you took out Dorothee, Tito, Roar, Strawman, Tinhead, and The Crone. The loot was themed to match too.

So there’s my favorite, or at least most memorable, MMORPG boss fight — a boss fight with multiple bosses. What’s yours?

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MMO Week in Review: Black Desert and ArcheAge cash-shop rage (February 21, 2016)

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!

Cash-shop crises blew up in MMO land this week. We put up a Leaderboard poll this weekend about the growing resentment toward Black Desert’s proposed cash shop being expressed on Reddit and in the official forums; the debate is still raging over whether we should all be raging. And then ArcheAge sparked a new drama by introducing a form of stat-boosting costumes with a form of maintenance and decay built in under the RP guise of doing laundry. Is it always about money? Yes, pretty much.

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

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