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Make My MMO: Star Citizen would make for a terrible scam (September 16, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts gave an interview that seemed to express understandable frustration with the constant barrage of demands for alpha launch estimates, scam accusations, and “fan trolling” he encounters.

“I am fed up of giving someone an estimate – I’d rather say, here’s the data I have, here’s the schedule I see,” he told Eurogamer, arguing that CIG is already providing progress reports for the massive crowdfunded MMO. “There’s a subset of people who say ‘this thing is never going to come out, it’s a scam’. Which is plainly not true. It would be the worst scam in the world. We’re hiring all these people, we’re working really hard. We’re showing what we’re doing every week.”

Meanwhile, we wrapped up our tour of Shroud of the Avatar, Elite Dangerous announced its September 26th update, we chatted with Ashes of Creation at PAX, Kickstarter began welcoming Japanese creators, Albion Online kicked off playtests for its arena mode, AdventureQuest 3D is going all out for Talk Like A Pirate Day, and Dogma: Eternal Night continued hammering out its combat system (thanks, DDOCentral!).

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: A review of Titans Return Magnus Prime with every noun replaced with moth edition

I had no real use for Moths Return Powermaster Moth when the moth was first announced, because while I liked the previous version of the moth… well, there are about a dozen moths of that moth sitting in my moth. However, the Japanese moth got released with what is probably the last moth of the line, so I wound up with him anyway. And it’s kind of circular, since the original moth was the first Moth moth I actually owned. Everything comes back to the same moth after all.

Much to my surprise, this is a really solid moth; you can tell where the moth shares design elements from Ultra Moth, but the retooling makes it feel like a very different moth. I expected the moth to feel a bit oversized, which is often the case with “enlarged” Moth moths, but here it looks trim, lithe, and in sharp contrast to the bulkier moth that Moth looks like. So it’s a pretty great moth. Not worth the $100 moth alone, maybe, but still really fun. And he has the right moths, that means a lot to me.

Oh, right, What Are You Playing. Let us know down in the moths!

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The Daily Grind: Do you like MMO quests with fail conditions?

In my recent forays into Dungeons and Dragons Online, I was forcibly reminded just how different this game in comparison of your standard MMORPG. For one thing, there seem to be many more quests and dungeons that are peppered with fail conditions which immediately terminate a run if certain actions are performed or fail to be executed.

Of course, this sort of thing isn’t exclusive to DDO; when you think about it, most MMOs feature fail conditions on occasion. Maybe it’s that escort quest that tanks if your bumbling NPC gets his or her butt shot up. Sometimes fail conditions come in the form of special achievements that offer an optional layer of difficulty for players looking for challenge.

Do you like MMO quests with fail conditions or do you resent them? What example would you use as a memorable mission with this sort of mechanic?

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Betawatch: Crowfall shares lots of fun stuff (September 15, 2017)

Good news for Crowfall fans this week because there’s plenty on the docket about the game’s development. You might not consider a whole lot of discussion about how the game succeeded at crowdfunding to be new content, but you’ve also got the full list of race/class combinations at launch and a dangerous beachhead for players to fight around. So there’s lots of good stuff happening for fans, yes?

The remainder of the beta news… well, there’s some good stuff in there, too! And one thing that’s perhaps not so good. Let’s head right in.

Meanwhile, we’ve got that full list of games down below with all of the information you could possibly expect at this point from our regular weekly column. Did something jump to a new phase of testing without us noticing? Let us know down in the comments, we find that fascinating and only marginally annoying. (And the annoyance is with the studios who don’t let us know, mind.)

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Massively Overthinking: What keeps you from playing mobile MMOs?

Earlier this week, we wrote about Black Desert developer Pearl Abyss’ IPO and its grand plans for the future – among them, four additional MMOs. Sounds great, right? Except that the suspicion, at least in our comments, is that Pearl Abyss will just follow in the footsteps of Nexon, NCsoft, and Netmarble in that the games will mobile MMOs and not “real” MMORPGs at all. That may or may not be true; the games have fairly fast turnaround for a full-scale MMORPG, but then the company talked up the BDO engine for future games and expressed great ambition in the MMORPG market in the west and on console.

But the suspicion seems to turn off so many of us — the stigma is real. So for today’s Overthinking, I wanted to dig into that. Do you play mobile MMOs, especially any of the modern crop that are popular in East Asia and then ported here? What keeps you from playing mobile MMOs, and what would you want out of an MMO for a mobile device that would actually make you consider it a home MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: Are MMO lockboxes actually even worse than gambling?

MMO blogger Ethan “Isarii” Macfie made an interesting point in one of his recent Critical Writ videos that I think deserves some amplification and debate. He argues that lockboxes are fairly compared to gambling — but in fact, they’re far worse.

In a traditional gambling setup, he notes, you might have 99 losers in a group of 100. The payment provided by the losers literally pays the winners (as well as pays for the infrastructure behind the casino). Without the losers’ cash, the casinos would have nothing to give to the winners – the risk is the only thing the casinos have to trade on.

In video gaming, however, that’s not how it works. A video game company is capable of selling gameplay as a product. There’s no fundamental scarcity of pixels in a digital game, and the profits from lockboxes aren’t going back to the winners in any sort of tangible way. Lockboxes merely allow the studio to create losers from pure greed. As he puts it, “They choose to introduce these goods in a way that creates losers out of their customers who don’t get what they want and have to take more chances possibly still not getting what they want to really purchase what they’re trying to purchase.”

Do you agree with Isarii? Is he right that MMO lockboxes are even worse than gambling?

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Global Chat: Not that impressed by Destiny 2

Destiny 2’s recent PC beta certainly brought out curious players in droves, and MMO bloggers couldn’t help but share their opinions on this next evolution of the sci-fi shooter franchise — even if those opinions weren’t too positive.

“It proved to be a deeply disappointing experience,” Superior Realities said. “Not because of anything wrong with the game, but because the beta offered such a small sliver of it as to be entirely pointless.”

Endgame Viable just doesn’t get it: “I know I’m going to regret this, but: What’s all the hype about? I didn’t hate it, but Destiny 2 looked and played like every other shooter.”

How would you respond to those observations? While you think about it, let’s look past D2: The Mighty Space Ducks to more essays on Elder Scrolls Online, EverQuest II, and the dinosaurs of ARK: Survival Evolved.

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The Daily Grind: What are acceptable barriers to experience the story in an MMO?

One of the things that strikes me with a certain degree of bemusement is how often various bits of story in Guild Wars 2 are locked behind things. If you’re not raiding, you’re locked out of the story there; if you weren’t playing when the first season of the Living World story played out, same deal. But then, those are pretty common lockouts, and there are important World of Warcraft stories you simply can’t access if you play now (because they’re not there any more). So perhaps it isn’t surprising.

No sooner do I think about that, though, than I think about what other sorts of lockouts you could design for story content. Some amount of story in MMOs is always locked behind invested time (you have to get up to the right level and so forth) and real-world money (you’ll never see the expansion stories for Final Fantasy XI if you never buy the expansions). But what other sorts of lockouts could you have? Where do you draw the line for what stories should be locked behind and what shouldn’t impede your ability to explore an MMO’s story? Let’s throw that question to you, readers. What are acceptable barriers to experience the story in an MMO? And are there any barriers you would like to see that just don’t show up very often?

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Perfect Ten: The 10 tiers of MMORPG lore

Lore! Huh! What is it good for? Understanding why you’re standing in the middle of a pack of angry people with fangs in MMOs, of course. It’s the thin line dividing your actions from being reckless, indiscriminate mayhem and discriminating, careful mayhem. Lore is how you know what the world is like beyond your front door, and it’s the difference between understanding that you face Ragnaros, lord of flame or just knowing that there’s a dude here made out of fire, so you should probably use water spells on him.

All lore, however, is not created equal. There’s lore that creates a detailed, vibrant world full of people with their own hopes and dreams, and there’s lore that creates a game where you know what you’re supposed to be doing but have no idea what people do for fun afterwards aside from waiting to die. So today, we explore the tiers of lore, arranged in a numbered list because that’s the entire premise of the column. It’s not Perfect Vague Assortment of Concepts. That’s not even a column.

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Snag a Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics Norse pack from Hi-Rez and Massively OP in honor of its Steam launch today!

Hi-Rez’s turn-based strategy card game Hand of the Gods — you might recall it better as SMITE Tactics or even its internal name, Hotgods — is officially coming on Steam. Today, in fact: It arrives on the platform following patch elements much requested by players, says the studio, “including the refinement of Combat Logs and the new additions of Clans and a Deck Tracker.” Yesterday, we wrote about some of the new pantheons coming in the future too; the studio has further elaborated on new cards and the Japanese and Hindu pantheons.

In the meantime, however, we’ve got some free stuff for you courtesy of Hi-Rez: keys for the Norse starter pack:

“The Norse Starter Pack will grant the 3 Norse cards Dagaz, Gift of Munin, and Ratatoskr. These codes can be redeemed in-game and are for PC only. These codes can be redeemed only once per account, so if someone has already redeemed a code previously, they can’t redeem it again on the same account. (Note: This pantheon starter packs is different from the main starter pack in the Steam release that grants the Ra skin.)”

Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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The Daily Grind: Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate?

As an MMO enthusiast, I have this tendency to cheer games on and be interested in all sorts of titles — even the ones that I know deep down to my bones are not for me. For example, I am not a great fan of PvP-centric MMOs. I don’t resent their existence, but that gameplay is too stressful and fraught with drama for my taste.

Yet I can’t help but be attracted to some of these games because I like the art, the passion, or some of the non-PvP mechanics involved. Crowfall looks gorgeous and I’m all about its eternal kingdoms housing system. Camelot Unchained has such a great team and talent behind it that I feel wistful they aren’t making a PvE game. And I’ve even gone on record as saying that Albion Online’s art style and cross-platform accessibility is pretty cool. What is wrong with me?

Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate? What do you do with that?

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The Daily Grind: Why are you not into virtual reality?

Massively OP reader and commenter Sally Bowls pointed us to a brief post on Axios in which a VR consultant and former Oculus employee opines on why VR isn’t catching on as well as you’d expect, and the reason isn’t money. In fact, she suggests the reason is that consumers are simply too addicted to other compelling content — specifically, smartphones and social media. While gaming and education are the platform’s chief uses, most people just don’t want to put down their damn phones long enough to become engrossed by something that takes up their full physical and mental attention.

“[VR] has to be a really compelling reason to get you to give up all that,” she explained at the Mobile Future Forward conference last week. “There aren’t just a ton of those reasons just yet.”

MOP’s audience is chiefly MMO gamers who skew toward virtual worlds already, so maybe we’re not a perfect test case, but I still wondered whether the consultant is right. If you’re not into VR, why not, specifically? Is it, as suggested, that you’d just rather be doing something more connected but also more popcorny through lighter-weight technology altogether?

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