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The Daily Grind: What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

Earlier this month, Pantheon’s community team tweeted out a question that keeps coming back to me: “What motivates you to play an MMORPG for long periods of time, as in months, sometimes, years?” My first reaction was a pretty common one I bed and was true for me for a long time: friends and guildies! I certainly played some games far longer than I would have otherwise because I wanted to hang out with friends (EverQuest in particular is coming to mind).

But in recent years, when I already “see” my friends and guildies every day in external chats, I’d found games need some other draw too. Housing is probably the biggest one. I don’t usually get sucked in for dailies or anything like that, but give me a house that I love and want to keep up – that I’ll not only log in for but pay for, as my continuing Ultima Online fees prove.

What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the dumbest armor?

Back in February, PC Gamer put out a piece on the absolute dumbest character armor in gaming history. There’s more than one MMORPG in the list, including World of Warcraft (Arthas’ Lich King armor) and Lineage 2 (Dark Elf string armor). Bizarrely, City of Heroes made the roster too for that one dude from The Lost faction with a TV helmet. The best part is the commentary from an actual real-life armorer (they’re basically all the equivalent of “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid”).

I thought it would be fun to dig further into MMOs for even more dumb armor. Me, I’ll vote for anything where the shoulders would poke me in the eye, anything I would legit wear clubbing, and anything that proves definitively that the designer has no idea how actual boobs work.

Which MMO has the dumbest armor? Post pics if you have them!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the biggest scandal the MMORPG genre has ever seen?

Over the weekend in the Guild Wars 2 spyware article comments, a commenter remarked that Blizzard’s Warden spyware was “the biggest scandal in MMOs” over the last 10 years. I was pretty surprised to see that claim; I was aware of Warden, but it probably wouldn’t even make my top 10 list of scandals across the industry. The first one that pops to mind is Blizzard’s RealID, probably followed by Monoclegate, the Funcom insider trading case, the EVE jumpgate scandal, the Sigil Games parking lot firing fiasco, and the NCsoft/Bluehole lawsuit.

I’m positive I’m forgetting some juicy ones. What’s the biggest scandal – scandal, mind you, not just drama – the MMORPG genre has ever seen? Lay ’em on me!

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The Daily Grind: Do you have a ‘guilty pleasure’ MMO?

As comments and tweets and nastygrams in my inbox have repeatedly demonstrated over the years, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve put in years of play in brutal gankboxes and done more than your fair share of time in endgame raiding and PvP: An hour in a guilty pleasure MMO renders you irreversibly contaminated in the eyes of a certain segment of the gaming population. You’re a filthy casual (or worse!). I don’t actually buy that idea for a second, but I can’t help but find it colors my ability to enjoy and willingness to gush over cutesy games, silly MMOs, and retro titles.

Case in point? Trove. I’m consistently surprised by the depth I’ve found in Trove (in fact, the overall gameplay loop reminds me more of City of Heroes than Minecraft or Cube World), but the fact that people see neon voxel graphics and smirk it away as a kiddie game both irritates and squelches me. And yet it’s the MMORPG that’s got me logging in every day the last month or so, something I haven’t felt like doing anywhere else for quite a while.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” MMO? Do you keep a secret any of the MMOs you play? Don’t worry; we won’t tell!

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The Daily Grind: Do you get grumpy over MMO events on repeat?

I’m a huge fan of Guild Wars 2’s Super Adventure Box, even if I am not the best jumper in the world. My kid loves it, I love the graphics, the rewards are fun – really, it’s something we look forward to every year since it became a permanent event fixture. On the other hand, when the update doesn’t change much from year to year aside from QOL fixes, some of the shine does wear off. I definitely felt that way in World of Warcraft in the years when Blizzard just put the annual events on repeat (it’s gotten better about giving those events refreshes in recent years, I’ve noticed!).

Still, I hate to look a gift sparklepony in the mouth. It could be worse: I could be one of those Secret World players who are practically begging for the return of some of the events they miss from the old game in the new game because they’ve been cut off while Funcom slowly rolls them back out.

Do you get grumpy over MMO events on repeat? Would you prefer them to see a refresh every year, or are you just glad to see any annual events at all in your MMO of choice?

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The Daily Grind: What do you consider ‘meaningful’ MMO content?

Massively OP commenter DK went on a Twitter tear last week that caught my eye. He was criticizing the way some MMORPG players use the word “meaningful” as a sort of a dog whistle for hardcore or elite.

“Meaningful progression” – from these gamers – “means being able to play more hours and day and make everyone who pays less have no chance against you in PvP or PvE or economically,” he wrote. “Meaningful PvP is being able to loot the corpses of the people you facerolled due to meaningful progression leaving them with nothing at all – no gear/weapons/anything. Meaningful PvE means WoW-style raiding.”

I thought it was a good observation. It’s not what I mean by meaningful, but in retrospect, I realize that it’s what many of the people I’ve argued with over the years sure meant, and the disconnect between visions for the genre suddenly became clear to me. It’s also made me a lot less eager to use the word.

Do you agree with DK? What do you consider “meaningful” MMO content?

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The Daily Grind: How do you deal with muscle memory when playing multiple MMORPGs?

I’ve been playing two games that focus a lot on jumping lately: Trove and Guild Wars 2, specifically Guild Wars 2’s Super Adventure Box content. And it’s been the hardest time I’ve had playing multiple MMOs at a time specifically because of jumping. Jumping in Guild Wars 2 is a one-click, last-second leap into the void, right? You take off and hold your breath that you land, especially in SAB or jumping puzzles, where the visible landing area is actually smaller than the real landing area.

But in Trove, double-jumping is life, and you can even boost your jump skill. You’re pretty much jumping all the time. And I’m seriously struggling moving between the games. Ask me how many times I’ve fallen in SAB this week because my brain wants me to double- or triple- or duodecuple-jump as if I’m in Trove. It’s not pretty!

How do you balance muscle memory for playing multiple MMORPGs? Do you drag around the same keymaps to help out? Is there a particular pair of games that you find butt heads more often than not?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG offers the best ‘spiral’ gameplay?

Last week, in his Ready Player One piece from GDC, MOP’s Andrew paraphrased something from Darewise’s Randy Smith that stuck out to me.

“[T]hemepark development is also more segregated. While it’s good for spreading players out into the world, it also tends to make your content linear, sending people into different zones that you’re constantly having to create. Instead, [Smith] suggested a focus on more ‘spiral’ style gameplay, where you revisit and redo things in a different way. Think of sandbox games where all your supplies are scattered around the game world. You start off with what you need, have a reason to go out and explore, but also a reason to come back.”

I loved this phrase – spiral gameplay – and was thinking about the MMOs that do this best. The one that popped immediately to mind was actually classic Guild Wars, even though it’s not a sandbox. I was always a big fan of how the game would send you through a map on an instanced mission, and then set you free in an explorable version of the same map with a much looser goal, giving you a chance to experience the same area with slightly different content.

Where else have you seen this philosophy in play? Which MMORPG offers the best “spiral” gameplay?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the best April Fools’ Day prank this year?

April Fools’ Day this year has been pretty weird, given that MMO studios started rolling out their pranks and events in the middle of last week, and here we are on a holiday and a Sunday too. We’ve seen everything from Guild Wars 2’s sitting in chairs to the real-life theme park teased Black Desert. Pokemon teamed up with a noodle company. Elder Scrolls Online’s been running its Jester’s Festival for four days already!

I’m pretty fond of Path of Exile: Royale myself.

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The Daily Grind: How do you deal with your anger in MMORPGs?

Earlier this month, Overwatch made headlines when a player posted up a behavioral therapy chart his wife – who happens to be a therapist – made him fill out after he complained about his game losses. The idea is that you write down your “negative thoughts” about the game experience, then reflect on that to see how your temporary emotion has distorted your opinions, then craft a positive frame instead. It’s funny – but also pretty useful, and even Overwatch Redditors were asking for a blank sheet so they could try it themselves.

That brings us to today’s Daily Grind: How do you deal with your anger in an MMO? Do you complain to guildies, log out, bang your desk, go work out to burn off some steam? Are you handling it as well as the Overwatch Redditor and trying to learn from what went wrong? What do you do, exactly, when your teammates turn out to be “hot garbage”?

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The Daily Grind: Are blacklists, quizzes, and threats effective at reducing text toxicity in MMOs?

Toxicity in online gaming just keeps popping up – specifically as it pertains to chat and commenting.

MOP reader Tanek pointed us to a thread about Standing Stone Games, which is apparently blocking specific words in LOTRO’s chat, including supposedly “political” words, leading some players to demand the company publish the full list to prove to said players they’re not “biased” (not gonna happen).

Reader Stephen then linked us to the amusing story of a Norwegian site that’s developed a WordPress plugin that requires people to take a quiz on an article’s contents before being allowed to comment.

Finally, there’s Saga of Lucimia, which this week spent its Monday dev blog discussing the Fair Play Alliance and its own home-grown play nice policy – and the fact that it will take a zero-tolerance, insta-ban approach to dealing with racism (we’ll assume other bigotry too).

All of these are approaches to handling specific community problems that MMO players deal with in text-based chat and forums (vs other online games that are more focused on toxic voice chat or grief play). Do you think they’re effective? Do text-based games have a bigger problem than voice-based games? Are chat blacklists, intelligence vetting, and dire threats enough to thwart text toxicity, or is there another way?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most creative way MMOs thwart toxicity?

Forget group-kicks: If you’re a tool in Sea of Thieves, your own shipmates might just opt to stuff you in the brig – “a holding cell located on the bottom of the ship that disruptive players can be sent to after a democratic vote is held by their shipmates,” explains Polygon in a piece last week. The idea is to give toxic or obnoxious players a chance to apologize or shape up, even roleplay their way out of the situation they created.

This kind of penalty isn’t entirely new to MMOs, whether we’re talking jail in Ultima Online or Age of Wushu, but it’s certainly creative, right? At least as long as the majority of your ship isn’t toxic and you’re the one being shoved into a cell.

What’s the most creative in-game way you’ve seen an online game studio thwart toxicity?

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The Daily Grind: Is player trading a make-or-break MMO feature for you?

MOP reader Xijit recently pointed us to a thread on Bless Online’s Steam page where players are noting that person-to-person trading is not currently possible in some overseas versions of the game, including the Japanese servers. While a Neowiz representative wrote, “There has been a TON of feedback from players that they would like trading for the Steam release, so it is not set in stone yet that trading will not be available for Steam,” that didn’t stop the discussion and frustration over the possibility.

What surprised me was how many people are in favor of demolishing player trade in some form or other on the grounds that it reduces RMT and/or pay-to-win. Personally, I consider player trading crucial to MMOs and don’t even like it when they make it difficult, the way some of my favorite MMOs already do – Guild Wars 2 makes you mail items to each other, for example, while in Trove, you have to hunt down a trading post or leave items in a secured bin in your guildhall.

Is player trading a make-or-break MMO feature for you?

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