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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the most useless crafting system?

Yesterday Blizzard Watch’s Anne Stickney penned a wee piece on crafting in World of Warcraft whose title just grabbed me. “Are you still crafting items in WoW?” My brain read it as “are you still crafting items in a game that hates crafters? What kind of dummy are you?” And that’s because as Anne points out, WoW has had a tradeskill problem for a really long time. Blizzard has always seen crafting as supplementary at best, never a core game feature, never a system that should ever threaten the “real” game content. WoW is not the MMORPG you play if you’re serious about Being A Crafter. Which is one of the reasons I haven’t felt tempted to go back to it since I bowed out during the hot mess that was Draenor – there are way too many games out there catering to crafter types like me.

The saddest part is that even then, WoW’s is far from the worst crafting system around. I bet you can think of worse. Which MMORPG has the most useless crafting system?

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The Daily Grind: How do we solve the broken MMO dev cycle?

Massively OP reader Yuri has posed us an interesting chicken-or-the-egg question for this morning’s Daily Grind. “People got burned on paying for unfinished games and are waiting until proper release, but developers shut down projects saying they didn’t see enough support,” he writes. “How can that circle be broken?”

I suspect anyone who’s ever backed a Kickstarter, contemplated buying a game in early access, or followed an indie MMO from inception has struggled with this issue. With rare exceptions, I do my best not to buy anything in early access to protect myself from both heartbreak and frustrating financial loss, but I still want to support great indie games. Then when we see games crumble in alpha or beta because they couldn’t get that critical mass of players, testers, backers, or attention, I always wonder whether people like me are making things worse. I get wanting to let the market sort it out, but the market keeps sorting out the stuff I wanted to play. I’m not sure that’s winning.

How do we solve the problem? Or is it an issue that we players should consider not our problem to begin with?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

If you’ve been playing MMOs long enough, you’ve probably lived through at least one sunset of a beloved game world. In fact, I bet most of you were personally affected by more than one. I sure have been. I also bet you’ve had to wade through your share of “let it go” trolling across the internet whenever you mention it from people who either haven’t been affected or weren’t that attached to the game worlds, their characters, and their fellow players as you were.

All that said, there are some games I’ve said goodbye to that didn’t hit me as hard as they should’ve. For example, while I consider Asheron’s Call an extremely important MMO and loved it in its day, I knew how tiny it was and had already watched its sequel sunset once, so the final curtain didn’t bring tears to my eyes. By contrast, there have been other MMOs cruelly cut down in their content prime, and those gutted me so much more.

Which MMO sunset had the biggest impact on you?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.

“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”

I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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The Daily Grind: How much time do you log in a typical MMORPG session?

The Pantheon community is discussing a really interesting question about the two-hour gamer this week: “How much do you expect to get done within a two-hour time frame?” The answers on the forum so far naturally skew toward the type of old-school gamers who are Pantheon superfans to begin with, so I wondered whether that would be the same for the greater MMORPG population. After all, MMOs (and other online games) have consistently rewritten the script for how much time they expect you to put in toward any given activity; while once it was no big thing to sit for a day camping a piece of gear, modern online games tailor matches and dungeon-runs for much shorter periods, sometimes in that 30-minute sweet spot.

So today’s Daily Grind is two-fold: First, how much time do you allot to a typical play session – do you consider yourself a two-hour gamer, playing in roughly two-hour chunks, or are your playtime chunks smaller (or longer)? And secondly, what do you expect to accomplish in that amount of time?

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about ‘buying runs’ in MMORPGs?

Long ago in classic Guild Wars, I used to be fond of buying runs – probably the earliest was the Beacon’s Perch to Droknar’s Forge run. You’d take your alt to Beacon’s, pay the runner a few plat, then sit back as the runner warped the party along an extremely dangerous route past the majority of the game to the zone where you could craft good-looking, max-level armor, then you’d port back and keep playing and not need to worry about tedious armor upgrades along the way. It was actually a lot of fun to watch the specialized runner “work” and to chit-chat with other folks in the running party. And yep, it was all legal gameplay. Other games have similar mechanics in spite of not having party warping; you’ve probably heard of gamers in themeparks like World of Warcraft buying a “spot” on a raid that will essentially carry them and give them the loot they’re after.

In Guild Wars 2, however, you’d probably best watch out if you’re into that type of gameplay: ArenaNet clarified last week that it’s OK with people buying runs in-game, but the studio says a lot of people in the running business are actually involved in third-party RMT, which the company considers illegal, so you buy runs at the risk of account bans if you transact with the wrong group.

What do you think about “buying runs” in MMORPGs?

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The Daily Grind: What would it take to get you back into WoW?

This week, I found myself discussing with MOP’s Justin and Eliot my current disillusionment with World of Warcraft, specifically for its allied races. I’m happy for people in love with Allied races, but they do nothing for me. It would take world and class updates to get me to go back to WoW and go through the effort of catching up. Without that? It’s time I could be spending in one of my “home” MMOs, so there I stay.

But dang. If WoW added bards? Dual-classing? A crafting system that actually cared about crafters? A more (as Eliot put it) open class structure in general? Real housing? They’d already have my resub, and I’d be right next to Justin grinding gold for tokens.

What would it take to get you back into WoW? Did allied races do it for you? Are you holding out for legacy? Or is there nothing at all?

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The Daily Grind: What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018?

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Camelot Unchained: Yes, it’ll have a sub, but it won’t be $15. Mark Jacobs re-confirmed that it’ll be less than the industry standard down in our comments a few weeks ago. It’s been rattling around in my head since then as subscriptions just keep popping up in the news. Star Citizen has an optional sub in alpha. Age of Conan just lowered its subscription rate. And the biggest subscription MMO in the world seems to have no problems moving a bajillion expansions, driving token prices to fluctuate. Did we hit rock bottom? Are we just watching the price reset in a new era?

I’m currently paying $13 a month for an old-school game because nobody else has content that even comes close. I wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for an MMO I couldn’t wait to play. In fact, I was prepared to pay more than $15 for CU. Would you? What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018? And what would you expect from an MMORPG charging a subscription?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?

I really like abandoned places in games. One of my favorite articles ever was about Glitch, after it sunsetted, when I recapped my experience touring the abandoned secret places that were inexplicably built into that MMO.

That article popped into my brain again last week when Kotaku wrote about abandoned modes in GTA OnlineGTAO is one of the biggest, most lucrative online games in the world, a top-10 game even last year – and yet there’s so much to do, Kotaku argues, that most of the game is suffering from the old MMO problem whereby old content is a ghost town as everyone is in the new stuff. Hence, abandoned modes.

Of course, MMORPGs are constantly struggling to fix that problem by giving us reasons to go back into old content, but they’re not always successful. What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: Do you actually care whether game studios apologize for screw-ups?

Bungie. Epic. Hi-Rez. Lots of apologies this week for one thing or another. As one of our readers, @Helltrek, put it, “It seems that the only thing productive @Bungie has been doing since release is… apologizing.”

I’ve read so many thousands of apologies from game studios that they all blur together, literally, just like the “we’re sunsetting and thank you for your support” messages. They could replace all that with a robotic [sorrowful sentiment] and I’d probably be OK with it. What I actually care about (and skim for to quote in articles) is what they’re doing about it. The patch, the compensation, the rollbacks, the toxicity strike team – whatever. Just get to it. It’s likely because whoever is doing the apology is five times removed from the person who screwed it up to begin with.

Do you actually care whether MMO studios apologize for screw-ups? If they didn’t apologize and just gave you a stack of currency, would you be just as content? Or do you require some performative atonement from a community manager?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG for a trio?

I’ve been considering this question ever since my husband and I upgraded our six-year-old’s Guild Wars 2 account with Path of Fire and we found that trioing there is actually quite a lot of fun (and frustrating because again, six-year-old, but also fun!). That got me to wondering which other MMOs we might consider once he’s a bit older and doesn’t need games that are quite as visually gore-free as GW2.

We’ve talked about great MMOs for duos before – along with the worst. Most MMOs with level or zone scaling are going to work, as will some MMOs with a sidekicking feature. On the other hand, some MMOs really don’t scale up to “one more person” particularly well; they have grouping systems where a trio is still one body short of the “real” content, offer sidekicking systems that work only for pairs, or limit rewards for doing regular game content with multiple people. Some are just a challenge to coordinate more bodies: I’ve really struggled playing Trove with him, for example, because it seems so hard to team up effectively and stay together in basic content there.

What’s the best MMORPG for a trio? Can you think of any MMOs that are particularly suited to trios over duos or groups of four or more?

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The Daily Grind: Where did you Marvel Heroes players scatter to after the sunset?

A couple of months ago, after we learned about the sunset of Marvel Heroes but before it actually happened early, we asked our local Marvel fans which MMO they planned to play next to fill the hole left by the end of the popular MMOARPG. DC Universe Online and Champions Online were offered as contenders, of course, with the bigger crowdfunded games – Ship of HeroesCity of Titans, and Valiance Online – all getting mentions too.

But since many of those games aren’t actually out yet, and two of them are on the older side, I’m wondering where you actually went – and if it’s outside of the superhero world, what was it that made you trade in your capes and tights. We asked this same question when City of Heroes closed down, for example, and a lot of folks had scattered to some surprising destination rather than the superhero games – Secret World and Star Trek Online, as I recall, led the pack.

Me, I just logged into and swooped around in the City of Heroes Paragon Chat a few times and got it out of my system for another few weeks.

Marvel Heroes players, where did you actually go?

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