opinion

Opinion pieces are by definition neither neutral nor subjective. Massively Overpowered’s writers’ editorials reflect their own opinions, not necessarily the opinions of the site or company.

The Daily Grind: Is ‘naming-and-shaming’ MMO cheaters a good idea?

Last week on Reddit, an EVE Online player begged CCP to organize a wall of shame for botters – essentially an online list of those caught cheating, with character names and corps to boot. This, he argued, would not only prove to the community that cheaters were being banned but allow players to “self-police” those corps “actively harbouring bots.”

You’re probably making a face right now imagining just what EVE players might do with such a list, but then again, we’re talking about botters here. I’m more curious whether you folks actually believe those are effective or a good idea in general. Several EVE players said it’d never happen because of European laws, but in fact we’ve written articles about multiple MMO studios naming-and-shaming cheaters: Guild Wars 2, Riders of Icarus, H1Z1, Tree of Savior, and Mechwarrior Online, just to name the first five I found by searching the last three years of our own site.

Is “naming-and-shaming” MMO cheaters with a “wall of shame” a good idea, or should studios that famously ban the wrong people maybe stay away from painting targets on customers’ backs?

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Global Chat: Jumping on board the Warframe train

Are you playing Warframe these days? If not, you might be missing out on the growing party of people who seem to be flocking to Digital Extremes’ free-to-play shooter. Plenty of bloggers continue to discover and extol the virtues of this game, even years after it first hit the scene.

“The game’s been around for several years now,” said Nomadic Gamer, “so there’s a lot of maturity in the advice community and when people ask for ‘best builds’ they can be referred to builds created years ago.”

In An Age considers Warframe to be his “‘I don’t know what I feel like doing’ and ‘I only have 30 minutes to play’ game.” And while Superior Realities felt like the game was only “meh,” he did recognize the powerful effect of that word-of-mouth is having with this title.

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The Daily Grind: How often do you check your MMO playtime?

My main character in Final Fantasy XIV is fast approaching a year of total playtime. That isn’t entirely surprising, since she’s been in the game since version 1.0, but that’s still a lot of hours logged into a single character. I fear looking at the playtime stats for some of my older characters in World of Warcraft, to boot. It’s the sort of thing where just looking at it gives me a “holy crap, how long have I played this game” moment.

Most games give you some way of checking how long you’ve played a given character, and of course client services like Steam will often log your overall playtime. That means you can see how long you’ve been farting about. So what about you, readers? How often do you check your MMO playtime? Is it a regular event, or is it just whenever you have a vague curiosity about how many hours have been spent in a particular game?

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The Daily Grind: Are we due for a good cyberpunk MMO?

I am a generally big fan of the cyberpunk genre, especially when it works in a healthy dose of ’80s aesthetics for that clunky, neon flair. But when it comes to MMORPGs, good cyberpunk titles are extremely few and far between.

I think we have a bit of it in Neocron and Anarchy Online, and of course The Matrix Online was jacked into cyberpunk back when it was running. Now a-days there is a lot of excitement over CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, although we know very little about it other than it’ll have some sort of online functionality.

Are we due for a good cyberpunk MMO? Do you think that there’s a good audience out there for it and that it would appeal to a great number of gamers? For a bonus question, what would you like to see included in such a title?

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PSA: Darkfall New Dawn is free-to-play right now ahead of next week’s launch

If you’ve been curious about the indie spinoff Darkfall: New Dawn but aren’t sure yet about plunking down pre-order cash, then you’ll be interested to know that Ub3rgames has set aside this weekend for you to try it out for free. The game has multiple packages ranging from €19.99 with a €9.99 per month sub up to €74.99 with a €6.25 per month sub, but this weekend marks a “free trial” period before the launch.

“Wanna check out all the changes we’ve made and make your own opinion about what is new in the world of Agon? Time has come, our free trial will start tomorrow, January 19 12:00 CET [6 a.m. EST this morning]. During the free trial, there will be no limitation and the amount of xp gained will be increased by three. The free trial and the Indev_ server will close on Wednesday January 24 8:00 CET [2 a.m. EST].”

The game is scheduled to launch on January 26th in the wake of the abrupt and bizarre disappearance of the original Darkfall dev team in 2016, just after blessing multiple indie ventures seeking to reboot the game.

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Chaos Theory: Secret World Legends 2018 – new year, new game, new goals

What does Secret World Legends have in store for 2018? For the world, or for me? Either answer includes Season 2 of the story! Of course I anticipate much more exciting stuff as well. I wish I had a crystal ball — or maybe the number crunchers of the Dragon — to know what’s ahead. But this Chaos Theory is not about what the game will be doing this year, rather it’s about what I will be doing in the game!

That’s right: I started this resolutions business last year, and now I am compelled to continue the tradition. It’s a new year and a new game, so it’s time for some new goals. It’s also a great time to look back over 2017 and see how well I did with my first attempt at in-game goal setting.

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Massively Overthinking: Tackling our hoarding problem in MMORPGs

By coincidence, two articles in my feeds this past week both centered on video game hoarding – not hoarding the actual games but hoarding stuff inside of them. Blizzard Watch posted a piece on what makes people stop hoarding things like currency in Blizzard’s games, while Gamasutra published an article about how game designers can stop turning us into hoarders in the first place.

For this week’s Overthinking, I thought it would be constructive for the staff and readers to reflect on hoarding in MMOs specifically. Do you hoard, and if so, is it primarily consumables? Currencies? Event items? Something else? Do you think it’s a problem, or only when it’s encouraged as part of a microtransaction loop that ends with your buying more storage?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO studio told the biggest fib in 2017?

Lies piss me off. I have had MMO developers look me in the eye and lie right to my face. I have had PR promise something and then intentionally break that promise with a shrug. I have had studios mail me statements that are not just playing loose with the truth but dropping it on the ground and driving their boot heel right into it. I’ve had studios claim they never said a thing right up until I produce the recording where they very clearly did (always save your recordings, folks). I’ve been doing this a long time, but nevertheless, just when I think I’ve seen everything, I’m confronted with even more shenanigans.

You folks see plenty too! Just last year, in the midst of what was apparently a furied license negotiation, layoffs, community team silence, missed patch dates, and sexual harassment scandal – some or all of which ultimately led to the abrupt end of Marvel Heroes – Gazillion reps claimed to us that “the company is functioning normally.” And don’t even start me on the “sense of pride and accomplishment” line.

Which MMO studio told the biggest fib last year, and what was it?

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Choose My Adventure: Yes, Project Gorgon is a weird game

I want to start this column by saying the absolute meanest thing I have to say about Project Gorgon, and that one is probably pretty obvious. This is not a pretty game. I’m reluctant to say that it’s outright ugly because a lot of effort has obviously been put into making the game look as pretty as it possibly can, but there is a hard limit to how much you can do under the circumstances. The result? Even with graphics cranked up as high as they will go, this game is not a looker.

That’s the meanest thing I’ve got. In every other respect, it delivered on what I expected or actually provided me with a little bit more.

Character customization, at this point, is also pretty anemic and terrible, but I managed to make a character who looked at least halfway decent. Then my character got immediately fireballed in the face with several NPCs standing (or hovering) over her body, announcing sadly that her will wasn’t going to break, and so one of them would need to take her on specifically as a pet project. And then I woke up on an island.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?

Look, if you want to call me a doomsayer or a pessimist or whatever when it comes to Kickstarter and MMOs, you have every reason to do so. I’ve been saying unflattering things about it since back in 2012, at least. But when you back a Kickstarter, the explicit assumption is that what you are backing is an idea. It’s not an actual thing yet. Hopefully it will become an actual thing, but it is not one at the time you back it. And that means that some of the projects you fund will take your money and then never turn into actual games.

All part of the experience. But have you ever actually regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?

In my case, I do genuinely regret a game I helped fund on Kickstarter, although it wasn’t an MMO (Mighty No. 9 had a different set of enormous problems). But sometimes I wonder if people might not just be looking at games like TUG or Embers of Caerus; I can understand someone who funded Shroud of the Avatar or Crowfall and now feels like the game is developing in a very different direction, one that makes the previous funding a source of regret. So what about you? Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO, either because it didn’t happen or for other reasons?

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Hyperspace Beacon: The case for mature-themed guilds in the SWTOR community

I am a huge advocate for guilds that can remain friendly to the under 18 crowd. One of my favorite Star Wars: The Old Republic guilds, Unholy Alliance, is open to everyone. They have rules in place that make the guild friendly and fun for both adults and those under 18. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend any MMO for those under 13 that wasn’t specifically made for children unless they are accompanied by a trusted individual over 13. If you’re a guild leader, I believe it’s in your best interest to keep your guild friendly to those under 18. It gives you a greater opportunity to grow the guild, and teenagers are some of the best advocates for the game.

On the other hand, many guilds are 18+ and with good reason. Some have even gone so far as to say they don’t want members under 21. Granted, the guilds I’m talking about are usually roleplay guilds. In fact, SWTOR has the most 18+ guilds per capita over any other game from my perception. It’s tough to find a roleplay guild in on Star Forge that accepts players under 18. Although I don’t believe that every guild should be this way, I can understand some of the reasons why, and not all of them have to do with erotic roleplay — although that’s in there. What are the mature-themed guilds that you will find in SWTOR? And do they have to be mature-themed? Let’s answer that below.

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The Stream Team: Odessen is not the target in SWTOR’s KOTET

“Odessen is not the target,” were the cliffhanger words uttered by Scorpio at the end of the last SWTOR Choose My Alignment Adventure – all while Massively OP’s MJ & Larry were trapped in an old temple while stranded in the jungle on a romantic getaway on Dromund Kaas with Empress Acina. Romantic as in “fighting off assassins.” What threats are waiting the universe and our heroes? And how many more !vote flirts will you, the audience, get? Join us live at 2:00 p.m. to learn the answers to these incredibly important questions.

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

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Game Theory explores the psychological exploitation at work in lockboxes

“It’s as easy as one, two, insert your credit card number here!” So begins the parody at the beginning of the first of two recent Game Theory videos all about 2017’s favorite-and-least-favorite topic, lootboxes. Rather than overtly picking a side, the vloggers attempt to sort out how lockboxes work – whether they’re just annoying business model glitches or deliberately manipulative end-runs around gambling laws, all by examine the science.

Now, contrary to the first video’s claim, lots of people are indeed talking about the science of lockboxes, but it nevertheless contributes a funny and clear-headed angle on the psychology of lockboxes from skinner boxes and dopamine to loss aversion, the sunk cost fallacy, and the illusion of control. The chilling idea is that we actually get our dopamine blast from opening the box – not from getting what we wanted. Lockboxes, like casinos, exploit the crap out of that, adding deadlines and exclusive loot to ramp up the pressure.

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