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.

EVE Evolved: War declarations need revamped for the citadel era

It’s a universally accepted fact in EVE Online that you’re never truly safe from attack. Low-security space is littered with pirates looking for an easy kill, nullsec alliances respond to invasion of their territory with overwhelming force, and cloaked ships could lurk around every wormhole. Even in the friendliest parts of high-security space, you can still be blown up by a squad of suicide gankers or find yourself the target of a highsec war declaration. Wardecs are intended to allow player-run corporations to fight with each other in highsec without interference from the police, but over EVE‘s entire lifetime they’ve been almost exclusively used to grief and harass small corporations.

Some wardec alliances log literally thousands of wars per year, with almost all of them being against small industrial and social corporations whose members have no intention of fighting back. The aggressors typically just camp trade hub such as Jita 4-4 and declare war on any corp caught hauling valuables through the system, turning a potential sandbox content-generator into a boring pay-to-grief mechanic. With the landscape of EVE being transformed by player-owned citadels and a dynamic PvE revolution on the horizon, I think the time is right to revamp war declarations for the new citadel era. The current wardec system isn’t fit for purpose, and we deserve something more engaging.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give some thoughts on the wardec problem, a suggestion on how they could be revamped to fit the new citadel era, and an idea for how they could even provide a more immersive PvE experience.

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The Daily Grind: Do you like sharing player rage stories in MMOs?

We’ve all partied with them. The people who could take the simplest mechanic and screw it up. Players who think that “don’t stand in the bad” means “grab every bit of bad for myself and myself alone.” In Final Fantasy XIV, it’s the Bard who stacks when targeted by an AoE but runs away from the group when finally targeted by one where stacking is required. It’s the Death Knight who provokes after queueing as DPS in World of Warcraft. The Sniper who never enters cover in Star Wars: The Old Republic. You get the idea.

If you’re grouped with them, you probably will complain to your friends. But will you share it on a larger stage?

A subreddit I browse semi-regularly is in the middle of having a discussion about precisely that, whether posting these sorts of “look at this awful player” threads do more harm than good. Personally, I tend to think that they’re ultimately a negative thing, reinforcing an attitude of elitism and shaming instead of trying to teach people or just moving on. At the same time, I can understand people putting it forth as a cathartic exercise or just for a few moments of humor. So what about you? Do you like sharing player rage stories in MMOs?

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The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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The Daily Grind: How much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?

World of Warcraft Community Manager Ornyx sparked a bit of a wildfire on the game’s forums this past week as in response to a player criticizing Legion’s lack of content, he snarked, “I assume you’re trying to make a joke about content, because, looking at your Armory, it appears you’ve only engaged with about 25% of Legion.” In his follow-up, he said that his role is about “engagement and community-building,” not customer service, and characterized the exchange as “a bit of fun.”

The thread erupted, with some people arguing that the player who dared insult Blizz’s expansion got what he deserved and others expressing shock that a Blizzard employee would treat its players that way. I come down on the side of “enabling elitism is exactly why armory profiles shouldn’t be forcibly public to begin with.” I thought the comment in extremely poor taste for an employee. It’s the kind of low-effort ad hominem I see in bad arguments, not good ones. I expect better from community managers, certainly, in the service of “engagement and community-building” than to model dismissing opinions based on gearscore and not on their merits. Seeing that attitude promoted by a bluename disappointed me deeply, even if it didn’t surprise me.

So this morning’s Daily Grind is two-fold: Where do you stand on comments like this from studio employees? Is so-called “armory shaming” OK? And just how much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?

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The Daily Grind: Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?

I’ve been playing a lot of Ultima Online the past few weeks, but so many times I’ll be doing something that is objectively tedious (like taming or shuttling boxes of junk loot to the community trash box to turn in for points) and realize it and think to myself there is no freakin’ way that anyone who started playing MMOs in the last decade would put up with some of the quirks and conventions of the game. That’s no judgment on gamers, just the realization that it’s probably way too late to get into now if you’ve grown up under altogether different game design systems.

It’s not the only MMO I feel that way about; I’ve often felt that EverQuest II was too opaque and convoluted to return to, and oddly enough World of Warcraft has felt that way to me since Draenor.

Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?

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Massively Overthinking: Disentangling MMO classes and races

Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.

I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?

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EverQuesting: EverQuest II’s Proving Grounds prove to be a tad frustrating

Prove it.

EverQuest II recently introduced a new feature with the release of GU103 back on May 10th called the Proving Grounds. That place is no joke. I can assure you that it is pretty aptly named; this little instance is all about showing you and your group what you are made of.

When this feature was first announced, I was pretty excited. Who doesn’t like new content, especially something with replayability? It sounded fun. Initially I had thought (hoped?) that the new Proving Grounds content would be a feature enjoyable by the majority of the population. What I learned — quite quickly — was that my hopes and reality were two very different things. And I learned that the hard way. Hard as in double-digit-death-counter hard. Instead of sinking my teeth into this content, it sunk its teeth into me! Now that’s not necessarily a problem. I enjoy a challenge, and I do so look forward to conquering this one and exacting some revenge. However, I just wish my first experiences with the Proving Grounds didn’t come with more disappointment and frustration than fun because I do think it’s a good idea filled with promise. Read more

Choose My Adventure: Finding a hat in Neverwinter

When we last left off in Neverwinter, I was finding out whether or not people wanted me to purchase the game’s subscription-but-not-really. You voted a resounding no, although quite a few of you voted no on the basis of this making me angry faster or something like that. Guys, is this a thing? Do you just want me to be sad? I don’t think we can be friends if that’s the case, and I’m usually sad anyway. It’s not a long walk.

Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever lost touch with an MMO friend when you wish you hadn’t?

I do not move between games with a full entourage. I have one person who comes with me from game to game, maybe two, and the most likely person to come along is my wife. This means that there are many people I have met over the years from Final Fantasy XI onward whom I have just lost touch with. There are friends I made in Guild Wars who I no longer speak with, people I knew in World of Warcraft who have drifted away, even some people who have subsequently left Final Fantasy XIV and whom I just… don’t talk with any longer.

And yes, some of these people are folks I miss. It’s not exactly surprising that we’ve lost touch, but at the same time, these were cool folks and I hope they’re doing all right. Of course, there are also people I’ve lost touch with whom I probably wouldn’t really care much about even if I could find them again, so everything is variable. What about you, readers? Have you ever lost touch with an MMO friend when you wish you hadn’t?

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Tamriel Infinium: An alternative approach to playing Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind

If you happened to miss it, MJ and I jumped to the island of Vvardenfell on Monday because early access for the Elder Scrolls Online chapter of Morrowind started this week. Unlike other times that we’ve streamed together when most of what we did was questing, we just explored the island this time. Although part of that time was spent just figuring out my mic situation, it was a fun way to see the island and a very interesting way to play the game.

When MMOs and I were young, I hopped into Ultima Online not having a clue how to play the game. I saw miners running around naked supposedly because ore was heavy (and the threat of ganks was real). I saw people standing just outside the city carefully poking each other with low-level knives to help them gain experience. I also saw people standing around the bank barking, attempting to sell their wares. None of this was actually questing, but all of it was a legitimate way to play the game.

Elder Scrolls Online is a unique game, far apart from your standard themepark-style MMO. I would still call it a themepark, but it veers from the standard World-of-Warcraft-style themepark in many ways, chiefly in that you don’t have to follow a singular path to get a lot out of the game. In fact, have come up with some alternative ways to enjoy the content of Morrowind without following the main questline.

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Perfect Ten: Understanding MMORPG Warriors

There is always a Warrior. Every game has a Warrior. No matter what other class options it has, a Warrior is in that list. Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place in a galaxy far, far away (and thousands of years before the more well-established long time ago) where you have force adepts instead of mages or healers, operatives and Force assassins instead of rogues, and… Sith Warriors. And Sith Warriors still manage to tick off every single box on the Warrior Bingo card, which is why this is a list as opposed to just a bingo card.

I feel I have a reasonable and healthy relationship with Warriors. There are some games with Warriors I love, some with Warriors I don’t like, but in every single one I can make immediate assumptions just because it’s called a Warrior. From Guild Wars 2 to World of Warcraft, from Final Fantasy XI to Final Fantasy XIV, if you see something called a Warrior, you know what you’re getting into.

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World of Tanks apologizes for threatening to censor YouTuber

World of Tanks developer Wargaming has apologized for essentially threatening to abuse YouTube’s copyright law to retaliate against an unpaid promotional partner who published a video critical of the company.

YouTuber SirFoch’s original video berated Wargaming for overt pay-to-win tactics; Wargaming subsequently expelled him from its promotional program, accused him of “slandering [the] brand,” and according to chat logs then threatened to abuse YouTube’s copyright claim tool to kill the video if we wouldn’t, as well as cause him lost revenue on future videos by continuing to lodge copyright claims against anything else he published. Wargaming’s statements to the press earlier this week denied attempting to censor the YouTuber, in spite of the logs and its own released Q&A, and obliquely accused SirFoch of lying, of homophobic remarks, and of defaming the studio. The clear injustice of those accusations landed Wargaming on the front page of mainstream and niche news sites and even spawned an incredulous Jim Sterling piece.

Now the studio has completely reversed its stance and apologized for its threats and mischaracterization of the situation.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO offers the best dungeon crawling experiences?

Dungeons are deeply on my mind as of late, mostly because I’ve been missing doing them in MMORPGs. It’s odd: In particular MMOs, I run dungeons all of the time, while in others, I hardly ever touch them. The latter situation might be due to a lack of useful grouping tools, unrewarding instances, and games that have failed to develop an active dungeon crawling culture.

But which MMO offers the best dungeon crawling experience? That’s a tough one. I’ve certainly enjoyed plenty of World of Warcraft and RIFT’s instances, and I’ll admit that Final Fantasy XIV did a great job incorporating dungeons into its core gameplay. The Secret World had some awesome boss fights (and very little in the way of trash mobs), and I loved skirmishes in Lord of the Rings Online for a good while there.

What do you think? Which MMO has the best dungeon experience and why?

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