We’ll assume since you’re a savvy gamer reading Massively OP that you’re already well aware of the world’s best MMO podcast. But what do you do with your other 167 hours after you’re heard the new episodes? Communicate with other people like a chump? Perish the thought!
On a recent episode of the Massively OP Podcast, we received a listener email asking for other podcast recommendations. While we gave a few on the air, the truth is that there are plenty out there to hear, although you might not be quite as aware of them. To help you fill the audio void in your life, here are several other podcasts that tackle our favorite hobby.
It’s been a while since I wrote a column that comes out on Thursdays, which means that it’s also been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to do my usual holiday nonsense on Thanksgiving. Time was, of course, that I would wish everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day and call it good, but when I suggested listing several holidays that aren’t being celebrated today, Bree fired back a confused look and a reminder that we are an MMO site, not a place for me to just leave bizarre lists.
This is also why you’re not getting a list of my favorite Transformers, so it might be a mercy.
I could just go with a list of games that I’m thankful for, but I don’t really want to just be doing that every year all over again when it’s really just one list with the names changing. What do I mean? Well, there’s a lot of different actual titles, but the fact is that I think there’s a pretty consistent list of games to be thankful for in terms of reasons.
No MMO can be in the spotlight eternally. Even some of the biggest names out there — your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, your Star Stables — wax and wane in the amount of press and attention they get depending on what they’re doing and how well their PR department is functioning.
It doesn’t take much for a title to fall off of practically everyone’s radar. In some cases it’s merely a matter of passing time and slipping popularity, but in others it’s just that the game or its marketing team hasn’t done anything of note in a long, long time. So that’s when you get MMOs that, when mentioned, cause the listener to cock an eyebrow and say, “Huh. That’s still around?”
Today we’re going to look at 10 such titles — not to demean them or laugh at some misfortune but to call attention to MMOs that are still humming along even though they’re not headlining news or ripping up Steam charts.
I like to think that I’m a better person now than I was when I first loaded up Final Fantasy XI. That’s how long I’ve been playing MMOs: I loaded up that game on the day it launched, started playing, and have looked back many times since. It’s nearly a third of my life, and I’ve gone from being just some guy to being… still just some guy, but some guy who has a career analyzing and writing about these games. And in the process, I think and hope I’ve become a better person.
Do I credit all of that to online games? Of course not. That’d be ridiculous. But I do think that playing MMOs can make you a better person. Not should, and not necessarily will, but I think that with time and experience, the possibility is there that they can. And I think that when taken in the right spirit, these lessons can help you be a better person in your day-to-day life. No, not by trying to get stronger by wandering out and smacking random wildlife with a sharp bit of metal but by applying lessons elsewhere.
The western has been limping along for decades now, occasionally rearing its head to produce a well-loved movie or game smash hit before disappearing once more. It’s certainly one of the most-cited genres when it comes to speculating about largely unexplored spaces for MMOs, but how feasible is doing an online western RPG really?
We’ve seen some titles tap into the western feel without being a true period game, such as WildStar and Fallen Earth, but no major attempt has been made to create an MMO in the wild, wild west of legend. Still, you look at how gamers flocked to Red Dead Redemption and you have to wonder if there’s potential there for something more persistent and massively multiplayer.
Today I’m going to mull over the finer points as to why making a western MMO would be an incredibly challenging feat — and why it would be totally worth it if done right. Giddyup, cowpokes!
Here I go, here I go, here I go again. Girls, what’s my weakness? Non-human races. But oh, so many MMOs let me down in that department.
Now, let’s be fair: I greatly enjoy the usual array of races present in most fantasy stories, which consists of five reliable stalwarts (humans, humans with pointy ears, short humans, short humans that are different from the other short humans, and big humans). And there are games that have done great things with the usual suspects. Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV have both done great work in making sure that the playable races are all seen as people by the game’s cultures, and there’s nifty stuff to unpack there. I like elves, even.
But I’m always super happy to find races that are really out of the box and can’t simply be pigeonholed into the categories that I’ve seen before – or if they can be, they’re at least interesting about it. So here are races from various games that are just plain cool.
RuneScape seems to be an MMO that’s incredibly easy to dismiss by the wider MMO community for being “too kiddy” or being a little too outside the boundaries of standard big-budget MMOs. Yet ignoring or belittling it would be a mistake: RuneScape has accumulated a massive audience over the years and been innovating and experimenting with ideas that other MMOs are too chicken to touch.
While it’s not a perfect game, RuneScape and its developer Jagex have shown a willingness to adapt to the community’s needs and try different things to see if they’ll take hold and work. Instead of coasting along into its elder years, RuneScape has been working hard to earn the continued patronage of its playerbase, and I think that should go noticed today.
In that spirit, we’re going to take a trip through 10 of the most innovative or interesting experiments that RuneScape has performed over its 15 years of operation.
Before I start this column, I want to say two important things. First, my experiences do not extend outward to the limits of the MMO genre; it’s quite possible that the good versions of these systems are already out there and I just haven’t seen them. Second, all of these are ideas that I want to be present. The core ideas behind all of these systems are really top-shelf and I like the concepts there. I come here not to damn these systems, but to exult them.
For as much as I might like the ideas behind all of these systems, I have yet to see them actually work out super well in pretty much any situation. Some of them I’ve watched getting ported into several games, some of them only show up rarely, but every single one sounds great on paper… and I haven’t seen it work out all that well once we get down to brass tacks.
Jumping into a new-to-me MMO can be a heady, nerve-wracking event. I think there’s a reason why we find our “comfort” games and feel a pull to stay with the known than to venture out more regularly to taste the fruits of other online titles, and that’s because there are so many small but crucial factors that play into whether or not we’ll enjoy our time in a game.
I see people all of the time asking for matrices of MMO features, which on the surface sounds like a good idea — but gets pretty insane when you consider how big these could grow. After all, knowing a business model and genre and combat type isn’t always enough. There are other deciding variables that can mean just as much to us.
So today I want to rattle off 10 weird questions that I would personally love to have answered before I head into a new MMO.
I’m not really on board with the trend of saying that big expansions are back. They never left. Sure, we have one coming out for Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2, but World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, and Final Fantasy XIV have all been keeping the faith for a long while now. Their format shifted for a while as game distribution formats shifted, but the idea of a big expansion has never gone away, just taken a drubbing from the popular adage of “let’s launch lots of little expansions over and over.”
Me, I’ve never been a fan of that approach. I wasn’t a fan of it with Guild Wars 2 when the game first made that a selling point, and I haven’t been fond of the games jumping on the bandwagon since then. And there are a lot of reasons why I’m in favor of slower patches and expansion with more content versus faster and smaller.
When it launched, Star Wars: The Old Republic
was one of the biggest video game voice-over projects that BioWare
or any studio had ever done. It boasted over 200,000 lines of dialogue voiced by more than 200 actors, a number that’s only grown with new missions and expansions.
With so many voice actors lending their talents, it shouldn’t be too surprising to occasionally find yourself going, “Now where have I heard that person before? He or she sounds so familiar.” I’ve done that so often that I wanted to make a list of some of the bigger celebrities and actors who are behind the characters that the SWTOR community’s interacted with since 2012.
Here are just 10 of the many great talents that helped to create this game experience — and I didn’t even have room to include Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Armin Shimerman, which I feel is a darn shame.
It’s no secret that many of us in the Massively OP office have a little bit of a game crush on Project Gorgon. Personally, I fell in love with the game when I discovered that it was all about collecting and leveling up a wild array skills — lots and lots of skills. As of right now there are around 100 skills in the game with more coming in all of the time.
And while some of these skills are fairly tame and ordinary (archery, mining), there are some really far-out professions that you don’t typically see in an MMO. I thought that for kicks I would round up 10 of the craziest skills that you can actually learn and use in this game.
I have been playing MMOs with varying degrees of intensity for the past 12 years. That is really weird to me. It also means that I’ve had time to develop a robust set of memories, and not everyone has the exact same memories. But I’ve also found that we all have the same general categories of memories despite that, even if you weren’t first playing Final Fantasy XI when I was.
So let’s be a little bit universal. Not everyone has the memories I do of running through Qufim or dealing with goblins in every leveling spot ever, but whatever your first game was, I’m pretty sure you have these same memories. The details just change.