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Massively Overthinking: Alone together vs. forced grouping in MMORPGs

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.

MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Online Adventures

In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful  matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.

Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.

EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.

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The Final Fantasy XI mobile version hasn’t died

You could be forgiven for thinking that the long-awaited mobile version of Final Fantasy XI developed by Nexon had been unceremoniously banished to the land of wind and ghosts. (So Ru’Aun Gardens, basically.) But that’s not the case! The most recent investor call for Nexon lists the title as one of its upcoming offerings for Q3 2017 and beyond, so it looks like the game is still alive. Just… quiet.

This is a far cry from the desktop version of FFXI, which has a maintenance mode more active than some live titles.

The down side is that there’s not actually any news or surprises about the title, just the title itself on the list for the future. But that alone should assuage some amount of worry; we can hope that there’s more news about it when Korea’s annual G-star convention starts up in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Steparu

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Publisher of game blatantly lifting Final Fantasy XI assets apologizes for the game

Is the header screenshot from Final Fantasy XI or from the free-to-play Japanese title Chaos Saga? It’s the former, but you could be forgiven for thinking the latter if you played that game during its one-day life. The game was taken down immediately after launch for “various reasons” according to the publisher, but the obvious reason was that it blatantly ripped off the designs of several FFXI NPCs… including bizarrely, Cid, still bearing the Bastok crest of arms on his apron. So it seems fitting that publisher Braeve has apologized for the copyright infringements in the game.

Of course, this was months ago, but it’s the much-delayed thought that counts, right?

The formal apology notes that this was due to insufficient staff to check all of the assets, which seems like claiming you didn’t know that stabbing people kills them, but that’s the official word. One may only speculate that this was part of a legal settlement; what seems certain is that everyone is prepared to put this chaos in the past.

Source: Kotaku

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Hacker claims to have made a living cheating in MMOs for two decades

Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.

Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”

At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.

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The MOP Up: Skyforge investigates the Cradle of the World (July 30, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Gloria VictisPath of ExileBreakawayDauntlessSplatoon 2DarkEden OriginEVE OnlineWorld of WarcraftUltima OnlineSkyforgeTroveFinal Fantasy XIElder Scrolls OnlineOverwatch, and Path of Exile, all waiting for you after the break!

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How to find the right MMORPG as a couple

People seemed to quite like my piece last week about how my wife and I wound up married in no small part due to World of Warcraft. Of course, I also alluded in the column to the fact that World of Warcraft was hardly our final destination, and we’re currently playing Final Fantasy XIV quite happily together. We’ve also gone into Final Fantasy XI, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Fallen Earth, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic… a lot of different games, in other words. And I’m just counting the ones we’ve tried together.

I don’t think that there’s any one surefire way to always find the right game for a couple to enjoy, but I have had a fair amount of experience with it now, and it’s helped that we’ve both spent a lot of time working on finding what works and what doesn’t in this field. So here’s some (hopefully) helpful tips about finding a game that you and your romantic partner of choice can enjoy together.

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The MOP Up: SMITE sees a Divine Light (July 9, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we have stories and videos from Pokemon GoSplatoon 2Blade and SoulDragon’s Dogma OnlineClosers OnlineOverwatchVindictusMu OnlineWurm OnlineAstellia OnlineDofus PetsHellionSMITEStarCraftAionFinal Fantasy XI, and League of Legends, all waiting for you after the break!

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How I got married through World of Warcraft

I’ve mentioned a lot of times, in passing, how my wife and I connected in part through World of Warcraft. But I’ve never actually gone into any depth on the subject, and it didn’t actually happen because I wanted to be involved with her.

It happened because I needed a healer.

At the time, I had a collection of friends in the game who were all happy to play with me, but we also were all DPS. In the days before the dungeon finder, this meant that forming a party was more or less just something that was not going to happen. So I recruited my best friend at the time with the explicit statement that I wanted her to be our healer.

We’re now many years on from that, and pretty much 90% of the time she plays a tank. So from one perspective, that plan was an enormous failure.

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Final Fantasy XI launches its July update and starts a nostalgic campaign

The latest update for Final Fantasy XI has arrived, and it brings with it what players have no doubt come to expect from the game. There are new objectives in Ambuscade, some new quests, bug fixes, and the regular quality of life improvements. There are also some new Records of Eminence objectives as well, though, and those tie into something players might find very much on the nostalgic side as the game sets up its 15th anniversary Records of Eminence objectives.

Players who complete some nostalgic goals with these objectives will be able to obtain special gobbiedial keys to unlock unusual rewards and the Ancient Melody key item. It’s the sort of thing that can form a nice bit of nostalgia for long-time players while also providing appreciable rewards, so veterans of the game’s older versions will want to check out the objectives while also catching up on the latest version update content.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs in limbo

The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.

But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.

That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.

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The MOP Up: Warframe’s Chains of Harrow (July 2, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we have stories and videos from Dota 2Destiny 2Battleground EuropeArcheAgeOrbus VRFinal Fantasy XIHearthstoneTERATibiaElsword OnlineOsiris New DawnLeague of LegendsAstroneerSMITEWarframeThe Black Death, and Gloria Victis, all waiting for you after the break!

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