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?
If you have an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of months ago, Crowfall and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster wrote up a blog post on the cost of making games. The MMO expert followed that up this week with a much, much more detailed presentation that attempts to show hard data to back up his claims.
Koster said that he used industry contacts and other research to assemble data from over 250 games made from 1985 to today that shows the development cost minus the money spent on marketing. He even goes so far as to break down the cost of dollars per developed byte of information, which is where he sees costs for game falling. He said that when you look at it this way, players are getting a “deal” for games these days.
“Lots of people have made the observation that in terms of raw purchasing power, players pay around half of what they used to in the ’80s,” he notes.
The first MMORPG I ever played had a camping skill. You chopped down some wood for kindling, clicked to build a fire, and then did exactly two things with it: cook (useless) food and log out instantly. What a waste of a skill. Five points if you can tell me which MMO that was!
So it’s safe to say that camping in video games has come an incredibly long way from then, all the way to the awesome system that just debuted in Black Desert, but even so, most MMOs still don’t have camps at all, which seems bizarre to me. Justin and I were reminiscing on the podcast last week about Star Wars Galaxies, whose camping system was fantastic for getting people to explore and organically stop murder-hoboing everything in sight to take a breather, entertain, heal, and chat. Sure, we didn’t plop down tents every minute, but they made for great break points.
What would you say is the best camping system in an MMO, and how does it compare to the best camping systems in non-MMO games?
A comment on Reddit about the current size and viability of Kritika Online got me thinking about MMO playerbases in general lately. We all know that there’s a stigma attached to little games; the big games with big servers and millions of players feel safer, and nowadays people just assume a small MMO has one foot in the grave. But it isn’t always true. We could also rattle off some smaller MMOs that seem to be moving along just fine, with bills paid. Sure, they’d like to be bigger, but they’re holding steady and know how to work the playerbase they do have rather than constantly alienate their current customers in search of new customers. And some MMO gamers actually prefer those sorts of titles. After all, if the game has just a few thousand people, it’s much easier to get to know a large slice of them, plus have your voice heard by the developers and actually influence the gameworld.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to reflect on the smallest MMOs they have played, and then consider how big an MMO has to be in terms of playerbase that they’d consider playing it now. What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play, and why?
Half an eternity ago, my merry band of MMO PvPers and raiders ran headlong into a gang of roleplayers, and it changed my guild forever. I’ve reminisced before about some of my favorite roleplaying moments in MMOs, many of them in City of Heroes and Star Wars Galaxies, games where the play-your-way pace of the game led to amazing storytelling and impromptu encounters, the kind that make you research obscure planet names, spend hours on the perfect costume, and accidentally stay up until 4 in the morning… typing.
But in the post-SWG, post-City of Heroes era, I dropped out of roleplaying as a core activity. I’m not going to be that jerk on the RP server talking about sportsball, mind you, and I’ll still make sure my toons have appropriate names and sufficient backstory, but I don’t hang out in taverns waiting for something interesting to happen nowadays. And honestly, I’m not entirely sure which MMO would be the ideal home for a roleplayer anyway.
You tell me – what’s the best MMO to roleplay in as of 2018?
Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.
That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.
In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.
And then? The whole system collapses.
One of my favorite things to do every year is drill down the top articles on the site for our readers. I don’t mean the most controversial, the most fun, the most important, or the most commented-on; I mean the single articles that actually brought in the most hits. And what I find most interesting is that most “popular” aren’t always the ones we expect! As we’ve noted before, a well-timed link from a major website – Reddit, Fark, or a game dev – can elevate an entire month. (That’s why we’re so grateful when our fans share our work across social networks!)
Just remember that the list favors posts made early in the year (and in some cases, evergreen articles from earlier years) as later pieces haven’t had as much time to percolate, so when you do see big articles from December on a list like this, that means a popular post indeed!
As captain of our Stream Team, Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie and Larry Everett were joined by Andrew Ross this year to play zillions of games live, some old and some new, providing our community with an interactive look at some of the games in (and around) our genre. I’ve picked out my 10 favorites from the year, from sunsets and interviews to early access MMO sneak-peeks and even a group stream for the launch of one of the year’s biggest MMO expansions. Let’s dig in!
Massively OP’s not-so-serious end-of-the-year awards begin today with our blooper award for Defunct MMORPG with the most coverage. And the winner is…
When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.
I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.
Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!
Shake it off, Star Citizen: On this week’s Around the Verse, CIG says it’s “getting close to live release,” stress testing the current version of the game with 176 must-fix issues still to go. Is that too many to make it by 2018? Probably! Are they still trying anyway? Probably! The back half of the episode focuses on atmospheric flight (and yes, it’s just going to make Star Wars Galaxies fans sad) as the engineers explain how they’re making flying spaceships near the ground feel as real as possible for different sizes and types of vessels and atmo situations.
Meanwhile, as MOP reader Space Captain Zor pointed out yesterday, CIG has pegged December 20th for the Squadron 42 details promised for this month back at CitizenCon; that rollout will apparently include an exclusive newsletter, Mark Hamill teaser video, and report during next week’s streamed ATV. That’d be the same Squadron 42 over whose existence Crytek is currently suing CIG. 2018 is going to stretch our popcorn budgets thin!
Writing about Star Wars Galaxies’ emulator last week awoke in me a dormant desire to get back in there and make some pretend money. I freaking loved SWG for how hard it was to not not make money. Having multiple accounts helped a ton, no doubt, as did having old toons with a good stockpile of resources, but the real value in SWG was knowledge and time — and not even necessarily logged-in time. In the end, I made the most money for my effort not with my main crafter, who was one of the best on the server in her skills, but in resource trading and component supply through my vendors — in other words, all stuff that took a little know-how but not actually much in-game skill, as it was mostly accomplished with factories and harvesters while I was offline. By the end, it was those characters supplying me with most of my income, which allowed me to dabble in just about everything and even start up with nothing on other servers as a sort of challenge to myself.
I cannot believe how much I miss that – being a pure trader at that level is just not a thing you can do in the vast majority of MMORPGs.
What’s your favorite way to make money in an MMORPG? What do you play if you need to scratch the economy itch?
Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.
For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!