Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
I have always found this part of the development cycle to be the worst part. Right now, we are sitting at the point in Elder Scrolls Online when you really don’t want to move forward progressing your character because some of the endgame or character progression, in general, will change next week. However, you are very excited about what is to come in the next expansion, and you really want to play ESO at the same time.
It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is unique to MMOs. When Skyrim was about to release Dragonborn a few years back, it had been a little bit since we had visited Skyrim. For me personally, I had a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic that I had been playing, so when Dragonborn came out, I replayed Skyrim to refresh my memory before jumping into that expansion. However, MMOs are meant to be played all the time, and well, we’ve been playing ESO this whole time leading up to Morrowind. How do we do to channel our excitement?
Well, I have some fun suggestions for every Elder Scrolls fan. These are my five suggestions for things to do while waiting for ESO: Morrowind to release.
MMORPG blogger and MOP commenter Isarii (@ethanmacfie) recently published an excellent video positing that the MMO industry is facing a “massive identity crisis.”
“The MMO genre has sort of walked away from the things that made it unique and has faced an identity crisis since then as MMOs have reinvented themselves as these big giant titles trying to appeal to as many people as possible,” he argues. “As a result, you end up with MMOs that try to do things that smaller scale games tend to do better while not doing any of the things that make MMOs themselves unique.”
The whole video is worth a look-and-listen as he pins down what exactly does make MMOs unique and which MMOs have excelled as actual MMOs (protip: It’s everything from EVE to SWG to WoW, so don’t think this is about subgenre elitism at all). What do you think? Is Isarii right? Is the genre facing an identity crisis? And how do we solve it? That’s what our writers will be debating in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
RIFT’s latest expansion is getting a name change from Starfall Prophecy to Prophecy of Ahnket. No, it’s not some veiled NGE; it’s just an attempt to reduce confusion with the Starfall Education Foundation charity, which seems a noble cause to us.
Perhaps the more important bit for would-be RIFT players is that the expansion is being offered for free to players who log in this weekend. Free stuff!
If you’ve already purchased the expansion, you’re not out of luck either; you’re getting a claimable Prophecy of Ahnket Cache with 2 Tenebrean Engines, 100 Phenomenal Sparkles, 10 Individual Reward Charges, 1 White Deer Companion Pet, and 1 Random Puzzle Box Dimension Item — that is, if you remember to log in and grab it before the timer runs down on May 14th. After the promo ends, the expansion will be $19.99.
Trion further notes it’s hard at work on the 4.2 update right now; it’ll include a normal mode for Tartaric Depths, big changes for the planar fragment system, and new Primalist souls.
Hiya folks! Earlier this year, the Massively OP website underwent a big change: With Livefyre shutting down, we switched over to a brand-new commenting system. While the positives have outweighed the negatives so far, one thing we couldn’t easily port to the new comments was the badge system that we’d originally commissioned. It allowed us to reward our most generous and loyal Kickstarter and Patreon donors with a clear symbol of their awesomeness. And we’d like to get that restored!
So over the past few months we’ve been working on a new badge system, and I’m happy to say that it’s almost here! The tech is functioning and the art is almost complete, which means it’s time to start figuring out who gets what — just in time for a whole bunch of you to ding 24 months on Patreon.
Today, Ashes of Creation takes a big plunge into an all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign. Over the past few months, the MMO seemed to come out of nowhere to stun us with an ambitious design, well-crafted videos, and a team of experienced industry vets who seem passionate to make the next generation of online RPG.
For this occasion, we sat down with Intrepid Studios CEO Steven Sharif to talk about the Ashes of Creation’s crowdfunding campaign, the studio’s design philosophy, and the next steps for this upcoming MMORPG. Does this game deserve your support? Will it rope in widespread interest? Let’s see if Sharif can make the case.
The other day, Bree was complaining about how so many screenshots from modern MMORPGs suffer from a bland and monochrome palette. Coming to the rescue, then, is our team of expert One Shotters, scouring online games for vibrant looks and colors!
Zulika Mi-Nam kicks us off with this delectable piece of Portal Knights scenery: “The last few days I have been playing Portal Knights. I guess it is like a Stargate/Minecraft combo? It scratches the same itch that EQ Next did for me, not that I was a builder. I just like exploring and some type of progression. This is more combat oriented though.”
How’s that doggy going to get down, Zulika? Throw that dog a bone already!
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Crowfall canceled its weekend playtest, but not before issuing a dev blog updating the community on some of the crafting changes that are in the latest builds, including the addition of Geomancy (using precious stone, wood, and ore to make land parcels that can combine into larger ones) and Architecture (which lets players craft deeds for buildings as well as crafting stations and city structures — sound familiar, SWG vets?).
Out in space, a group of core Elite Dangerous community developers went on strike briefly this week, bringing their websites and tools back online once Frontier had agreed to better support them. That was good timing, as players are in the middle of a massive roleplay event that will affect the outcome of an in-progress novel based on the game.
Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar dropped Release 41, City of Titans talked about its “aesthetic decoupling” philosophy, Pantheon updated players on its finances, OrbusVR completed its first closed alpha test, and the Dual Universe team moved into a new office.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
When World of Warcraft was in beta and I first gave it a go, I remember being absolutely captivated by questing. It wasn’t as if no MMORPGs before hadn’t included quests. Most of them had, in some way or another, be they Ultima Online’s escort quests, EverQuest’s epics, or Star Wars Galaxies’ missions. The thing that made all the games prior to Blizzard’s 2004 spectacle so different was that questing wasn’t the primary thing to do to advance your character to the cap — it wasn’t the core gameplay element at all. So those of us who were tired of grinding out mobs to level up welcomed a different paradigm, not quite realizing that we were seeing a huge shift in the way MMORPGs were going to be designed from then on out in terms of what players were expected to do — and what we would no longer be able to do at all.
Fast-forward to today: Now when an MMORPG is announced and looks to be primarily quest-driven, at least to the cap, players moan and groan about boring and tedious quest grinds. Just another themepark, people say. I’d rather log out than do one more pointless quest.
Are you also sick of MMORPG questing?
I’ve mentioned in a previous Daily Grind that I once fell asleep in the middle of an incredibly boring raid in EverQuest. It wasn’t even that late and I wasn’t overly tired; I was just super bored of the whole pull-fight-inch-forward ordeal. My friends had to call me to wake me up so we could continue on. Embarrassing? At the time, yep. Now I realize it was just one more reason to hunt for more interesting types of gameplay — for me.
I wouldn’t say, however, that EverQuest was the most boring MMORPG I’ve ever played. In fact, as I contemplated how to phrase this question, I remembered that there are plenty of MMORPGs — EVE Online, for instance — that seem extremely exciting while you’re reading about their highlights, though the day-to-day is fairly mundane. And I’ve got to take into account different tastes; I guarantee most of you would find my resource spreadsheet obsession in Star Wars Galaxies dreadfully dull, yet even just typing about it gives me a pang of regret that it’s gone.
What do you think is the most boring MMORPG around, and why?
Massively OP reader Suikoden wrote this great question to the podcast — too good to let just Justin and me answer it. It’s a two-parter!
“Back when I used to be a hardcore MMO gamer circa 2000-2010, I felt that MMOs of that era were designed more toward the hardcore gamer and even catered to us more. Within the last 5 years, I’ve had to develop into more of a casual player. However, I now feel that games once again cater to me and my current playstyle. Did the MMO genre evolve alongside me, from a more hardcore-centric genre to a more casual playerbase? Or is it the same as it always was and I just feel that it caters to me because it’s designed to feel like it caters to all playstyles? And if there was a change, do you feel it is for the better or for the worse for the genre?”
I posted Suikoden’s questions to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking!
Since it takes a superheroic effort to put on a podcast every week — so many words! so many Star Wars Galaxies references! — Bree and Justin consider themselves in equal company with this week’s superhero news and discussion. From Ship of Heroes to Marvel Heroes to City of Heroes, it’s 300% of your RDA of spandex in one hour!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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