See: The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind: What should SWTOR do to pull out of its funk?

Is it just me, or does Star Wars: The Old Republic seem to be in a serious funk this year? I mean, the game has had updates and all, but there has been little to really stir up a lot of excitement among the existing community or to draw fans back to the MMO. Server merges, no expansion, fears over a stealth shutdown, and the same cruddy business model seem to be the order of the day.

Even our own Larry has called for SWTOR to put an end to the current storyline and move on.

Whether or not you feel that SWTOR is in a funk, what do you think BioWare should do to improve the game’s quality, content, and prospects in 2018? What could it be doing to really fan the flames of player passion and get this title noticed once more?

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The Daily Grind: What was the best new zone added to an MMO in 2017?

Last year, MOP reader Agemyth suggested we debate the best new MMORPG zone added in 2016, so it seemed only fitting to bring the topic back for another go now that another year is mostly behind us. And it’s even harder to answer this year than then, thanks to the plethora of expansions the MMO genre saw this year.

My vote would be torn. I was inclined to grant it to Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind – Vivec, specifically – but then I remembered all the jaw-dropping moments my husband and I had wandering around the Crystal Desert in Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire. “Spectacular” doesn’t even begin to describe it, and that’s before you’ve even left Amnoon.

I’m sure you can think of others. What would you argue was the best new zone or area added to an MMORPG in 2017?

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite way to make money in an MMORPG?

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?

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The Daily Grind: What’s your latest MMO achievement?

Achievements in MMOs are a nice way of marking off things that you’ve done, but there are no achievements for personal goals. You do not, for example, get an achievement for finally finishing your glamour in Final Fantasy XIV. There’s no achievement for finally getting a piece of gear you wanted for transmog in World of Warcraft or for getting a mount drop you’ve been farming for ages. There’s no achievement for beating the dungeon that you struggle with in Secret World Legends or managing to get a guild started in EverQuest II.

No, these are all personal achievements, and today, we want to hear about them. What’s your latest MMO achievement? Not necessarily an in-game achievement, just the most recent goal that you’ve been working on and finally finished. Acquiring cosmetic gear? Beating content? Finishing part of a long-term project? Let us know about it!

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The Daily Grind: Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics?

There are few things that bug me more in MMOs than when my character looks like he or she got dressed by sprinting through a Salvation Army and grabbing whatever was within arm’s reach. It makes such a difference to me when my character looks the part of a hero rather than a ragamuffin.

While most MMOs these days allow you to save and equip visuals from gear that you find all around the game world, many of these same MMOs create special cosmetics that can only be purchased in the game store. As they have no bearing on actual performance during play, cosmetic sales don’t draw the ire that, say, lockboxes and stat gear do. While some might avoid store cosmetics because of a lack of funds or because actually earning (or finding) good-looking outfits delivers more of that feeling of achievement, others don’t seem to have a problem with taking a paid short-cut to fashion success.

I’ve bought several outfits in games like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 that I knew I would be wearing extensively on multiple characters. I am pretty choosy in what I do purchase, however; it’s not an everyday occurrence.

What about you? Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics? Have you done so this year?

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel about Destiny 2 six weeks post-launch?

Destiny 2’s Curse of Osiris has already been out a few days and… it’s not exactly lighting the world on fire. Core fanboys aren’t happy and are advising folks to just hold their wallets until Bungie gets its house in order. I’m down to just one guildie obsessively playing. And the hype? The hype for Destiny 1 was a surge that carried for months. D2 hype seems to have fizzled out.

All of that was in my mind already with MOP Patron Roger dropped the perfect topic in my inbox. “I’ve been more in pen and paper games recently than MMOs, but I have been playing something that gives me that MMO feel: Destiny 2.” he writes. “Have any of you guys played it yet? If so, how do you feel if MMOs and massive-coop-online games met closer in the middle?”

For starters, I am digging “massively co-op”! So let’s tackle Roger’s query and mine together. How do you feel about Destiny 2 six weeks post-launch? Were you one of those folks who said, “PC or bust,” and are you still PCing? What happened to the hype? Where did Bungie go wrong? And above all else, do you think Destiny 2 is that perfect midpoint between MMORPG and co-op shooter? Will it have an impact on the way the genre is developed moving forward, or will that be left to future games like Anthem?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the longest break you’ve taken from an MMO?

When World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launched, I was playing. It wasn’t too much longer after that when I was not. And I never really made any sort of formal commitment to leaving, I was just taking a break. It turned out to be a particularly lengthy one; I didn’t return until midway through the long content drought after the last Mists of Pandaria patch. All told, it was around three years, and easily my longest single stretch away from the game.

The funny thing is that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a break and just leaving and coming back. Sometimes you know full well you’re just stepping away for a while, and then that “while” becomes longer and longer. So what about you, dear readers? What’s the longest break you’ve taken from an MMO? We’re not talking about cases where your break turned permanent, but ones where you left meaning to come back… and it wound up being far longer than you had expected.

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The Daily Grind: What feature from another game would you import into your favorite MMO?

One of the everlasting points of contention between me and the MMO industry is that no game gets everything right. Gah! Can’t you mold perfection, devs? Like it’s that hard. Anyway, so often I see a great feature in one game that I wish would become the industry standard — but it doesn’t.

For example, I would love to port WildStar’s housing system to every other MMO I play, because I’ve never experienced a better and more enjoyable homesteading experience. It makes me grit my teeth to play, say, World of Warcraft and feel that big hole where housing should go. I’d also lug around RIFT’s instant adventures as an alternative to typical questing when I wanted a change-up once in a while. And what about giving every MMO City of Heroes’ character creation system? I’m down for that.

What feature from another game would you, if you could, import into your favorite MMO right now? How could you see that feature improving the game?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO needs a better music system – or any music system?

If you ask any Star Wars Galaxies veteran about the game’s most amazing features, I guarantee that the music and dance system will make the list, even if that player never picked up a slitherhorn to join in. There was just nothing comparable to a 20-man band playing in harmony while dancers synchronized their routines, and everyone was grateful for a musician who could whip out a nalargon for a tune while we waited for the shuttle.

That’s why it breaks my heart when I see articles like these gushing about the – I’ll say it – rudimentary music systems in Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV. The performances and events are thrilling, and I’m glad to see other bloggers finding joy in stumbling upon them! But these systems can’t hold a candle to what was standard fare as long ago as 2003 – never mind what a game community like Lord of the Rings Online’s can and does deliver on a daily basis. Imagine how these folks’ minds would be utterly blown by Weatherstock!

I’m glad even rudimentary music systems still exist in MMORPGs, but they can be so much more. Which MMO needs a better music system – or any music system?

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever fallen for an in-game MMO prank?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: If you fly to the remote Hutton orbital space station in Elite Dangerous, there’s a free Anaconda in it for you. That’s the gist of a viral prank happening in Elite of late, as chronicled by RPS; apparently, multiple people have fallen for it, flying for hours and hours only to realize they’d been tricked by their fellow players.

Pranks seem to come in several different varieties; I’ve seen everything from harmless stunts like guildies logging in each other’s toons only to leave them naked and dancing on a mailbox to “pranks” that rise to the level of outright scams to dupe fellow gamers into trading away their property. I once had a WoW guildie who liked to prank us by pulling bosses by running at them and shouting. On his fire mage. And then there was the guildie in EverQuest who faked his own death IRL and put us all into a panic. See? They run the gamut.

Have you ever fallen for an in-game MMO prank? If not, what’s the best prank you’ve ever heard go down in an MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs have enforced naming standards?

For some players, “enter a name for your character” might as well read “insert the best joke you can within the character limit.” As a younger soul, this bothered me, because I’m pretty sure no one in Tyria would name their children “Valkilmer Sucks” or “Chowder Head,” but I would still have to see that in Guild Wars. I wanted strict naming enforcement, darn it!

Now that I’m older, I think younger me is a well-intentioned nincompoop. I have characters with names who do not adhere to strict naming conventions, and while those characters each have elaborate lore explanations for why they’ve got odd names, it doesn’t change the fact I would need to rename at least a couple of my Final Fantasy XIV characters. And that’s ignoring that some of my favorite names on that game include characters like “Carfullof Whiteboys,” “Viewing Catscene,” and my personal favorite, “Combyo Beard.”

Of course, some companies don’t care too much about providing name standards in the first place, so while “Samlikesham” doesn’t look like a traditional Night Elf name I can’t really say it isn’t. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs have enforced naming standards?

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The Daily Grind: When is the last time that an MMO sucked you in?

Here is something weird that has been happening to me lately during my gaming time: I’ve been really getting into Dungeons and Dragons Online after many, many years away.

It kind of started slow, as I dutifully did one solo dungeon run a night, but before I knew it I was staying in the game longer and longer for that “just one more dungeon” hit. It kind of amazed me how fun this MMO still is and how satisfying some of these instances can be to explore and solve.

I love that feeling of getting sucked into an MMO. Sometimes people call it “addiction,” though I shy away from that term due to its negative connotations. In any case, what about you? When is the last time that an MMO sucked you in and kept you playing beyond what you anticipated?

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The Daily Grind: Did Marvel Heroes just get the worst-managed MMORPG sunset of all time?

If you happened to catch the Massively OP Podcast this week, you heard my positively livid rant about the whole Marvel Heroes situation. Now, I have been doing this a long time, and I’ve weathered a lot of extremely painful sunsets of beloved games. But I’ve never, ever seen one handled as abysmally as the Marvel Heroes sunset.

Gazillion, Marvel, and Disney completely and utterly dropped the ball on telling players about the stepped-up sunset, to the point that many players had no idea what was going on. Nobody sent so much as an email or tweet or forum post to the players. The only company granting refunds? Microsoft, eating costs it shouldn’t have to eat. The only ones who did anything were laid-off rank-and-file devs who felt a duty to warn the public.

In fact, the only thing that comes close is Firefall, and that sunset came after a year of that weird thing with the Chinese cashmere company. It was bad, but it was understandable because it was basically a clownshow from the day Red 5 got bought out. This? There’s no excuse for a company as huge and wealthy as Disney/Marvel to screw over players in this way when either could have easily floated Gazillion and the game to the end of the year as promised. Or at least sent them a damn email of apology, knowing the banks were yoinking the servers on Monday. Nothing. We got nothing.

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