the daily grind

No, it’s not a slow news day; it’s just The Daily Grind, a long-running morning feature in which the Massively Overpowered writers pose gaming-related questions to the MMORPG community. [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: What would it take to get you back into WoW?

This week, I found myself discussing with MOP’s Justin and Eliot my current disillusionment with World of Warcraft, specifically for its allied races. I’m happy for people in love with Allied races, but they do nothing for me. It would take world and class updates to get me to go back to WoW and go through the effort of catching up. Without that? It’s time I could be spending in one of my “home” MMOs, so there I stay.

But dang. If WoW added bards? Dual-classing? A crafting system that actually cared about crafters? A more (as Eliot put it) open class structure in general? Real housing? They’d already have my resub, and I’d be right next to Justin grinding gold for tokens.

What would it take to get you back into WoW? Did allied races do it for you? Are you holding out for legacy? Or is there nothing at all?

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The Daily Grind: Are there MMOs you keep getting sucked back to?

There are a lot of games which I like that I leave but still think about going back to, like Star Trek Online and Guild Wars 2. More often than not, I’m not playing them simply because I don’t have enough time in the day to do so, since I’ve got two games on my docket anyway and a third title rotating for Choose My Adventure. That’s all well and good, and I understand exactly why those games draw me back.

But then there are games like Revelation Online and Blade & Soul. These are not games I dislike, but it seems that I regularly find myself thinking about them and looking longingly in their direction, wondering about how fun they must be. And then I play them and I don’t have much fun, and I stop, and I’m left wondering why I keep getting drawn in again.

I think we’ve all got a few titles like that. There are always games we wind up playing time and again, games we know we aren’t going to like but which manage to just suck us in because we really want to like them. But maybe I’m wrong. Tell me, dear readers, are there MMOs you keep getting sucked back to even though you don’t like them? Not necessarily that they’re bad games, they’re just not for you?

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs?

Don’t look now, but PvP is coming — and it’s coming to almost every new MMO in development. It only recently hit me just how many upcoming games are being centered around PvP as a core mechanic. Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Ashes of Creation, Wild West Online, Worlds Adrift, Dual Universe, Chronicles of Elyria, every survival sandbox you could name… all PvP, pretty much all of the time.

I don’t outright resent PvP from being in MMOs, but as a primarily PvE player, it concerns me to see a flood of this washing over titles that I would otherwise have no reservations about playing. Many of the worlds and mechanics of these games have appeal, but not at the expense of having some jerk ambush me and kill me in 1.5 seconds flat at any moment.

Heck, even Sea of Thieves’ piracy gameplay loop has triggered alarms in my head that captains will be looking to swarm the title with griefing tactics once they’re done playing the “proper” way.

Maybe I’m overreacting. How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs? Why do you think we are seeing a rise of such games?

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The Daily Grind: What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018?

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Camelot Unchained: Yes, it’ll have a sub, but it won’t be $15. Mark Jacobs re-confirmed that it’ll be less than the industry standard down in our comments a few weeks ago. It’s been rattling around in my head since then as subscriptions just keep popping up in the news. Star Citizen has an optional sub in alpha. Age of Conan just lowered its subscription rate. And the biggest subscription MMO in the world seems to have no problems moving a bajillion expansions, driving token prices to fluctuate. Did we hit rock bottom? Are we just watching the price reset in a new era?

I’m currently paying $13 a month for an old-school game because nobody else has content that even comes close. I wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for an MMO I couldn’t wait to play. In fact, I was prepared to pay more than $15 for CU. Would you? What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018? And what would you expect from an MMORPG charging a subscription?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?

I really like abandoned places in games. One of my favorite articles ever was about Glitch, after it sunsetted, when I recapped my experience touring the abandoned secret places that were inexplicably built into that MMO.

That article popped into my brain again last week when Kotaku wrote about abandoned modes in GTA OnlineGTAO is one of the biggest, most lucrative online games in the world, a top-10 game even last year – and yet there’s so much to do, Kotaku argues, that most of the game is suffering from the old MMO problem whereby old content is a ghost town as everyone is in the new stuff. Hence, abandoned modes.

Of course, MMORPGs are constantly struggling to fix that problem by giving us reasons to go back into old content, but they’re not always successful. What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: What MMO accomplishments are you proud of?

I was joking around with one of my friends in Final Fantasy XIV the other day as she mentioned that she didn’t think she had it in her to go through the MSQ a third time. We shared a chuckle about that, since at the time I was on my seventh character to bring through the Heavensward MSQ; all of my characters had already gotten through the base questline and the subsequent patch quests, and this character was the last one I needed to bring through the first expansion’s storyline.

This seems like it should be some sort of accomplishment, even though it’s not really commendable. It’s like getting a member of every race in World of Warcraft to the level cap; time-consuming and not easy, but also not something that is actually an achievement so much as a personal mark of accomplishment. A self-created project, in short. So what about you, readers? What somewhat pointless accomplishments are you proud to cite when it comes to MMOs? Having played since beta? Leveling things on a lot of alts? Crafting every item in a crafting profession?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the most creative fauna?

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I am always fascinated with the beasts, creatures, and enemy NPCs that developers create for MMORPGs. While there are always very standard critters (such as the feared Giant Spider and completely unique Dragon Boss), many artists and designers whip up original and fascinating fauna for us to ogle (and, you know, fight).

I think that creative beasts is a sign of a well-developed fantasy realm that isn’t trying to ape Earth but is truly attempting to develop a world with its own special feel and ecology. Asheron’s Call was renowned for bucking fantasy tropes with its creatures, and WildStar always pleased me with every alien encounter.

What do you think? Which MMO has the most creative array of beasts, insects, and monsters?

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The Daily Grind: Do you actually care whether game studios apologize for screw-ups?

Bungie. Epic. Hi-Rez. Lots of apologies this week for one thing or another. As one of our readers, @Helltrek, put it, “It seems that the only thing productive @Bungie has been doing since release is… apologizing.”

I’ve read so many thousands of apologies from game studios that they all blur together, literally, just like the “we’re sunsetting and thank you for your support” messages. They could replace all that with a robotic [sorrowful sentiment] and I’d probably be OK with it. What I actually care about (and skim for to quote in articles) is what they’re doing about it. The patch, the compensation, the rollbacks, the toxicity strike team – whatever. Just get to it. It’s likely because whoever is doing the apology is five times removed from the person who screwed it up to begin with.

Do you actually care whether MMO studios apologize for screw-ups? If they didn’t apologize and just gave you a stack of currency, would you be just as content? Or do you require some performative atonement from a community manager?

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The Daily Grind: Has the MOBA bubble burst?

The past few weeks have not been kind for fans of MOBAs. In a short span of time we’ve lost Paragon, Master x Master, and Gigantic; it wasn’t so long ago that the not-quite-a-MOBA-but-close-to-it Breakaway got put on indefinite hiatus by Amazon. Off the top of my head I can think of a lot of other MOBAs that arrived, failed to make any significant impact, and then shut their doors without a whole lot of fanfare.

Of course, this also prompts a question of whether or not the bubble has burst or if there was ever a bubble in the first place. I’ve always found it kind of odd that the genre exploded as it did in the first place, because it’s already fundamentally a genre based on a mod for one very specific game. There are only four titles that have really taken off in a significant fashion, and two of those are somewhat debatable depending on who you ask.

So what do you think, readers? Has the MOBA bubble burst? Was there never really a bubble in the first place, just a bunch of games rushed out with no real sustainable market? And how does it make you personally feel either way?

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever been griefed in MMOs outside of combat?

It’s a mistake to assume that the term “griefing” in an MMO context only refers to a nasty act in PvP combat, such as corpse camping or fragging lowbies. There are many ways that the creative jerk can detract from the fun and enjoyment of fellow players.

Take, for example, that Tauren in the picture above. I had been waiting at this mailbox in World of Warcraft for hours to see when a small letter would spawn on the ground to start a new postal quest chain that was just added. Well, this Horde player saw me doing it, so he deliberately sat down on the spawn spot so I wouldn’t be able to click it. He remained there for an hour. Class act, right there.

And then there have been times when I’ve seen the other faction blitz into auction houses to kill the NPC auctioneers just so that it would mess up anyone doing business right then.

I’m sure you have a few examples, so share! How have you been griefed in MMOs outside of combat?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG for a trio?

I’ve been considering this question ever since my husband and I upgraded our six-year-old’s Guild Wars 2 account with Path of Fire and we found that trioing there is actually quite a lot of fun (and frustrating because again, six-year-old, but also fun!). That got me to wondering which other MMOs we might consider once he’s a bit older and doesn’t need games that are quite as visually gore-free as GW2.

We’ve talked about great MMOs for duos before – along with the worst. Most MMOs with level or zone scaling are going to work, as will some MMOs with a sidekicking feature. On the other hand, some MMOs really don’t scale up to “one more person” particularly well; they have grouping systems where a trio is still one body short of the “real” content, offer sidekicking systems that work only for pairs, or limit rewards for doing regular game content with multiple people. Some are just a challenge to coordinate more bodies: I’ve really struggled playing Trove with him, for example, because it seems so hard to team up effectively and stay together in basic content there.

What’s the best MMORPG for a trio? Can you think of any MMOs that are particularly suited to trios over duos or groups of four or more?

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The Daily Grind: Are there character options in an MMO you want to enjoy but never like?

Demon Hunters are a class I really want to enjoy in World of Warcraft, but I’ve never really succeeded at that goal. This is despite having one at the level cap, too. It’s not that they’re terrible or badly designed or unfun, either; their gameplay isn’t a problem. They just don’t speak as much to me, personally, and so I’ve never been much more than mediocre at playing one. No matter how much I might want it to be otherwise, the dash-back-and-forth playstyle for Havoc doesn’t feel fun to me.

Do I want it to change? Well, from a selfish standpoint, I definitely do for my own enjoyment. But in terms of actual game design? The design works very well and is fun for a lot of people to play, and asking all of that to change just for my personal sake feels selfish in the extreme.

I think we’ve all got classes, jobs, or character builds along those lines, options that we really want to enjoy but wind up not having much fun with. And I think it’s good to acknowledge that. So what about you, dear readers? Are there character options in an MMO you want to enjoy but have never liked? And if so, have you tried to overcome that dislike or just accepted that it’s not for you?

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