Over the past weekend, I picked up Hearthstone after a year or two away from the game. I certainly didn’t remember where I left off or had been following the game’s development too closely, so I expected to have to wade through a mess when I returned.
However, upon start the game acknowledged that I had been gone a while and eased me back into the swing of things with a trio of PvE matches and a handful of free card boosters. By the time I had finished those matches and opened my packs, I felt like I had some momentum and found my footing. That’s a good feeling when you’re making a comeback!
It made me ponder what MMOs should do to help facilitate players’ returns after extended absences. I think that there should be some sort of catch-up informational post covering the highlights, and throwing goodies at returning vets is never a bad thing. What do you think? What should MMOs do to ease you back into their game worlds after a long break?
Over the last couple of weeks as players fought EA and Disney turned on its own in the Star Wars Battlefront II mess, I’ve seen many gamers (and even a few relieved developers) suggest that EA has unwittingly done us all a solid. Not only has the most-hated video game company in the west rocketed the lockbox gambling debate into the mainstream and into the political spotlight, but it’s made it that much harder for other studios to get away with similar monetization antics. Scrutiny is high right now, and we’ve actually seen several online gaming studios large and small denounce the mechanics that got EA in trouble. And all because EA delved too greedily and too deep: If it hadn’t pushed so hard, the whole industry might have skirted by for years more with MMO players’ complaints subsumed beneath the thrum of business as usual.
Did EA do gamers a big favor with its monetization overreach? Or do you really believe that scrutiny and oversight will somehow end worse for gamers than it is right now?
I did a ton of shopping – all online, mind you, as I’m not so far gone as to actually put on pants or leave the house on Black Friday – this past weekend, and quite a bit of it was gaming-related. I dropped money for games for my dad, my husband, and my kid (he’s getting Path of Fire, but he’s too young to read MOP yet, so he won’t be spoilered!). I bought a pile of new Android games and a few little bits off my wish list on Steam too.
What I didn’t do this year was spend anything in an MMO cash shop. It’s not that I am against it; I have a stack of gemmies sitting in Guild Wars 2 waiting for something to grab me. I just keep finding that my MMORPGs that they aren’t offering things that are enticing to me. I won’t buy lockboxes, and I’m not dropping the price of a full-scale AAA video game for a mount because that’s ridiculous. And there’s almost nothing “early access” I’d actually play for free, let alone pay money for. But here I am with money willing to buy the right shinies, and the studios are acting like it’s lockboxes or bust (or buttcapes or bust?) instead of selling me those shinies. It’s frustrating, but I guess my wallet stays that much fatter.
Did you take advantage of any Black Friday sales in MMOs this weekend, or do you find yourself in my same predicament? And if the latter, what did ya get?
This is a post about Marvel Heroes. It’s also a post about Firefall. In fact, it’s a post about all of the games where there’s a period between “shutdown announcement” and “things are still humming along.” There’s a certain point where communication stops, where updates don’t happen, where sometimes the servers just go down without explanation and then come back up without explanation. And you play the game knowing, at that point, that things are not going to be all right, because there’s no possible world where things turn out fine after that.
Which is awful, yes, but part of me wonders if that’s worse or better than cases where you’re suddenly smacked in the face with a shutdown notice. As far as City of Heroes players knew, everything was fine before the shutdown; by contrast, Marvel Heroes players knew full well that something was up well before the announcement came down. So what do you think, dear readers? Is an MMO’s shutdown announcement better or worse than shutdown suspicions? Is it better to just know, however surprising it may be, or would you rather it starts slow?
I have long resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much time I take in my first playthrough of an MMO, I’m going to miss about 75% of what’s going on in the story and world. It’s just a little too much and stories are scattered all over the place, and so my understanding of the lore becomes partial and fragmented.
That’s where alts come into play. Once I get a max level character, then I’ll start up an alt and re-learn the game world with the help of a foundation that I have established in my first journey. I’m on my third trip through Secret World (two in the original, one in Legends), and even now I’m still absorbing a lot more information that totally blew over my head in prior runs.
What about you? What lore, stories, and concepts did you miss the first time around in your MMO? Don’t be shy; pipe up in the comments and confess!
This past week, my husband has been obsessed with Succubox. It’s a satirical clicker game where you start out by click-fighting monsters and buying lockboxes, but you quickly figure out that the way to win in the “game” part of the game is to get a job and then hire workers to play the game for you, and then you hire workers to buy and open lockboxes. Eventually, you end up with a successful intergalactic corporation focused entirely around grinding and opening lockboxes. It’s basically The Stanley Parable for lockbox MMOs.
You can play it for free if you’re so inclined and see what I’m talking about – it’s actually pretty funny on one level – but that’s not really the point. The point is that the game makes me angry because it’s right. And we all know it’s right. And while my husband’s cracking up pushing the “use knife” button to grind his in-game “job” for “promotions” so he has more “money” to spend on making “bots” open “lockboxes,” I’m reconsidering some of the MMORPGs on my hard drive whose business models look way too much like the ones being parodied in this incredibly insightful game.
When was the last time an MMO made you rethink your hobby?
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, but unlike many such years, it’s not “just another Thursday” to everyone else. No, this marks the actual 13 year anniversary of World of Warcraft, as the game was released on November 23rd, 2004. It proceeded to shatter pretty much every conception of what MMOs could achieve in terms of financial success, redefining the genre, the company that birthed it, and the career of Chuck Norris in one fell swoop.
Explaining that last one would take a long time, but trust us on that one.
The truth is that I wasn’t there quite on launch, but I was there a couple of days later, and I only later found out that the game was hard to find elsewhere. (I worked at Target at the time and we had a wall full of copies.) And while the game has had bright points and low points, good and bad, it’s still been running for a really long while now. So are you celebrating the anniversary today, dear readers? Or are you too busy with holiday plans and/or otherwise disinterested?
One of the factors that keeps me from trying out more MMORPGs than I do is that there’s a certain element of anxiety that comes with jumping into these expansive games and trying to figure out what’s what. I hate the feeling that I’m doing something wrong from the get-go or ignoring activities that could help me down the line.
That’s why I try to do my homework and look for advice lists and guides that share what MMO veterans wish that they had known when they first started out in a game. It might seem obvious to an experienced player the right steps that should be taken, but we were all newbies once and remember what it was like to play in that fog of excitement and confusion.
Looking at your current main MMO(s), what tips do you wish you had known when you were first starting out? Let’s see if we can help out others with that advise today!
Last week, I mentioned experience-loss-on-death in EverQuest that was particularly irritating when caused by so-called GM events. Yes, that was in the long long ago, and even annoying stepping stones like vitae penalty are far in the past. Even Ultima Online penalizes only your title of nobility when you fall. Modern MMORPGs simply don’t diminish your character that way when you die anymore. It’s obnoxious and silly in a gameworld where you have little control over things like lag, trains, and flaky group members.
And yet something my husband mentioned last night reminded me that other games do still punish you for failure, including games like Overwatch, where your rank (and your recent wins and losses) determine your future placement. As he pointed out to me, when he loses enough to slip down a tier numerically, the game gives him five more losses before stripping his rank entirely. This annoys me, and I don’t even play.
It sounds incredibly antiquated, but for ranked non-MMO games, I suppose it makes some sense. But maybe it’s just me. Would you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?
Early on in all the WoW Classic hoopla, I’d been thinking of World of Warcraft legacy servers as the sort of gimmick servers that a lot of older games put up. Ultima Online, EverQuest, RuneScape – their hardcore servers, progression servers, old-school servers are sort of sideshows, literally, to the “real” game in the center ring.
But the day the Classic WoW subreddit went up and I watched the playerbase neatly conduct its semi-orderly self-partition, my thinking changed, such that I don’t really think it’s just a gimmick anymore. WoW Classic is going to be a whole new game. I’m not even sure Blizzard realizes it yet, given how weird and slapdash the BlizzCon announcement was, but if WoW Classic releases in the next couple of years, it’ll easily be one of the largest and most successful “new” AAA MMORPGs to come out in quite a while. It’ll be up there with AIR and New World. That’s a sobering thought – but maybe not all that surprising.
Are you thinking of WoW Classic as a totally new MMO? How will you be approaching it?
The answer for me is yes. I absolutely have. In one particular case, it was heartbreaking but finally proved recoverable; my original Final Fantasy XI account was saved with the help of a very patient customer service representative and a boxed expansion from years ago. So now I can play that account again. (All right, I got all of that back a couple of years ago, we’re using a loose definition of “now.”)
But there is account information I have lost that appears to be gone for good. My original Guild Wars account is gone. I have a box edition of TERA but I’m also pretty sure that the email that’s registered to is no longer even accessible. My first Guild Wars 2 account? Gone. (Also, I think I lost my second Guild Wars account, too, so perhaps I’m just not supposed to be in Tyria.) If you look into the distance, you may find my original WildStar account, because I sure can’t.
All of these games still have a place on my shelf, but it’s more in memorial than anything; what I really bought was the serial numbers for these accounts, and they’re all used up now. So what about you, dear readers? Have you ever lost your MMO account information?
It’s weird to think that I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic on and off since its release. Seems like such a long time ago. I’ve had great memories in that game and still appreciate the work that the team put into the cinematic stories, voice acting, and the occasional moral choice.
But as of late, it’s been more “off” than “on,” especially following the most recent expansion. I don’t like the subscription-locked endgame system, and pretty much everyone keeps advising me just to finish the story and then ditch the game. That’s disheartening to me. So I’ve been waiting to see what BioWare has in store for the long-term future. Depending on the direction that the game goes, I could see going back. Just not right now.
What’s keeping you from going back to one of your favorite MMOs? Is it a change, a lack of friends, or something else entirely?
So Marvel Heroes has about six weeks to live thanks to the impending shutdown of the game following Disney’s decision to drop Gazillion as a business partner. That’s going to leave some superhero MMO players once again without a home, and though the game’s current Steam numbers can’t hold a candle to the number of players affected by the City of Heroes closure five years ago, we’re left with the same situation – and a similar roster of games vying for refugees.
The big superhero MMORPGs are still DC Universe Online and Champions Online, the former of which is certainly better supported with content, the latter of which may have more of that Marvel feel. There’s also three strong crowdfunding superhero MMOs still trying to fill the CoH vacuum: Ship of Heroes, City of Titans, and Valiance Online. Which MMO would you recommend to Marvel Heroes refugees? Would it be another superhero MMO, another superhero game or ARPG altogether, or something else? If you’re a former MH player, where are you getting your fix?