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: How should MMOs handle old limited-time rewards?

Out of all the various event rewards I’ve gotten in Final Fantasy XIV, Legacy status is the only one that a new player couldn’t also acquire. Of course, that’s a pretty significant reward, since it means that it actually costs me less to subscribe to the game for all eternity. But every other holiday event item is still available; it’s just that a lot of them require dropping some real-world money. This may not, in fact, be a more popular option than just having them be gone forever!

Of course, World of Warcraft also has items (like CE bonus mounts/pets or the various BlizzCon goodies) that are actually gone forever and available for a limited time, although that time limitation is around two years. And then you have games like Final Fantasy XI, where each year’s holiday event gives you an in-game chance to earn every single reward all over again… great for new arrivals, less great for people who already have all of them already. What do you think, dear readers? How should MMOs handle old limited-time rewards? Should it vary depending on how you acquired them in the first place or based on game design?

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The Daily Grind: How can MMOs repurpose older zones?

One of the best gaming experiences that I had this past year was going through the entirety of the Bingo Boffin storyline from start to finish in Lord of the Rings Online. It wasn’t only goofy, rewarding, and oddly touching at times, but it was a thrill to be able to quest through some of my past favorite zones without having to roll up another alt.

Repurposing older zones for new content is something that the LOTRO devs have latched onto as of late (see: 10th anniversary quests), and I for one applaud this kind of initiative. It feels like such a waste to outlevel a zone and then never see it again. So much work goes into these places, so why not come back to them on occasion and squeeze some more enjoyment out of them?

What do you think? How can MMOs best repurpose older zones? What would be cool to go back and do in those classic zones with your current character?

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The Daily Grind: Where do you stand on WoW’s proposed new PvP system?

Buried in the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth reveals earlier this month was the huge PvP news that eventually, PvP servers, like the dying one I’ve been stuck on for half of forever, will be quietly converted into PvE servers. Instead of being constantly subjected to lowbie ganking while out questing in the world, PvP server players will join PvE players in taking part in what is akin to the Star Wars Galaxies-esque TEF system, only stricter. As you leave a major city, you’ll flag PvE or PvP, and that’s that. Flag for PvP and you’ll get a chance at things like extra rewards and faster reputation. The details are still up in the air, but as Blizzard Watch’s Ted Atchley points out, the rewards will have to be pretty sweet to entice most players to paint a target on their backs.

I’m not all that sad; PvP on PvP servers was basically pointless ganking for jack-all rewards, but there was just no way to convince a dozen friends to pay to move their entire stables elsewhere, so we soldiered on and put up with the random ganks on our leveling alts. I can still see taking the risk of being ganked if the rewards are huge, and the move will allow Blizzard to continue condensing its server groups too.

Where do you stand on WoW’s proposed new PvP system?

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The Daily Grind: How old should an MMO be to consider classic servers?

Last week, Justin and I were chit-chatting about legacy servers in MMORPGs when he said that Trion should really get moving on classic servers for RIFT. My first reaction was what, really, that game is way too young to need vanilla servers! But then I remembered playing on Ultima Online emulators within a year or two of launch. RIFT, which came out in 2011, isn’t exactly old, but it’s not brand-new either. It’s old enough to have weathered a lot of changes, some of which were probably wide-ranging and contentious enough to have created plenty of players who’d rather see them undone and the game returned to a more primordial state.

What’s the cut-off – or is there one? How old should an MMO be to consider classic servers? And if age isn’t the determining factor, what exactly is?

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The Daily Grind: How do you pick a mount in MMOs?

In some games, like Guild Wars 2, there’s more going on with mounts than just “run faster.” Frequently, you’ll have more important choices to make. Playing Final Fantasy XIV means that you sometimes will choose your mount based on its cosmetic abilities, there are abilities present for mounts in Neverwinter… you get the idea. And yet in many of these games, you still probably have a mount (or mount skin) that is distinctly yours, the one you use most frequently.

So how do you pick a mount in MMOs? Do you go for the one that was the hardest to get? The one that best suits the character riding it? The old standby that just feels like it’s closest to your personal aesthetic? The mount that takes up the least space? The mount that takes up the most space? Or just whatever mount gets randomly selected from your expansive collection, assuming you have an expansive collection?

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The Daily Grind: What is your favorite MMORPG combat pet?

As a die-hard fan of pet classes in MMOs, I’ve played just about any that were available in the games that I’ve tried. Naturally, some pets have become my favorites, vying for my affection with their blood, sweat, and belly rubs.

In Lord of the Rings Online, my Captain’s Oathbreaker companion traveled with me far and wide across Middle-earth, although right now I’m totally vibing on my Lore-master’s Bog-lurker (which I named Puddleglum). I will always have fond memories of my World of Warcraft Hunter’s spirit wolf, which I tamed back when you really weren’t supposed to be able to tame them. And I’m starting to take a shine to my talkative iron robot dog in Dungeons and Dragons Online, although he is a little too suicidal for my liking.

What is your favorite MMORPG combat pet? Which one did you end up bonding to and loving the most?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the funniest MMORPG?

During last weekend’s BlizzCon opening ceremonies, nothing got me like Hearthstone’s expansion presentation, and it’s not the first time Blizzard’s card game has done so. Maybe it’s the kind of thing you need to be an old-school WoW Alliance player to really get, but “you no take candle” as a serious theme had me rolling. Dumb inside joke? Executed to perfection? Check and check!

That said, I don’t play Hearthstone; I love everything about it but the card game aspect. I’m an MMO player, what can I say, and Hearthstone isn’t one. So where would I go if I wanted some of Hearthstone’s dorky but lovable humor here in our own home genre? What’s the funniest MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: Have server merges ever driven you away from an MMO for good?

When I saw Star Wars: The Old Republic’s whole promotion for Knights of the Old Republic, I was momentarily tempted to log back in and make sure I got a promotional item. Hey, promotional speeders are cool, and I can use it for… wait, they merged servers right into not having an RP server, right? Never mind, I’m not going back anyway, what do I care? Just like that, the server merge killed any and all desire I might have had to go back to the game.

Our own MJ has written recently about how the horrid handling for Aion’s server merges basically killed that game for her. I know there are people who are unwilling to go back to ArcheAge due to merges requiring new land rushes that just aren’t worth the effort. And hey, I can understand deciding that you don’t want to go back just because a merge made you lose your long-time character name. So what about you, dear readers? Have MMO server merges ever driven you away from a game for good?

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The Daily Grind: What older MMO systems do you wish devs would upgrade?

Perhaps few things bug me so much as when developers introduce a meaty gameplay system into an MMORPG only to neglect or abandon it by the time the next expansion rolls around. Lord of the Rings Online’s skirmish system, World of Warcraft’s garrisons and class order halls, or Star Trek Online’s exploration system are but a few examples that have rankled my sensibilities over the years.

It’s frustrating because players latch on to these systems and find enjoyment in them, even years after their introduction. It’s doubly frustrating because with some refinement and updates, these systems could become relevant and even better than before. But no, they’re shoved back under the bed so that devs can play with their new shinies.

If you had your pick, what older MMO systems do you wish your game’s developers would take the time to upgrade today?

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The Daily Grind: Will you be playing World of Warcraft’s Classic servers?

I think it’s safe to say, after all the Nostalrius and legacy server drama from last year, that Blizzard has surprised a lot of people by actually keeping its word to build out some form of classic servers, as announced at BlizzCon last weekend. And the English-language WoW world lost its collective minds, if the 10K-word, 54K-upvote thread that rocketed to the top slot across the entirety of Reddit last Friday is any guide.

The thing is, the studio didn’t actually talk much about the servers other than to say they’re happening, they won’t take resources from WoW, and they’re operating under a separate team – there’s not much to talk about, just basic infrastructure. That probably means we’re a long way off. On the other hand, Blizzard seems serious about making a commitment to the community on this one, which makes it really enticing to me at least, way more than I expected.

How about you? Will you be playing World of Warcraft’s Classic servers? Or are you in wait-and-see mode until we know much more?

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The Daily Grind: Will you be buying World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion?

In last week’s Daily Grind about what it would take to get you back into World of Warcraft, a whole lot of our commenters said an expansion. Any expansion, really. Just more of the same. Nothing wrong with that, either. Sometimes you’re content and just want more of that.

But now, thanks to BlizzCon, you know what that expansion, Battle for Azeroth, will actually entail. And while it’s got new landmasses and some new mechanics, like warfronts and radio missions island adventures, it doesn’t have a lot of the stuff you might have expected out of an expansion. It doesn’t appear to feature sailing mechanics or an new iteration on farms, garrisons, or class halls. It doesn’t even have a new class. In fact, we don’t really know much about how classes themselves might be changing just yet.

Is it enough for you? Will you be buying World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion? Is it enough to get you back?

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The Daily Grind: What did you think of BlizzCon this year?

I am writing this on Tuesday. This means that the version of me writing this has no idea what has been revealed at BlizzCon. But I don’t really need to let you know my reactions to it, as you’ve doubtlessly been following our liveblogs of the festivities and have gotten to see my thoughts unfold in real time. The question today is obvious: What about you?

Some years, BlizzCon has lots to announce, and some years it doesn’t have much. Heck, some years there’s lot to announce but it still winds up feeling rather light, and sometimes the little things still make a big difference. There was no fresh World of Warcraft expansion last year, but Blizzard still managed to make it a solid year for news and reveals. So what did you think of BlizzCon this year, readers? A good year, a bad one, or one that was targeted to someone entirely other than you?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO soundtrack makes you the most nostalgic?

In covering MMORPG music for the past five or so years, I’ve discovered something interesting (yet not truly surprising). I can appreciate and even love pieces of music from games I’ve never played, but there’s this strong and compelling connection between the ones I have enjoyed and music that I listen to from them at a later date.

These soundtrack pieces can trigger a tidal wave of nostalgia for my gaming days of yore, such as stepping into Elwynn Forest for the first time, gazing in awe over the Shadowlands, or heading to Freedom Court for a costume contest.

Which MMO soundtrack (album or select tracks) makes you the most nostalgic for certain titles? Are there any newer pieces that you’re sure will be imprinted into your brain as long-lasting favorites?

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