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 would you run an ethical MMO cash shop?

Today’s Daily Grind topic comes to us in a roundabout way from Kickstarter donor Le Entrepreneur, who asks,

Why do MMOs use cash shops they know hurt players?

There’s an easy answer to this — because money — but it’s worth exploring in more detail, I think. Cash shops in general, after all, don’t hurt players, but cash shops that exploit players’ desire to win or that tinker with lockboxes are deliberately preying on games’ weakest customers. On the one hand, it’s just business, but on the other, it makes me uncomfortable that whales — some of whom are just terrible with money, not actually wealthy — are subsidizing many of the MMOs we play.

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The Daily Grind: How do you plan to play Star Citizen?

I’m pretty excited to get my hands on some different ships in this week’s Star Citizen free-fly event. I know, I know, I can grind REC and fly the ships any time I want in the game’s alpha Arena Commander module, but A) I don’t like to grind any more, and B) I certainly don’t like to grind in an alpha when I know my progress will be wiped!

I’m excited to try out some new ships because I already have a pretty good idea about the capabilities of my Aurora and my 300i. But I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do in terms of primary gameplay when the persistent universe launches. I’ll probably explore, and trade, and dogfight, and who knows what else because it all sounds interesting.

What about you, MOP readers and Star Citizen fans? How do you plan to play the game at launch? As a fighter? A trader? Something else?

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The Daily Grind: What are you looking forward to, MMO-wise, in the rest of 2015?

What in the world happened to the first half of 2015? With one thing or another, it just flew by, and here we are heading into June. Not a whole lot of launches yet, but there’s a lot to look forward to – Blade & Soul and Skyforge are both slated for launch, The Elder Scrolls Online is arriving on consoles, expansions are launching, and WildStar is going free-to-play. And that’s just off the top of my head!

My point is that there’s a lot going on from June onward, and odds are you can’t keep track of everything yourself. So what are you looking forward to over the remainder of the year? Is it one of the aforementioned events, or is it something else altogether? What’s keeping your eyes pinned with anticipation to the MMO horizon?

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The Daily Grind: Are you excited for Wander?

Wander kind of surprised me. I’ve been aware of it for some time, but due to its lack of a launch date and my year-long MMO malaise, I haven’t paid it much mind.

Now, though, it has a launch date (June 4th), and as such I’ve been devouring all of the trailers, interviews, and gameplay footage that I can get my hands on. And gosh, what’s not to like? It’s a “non-combat, non-competitive” MMO for PlayStation 4 and PC that focuses on collaborative exploration and features beautiful CryEngine atmospherics.

What about you, MOP readers? Will you be giving Wander a go?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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The Daily Grind: Will you play WildStar once it’s free-to-play?

Ever since the rumors began that WildStar was about to flip the switch on a new free-to-play business model, I’ve been pondering whether I’ll give it another try. Now that we know for sure the conversion is happening this fall, that decision will soon be upon us all.

A lot of disgruntled subbers take this position: If the game wasn’t worth buying before, why would it be worth your time now that even the studio doesn’t think it’s worth charging for? To me, it comes down to a balance of time and money. Before, just checking out the game cost both. Soon, it won’t.

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The Daily Grind: Are you excited for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns?

I have no doubt that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is going to be big, both for the studio and its playerbase. It’s looking to add zones, new forms of progression, a new class, specializations for existing classes, and all other manner of goodies. Right now, it’s one of the hottest beta tickets in town.

And yet the more I hear about it, the less excited I’ve become. I used to enjoy Guild Wars 2 on a daily basis but for a variety of reasons have fallen out of love with it. I assumed that the expansion would rev my interest back up, but so far none of the features is really a “must play” to me. Plus, hearing that we’ll have even more platforming with the jungle zones is a real mood killer.

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The Daily Grind: If it were 2003 again, which MMO would you play?

Fun hypothetical: Let’s say that all of us — including Massively Overpowered — were thrown back in time 12 years to 2003. There’s no World of Warcraft. No Star Wars: The Old Republic. And very, very little free-to-play anything.

What would you play?

Would you get into the truly classic era of EverQuest? Go PvPing in Dark Age of Camelot? Build a house in Ultima Online? Get in on the ground floor of EVE Online? Rejoice that Star Wars Galaxies was back? Or something else entirely?

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The Daily Grind: How can MMOs design for both vets and newbies?

This morning’s Daily Grind question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Specus, who asks,

I’ve seen many games where new players have trouble joining a game that’s been out for a while because the noob zones are almost completely empty. How can we keep the veteran players engaged with the new players?

This is one of the core problems of the genre, and solving it apparently isn’t easy. My favorite is sidekicking; nullifying level barriers (or better yet, not having them to begin with) seems the smartest way to bridge the experience gap between old and new players and get them into the same content. Non-combat gameplay can get people mingling as well; every time a newbie sells a stack of copper ore to a veteran, they’re engaging with each other. And let’s not forget overt incentives: Asheron’s Call’s monarchy system and Star Wars Galaxies’ skill-training system directly rewarded veteran players for taking newbies under wing and building them up.

What’s the very best way to design a game so that newbies and veterans can intersect without being bored at one end of the spectrum and overwhelmed at the other?

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The Daily Grind: Did the Blade & Soul announcement improve your outlook on MMOs?

So, Blade & Soul! Huzzah, and stuff. I don’t know about you, but NCsoft’s heading-west announcement has reinvigorated my inner MMO fan, at least for a little while. I’d basically given up on the game since news of an American version has been hard to come by in recent years, so last week’s surprise was a welcome one.

What about you, MOP readers? Did the Blade & Soul announcement improve your outlook on MMOs for 2015?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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The Daily Grind: What MMO characters have you unexpectedly loved?

I made my Crab Spider in City of Heroes primarily because I wanted to have someone as a spider. My character concept for her was sort of ridiculous. I did not think that she’d become my main character, have an immensely satisfying roleplaying arc, and wind up being a character I look upon with great fondness. But that’s exactly what happened, and I could still probably write a whole column about Rubi Sloane and her path from Arachnos to Longbow.

She’s hardly the only character, though. From my Shaman in World of Warcraft to my Smuggler in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve made a lot of characters whom I expected to not care about but wound up loving. What about you? What characters have you made that you found yourself unexpectedly fond of?

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The Daily Grind: Do you feel alone in your games?

As one or two people have pointed out, MMOs are multiplayer by their very definition — and massively so. Yet even if you’re in a large crowd, you can still feel very alone. I was reading a post by a blogger in which he was expressing how lonesome he often felt in-game and frustrated by not being able to combat that.

Sometimes I do feel a little alone in a game, especially if I’m not part of a guild, but more often than not gamers waiting to talk and group are right at my fingertips. Even seeing another player run by or lend a quick hand in a fight makes me feel like I’ve had a dose of companionship.

Do you feel alone in your games? Are you looking for advice how to get out of that rut?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

Comment

The Daily Grind: Would you play a World of Warcraft progression server?

Classic servers and progression servers are on my mind lately. EverQuest just got yet another progression server; it had launch issues, but it’s up now. Lineage II is getting a classic server. RuneScape has one already. Darkfall’s considering it. Ultima Online… well, UO has Siege Perilous, which is old school only harder-core. We’ve even argued that Lord of the Rings Online would benefit from one.

But the elephant in the room is always World of Warcraft. Most of the people who have ever played WoW no longer do, and if the former WoW players in our comments are any guide, many of them long for the days of a previous setting. For some, it’s Burning Crusade. I preferred Wrath of the Lich King myself. And some peeps would just like to live in Vanilla forever. In fact, some do just that on illegal servers.

And all of those people would be paying Blizzard a monthly sub if Blizzard would just do what itty-bitty classic MMOs like EQ have done and opened some classic or progression servers. Would you join them? Would you play on a World of Warcraft progression server?

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The Daily Grind: Would you watch a movie based on your favorite MMO?

I’m not the biggest World of Warcraft fan. That said, I’m pretty interested to see what Duncan Jones does with the Warcraft movie. This is more due to the fact that Moon is one of my favorite pictures ever and less due to the fact that the Warcraft film is based on MMOs, but whatever, right?

What about you, MOP readers? Would you watch a movie based on your favorite MMO (or favorite genre)?

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