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: Are MMO morality systems impossible to get right?

I know it’s an old hat at this point, but I’m still quite appreciative that Star Wars: The Old Republic made an effort to give my character choices in dialogue and story actions. I feel more attached to my characters as a result and enjoy having a say in transpiring events.

However, I also recognize that linking story choices with a morality meter (in this case, light vs. dark side) complicates matters. Players might vote against their inclinations just to get more points for a preferred side, for starters. Then there’s the issue of developers assigning choices as either good or bad; it’s easy when it’s a black-and-white decision, but more tricky when the issues are nuanced. What happens when a player strongly disagrees with a dev’s take on a quest and is penalized in-game for it?

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The Daily Grind: Has multiguilding hurt MMO communities?

Earlier this week, several Massively OP staffers were debating the best way to set up MOP guilds in games where we were already in guilds. It’s easy in a game like Final Fantasy XIV, which has both free companies and linkshells to help people connect to multiple groups, but not so easy in an MMO like Star Wars: The Old Republic, where you’re either in the guild or you’re just not.

And that led to discussion on multiguilding in MMOs. Some of our writers embrace multiguilding — that is, being about to join multiple MMO groups at the same time — as the best way to make a game sticky; the more people you know and the more groups you bond with, the more likely you are to stick around. But others believe that multiguilding has helped destroy MMO communities by eroding loyalty to a single guild and creating a wide, casual network of people to whom no one has any allegiance.

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The Daily Grind: How much money have you spent on MMOs this month?

I bought EverQuest II’s latest expansion yesterday, and along with my SOE Statio… er, my Daybreak All-Access pass and my Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription, that brings my total MMO expenditures for the month of July to USD $75.00.

That’s 75 bucks for unlimited access to five triple-A MMORPGs, any one of which could easily fill up 200 hours of my month if I let it. My point is that MMOs are one of the cheapest hobbies around, even if you pay multiple subs and buy $45 expansion packs.

What about you, MOP readers? How much money have you spent on MMOs this month, and how much entertainment value have you gotten for your money?

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The Daily Grind: What makes an MMO’s inventory system special?

MMO inventories are often ignored systems unless they’re either annoying or exceptional. Some hate the limitations they impose while others appreciate the tough choices that bag space presents. I always appreciate inventories that go the extra mile with search and sort functions.

In fact, one of my all-time favorite MMO inventory systems is found in Fallen Earth. Not only was the player given a fixed number of inventory slots but a weight limit as well. Weird as it is to say, assigning weight to objects gave them more significance in my mind. Ore “felt” heavier and I was often torn between keeping a lot of cheaper items or a few weighty, lucrative finds.

What makes an inventory system special to you?

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The Daily Grind: What immersive RPG elements are missing from the modern MMORPG?

This morning’s Daily Grind inquisitor is Kickstarter donor Nepentheia, who wonders about the “RPG” in MMORPG:

What RPG elements that create a more immersive experience do you feel are missing from (more recently released) MMOs?

Hunger and thirst spring first to mind, followed by meaningful travel and day-and-night cycles. Very few MMOs include these elements at all.

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The Daily Grind: Do you get other stuff done while playing MMOs?

I listened to an audiobook while playing MMOs this weekend, and frankly I wish I’d thought of this before. Most of the MMOs I play are filled with repetitive activties that only occasionally require brain engagement, so what better way to simultaneously cross a couple of things off my entertainment to-do list, right?

Plus, there’s something oddly appealing about playing Lord of the Rings Online while listening to some British chap read The Fellowship of the Ring to me with great gusto.

What about you, MOP readers? Do you get other stuff done while playing MMOs?

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The Daily Grind: What MMO systems do you consider necessary evils?

I’m disinclined to run pretty much any tabletop game that outright uses character levels as a form of progress, and fortunately for me I live in a time when most such systems have been banished to the land of wind and ghosts. But I don’t resent level systems in MMOs – most of the games that try to do away with them wind up with their own problems in implementing a realistic gauge of strength (The Secret World) or have them by a slightly different name (Skyforge). I don’t think that this is the only way to do things, but I accept that levels are usually a necessary evil based upon the ways that video games work compared to tabletop.

Then again, I think we all have systems that we don’t necessarily like but we can recognize as necessary evils. Weak combat in sandbox games in exchange for more non-combat options. Cumbersome crafting mechanics in exchange for more player agency in crafting. Some systems are just plain necessary evils. So what systems can you think of that you don’t necessarily like but recognize as the best functional compromise?

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The Daily Grind: Are you trying a different MMO this summer?

I find that summer is a great time of the year to let my gaming wanderlust run free, giving me permission to try new games and return to old ones that I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve been on a tear of samping different titles, from the obscure like Villagers & Heroes to well-known favorites like Star Wars: The Old Republic. I even got a bit of Final Fantasy XIV in there, although I concluded that it’s not the game for me.

Are you trying a different MMO this summer? Are you picking up one of the recently launched titles or returning to a comforting favorite? Let us know your plans!

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: Have you ever used performance-enhancing drugs while MMOing?

Last week, a former pro e-sports player went on the record to say that he — and pretty much everyone else in the top brackets of competitive gaming — takes performance-enhancing drug Adderall to help keep ultra-alert and hyper-focused during events. Some of our readers scoffed at the report, saying that everyone does it, from college students cramming for exams to top-tier World of Warcraft raiders, bringing the term “hardcore” to all-new lows.

But it appears to have been news to the ESL, which stopped just short of accusing the e-sports player a troll this week while promising to alter its tournament procedures to test for doping rather than just forbid it. “We are hoping to have a waterproof strategy for identifying PEDs, testing for their presence and punishing players who were caught using any of the forbidden substances,” the organization told Wired. “Full blown drug tests at esports events are far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t try to tackle the issue.”

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The Daily Grind: Have you played Guns of Icarus?

Every so often I check in with Guns of Icarus, a slick little multiplayer shooter featuring steampunk airships and tactical crew-based combat. Indie outfit Muse Games has been working on a PvE mode for a while, but it’s not out yet and so I typically tend to play Guns of Icarus casually for a week or two before drifting off to other titles.

I always come back, though, because steampunk airships.

What about you, MOP readers? Have you tried Guns of Icarus? If so, did you like it?

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: What was your first day in an MMO like?

Can you remember? Can you recall your very first day playing an MMO? Or has it been so long that time’s made a mockery of your mind?

I had a few “first days” in MMOs, but I suppose the one that stuck with me the most was the launch day of World of Warcraft. No, I had very little idea what I was doing, but when I rolled up that Dwarf Hunter in Coldridge Valley, I was in a bit of awe of this game world that I got to explore. I followed bunnies, looked at footprints in the snow, and started leveling in earnest. It was glorious.

What was your first day in an MMO like?

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The Daily Grind: What race do you wish Guild Wars 2 would add?

One of the things Guild Wars 2 players wanted in an expansion — and aren’t getting in Heart of Thorns — is a new race. For this morning’s Daily Grind, Massively OP Kickstarter donor Kieran wants to know which one you had your heart set on:

If they ever add a new race to Guild Wars 2, which one should it be? Or should they not add a new race?

Maybe some folks would prefer dev time be focused on new content instead of new playables and animations and gear for them, but for my part, I’ve always wanted to see the Tengu, and not just because it would mean Cantha. OK, mostly because it would mean Cantha.

If the question were about Star Wars: The Old Republic, though?

Ithorians. Easy.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMO plugin?

When I went back to Lord of the Rings Online a couple of weeks ago, I spent a decent amount of time searching the internet for my favorite plugin. Initially I couldn’t remember its name, and as I had built a new computer since I last played LotRO, it wasn’t installed or archived on a local drive.

It’s called TonicBars, and even though it hasn’t been updated since 2012, it still works and it’s a godsend if you want to de-clutter the game’s busy UI while maintaining easy access to a ton of hotbars that only appear when certain customizable conditions are met.

What about you, MOP readers? What’s your favorite MMO plugin?

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