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’s your favorite MMO starter zone?

A lot of love and attention is poured into beginning zones by developers. After all, these are players’ first steps into your world, so you want to make the absolute best impression possible. Plus, if an MMO ends up becoming a player’s favorite stomping ground, these early zones become nostalgia fuel for the start of a wonderful journey.

Today I’d love to hear about your favorite beginning zones. I have so many of them, from Northshire Abbey in World of Warcraft to the Shire in Lord of the Rings Online. Even WildStar has a pair of terrific newbie areas with Everstar Grove and Northern Wilds that are brimming with personality and views.

What are yours?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the healthiest living MMO?

Back in June, Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti wrote an article listing what he considered the 10 healthiest MMOs, a subject that quickly proved controversial, in part because the definition of “healthy” is so hard to pin down. “There are a lot of variables to consider,” he wrote. “I researched several angles, including player tracking services, frequency of patches, financial reports, and even how often each game pops up on blogs.”

To some people, an MMO’s health may not matter all that much: They’re going to play what they want to play right now, the future (and other people) be damned. Others worry endlessly that the game they are investing time into may not be around in a year and strongly prefer to be in a “safe” game with apparent longevity, even if it’s not necessarily their favorite game.

How much does a game’s health matter to you? How do you go about determining the health level of an online game? And what’s the healthiest living MMO?

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The Daily Grind: Do you care about spoilers or surprises in MMOs?

My friends and I were debating the merits of spoilers the other day, and I came to realize that as per usual, I was the only person in the group who didn’t care about being spoiled.

In my opinion, surprise is overrated when it comes to entertainment because if you’re playing a game with quality mechanics or a game with a story that you connect with emotionally on some level, it’s still going to be a game with quality mechanics or an emotionally involving game regardless of whether it’s the first or the 51st time that you’ve played it. If the game in question relies chiefly on a narrative twist, though, it’s a one-trick pony and probably not worth revisiting.

Which is why I always scratch my head when people get all crazy about avoiding spoilers. What about you MOP readers? Do you care about spoilers or being surprised when it comes to your games or other entertainment? If so, why?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMOs can you just not stop thinking about?

You know what game I keep thinking about playing again recently? TERA. I cannot tell you why, aside from the fact that it’s stuck in my memory since I mentioned it in a column a few days hence. There are lots of things I didn’t like about the game, but there’s something about the game’s sense of style that stays with me. It sticks in my mind for reasons I can’t adequately explain, despite the things I don’t like about it.

But I’m fairly sure we all have games like that, games that on a whole we don’t care much about that nevertheless stick in our memory. So what about you? What games hang in your memory unexpectedly, even if you don’t think the game as a whole is spectacular? Do you keep going back to them, or do you just sort of move on?

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The Daily Grind: What are you doing in-game for Halloween today?

Hey! Didn’t you know that today was Halloween? Perhaps by the subtle reminder provided by every MMO running crazy events starring zombies, jack-o-lanterns, and adorable ghosties?

Well it is. Halloween, that is. Or as The Secret World calls it, “Every day of the year.”

So what are you doing in-game for the holiday? Is it business as usual or do you have plans to dress up and go to a guild party? Are you taking advantage of the many holiday events and quests out there before they flutter away in the night?

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever been in a relationship with someone you met through MMOs?

A week ago, a Reddit user posted a casting call for a new reality show that will attempt to follow romantic relationships formed inside of MMORPGs that spill into real life.

“Have you found true love in an MMO?” reads the flyer sent to us by the production studio. “Are you having a relationship with someone you met in an online game? But haven’t yet met in the real world and are ready to take that next step? An Emmy winning production company is looking for gamer couples who want to share their story and come together for the first time IRL!”

It took about five seconds for jokes and “catfish” accusations to begin because, you know, Reddit, but even if you’re not into reality TV, it’s still a neat question.

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The Daily Grind: Will you play Worlds Adrift?

Worlds Adrift is one of those titles that gets more fascinating the more I follow it. Initially I was put off by the open PvP, but the physics-based explanation by developer Bossa Studios makes sense, so I’m fully on board the hype train at this point.

I’m really interested to see how the game’s gathering implementation turns out. It departs from the usual MMO repetition and puts the onus on player skill, which theoretically means that no two gathering actions are the same.

What about you, MOP readers? Will you play Worlds Adrift?

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The Daily Grind: Do you think Blizzard will ever make another MMO?

So Overwatch is now in closed beta, which I imagine excites some people immensely. Any Blizzard product has that effect, I’ve noticed. But when I read the news, I became a little wistful instead of jazzed, mostly because it reminded me once again that Blizzard ditched its ambitious Project Titan MMO for something safer and far less massively multiplayer.

That’s Blizzard’s right, of course, and I wouldn’t even argue strongly that it was a bad business move. Having a diverse portfolio is a smart way to keep a large studio stable. Even so, I really would love to see what the minds there could do with another MMO. Maybe it won’t happen this year, or the next, or ever, but… yeah, I would like to see it.

Do you think Blizzard will ever make another MMO? What would be the studio’s best shot if so?

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The Daily Grind: Do you prefer soloing or grouping in MMORPGs?

As we belatedly covered yesterday, the developers of upcoming indie MMO Saga of Lucimia believe that group-centric play is the solution to a problem supposedly created by the deluge of “solo-friendly” MMOs that offer “the instant gratification that the entitled hipster generation of ADD players need in order to stay subscribed.” Yikes.

Without getting into whether soloing belongs in MMORPGs — an eternal debate of its own — I want to ask you which one you, personally, prefer to do.

I tend to favor games that support both and scale well between them; City of Heroes and classic Guild Wars spring immediately to mind as being games that scaled beautifully to accommodate whatever party size. Party when my mates are on; solo or LFG when they’re not!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best early access MMO you’ve played?

I’m afraid that early access is here to stay, and as I look over the icons on my desktop and the entries on my Steam games list, it’s distressing to see how many of them are some form of pay-before-the-game’s-done.

There’s been at least one gem, though, and that’s ARK: Survival Evolved, which has more features than most “feature-complete” MMOs, and which has a crazy frequent patch schedule that both fixes bugs and adds all kinds of new stuff to the dino survival sandbox on a regular basis.

What about you, MOP readers? I know you probably dislike early access as much as I do, but have their been any early access games that you were proud to support? Which one was the best?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most annoying bit of randomness you’ve experienced in an MMO?

Randomness has been a part of most computer games since the beginning because computers can do math very quickly and randomness is exciting. Oh, is it ever exciting. After all, who doesn’t like to watch a big critical hit pop up when fighting a boss, followed by the boss dropping exactly what you want on your first run? It’s gloriously satisfying. The down side, of course, is that it’s random, and you could just as easily fail to even hit the boss randomly.

And sometimes random chance is just awful. Like with Final Fantasy XIV‘s randomly dropping Atma, or World of Warcraft‘s wildly random loot combined with a bonus roll system (which doesn’t really fix bad luck), or sometimes just the randomness of your partners in a League of Legend match. So what’s the most annoying bit of randomness that you’ve experienced in online gaming? Elusive drops? Unreliable percent chances? Or something else?

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about Knights of the Fallen Empire?

I’m kinda feeling the urge to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. Can you blame me? There’s a new expansion, but more importantly that glorious film trailer has been looping on my desktop for seemingly half of its 38 million views.

I haven’t succumbed to the SWTOR urge, though, and so I have a question for those of you who have. What do you think about Knights of the Fallen Empire? Do 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!

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite obscure MMORPG?

Even at a site like Massively OP, we still run across MMOs we’ve never, ever heard of, obscure little gems (or trainwrecks, depending) that just never got the attention or acclaim they deserved. In the hopes of hearing about more today, I’m hopping aboard /r/MMORPG for our Daily Grind. Redditor Cicero asked fellow MMO fans,

What is your favorite obscure MMORPG? And by obscure MMORPG, I mean one that isn’t often talked about, or just isn’t that popular anymore.

Glitch would probably top my list. Though it’s closed now, and though it received a flurry of positive press early on thanks to the credentials of its studio, it somehow managed to wallow in obscurity, such that every time we mention it, our readers pipe up to say they’ve never heard of it. Runner-up for me goes to Zentia, an adorable and bizarre little import that probably turned off most MMO players because of its aesthetic but was actually the cleverest MMO I’ve seen to date out of China (it also was initially hardcore PvP) (and you could play a baby) (I told you it was weird).

How about you? What’s your favorite obscure MMORPG?

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