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 character look are you most proud of?

The image above was used as a header elsewhere, but other than the fact that I never fixed her belt (it was a placeholder belt since I knew I’d be replacing the gear there quickly) I’m still proud of how good that set looked on my Blood Elf in World of Warcraft. It feels like an archetypical sort of Blood Knight look, even though it’s assembled from bits and pieces of other sets. Just like my favorite looks in Final Fantasy XIV or Star Wars: The Old Republic, a collection of pieces that works right for the character and possibly no one else.

Obviously, some of you don’t care about this stuff, and that’s fine. But for those of you who do, what character look are you most proud of? What outfit made you stop, take screenshots, and nod in approval?

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: Would you pay for MMO mods?

The entire internet (only a slight exaggeration there) exploded this week over Valve’s decision to work with selected game studios to allow modders to charge for their amateur game plugins on the Steam Workshop, cutting Valve and said studios a huge slice of the profit pie. Regardless of whether you think paid mods are acceptable, most people seem to agree that Valve hasn’t handled it very well at all, given the number of stolen mods and fraudulent DMCA take-downs flying around the Workshop right about now.

I’ve been modding video games a really long time, both creating my own and obsessively downloading, playing, and tweaking mods made by others. Half the reason I still play World of Warcraft is to tinker with UI addons, and I even created some housing retexes for the late great Star Wars Galaxies. I’ve also made money on some of my non-MMO mods — yes, made money on game mods, 15 years ago when it was a broadly accepted thing. Anyone who was gaming back then remembers Sims paysites, the bandwidth bubble, and the Skindex fiasco; in a weird way, this is all just a little bit of history repeatin’.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best hybrid classes?

I didn’t know hybrid classes were a thing, really, until I picked up classic EverQuest way back in 1999. Most of the roleplaying games I’d played until that point, including pioneering sandbox MMO Ultima Online, were skill-based, and so I more or less picked skills that I liked without worrying about hybrid penalties. (In classic UO, pretty much everyone was a mage, after all!) EQ introduced me to those stock Dungeons and Dragons concepts, however, and the majority of subsequent MMORPGs have clung to classes to make life easy on the designers tasked with balancing player power.

Hybrid penalties or no, a lot of people really still love the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades, of having a variety of skills and playstyles all on one character, and penalizing players for picking non-pure roles has long fallen out of fashion. Skill-based sandboxes, of course, still allow players to pick up swords alongside their shovels, but themeparks like RIFT and Skyforge and Final Fantasy XIV also let you swap around your subclasses so much that pretty much everyone in the game is a hybrid.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the oldest MMO you’ve ever played?

I read yesterday’s news about Meridian 59 with interest because it’s one of the few genre titles that was before my time. My MMO obsession began in Ultima Online circa 1997, which was a year or so after M59’s commercial launch. I’ve always meant to check out the latter, though, and now I’ve got even more motivation to do so since it’s receiving updates from its open source community.

What about you, MOP readers? What’s the oldest MMORPG you’ve ever played?

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: Where do you go to relax in MMOs?

This morning’s Daily Grind comes to us from an anonymous Kickstarter donor with a deceptively simple question:

Which MMO zone is the most relaxing?

A lot of people consider dungeons and combat relaxing compared to their real-world daily grinds, but I love my peace and quiet, and sometimes I like to go to places in games that are anything but messy and loud. I can think of so many serene places — the old-world shrines of Ultima Online, the Naboo beaches in Star Wars Galaxies, the Shire in Lord of the Rings Online. But I’m giving my top vote to Glitch‘s weird and wonderful secret rooms, some of which were so magnificently obscure and truly useless that you had the impression that no one but you had ever passed through them, that they were truly private and safe and secret, which is always relaxing for me.

So which MMO zone is the most relaxing for you? Where would you go to relax in MMOs?

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: Is Firefly Online the future of MMOs?

Last week, Firefly Online announced that it had scooped up almost all of the old Firefly cast members to voice the multiplatform online-but-not-really-an-MMO. Cue internet nerdgasm! I am impressed that the game is managing to dodge so many of the usual problems of IP-driven games; you’re playing not Mal or Zoe but a pale imitation of them as the captain of your ship, and while you’re the protagonist in your own story, you’re not necessarily a big damn hero.

On the other hand, the “online” part of the game is more or less limited to social connections and player-generated content in the form of custom missions. It’s going to be cool, but I can’t help but worry that far too many games that would have been designed as MMOs a few years ago are going this cheap and easy route now instead — that this is the sort of game that will bleed our genre rather than round it out.

Will you play Firefly Online, or are you holding out hope that the IP will get a proper MMO at some point? Do you think this style of game is the future of MMOs?

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: Which MMO has the most helpful loading screen text?

MMO loading screen text varies widely from game to game. Some titles choose to put snippets of lore on their loading screens, while others reveal portions of the game mechanics. Still others go with filler text that seems like it was written by an intern with a fleeting grasp of English, the game in question, and the sorts of things that players need to know.

What do you think, MOP readers? Which MMO has the most helpful loading screen text?

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: Do you want minigames in your MMO?

I won’t pretend that I’m one of the biggest fans of the game, but I’m really glad that Triple Triad is a thing in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m also super psyched that World of Warcraft has its various Darkmoon Faire diversions (though they should really be around more) and I’m even keen on the absurd little pattern-matching Dilithium mining in Star Trek Online. Put simply, I’m a big fan of having some minigames to take part in as I play.

Minigames that aren’t tied to fighting or crafting or the like are, to be fair, not part of the core design of a game. They’re extraneous side ventures, and it’s very common for them to either be far too rewarding or not rewarding enough. But I like the fact that they exist, and I’m always willing to at least try a new minigame or two. What about you? Do you like minigames, or would you rather that developers focus more efforts on core gameplay?

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: Is dual-wielding dumb or cool?

If one weapon is neat, then two must be twice as great, right? That seems to be the thought process behind dual-wielding in video games, although it’s not something that pans out so well in real life (at least when it comes to guns).

Just about every MMO I know allows players to dual-wield in some form, whether it’s two swords, two pistols, two daffodils, or whatnot. Dual-wielding makes for exciting animations and allows for a second weapon slot, which is probably why it’s a big selling point for many.

But are flashing two weapons about actually dumb? Do you roll your eyes when you see the latest player dual-wielding, feeling that it’s more for show than anything else? Has it gotten out of, erm, hand? Let’s hash this out today!

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: When do you know you’re never going back to an MMO?

Massively OP’s Mike Foster said something that resonated with me earlier this week when during a debate about World of Warcraft, he uttered, “I think WoW truly lost me when Blizzard got rid of Shaman totems.” I wanted to cheer, but I’m sad about it too. I’ve never fully quit WoW over its now many years of slowly watering down the flavor of my main class, and I won’t say I’ll never go back because I always do and I always have fun. But when totems became shells of their former selves, it sort of sank in that the gameplay I liked was gone, that this was the new reality, that the game’s philosophy had really shifted almost too much for me — as Mike put it, “It was the moment for me that said, ‘We want every class playing basically the same.'”

I wonder whether this is something that a lot of folks realize at some point in their gaming careers, especially those who’ve been playing “old” MMOs long enough to see them change over first-hand, sometimes into dramatically different versions of themselves. I certainly feel that way when I log into Ultima Online in 2015 — aside from the graphics, it’s so different from its 1997 version that a lot of folks wouldn’t even recognize it. There was never a jump-the-shark moment or anything; just a slow realization that oh, it’s over… oh, it’s something else now — damn.

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The Daily Grind: Are you playing GTA Online?

I’ve been playing GTA V an absurd amount since Monday. It’s basically two games, though, which is problematic for an already overloaded schedule. I may just drop the single-player campaign. It’s fun, mind you, but I can’t stand Trevor and frankly I’d rather pull heists, hit tennis balls, collect cars and real estate, and fight it out with 29 frenemies in GTA Online.

What about you, MOP readers? Are you playing GTAO now that it’s out on PC?

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: Do you plan ahead in your MMOs?

I am a horrible, horrible chess player. It’s not that I don’t understand the game or have the mind for basic strategies but that I simply cannot plan ahead and anticipate future moves the way that you need to in order to master the game.

Sometimes I feel as though this “play in the moment” attitude saturates my MMO gaming career. There are larger goals that I’m gradually working toward, but I don’t meticulously plan all of the steps I need to take in order to powerlevel or gain the most optimal gear. I kind of go with the flow, on occasion taking the effort to look ahead, but more or less just enjoying each session for what it is.

Do you plan ahead in your MMOs or do you game in the moment?

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 old MMO feature deserves to make a comeback?

Today’s Daily Grind comes to us from Kickstarter donor Diskonekted, who asks one of the genre’s million-dollar questions:

What features or technology from older MMOs are you most surprised to see never expanded upon or commonly implemented into new games?

Sidekicking! My goodness. It’s a crying shame how few level-bound MMOs have picked up on the brilliance of sidekicking (or mentoring or level-scaling or whatever you want to call it). It’s such a simple, elegant solution to solving the problem of keeping people playing together (and paying for your game!) even when their time investments vary dramatically.

Sidekicking isn’t the only one, though. Let’s tackle Diskonekted’s question. What old MMO features are you shocked aren’t being used more in modern MMOs?

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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