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: Does knowing how the MMO sausage is made ruin it for you?

Ever have a day when a confluence of posts and quotes lead you to one big MMO-related question? This post is that question, and this is what led me here:

  • Massively OP’s Jef voiced annoyance for a certain in-dev game that releases frequent behind-the-scenes vids: “It’s a day that ends in y, here’s a video update! Just make the game, dudes; call when it’s done.”
  • A former game dev posted a long explanation on Reddit about how game design looks from from the inside out, likening game studios to stressful, messy “group projects in college” that are governed by marketing execs the less indie they become.
  • And finally, the folks at Extra Credits have been doing a series on MMO reward design, the latest of which is called Advanced Social Curve Design – Empowering the Community and is a must-watch for a student of MMOs.

That last one creeped me out. I mean, it’s not new information at all to any of us here, but to be reminded that a savvy game designer is manipulating your every in-game move from day one — ug! Talk about destroying the magic.

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The Daily Grind: Have you been to an MMO fan event?

CCP put EVE Online’s Fanfest 2016 tickets on sale this week, and while I haven’t played the sci-fi sandbox in some time, the annual Icelandic shindig is on my list of events to attend before I retire. I wouldn’t mind checking out Star Citizen’s CitizenCon, either, but I think those two are probably it in terms of MMO fan events that I’d like to experience for personal reasons.

What about you, MOP readers? Have you been to an MMO fan event in meatspace? Did you have fun?

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 is aging the best?

While we demand and expect playing perfection from MMOs on launch day, that’s a pretty hilarious stance to take when one looks at all other online games at release. Fortunately, online games tend to get better over time simply due to ongoing development of a live title.

It’s actually pretty neat to return to a game that’s been out for four, five, or more years because while it may not be the hottest trend, you’ll end up finding a title that’s full of content and benefiting from a lot of polish and refinement.

So today’s question is simple: Which MMO is aging the best and why?

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The Daily Grind: Are levels in MMOs overrated?

Today’s Daily Grind question comes from an anonymous Kickstarter donor who wanted to see just how many cans of worms he/she could open in three words:

Are levels overrated?

I’m a sandbox fan who favors skill systems, so naturally I’m not the world’s biggest fan of leveling systems in MMOs, but I’ll admit that even skill systems are usually numerical, with lots of little levels instead of one big level. No, the problem isn’t numerical levels by themselves.

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The Daily Grind: Would you play a dinosaur MMO?

Our ARK: Survival Evolved server seems to be going over well, and as such I got to thinking about dinosaurs in a more traditional MMO context. Sure, ARK has a bit of progression, plenty of crafting, and of course pets galore thanks to the fact that you can tame as many dinos as you can feed, but it’s not really an MMO in my book, since the servers support a small number of players.

What about you, MOP readers and dinosaur fans? Would you play a more traditional dino-based MMO, or does ARK scratch your itch just fine as it is?

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 make friends in MMOs or bring them with you?

I’ve mentioned before that my most stalwart MMO partner is my wife, who has stuck by me through thick and thin. When we move into a new game together, well, we’re in it together because we’ve been friends much longer than we’ve been playing MMOs together. On the other hand, our other constant companion and close real-life friend was someone we met after playing games together. So we both make friends in the game and bring them in from out of the game.

Some people don’t have a whole lot of real-life friends to bring into the game; others have so many that they need never deal with strangers. How do you do stuff? Do you tend to bring your friends with you into the game, or do you make friends in the game that you bring into your real life?

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The Daily Grind: Is SWTOR 2.0 a good move by BioWare?

I’m not going to lie to you: I’m almost equally divided between excitement and nervousness for Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire. I’m still not quite sure why BioWare feels it necessary to all but jettison the game it’s built up to this point and perform a story reset of sorts. I also have no doubt that it’ll be a thrilling and refreshing move even so.

Is this a good move for SWTOR to make? More regular story updates are always welcome, but at the expense of continuing class sagas or being group inclusive? I don’t know. And the pressure to subscribe and stay subscribed is already pressing down on us free-to-play folk, which irks me somewhat.

What do you think about the direction that the game is taking come this fall? Is this a risk worth pursuing in order to revitalize the title?

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 the ideal MMO endgame?

Happy Friday! Today’s Daily Grind question was penned by Kickstarter donor Iain Leishman, and it’s exactly the kind of juicy question that makes me want to kick back and chat all day in the comments, getting no work done at all. Darnit. Here it is:

Does an MMO need an endgame, or should Guild Wars 2‘s style of “endgame” be imitated, regardless of character level, making all content relevant?

I think that, as a game design concept, endgame is the worst thing that ever happened to MMOs. But there are plenty of systems and activities floating around in the traditional endgames of start-middle-end MMOs that I do like and would love to see yanked out and just treated as, you know, normal endless-midgame content. And it’s one of the things Guild Wars 2, among other titles, does extremely well: It keeps players of all levels and time commitments playing together, it trades tedious level grinding requirements for more optional grinds, and it — at least so far — doesn’t undermine too much evergreen content in the early game.

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The Daily Grind: Do you read MMO dev blogs?

I read a lot of dev blogs. It kind of goes with the territory, since part of this job entails picking through studio press releases and website updates and separating the fluff from the stuff that makes for interesting news posts.

If it weren’t for this job, though, I probably wouldn’t read them. I prefer to just explore stuff on my own in a given game, rather than have most of the changes spelled out for me in a bullet-point list. It also probably helps that I’m not much of a min-maxer, so buffs and nerfs normally don’t even register on my radar.

What about you, MOP readers? Do you read dev blogs? Why or why not?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the prettiest MMO?

Judging video game eye candy is one of the most subjective activities in our hobby, is it not? Everyone has a different standard (and tolerance) for beauty, which can extend to art style, palettes, locales, animation, and lens flares. We know which way J.J. Abrams will vote whenever he sees that last one.

There are a lot of good-looking MMOs on the market right now. I enjoy the colorful zaniness of WildStar, the gorgeous “painterly aesthetic” of Guild Wars 2, and even the old-school talent behind Lord of the Rings Online. But I think that there’s beauty in most online games if you look for it.

So in your opinion, what is the prettiest MMO on the market? Bonus points to your position if you post a screenshot to back it up!

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 the best way to boost MMO populations?

An anonymous Kickstarter donor pinged us with this question for this morning’s Daily Grind:

With the breadth of niche MMOs available, how will companies resort to increasing players?

I presume our donor refers to the absolute deluge of smaller indie titles that we’ve seen crop up in development over the last few years thanks to Kickstarter. While some folks praise the creativity that these niche titles promise in a field of higher-budget WoW-style themeparks, others see only a future of flopped games and communities spread far too thin to sustain themselves. “Niche” can bring dilution as much as diversity.

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The Daily Grind: Are there any survival sandbox features you’d like to see in MMORPGs?

I’ve been playing a lot of ARK: Survival Evolved lately. It’s certainly not an MMO, just judging by player count, but it has elements of progression, persistence, crafting, and combat that many MMOs share. My question to you this morning, MassivelyOP readers, is whether or not there’s any aspect or feature in particular from ARK or its survival sandbox brethren that you’d like to see incorporated into an honest-to-goodness MMORPG.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your first priority in a new MMO expansion?

The start of Heavensward access in Final Fantasy XIV has me running around like it’s the end times. I need to level the new jobs, I need to advance in the storyline, I need to get to work crafting and gathering… basically, I need to be doing anything and everything other than what I’m actually doing. The joys of trying to write about a new expansion!

Of course, I’m going to bet that the vast majority of you reading don’t have quite that particular collection of stresses; you can just enjoy what you’re doing. So when you get your hands on a new expansion (or major patch/DLC, if you prefer for your game of choice), what’s your first priority? What do you want to do right away, above and beyond everything else?

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