For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to do something most of them hate: brag! We’ve tried to isolate our favorite personal work from the year and talk about why we think it matters, then identify our favorite work from somebody else on the site this year and do the same. I always tell them it’s easy, but it never is!
See: The Secret World
So the question, for me, was always whether or not the game could justify its reboot and still be fun in and of itself.
The answer to the former question, I’m sorry to say, is an unambiguous “no.” There’s a lot of reasons thrown around for why the game absolutely needed a reboot, but none of them actually succeeds at justifying a whole drop-and-rebuild. Partly because, well, the game didn’t rebuild anything. It patched in a few new systems and called it a day, and it did absolutely nothing to address the core problems that kept people from being turned off from the game in the first place.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree sort out the pile of expansions and updates that developers are scrambling to get out of the door before the holiday break. From vampires to kobolds, there’s something for everyone this month, and it only looks to get nuttier with the new year!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Just because an MMORPG’s development has been put into suspended animation doesn’t mean that profit still can’t be made! To wit, check out Funcom’s can-do spirit, which doesn’t take “maintenance mode” for an answer when it comes to holiday sales.
For whatever reason, the studio is holding a sale on Funcom Points for both Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. These titles, you might recall, joined the original Secret World earlier this year in having their active development canceled while nominally keeping the servers running.
Anyway, both games are throwing in bonus points when you buy certain tiers of bundles. Additionally, Anarchy Online has a luxury armor set that it would like to sell you as part of a multi-month membership package.
In addition to the cosmetic tools, Update 2.1.5 starts this year’s winter event, starring all sorts of special critters to attack, world raids, Christmas cosmetics, seasonal achievements, a new winter lockbox, and a free pet to players who log in by January 2nd.
The patch also adds the option to change your name (for a price), fixes several issues, and tosses in new animations for when players unlock emotes and titles.
For Lord of the Rings Online, I have to say that my biggest frustration with the game design is that dungeons might as well be non-existent. Oh, they’re in the game (and raids and skirmishes too), but LOTRO has never cultivated a dungeon-running community of the sort that you see in contemporary MMOs.
In other games, I enjoy changing up the routine by grouping up with others for a run through detailed setpieces as we battle our way to the final boss. I enjoy the rewards that those runs bring and learn a lot more about how to play my character. This has almost never been the case for me and LOTRO, and it’s not for a lack of trying. This MMO has a grouping problem that undercuts participation and interest in the dungeon scene, making such runs an anomaly instead of part of the mainstream. I have some observations from my point of view and some thoughts about how it could be fixed.
There are few things that bug me more in MMOs than when my character looks like he or she got dressed by sprinting through a Salvation Army and grabbing whatever was within arm’s reach. It makes such a difference to me when my character looks the part of a hero rather than a ragamuffin.
While most MMOs these days allow you to save and equip visuals from gear that you find all around the game world, many of these same MMOs create special cosmetics that can only be purchased in the game store. As they have no bearing on actual performance during play, cosmetic sales don’t draw the ire that, say, lockboxes and stat gear do. While some might avoid store cosmetics because of a lack of funds or because actually earning (or finding) good-looking outfits delivers more of that feeling of achievement, others don’t seem to have a problem with taking a paid short-cut to fashion success.
I’ve bought several outfits in games like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 that I knew I would be wearing extensively on multiple characters. I am pretty choosy in what I do purchase, however; it’s not an everyday occurrence.
What about you? Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics? Have you done so this year?
The most peculiar comment thread erupted in MJ’s recent post about Secret World Legends’ Krampusnacht. In response to the casual note that the holiday event rewards had been announced by the community manager in Funcom’s Discord channel, MMO readers expressed furious annoyance that details of that sort were being disseminated in obscure chats instead of through official channels accessible to everyone.
MOP commenter Greaterdivinity rather colorfully requested that developers stop using chat channels “for delivering information to the community at large,” not out of specific dislike of Discord but because studios must surely know that they’re reaching only the tiniest sliver of their full audience that way. The alternative “doesn’t even need to be a forum,” commenter Styopa chimed in. “Forums are for interacting and dialogue. I would be happy if they just had a single reliable go-to source for current game information. Like, say, an official web page?”
Now don’t go getting all reasonable! Save that for the polls! How should MMORPG studios communicate to players? Choose all that apply in today’s Leaderboard:
While I’m not on board with the game’s character vignettes (which are much more “portrait of this person you don’t really interact with” than anything), there is an underlying story running through every part of the game. I clocked out midway through Egypt when I played the original The Secret World, and there were an assortment of reasons, but part of it was that connection I mentioned above. To wit: the game really likes having mysteries, but it doesn’t really like having answers for a lot of them.
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
What: Secret World Legends
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 7th, 2017
While I certainly benefit from all these other improvements, two of the biggest changes for me have been the anima allocation system and the XP transfer on empowerment. The two are actually tied together, along with the reduced cost to recover glyphs and signets. I wanted to give it some time working with the new system before talking about it. And I’ve concluded that more than just quality of life improvements, these tread a bit into the game-changer category.
You know what I do care about, though? The Empire and the Republic. You know what most fans of Star Wars care about? The Empire and the Republic, or possibly the Jedi and the Sith. Whether it’s a story buried in the conflict of those two armies colliding or it’s a gangster taking advantage of being in the middle of those two opposing parties, the Empire and the Republic have been central to all the engaging Star Wars stories.
For this specific reason, it’s time for BioWare to tear down the Eternal Empire.