World of Warcraft Community Manager Ornyx sparked a bit of a wildfire on the game’s forums this past week as in response to a player criticizing Legion’s lack of content, he snarked, “I assume you’re trying to make a joke about content, because, looking at your Armory, it appears you’ve only engaged with about 25% of Legion.” In his follow-up, he said that his role is about “engagement and community-building,” not customer service, and characterized the exchange as “a bit of fun.”
The thread erupted, with some people arguing that the player who dared insult Blizz’s expansion got what he deserved and others expressing shock that a Blizzard employee would treat its players that way. I come down on the side of “enabling elitism is exactly why armory profiles shouldn’t be forcibly public to begin with.” I thought the comment in extremely poor taste for an employee. It’s the kind of low-effort ad hominem I see in bad arguments, not good ones. I expect better from community managers, certainly, in the service of “engagement and community-building” than to model dismissing opinions based on gearscore and not on their merits. Seeing that attitude promoted by a bluename disappointed me deeply, even if it didn’t surprise me.
So this morning’s Daily Grind is two-fold: Where do you stand on comments like this from studio employees? Is so-called “armory shaming” OK? And just how much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?
Ready to play some Warcraft on your mobile device? What are we saying, of course you are. Other than the various companion apps to World of Warcraft, and of course, Hearthstone, Blizzard hasn’t spent a lot of time bringing its franchises to the mobile space. This might be changing, however.
Conversation is swirling around a job listing on Blizzard’s site for an FX artist to work on an “unnannounced” mobile game. In addition to the posting mentioning that the artist must be able to work with Unity and a small team, the studio says that it is looking for people who have a “passion for creating imagery synonymous with the Warcraft IP.”
We first got wind of this mobile project back in April, although no particular franchise was tied to the game.
I’ve been playing a lot of Ultima Online the past few weeks, but so many times I’ll be doing something that is objectively tedious (like taming or shuttling boxes of junk loot to the community trash box to turn in for points) and realize it and think to myself there is no freakin’ way that anyone who started playing MMOs in the last decade would put up with some of the quirks and conventions of the game. That’s no judgment on gamers, just the realization that it’s probably way too late to get into now if you’ve grown up under altogether different game design systems.
It’s not the only MMO I feel that way about; I’ve often felt that EverQuest II was too opaque and convoluted to return to, and oddly enough World of Warcraft has felt that way to me since Draenor.
Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?
Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.
I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?
SuperData’s April worldwide digital video games market summary has arrived, and with it we get a glimpse into the top gaming studios. And only the tippy top.
Irritatingly, World of Warcraft has once again been split into east and west, contrary to every other game on the chart. SuperData had split the game for its January report, botched the entries in February and hastily repaired its graphic to rejoin the two, and for March, the WoWs were one from the get-go. Now they’re two again.
The upside for WoW is that its western branch pulled out ahead of World of Tanks in terms of revenue (Tanks was beating a combined WoW last month). Dungeon Fighter Online and New Westward Journey Online II have swapped positions, while the addition of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (and separated WoWs) has pushed Lineage I and Wildlands out of the top 10 entirely. Wildlands dropped down the console list as well; ARK Survival Evolved and Mass Effect Andromeda have dropped from the console chart altogether.
On the mobile side, Pokemon Go held steady, but Lineage 2 Revolution continues creeping upward.
When it comes to EverQuest, it turns out you can go back again — over and over again, in fact. This fantasy MMO has earned a reputation for launching and operating progression servers, and a new one is unlocking for the populace today: Agnarr.
So why a new progression server? What sets Agnarr apart from EQ’s other time-locked shards is that Agnarr will only progress through content to a certain point and then stop then and forevermore, giving the community a “classic” server that is forever arrested at 2003. This means that by the middle of next year, the core game through Lost Dungeons of Norrath will be released and then nothing more. This is obviously aimed at players who want a more old-school experience without all of the later additions.
If you happened to miss it, MJ and I jumped to the island of Vvardenfell on Monday because early access for the Elder Scrolls Online chapter of Morrowind started this week. Unlike other times that we’ve streamed together when most of what we did was questing, we just explored the island this time. Although part of that time was spent just figuring out my mic situation, it was a fun way to see the island and a very interesting way to play the game.
When MMOs and I were young, I hopped into Ultima Online not having a clue how to play the game. I saw miners running around naked supposedly because ore was heavy (and the threat of ganks was real). I saw people standing just outside the city carefully poking each other with low-level knives to help them gain experience. I also saw people standing around the bank barking, attempting to sell their wares. None of this was actually questing, but all of it was a legitimate way to play the game.
Elder Scrolls Online is a unique game, far apart from your standard themepark-style MMO. I would still call it a themepark, but it veers from the standard World-of-Warcraft-style themepark in many ways, chiefly in that you don’t have to follow a singular path to get a lot out of the game. In fact, have come up with some alternative ways to enjoy the content of Morrowind without following the main questline.
There is always a Warrior. Every game has a Warrior. No matter what other class options it has, a Warrior is in that list. Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place in a galaxy far, far away (and thousands of years before the more well-established long time ago) where you have force adepts instead of mages or healers, operatives and Force assassins instead of rogues, and… Sith Warriors. And Sith Warriors still manage to tick off every single box on the Warrior Bingo card, which is why this is a list as opposed to just a bingo card.
I feel I have a reasonable and healthy relationship with Warriors. There are some games with Warriors I love, some with Warriors I don’t like, but in every single one I can make immediate assumptions just because it’s called a Warrior. From Guild Wars 2 to World of Warcraft, from Final Fantasy XI to Final Fantasy XIV, if you see something called a Warrior, you know what you’re getting into.
Let’s catch up on some odds and ends that are going on in the realm of World of Warcraft. First up is a hotfix that reduced the level cap of artifact knowledge from 50 down to 40. The reason? To reduce the grind that was getting seriously out of control.
“We raised the Knowledge cap from 40 to 50 very late in the 7.2 PTR cycle, out of an abundance of caution: We wanted to ensure that players of all playstyles, as well as alt characters, would view the Concordance trait as accessible,” the devs explained. “Knowledge 40 now seems more than sufficient for players to reach Concordance, and the prospect of months’ worth of additional Knowledge still left to research makes some players feel like their efforts in the interim aren’t meaningful. Therefore, we’re rolling the cap back to 40.”
Dungeons are deeply on my mind as of late, mostly because I’ve been missing doing them in MMORPGs. It’s odd: In particular MMOs, I run dungeons all of the time, while in others, I hardly ever touch them. The latter situation might be due to a lack of useful grouping tools, unrewarding instances, and games that have failed to develop an active dungeon crawling culture.
But which MMO offers the best dungeon crawling experience? That’s a tough one. I’ve certainly enjoyed plenty of World of Warcraft and RIFT’s instances, and I’ll admit that Final Fantasy XIV did a great job incorporating dungeons into its core gameplay. The Secret World had some awesome boss fights (and very little in the way of trash mobs), and I loved skirmishes in Lord of the Rings Online for a good while there.
What do you think? Which MMO has the best dungeon experience and why?
It’s not very interesting to see a big company take knockoff companies to court to argue that the knockoff companies are violating intellectual property. It is, however, quite interesting when the argument of the knockoff companies is that the big company doesn’t actually own said intellectual property at all… and that claim has some actual basis. There’s no question whether or not Valve owns Dota 2 itself, but there’s some actual legal ambiguity over whether or not the intellectual property of the characters is owned by Valve or not, which is the case being brought to federal court as Valve sues mobile developers Lilith Games and uCool.
The fundamental argument is that the original Dota map made for Warcraft 3 could legally be considered to be abandoned by its creator, which would render the intellectual property public domain. There’s also some basis to argue that as a Warcraft 3 map, everything in the map was already owned by Blizzard and couldn’t be bought and sold in the first place. In other words, it’s a quagmire of specific definitions and legal edge cases, which is sure to delight the more law-minded members of our audience as the case moves forward.
With the move to put The Secret World in maintenance mode and shift focus to the rebooted Secret World Legends, one MMO blogger decided that it was time to say goodbye to his stable of characters by logging each of them out in meaningful locations.
“It is now clear that The Secret World’s days are numbered,” Tyler of Superior Realities writes. “I have decided to say goodbye to the game while I still can, conducting a final tour of some of my favourite parts of the game and finding thematically appropriate ways to retire my many characters. And taking an unhealthy number of screenshots.”
I’ve seen others do this sort of thing, especially when an MMO ends, and it almost never fails to be touching and profound. These games meant something to us, and when we say farewell, it can be an emotion-laden funeral for time well spent.
Join us today as we tour around other essays from the MMO blogosphere, including an examination of class customization, musings on SWTOR’s road map, and a balloon ride in World of Warcraft.
For all the allergies Bungie has to admitting the Destiny games are MMOs, the dev team is not shy about admitting that it drew inspiration for the shooter’s dungeons straight from one of the biggest MMORPGs of all time.
According to a recent interview, Destiny Game Director Like Smith talked about how much he loved World of Warcraft and wanted to recreate the feel and flow of that MMO’s group dynamics in Destiny’s raids.
“Taking a raid from a non-shooter and bringing it into a shooter is about translating the feelings, it’s not about actual specific mechanical translation,” Smith said. “The feelings that matter from cooperative gameplay are those around other people making things easier — it’s about being able to see the impact everyone has on the success and failure of the group.”
Smith said that the team is focused on improving some of the weaker elements of Destiny with this fall’s Destiny 2. “We want to unhide the fun of Destiny,” he said.