The first year of Massively Overpowered had its ups and downs, like anything does, but I think we had some pretty great content in there. Like, really great content. And now it’s my job to tell you several of the best pieces which you may or may not remember, and that’s hard for me to do because I work with a lot of talented people on this site.
My goal with this list, then, is to look back at stuff that wasn’t just good when it was written but still has plenty of bite right now, stuff that you can read several months on with all of the impact it had at the time. That meant that there was some really good stuff that wound up being just a bit too time-focused for the list. I also left myself off of the list as much as possible, before you ask. So what are some of the best pieces of last year?
1. EverQuesting: Is EverQuest Next in trouble?
Oh, boy, does this ever look prescient in light of the past year. People were worried about EverQuest Next right at the start of the year, and wouldn’t you know it, this was not a good year for anyone hoping for more information about the game. There was arguably a bit of news here and there, but very little good and most of it was shackled to speculation.
I particularly like this one because MJ does a great job when she’s striking a balance between being optimistic and being critical. She’s also right on the money that fans really needed Daybreak Games to work on rebuilding trust; it’s a bit of a shame that the company didn’t seem interested or able to do so.
2. Chaos Theory: Quit whining and pay for your Secret World content
Speaking of MJ, here she is going off on a hell of a rant, and it’s one that I very much agree with. Especially given the troubles that Funcom has had over the past year. The Secret World is hardly the first game in which players have argued that something should be free when it costs money, it won’t be the last, but the particular attitude in this case set off her rant gene. Yes, the specifics change, but it’s something worth considering the next time a rant starts up about how something should be totally free.
3. The Game Archaeologist: Roleplaying dreams in Underlight
The thing about this particular feature is that it could be argued to encompass an entire type of column rather than just this single installment. The Gaming Archaeologist covers lots of games in their earlier states, without a doubt, but it usually covers games that you and I know about intimately. While that’s keen, I like being reminded of these games that crept up around the edges, ideas and could-have-beens that never actually became.
So why this one in particular? Well, Underlight appeals to my particular sensibilities, so I was eager to spotlight a piece about it. Yeah, it’s that simple.
4. Perfect Ten: Important features MMOs lacked at launch
This is in a similar vein, but it’s not quite the same animal. For better or worse, we tend to compartmentalize games to a certain extent, thinking that they exist in a certain state for their whole life cycle. Sometimes it’s astonishing to look back and realize, for example, that something as basic as capes in City of Heroes or war in World of Warcraft didn’t exist when these games launched.
Since Justin and I alternate who writes this particular column, I usually love his takes on it, because like 80% of the time he has an idea and writes it whilst I’m sitting at my desk and saying, “aw, that’s a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?” It might not sound like a joy, but it is.
5. Guild Chat: Guild size and its effect on cohesion
This has been something I’ve thought about a lot this year, especially as my own activities have gone from working in plus-sized uberguilds to smaller groups. Tina’s column here does an excellent job of breaking down the double-edged sword that cuts both sides here, from the larger gathering to the smaller one. It’s really well-done; I can’t add much to it beyond saying that you should totally read it.
6. Working As Intended: Ten lessons I learned from classic Guild Wars
Bree and I disagree about lots of stuff. She and I will frequently debate issues back and forth with great vigor. We have lots of fun with it. But we also have a lot of shared interests, like the original Guild Wars. I think the reality of this particular game is one worth examining, and this column does a great job going into depth about all of the ways in which that game was – and is – pretty baller.
The only point I disagree with here is that honestly, we need to stop debating whether or not Guild Wars was an MMORPG. Because it was, and because the actual debate over it isn’t interesting. I wouldn’t have even given that a nod if I had been writing the column.
7. Perfect Ten: Why you should care about the Infinite Crisis shutdown
Who mourns for Infinite Crisis? I did, apparently, which is weird, because I didn’t even really play the game. But here I wrote a whole thing about why I cared, and why everyone should care, even if you weren’t a fan of the game. It’s an odd eulogy, but I’m proud of it, and whilst I went back and forth over including anything I wrote from the last year, I think this makes the cut.
8. Tamriel Infinium: The pros and cons of Elder Scrolls Online’s console versions
Larry is a great guy. We’re not, like, the best of friends, but he did put up with me wandering around Boston tipsy, so I think he’s earned the “great guy” label for life. I’d love to highlight all of the work that he does, but he’s also amazingly topical, which meant that I had to sift through all of his great stuff to find something that was as evergreen as it could be.
I think this qualifies. While I’m avowedly not a great fan of the game in question, I think Larry does a great job of presenting the pros and cons of both console and PC launches without prejudice or bitterness. He does a better job than I would, definitely, and it’s a useful article if you’re considering The Elder Scrolls Online and debating platforms to this day.
9. EVE Evolved: Is EVE becoming less emergent?
Brendan is the only person who predates even me counting back from original Massively, and he’s achieved that longevity by having a long-standing and laser-focused column on EVE Online for many, many years. However, just saying “read what Brendan writes if you have even peripheral interest in EVE” doesn’t make for a compelling entry.
Here, though, Brendan displays why I still read him so religiously: because he takes a simple question, analyzes it carefully, and presents his analysis and dissection in a clear and easy-to-read format. It’s also a great column if you’re wondering why you seem to hear fewer stories about weird stuff in EVE these days.
10. Flameseeker Chronicles: Am I the only one who doesn’t enjoy Guild Wars 2 datamining?
The thing about datamining, as a whole, is that it generally exists as a counterpoint to a severe lack of existing information. Tina addresses exactly that here. But there are negative aspects to datamining just as surely, and Tina does a great job at breaking this down not just for Guild Wars 2 but for datamining in every game.
I suppose the overall lesson here, if there must be one, is that if there’s a big to-do about datamining, something has gone very wrong with the overall dialogue between developers and players.
And now, as this column comes to a close, I want to turn it over to you, dear readers. What about you? What were your favorite articles? What did you enjoy that others might not have remembered? Because there are only ten spots on this list, you see. I’m sure you have your own feelings on the matter.