Massively OP Podcast Episode 150: Mailbag gabfest


On this week’s show, Bree and Justin upturn the mailbag and spend a whole episode going through listener emails, comments, and questions! It’s an anything-goes approach to the end of the year, with topics that include voice controlled MMOs, rapid content creation, and why Bree always seems on the verge of the plague.

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:

Show notes:

  • Intro
  • Mailbag: Story dominating leveling
  • Mailbag: Restoring the social MMO
  • Mailbag: Open-world housing issues
  • Mailbag: Voice control leading to immersion
  • Mailbag: Crafting popularity in MMOs
  • Mailbag: Loot and reward systems
  • Mailbag: Roblox and content creation
  • Mailbag: Quality-of-life improvement breaks
  • Mailbag: Behind-the-scenes at MOP
  • Outro

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“ultima online did it first” :-D


Re: Questing – One of the (many) reasons I finally gave up on World of Warcraft was the removal of the world spanning quests (Linkin’s Boomerang, Cortello’s Riddle, etc.) buried in all the other changes with the release of Cataclysm. These (and related quests) led you from zone to zone in a long series of quests (albeit with a trivial reward at the end) without the linear breadcrumb filler quests (“NPC A over in zone X needs your help”).


The mailbag discussions are always my favourite part, so a whole podcast of them is a treat :)

Mixing both instanced and non-instanced housing sounds like a pretty good idea – you could avoid both ghost towns and people losing everything by having non-instanced houses collapse into being instanced houses if people don’t keep up the rent, with instanced houses available as well there’s likely to be less of a land rush, and instanced housing could probably transfer through server merges etc. in a way that non-instanced housing can’t?

The crafting discussion made me think back to my days playing RuneScape (which I quit around 8 or 9 years ago), and the only MMO crafting activity I’ve ever found genuinely fun and engaging – a medium-high level Smithing option ( ) where you have a limited number of hammer blows, of variable strength, to try and hammer a sword into the right ornate shape. There’s a slight element of randomness to it, but the higher the Smithing skill the lower the RNG element, and I remember player skill and practice being significant factors as well.

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Older MMOs often had less story because of smaller budgets and production values. It’s more expected these days to have a prominent narrative. But that’s not really the important part in my mind. Having a story isn’t the problem, it’s how it’s presented. If the player is railroaded into doing story, that’s likely to frustrate them considering the average quality of MMO storytelling. Quest hubs come to mind as an often poorly implemented method of storytelling. Quests quickly become a tedious checklist to overcome and get done with. Many players don’t care about story in an MMO because of such implementations coupled with the poor quality of the stories being told.

As mentioned, forced grouping is less viable these days due to players having many more options in the genre to choose from. Going back to such hardline grouping isn’t being responsive to the players’ expectations in this day and age. Developers ought to make certain concessions when designing group-focused content. Having solo, casual options in the mix has been a good way to do so, and understandably it’s placed the focus of socializing much more on the players’ shoulders. Outside of making combat content that is so difficult that you need to communicate, I think you can also look to other forms of content that rewards working together with other players such as building structures together. And this all can be done without whisking away many of the quality of life features MMO players have come to expect in this day and age. In fact, developers could stand to get more creative with ways to get players to socialize outside of content incentives, such as providing robust tools to the players. Make it easy for like-minded players to get together.

I’m very much a proponent of instanced housing for many of those reasons. However, I can see myself being okay with open world housing if there was at least no awful punishment system in place wherein you lose your house altogether or all the hard work you spent organizing goes to waste. Ideally, you’d have a hybrid system where you can have both open world and instanced housing. If upkeep is insisted on, at least send the lapsed housing to an instance while keeping the house intact. Also, I give props for the unique way Trove has its form of housing that you can just plop your house down in the world at will. It could use a lot more depth, but it’s enjoyable already at such a basic form.

We’ve seen the idea of player content creation come up here and there for a while now. I’m not sure it’s so much that developers aren’t aware of it so much as there being other issues at hand of which I’m not personally knowledgeable about.

From what I’ve observed about quality of life updates versus content updates in game design, you really have to make it a balancing act, often leaning towards content more often since that’s what feeds the bottom line the most. Companies like Square Enix with FFXIV or the aforementioned Ubisoft and Siege have a lot of money and can afford to take the hit that comes with those changes and revamps. It’s understood that it’ll be a hit to stop what they’re doing and address those issues. Unless an MMO is in dire need of changes, you probably won’t be getting a studio to do that sort of thing. And what is considered dire by players will likely not exactly align with what is dire as observed by the development team so that can create a disconnect.

The Weeb formerly known as Sray
The Weeb formerly known as Sray

I agree wholeheartedly with Justin in regards to the high likelihood of failure for these MMO throwback projects if their only goal is to recreate 1999. The supposedly “casual” and “hardcore” alike ultimately rejected Wildstar for a lack of solo oriented endgame content, and for bringing back just a few minor inconveniences from early era WoW (which was considerably more accessible than the games that came before it). If all that they’re trying to do is recreate the form of the original games in the genre, they’ll attract a couple old school gamers who will realize that while they might have remembered everything the way it was correctly, they forgot that in 20 years the circumstances of their lives have changed significantly and they don’t have time or patience for that crap anymore. These devs have to realize that they need instant/short session content that allows the player with 30 minutes to log in, kill some stuff and log out; because without that, they’re absolutely dead in the water.

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Zulika Mi-Nam

Open world housing – I used to have great conversations with my neighbors and we would help each other out with gear, materials, crafting, and corpse runs.

This would also happen occasionally with others that would pass by our neighborhood too. It was not uncommon to hear some poor soul get repeatedly beat into the ground by some mob while loosing more gear each time. Being able to see them from my window and then run out to lend a hand made the world feel more alive.

Asherson’s Call had:
1) Instanced housing in each city – apartments
2) Open world housing – cottages (relatively easy to get and plentiful) and villas (for the more well to do and scarce, also suitable for a small guild)
3) Open world mansions for larger guilds. Large enough that we used to have Sunday afternoon guild PVP contests in the basement with prizes. Also there would be times where you would be socializing with others outside the mansion and out of no where a rival guild would come running over the hills attacking everyone.

I lived in Bandit Road Villas and Afura Mann was my very good neighbor for years. If only I could remember what I did yesterday.