The Daily Grind: What’s the worst fit for a seasonal event for an MMO?

Let’s be real here, I am a sucker for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday, so you would think I was over the moon about it being included as a seasonal event. And I usually am, but somehow in World of Warcraft it always feels… off, somehow. Just like Q’s Winter Wonderland in Star Trek Online never seems quite right to me, something that just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the game world. Like it’s being added because, well, it’s a real-world holiday and people love holiday events.

It’s not just a matter of lore, either; you can always write the lore to justify these events if you want to. But it’s just something subtly wrong about the whole affair, something that makes things feel like the holiday just doesn’t quite belong. So what do you think, readers? What’s the worst fit for a seasonal event for an MMO? Are there Neverwinter events that just feel like they don’t make sense in the game, or Skyforge celebrations that just turn you off right away?

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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Matt Redding

Well, any time an event feels tacked on or phoned in, it rings sour. And sometimes you just want something more than what the devs are able to put in; really a lot of times a half assed event is actually worse than no event at all because of frustration and disappointment.

Most of our holidays ARE actually based around the seasonal calendar. The Celts started out with the 2 equinoxes and the 2 solstices and then they added the 4 holidays that happen at the midpoints between them. That’s how they developed the holidays Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. Those in turn became Candlemas/Ground Hog Day, May Day, Lammas we don’t really observe but there’s a Catholic feast for St. Michael planted on it, and finally Halloween. Halloween and May Day are probably the most important to fantasy literature as they represent the turnover between the Seelie and Unseelie courts of faerie. If you take a step back from the modern commercialized meaning of these holidays and look at their roots, they should be able to integrate any of them into their lore.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

Anything based on a real world holiday. Devs make a game, add lore to the game, then shoehorn RL holidays into their game instead of coming up with something original. /golfclap

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Zen Dadaist

Real world independence day celebrations in games that are absolutely not set in the real world. Like, why would Fantasy Universe #6879324 celebrate Canada day/American Independence day etc?

It’s not like a harvest festival kind of thing which you can reasonably assume a lot of cultures with an autumn season might have. Or something in the depths of winter to cheer people up. Or the middle of summer to celebrate.

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mysecretid

Y’know, given how many fantasy games give much love to the idea of forests, and to the natural world (and a lot of these games carry quests which promote the idea that the natural world is important, and needs to be preserved and protected), a part of me wonders why one of these games hasn’t done a “Nature Fest” in-game celebration set on Arbor Day, or something …

Yeah, I’m trying to be funny here, to a degree, but my larger point is, I wonder if there’s any benefit to linking in-game events to holidays that don’t typically get a lot of attention.

I’m wondering, basically, if there’s any benefit to holding some of your game’s seasonal events on days when every other major game in existence isn’t doing the same thing, at the same time?

Only pondering …

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Hirku

Au Contraire Mon Capitan! I think Xmas in Star Trek is fine, not only because it’s still human society based on Earth just a mere few centuries from now, but also because Q makes anything work.

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Hirku

See?

Mariachi Q.jpg
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mysecretid

Aye — the Q stuff has almost always been slightly off-kilter and WTF? in Star Trek, and intentionally so.

Also, it was probably the best, and most-inventive, way for the game to touch on a “holiday season” concept without sparking yet another one of those murderously tedious — and always ultimately pointless — “Are Christmas, Hannukah, Eid, et al still celebrations of faith in Star Trek’s 2410?” atheism versus faith fan debates.

The way they do it now, whatever happens, it’s all just Q (Q’s son, actually) acting out his usual stream-of-consciousness whimsies on a yearly basis.

Any questions of faith, or the lack thereof, are left to the individual player to answer for themselves, as it should be.

My opinions, anyway,

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Max Sand

The only ones I ever actually completed in any game were WoW’s Brewfest and Hallow’s End. I guess different strokes but I really dug finding the Horseman in an outdated dungeon(far better before you could LFD right to the boss obviously). I enjoyed him attacking towns and fighting fires. I even had fun going all over the map to grab candy, then throwing pumpkin heads at everyone, driving them nuts. I don’t feel that way about any other in game holiday event, even in WoW, and since i did them, I don’t really even bother with them anymore either. If one catches my eye I may try it but that one in particular i have to disagree with Eliot on.

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Vexia

I guess I’m just weird because I love MMO seasonal events pretty much universally. I love it when Orgrimmar has the tree trimmed up, and Limsa Lominsa has pumpkins and shiny cut-out bats all over the place. Maybe that opinion would change slightly if I played a space MMO, but I kinda doubt it. As far as I’m concerned, the human penchants for making holidays and making video games coexist.

Xijit
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Xijit

every Valentines day event … there is just no MMO setting where that isn’t forced and obnoxiously clashing with the genre

Hikari Kenzaki
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Hikari Kenzaki

I guess, because I prefer modern MMOs over fantasy MMOs, I got used to the idea of seasonal events in City of Heroes and Secret World. I mean, Secret World Halloween events are amazing when done right and rage inducing when they phone it in (you all know which year I mean).

So, I tend to give fantasy games a bit of a pass when they do out of lore events because I’m not as engaged with the lore as it is.

But 4th of July in BDO… while lovely, makes zero sense.
You might be able to explain the New Year’s Eve fireworks as some sort of parallel world, calendar convergence… but not 4th of July. That’s pretty much true of any national/regional holiday of a country/region that simply doesn’t exist in game.

Otherwise, if they can give a plausible reason why it exists (like Q’s Winter Wonderland is just the kind of stupid prank he would pull) I’ll let it go cause, it’s fun and free stuff. :)

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charles allen

I got a question that I wish I could “ask a dev”: hiwbcomebthey don’t create holidays and holiday events thatbfit their game instead of relying on the standards? I know besides the “it’s easier to get players involved with limited time loot grabs and such”, butbare there any MMO’s that actually give you events that fit their settings and lore?

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Stormwaltz

I can’t speak for everyone, but generally it’s easier to use coding from modern RL holidays. For 90% of players, they see a candy cane, they think Christmas; they see a pumpkin and think Halloween; they see a heart and think Valentines. You don’t need to spend time coming up with art concepts and explanatory articles.

In another life, I worked on an original fantasy MOBA, and was told we wanted to do holiday events. Candy canes and hearts made no sense in our setting, but the general concept of celebrations to mark the turning of seasons is pretty universal in human societies – winter and summer solstice, vernal and autumnal equinox.

I set aside time to research RL global traditions for these holidays — not the modern commercial expression, but the historical and folk roots those grew out of. I compiled themes and traditions that were important to different societies, thought about what aspects would be emphasized by the cultures in our fictional world, and how they would express those aspects in their art an methods of celebration.

I was glad to have a chance to do it, but it took time, I had to sell people on the concepts, and I had to explain how the abstract concepts could anchor actual in-game art and mechanics.

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Max Sand

So in the end the TL;DR is that time spent researching, creating art for and implementing lore friendly more obscure Holiday stuff, could be used on the regular game stuff. Makes sense to me, and while I applaud someone taking the time to try and do it, it makes sense for a game company to say “well a candy cane would work better and take less time”.