We’ve got a lot of awards going out over the next couple of weeks about the “best” and “biggest” of this and that. But what we don’t give a formal award to is our favorites – and yes, we do have them! So for this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked the Massively OP staff to ‘fess up about their favorite articles and stories on the site this year – stuff they thought was particularly poignant, funny, or important, the stuff they’re proud of and glad we published. And we’d love to hear about your favorite stories too!
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I loved a lot of my GDC coverage and got some good stuff at E3, but… This was the most fun piece I wrote the whole year. It’s also the most risqué writing I’ve done under my own name, haha. Thanks to Bree and Matt for the creative inspiration, support, and serious discussions needed to write something this offbeat.
I was so happy with MJ’s soapbox on the game addiction arguments that I didn’t even feel like I had to pen one myself. It’s hard working with non-gamers sometimes or talking to fantasy book addicts who think their hobby is somehow more elevated than gaming. I know MJ is more known for her streaming, but I can hear her in rant mode here. Oddly, it’s still pretty chipper compared to most!
Justin does a lot of great articles, but his recent one on Castle Infinity really caught me off guard. I don’t always feel surprised by the games Justin covers in the Game Archaeologist, but this one was quite a funny shock. Damn, he even got its terrible song. Avoid the clip, it’s a terrible earworm!
I can’t give enough praise for Bree and everyone else’s work on the Russia/Daybreak stories. It’s hard to find just one example, especially knowing everything she and the others went through to keep things fair and honest, but I hope this pick serves as a good iceberg tip. Thanks not only for keeping us on this, Bree, but giving us a platform beyond social media to discuss it. And, of course, thanks to our patrons and readers for supporting us!
Anthem fell off my watch list fast during E3, and Larry hit most of the big points. This really could be a Destiny competitor, but it doesn’t feel like even that is meaningful these days, and that’s disappointing. Here’s to BioWare hopefully getting a better grasp on tackling story and multiplayer, especially after we lost TellTale this year.
Eliot’s reaction to the WoW “calendar quote” and stats was so on point, and his suggested fixes, while not perfect, illustrated the gap between what Blizzard does and what I think players expect from modern games. While Blizzard makes solid games, the innovation department sometimes falls flat, and it feels like this has been WoW’s issue for awhile. I know Eliot gets slammed for his criticism by some fanboys, but I can tell you that the devs do listen to good advice when it catches fire. Here’s hoping Eliot starts one… in this context, Eliot. Put the torch down.
Matt was brave enough to jump in and take a good look at Bless after all the behind-the-scenes things we were seeing. I was so disappointed in the other attendees for selling out when it was obvious there were real reasons to be concerned. Matt stepped in and also was one of those voices of reason, being critical but also highlighting the game’s strengths and potential.
Brendan tackled EVE on the ground and why CCP can’t get it right still. The idea of one EVE always struck me as something Nintendo or Valve via Steam would do. CCP can do some cool stuff, but making it gel is the hard part, and Brendan’s critiques were basically cited by CCP itself, even if it didn’t give him his kudos.
Tina covered Guild Wars 2’s PR mess with a pretty even hand. Friends in the industry had similar opinions, but after what happened, many were too afraid to speak up. I wish more people would have said something, but at least the less brave people out there could see that they weren’t alone in their assessment of the situation.
I’ve seen Chris’ writing, but I’m going to pick his final Wildstar stream. I feel a lot of Wildstar fans often knew the game was designed for hardcore raiders but had a casual coat of paint, yet stuck it out anyway. Coming in at the end to witness that community’s end is pretty brave.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My best work this year was hands-down the Columbus Nova shenanigans. I still remember sitting there staring at my email and tentatively asking our team’s chat channel whether I was going crazy or did they also remember as clearly as I did that Columbus Nova bought Daybreak. You kind of sit there with your heart pounding and face turning red as you begin rechecking what you’re reading and hoping you read it wrong so you can avoid the drama of having to break it. And it’s all uphill from there.
My favorite piece, however, was my recap of playing Star Wars Galaxies in 2018. Go ahead and mock me, Reddit trolls – I spent more enjoyable time in a high-quality MMORPG this year than I have in a long time, and if you spent less time gatekeeping, you’d be having fun too.
As for my colleagues? Tina did stellar, nuanced work in her analysis of Pricegate. Justin is always looking for the “but is it fun” angle in his impressions of things like MapleStory 2, Fallout 76, and RIFT Prime. Eliot’s Vague Patch Notes column has become a surprise treasure for the site since its launch this summer; check out his pair of eulogies for WildStar. Matt gracefully stepped into the role of news writer this year, but don’t think he’ll stop with his cutting reviews of trainwreck games. Likewise, MJ is kind and sweet, but for skies’ sake do not think she won’t call things like she seems ’em. Chris has only just started his editorial work, but look at the detailed Star Citizen content he’s already produced. And Larry covers so many games and cons for us, but my favorite was his analysis of how SWTOR failed EA. Finally, whether you follow EVE Online or not, you really need to be watching Brendan’s work: Not only did he call all the Project Nova problems early, but he nailed all the angles of the Pearl Abyss buyout. EVE Evolved has been running for more than a decade (seriously), and I am not exaggerating or flattering him when I say this has been his best year of coverage.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I’ll admit that WildStar’s demise is still pretty fresh on my mind here, so that’s led me to Eliot’s excellent eulogy for the game, which summed up best those things I could never say quite as well or as astutely as he did. Though I should say that an extremely close second goes to Brendan’s EVE Evolved column, which consistently provides such intelligent insight into EVE that I feel included in the conversation even though I don’t play the game.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I always hate doing this Overthinking, just because it involves picking out my favorite piece that I wrote, when I’m usually not happy with anything I wrote… well, ever. Picking out my favorite piece someone else wrote is a lot easier.
We had a lot of great stuff on the site this year, but I’m personally going to give the nod to Matt’s piece about Bless Online. Matt has a real knack for cutting to the heart of what doesn’t work about a game and why; he makes it entertaining and invigorating to read, not because he spends the whole time coming up for new phrases to say “this is bad” but because he lays out what doesn’t work right in exhausting detail and gives you a sense of what’s actually going wrong. Plus, you know, Bless. It’s a mess.
For my own work… well, again, I’m not the right person to judge that. But my piece about what the heck went wrong with this year’s BlizzCon seemed to go over well; a lot of people either had knee-jerk responses of “why are you making fans mad” or “fans are being whiny babies,” both of which missed the point. So I’m at least happy with that.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’m pretty proud of the five-part series I did covering the creation, life, and death of City of Heroes for The Game Archaeologist. It easily took the most time of any project I did for the site this year, but I didn’t mind because it was a delight to go back in time, to marinate in the wonderful history of this game, and to learn a few new facts I never had before.
Eliot’s final Nexus Telegraph column really hit all the right spots and echoed how I feel about what WildStar did right and where it went terribly wrong. He didn’t just bag on the game; he showed how the devs grossly misunderstood their key audience and stubbornly refused to shift focus until it was too late. It was a painful and expensive lesson to learn, but hopefully other MMO studios will read this and take it to heart.