The Daily Grind: When have MMOs successfully put a clever spin on old tropes?

    
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We can all point to the many, many video game and pop culture tropes that infest MMORPGs to both our amusement and annoyance. From giant spiders to jaunty pirates to helpless NPCs who seem incapable of crossing a room to get the object they desire, we see these things all over the place.

But once in a while an aware MMO designer puts in some extra effort and defies our expectations of those tropes. Perhaps he or she puts a spin on that trope to throw us off-kilter or subverts it entirely. The other day I was talking to a quest giver in Dungeons and Dragons Online who initially tasked me with going to a basement to kill rats. As I rolled my eyes, the character laughed and said that he was just kidding, how silly it would be to ask a hero of my renown to perform a task that a cat could do.

Have you ever seen something like this? When have MMOs put a clever spin on old tropes?

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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donvweel

DDO “Good Intentions” is interesting in that you battle animated every day objects like broomsticks and such and the end fight is a Gazebo. The Gazebo is a nod to the old classic Eric vs the Dread Gazebo.
http://www.comedycorner.org/90.html

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Oleg Chebeneev

WoW Cataclysm when they drastically changed entire old world.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Can some one explain to me what happened to my comment regarding WoW, I said absolutely nothing disrespectful, and I was basically saying the same thing as IronWu?

I more or less said it may be an unpopular opinion here but WoW had been doing this for at least 10 years, meaning from development to Mists.

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Minimalistway

Sometimes the comment system decide to hide a comment for some reason, it happened to me just few days ago, just wait for it, it took my comment almost a day to appear :-)

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I just thought maybe I got on the bad side of the staff again.

harbinger_kyleran
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harbinger_kyleran

Nope, I had a benign post delayed 3 days before receiving an email saying the moderators had approved my comment.

Looks like they recently (?) started using “Akisimet” spam blocking as I don’t recall seeing that message on the main page previously.

Hope this is an infrequent occurance as most threads on this site have a very short life so 3 days delay basically means few read it.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Mordy, what Harbinger and Minamalistway are saying is correct – what was happening is that as we’d ban spammers, it was blocking shared IPs, and the system was trashing posts made by other people using those IPs until I manually unblocked them and salvaged the comments. That was driving everyone crazy, so we’re trying the paid version of Akismet this week to see whether it deals better with spam than what we had before. So far so good on it, and no legit posts spammed since Saturday. Sorry for the annoyances. I manually rescued all the trapped posts from before today, and I know I saw several of yours in there.

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Fenrir Wolf

I’d noticed you started getting spambots! I’d stop by a brand new article and the only comment there would be one of those… er… I’d rather not trigger the spam filter but…

Those ones about making a certain degree of incoming something in a certain amount of time.

Those are viral! They breed like rabbits. I’ve seen them almost everywhere. I don’t know how whoever codes those bots is so good at dodging so many kinds of security! I’m worried it’s going to lead to sites using Google Captcha as a means to stem the tide. Which worries me because that system is pure pain for my poor vision.

I don’t want to hunt for any more busses, Google. Staaaahp. Can’t I just give you my phone number or something to use SMS to verify my existence?

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Yeah, Captcha is exactly what I was trying to avoid. Annoys users more, not less. :D

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Fenrir Wolf

It happens. I actually trust the Massively team to not be terrible people about this. For the most part, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by them.

There have been some sites… I won’t name names but narcissism and egomania run rampant. And you’ll get a ban and be tarred as a terrible person for so much as disagreeing with the confrontational, aggressive way they approach various topics, which just gains the people they arrogantly claim to protect even more enemies. That’s not helpful.

I understand that we’re all guests here and it’s important to remember that and respect one’s hosts, but if your intent is to encourage discourse, scaring everyone into becoming part of an echo chamber doesn’t really achieve that end.

There are some real bullies out there.

So I’d wholeheartedly give Massively the benefit of the doubt on this. In fact, the ones who broadcast on YouTube even seem as decent as the McElroys. Which delights me. I’m especially fond of Chris, he’s a good boy.

As a dissenting voice, I often worry that I’ll eventually come under fire and be ousted. I mean, I love the idea of MMOs but as a person with autism and anxiety, I find their execution and management often leave so much to be desired. I stick around to see whether anyone can get an MMO right. Guild Wars 2 is trying, to its benefit, and others have done well whilst being not quite so, well, massively.

I’m in a weird position where there are some games I absolutely love as there are things they’ve done right and I’d hope to see them continue to get that right, rather than following the pattern of bad management. Massively is a helpful place where my voice can be heard.

I know it’s a segue, but I don’t often get a chance to thank my hosts for allowing me to stick around.

I know that as an autistic person with needs, and a tired, cynical one at that who often feels ignored and discarded, my perspectives can be alien and undesirable. Still, I’m a human being — I think — and it is nice to have a place to share my human thoughts so that I might help make things better for people like myself.

Long and short of it? If Massively aren’t censoring an excessively autistic person like me, I doubt they’d censor anyone unless that person’s intent is obviously to cause others suffering.

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Fervor Bliss

TSW mixing character with the puzzle trope in the Kingsmouth (1st Area) was done so well.
(Think that was the name of the area, it has been so long)

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Fenrir Wolf

Dagnabbit, I forgot TSW! I didn’t play it for long as I play all multiplayer games with my partner, and she can’t handle horror especially when it pertains to Abrahmic imagery.

Good call!

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Ironwu

Oddly enough, I have found WoW to be the king of switching around the old tropes of classic MMOs, even itself sometimes.

I fondly remember the quest where you were tasked with standing around handing out quests and rewards to NPCs that wandered by. You even got the obligatory ‘!’ and ‘?’ markers along with the ‘Why can’t you do this yourself?” and “This is beneath me!” comments.

Pretty neat stuff.

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David Blair

That was probably my favorite moment from Cataclysm. I think the quest was called “Welcome to the Machine”. That and the follow-up right after when you run back into the Blood Elf and what happened to his horse…

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Yeah that quest was truly unique, the only other time I remember being amused in a role bending sort of way was when we were doing the Illidan quest line in Legion when we had these Raid Group full of toxic NPCs (including Johnny Awesome actually, taking down Illidan at the Black Temple).

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Hikari Kenzaki

I enjoyed when City of Heroes Summer Blockbuster event changed up the traditional superhero roles and put our characters in the role of Hitter, Hacker, Grifter and Thief (at a time when Leverage was very popular on TV) during the Casino Heist

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Crowe

Damn, I missed that one. I would have loved to have played it!

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Hikari Kenzaki

It was actually the last thing they ever really did content-wise. The shutdown was announced at the end of the following month.

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Robert Mann

There’s lots of attempts at this. At least in terms of making fun of things. Successful or not… I’m not really sure. I’m not sure, because what is successful and what I enjoy are different things, or potentially different things.

Given my lack of interest in breaking the 4th wall, my own enjoyment spots on those is generally pretty low.

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Akagi

I know the Goblins in WoW (Vanilla) are some trope, which was later expanded upon to be like Italian Mafia in New York or something. But back then they felt like some quirky inventors with low moral standards that cared little for other people’s feelings and just did what they felt was good for them without giving it much thought.

Somehow I liked how they were represented in the game, it gave them much character and I kind of wish there was more quests involving them.

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Fenrir Wolf

They’re a fairly common trope, though. You’ll find it in D&D, Pathfinder, and a bunch of other settings. I find that goblinoids and kobolds are usually the most misunderstood of D&D races. I’d love to see them painted in a more positive light, that really would be subverting the trope.

I think the only time that’s ever really happened, though, is in Neverwinter Nights? I can’t recall any other Good-aligned kobolds in mainstream media.

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Akagi

I don’t remember the kobolds in NWN, since I dropped both games around the middle. But now there is an anime called “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” where the main character builds a city of monsters and goblins are one of his first allies.

As for WoW, I always wished for the goblins race to be neutral like panadren where they can choose which faction they want to join, because throughout the history of Warcraft, goblins have always been neutral and trying to get everyone to be their customer. And I wish this was back in Vanilla, not Cataclysm.

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JBNL

The only thing that comes to mind and still makes me smile is good old Kilroy Stonekin from GW1.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

This will be an unpopular opinion here but World of Warcraft managed this for 10 years give or take.