Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMO stories of 2019


Earlier this week, we granted our formal award for the biggest MMO story of the year. But biggest doesn’t necessarily mean best or most important, never mind most clicks or comments. Sometimes the articles we put the most love and effort into fly under the radar while a fluff post sourced from Reddit goes viral. We can’t always predict these things!

So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve once again asked the Massively OP staff – and our readers! – to tell us their favorite article on the site this year – something they or somebody else on the staff did that we’re most proud of and thinks best represents MOP.

Andy McAdams: Favorite columns – I don’t think I can pick just one — but I know my favorite to read is consistently Eliot’s Vague Patch Notes. Consistently tackles deep, meta-discussions in the MMO and gaming industry at large. I don’t always agree, but I always love to read them. Out of my columns, I would say my piece on money laundering in games because prior to doing the research for that one there were aspects I hadn’t even considered about how money would flow through games illegitimately.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I enjoy a good, respectful conversation about the games I play. As such, the column I wrote about ESO’s guild trader economy system was my favorite for the discussion it generated.

The other authors wrote several columns I enjoyed. I could pick any number of Andy’s new Lawful Neutral pieces, but the one that sticks out in my mind is What’s China worth to the Western gaming industry? I also really enjoyed Tyler’s speculation on the Amazon Lord of the Rings game, even though it brought a lot of unnecessary defensiveness from those in the die-hard LOTRO camp.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Of my own work, I’m most proud of the story on the Guild Wars 2 greyhat hacker that ArenaNet tried and failed to pursue criminally in Germany. It was a fun journalistic journey where I was never entirely sure I was being told the complete and total truth by anyone and was literally sitting there translating court documents from German to figure out what happened. It took a tremendous amount of time to do right, and the process definitely altered my understanding of the way ArenaNet works and has worked for the last couple of years.

Let me brag up some other pieces from other people too: I am proud of MJ’s Massively Uplifting series because it’s a demonstration of the good at the heart of the MMO community (and we’re literally putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to countering toxicity). And Eliot deserves kudos for his multiple ethics pieces grappling with the Blitzchung situation and Blizzard boycotts – it was a hard topic for readers and writers of conscience, and he did it well.

I also want to hug the MOP Podcast because I’ve more than once been told by the powers that be that City of Heroes discussion on the podcast by Justin, Eliot, and me at the height of the drama pushed the developer into working with the community on a solution instead of going dark. Thank goodness we have big mouths (:D) and published that one early – true story, we were going to wait until the next day, but as I understand it now, if we had, the whole saga might’ve taken a very different path.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX): My favorite article from this year is the Game Archaeologist article on Dungeons and Dragons. When I first discovered this website in 2015, I binge-read through all of it. It was the column I most look forward to and I’ve got many favorites. The Dungeons and Dragons one was fun to read this year. I’m more of a Pathfinder kind of guy, but it was cool to read about it from the perspective of someone that’s been into the geek culture stuff for a while. (No, I’m not calling Justin old. I’m just pointing out that he’s been into it longer than I have!) Going a little further, my favorite article is still article that explained how EverQuest was back in 1999. I was too young to play MMOs back then, so it was really cool to read how it was like when the scene was still small and intimate.

Also, whoever’s been writing the Black Desert Online column is doing an excellent job; he’s clearly talented at writing.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Of the ones I wrote, I think my personal favorite is the CMA where I chronicled the final closing thoughts of the Legends of Aria desert wild man. It’s not often I get to just share my roleplaying side, and the idea of my avatar actually hearing the voices of me and the readership as a sort of extraplanar epiphany that shattered his mind seemed to jibe well with how things were going for me in that game. It was just too good to pass up, and I think I did that one well.

As for favorite piece by the team, I ultimately settled on Staffy Stafferson’s 2019 guide to swag for MMO players. This thing is not only full of good suggestions but is also uproariously funny. It leaves me in stitches every single time.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I enjoy Warframe, but I play very casually and don’t know many people who play, so I’ve been enjoying learning from MJ’s Warframe of Mind column. I was one of those “There’s that much lore?!?” people she mentioned in her column on where to find lore, and I thought her guide on picking a ‘frame was a great starting point for deciding what to farm or buy.

As for picks from my own columns, I think my post on Living World music was the most fun to write, but I’ll also take any chance I can get to reiterate that Guild Wars 2 needs real housing!

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): OK! We have new people on staff here at Massively Overpowered. Some of them are really good! And I am forgetful and can’t always remember everything everyone wrote, so I’m no doubt going to miss some of my particular favorites this year, because that’s me.

But also because, well, there’s a lot of great stuff this year. Chris being the naked desert wildman in Legends of Aria? Absolute gold. Andy’s spectacular piece on endorsement and disclosure? Fun and talking about an under-watched segment of the enthusiast media market. Even Bree’s exhausted “I am so tired” piece is a real gem, although for very different reasons. (That one isn’t a fun read, just… just to make it clear.)

And those are all the meta columns; Brendan continues to do great work breaking down EVE Online issues, like the ongoing war on bots, while Justin is always gold on several games but did some great stuff on Lord of the Rings Online, like his bit about how it lives up to the promise of its license. Colin has done great work on keeping up with what’s happening in Guild Wars 2 through its whole Saga series, Ben is doing good work with The Elder Scrolls Online like skewering one of its major economy issues, and Larry is the source I trust for keeping up with Star Wars: The Old Republic in the background including with his piece on how Onslaught holds up.

Also I’d hate to neglect MJ’s work on keeping up to date with the state of the EverQuest franchise or Mia’s almost edifying tour through Shroud of the Avatar. Carlo keeps up on Black Desert and breaks down even the mobile piece in ways that don’t tend to happen. I haven’t even mentioned Samon’s good show on Fight or Kite yet, but I loved his breakdown on Albion Online as a mobile title. There’s a lot to keep up with here.

In short… well, it’s not enough to say “job’s a good ‘un,” but it’s probably a good sign that I read the coverage we have here for games that I don’t only not play but have no interest in playing. I’m sure that I’m missing some things I’d love to get a highlight along the way, but the important thing to me is that our new hires have been hitting it out of the park and all of our familiar faces still keep up the pace.

As for my own writing… eh? Whatever. [Editor’s note: We later tricked him into confessing he was proud of his WoW Classic impressions series, done entirely through a roleplayed character and narrative!]

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I think something that goes unnoticed and unpraised on the site is how much effort and information that Bree packs into a lot of the big stories’ summaries. When big news breaks and unfolds over days and weeks — such as City of Heroes’ return and the Blitzchung fiasco this year — Bree wrangles all of our articles and does a great job presenting thorough linked overviews. It takes a lot of effort to present that much info, but she consistently does a good job at that and I think it deserves some kudos.

As for column I’d like to praise, it’d be Carlo’s piece on positivity in the MMO genre. I’m all for optimism, especially for these games that I still love and care about, and he did an excellent job laying out his argument and prompting a response on the part of the reader. That’s some good writing!

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): I was most pleased with my column on Tree of Savior. I enjoyed writing it (which took me forever to finish) and readers responded warmly to it.

My favorite piece by someone else was Tyler’s regarding the death of the old Blizzard we knew and loved. It was thought-provoking, perhaps provocative, but it spoke for a lot of us.

Samon Kashani (@thesamkash): I think my favorite column this year was the PvP games to play if you are still boycotting Blizzard. There wasn’t a lot of opinion in there, but I thought it was a fun and solid grouping of the different games available outside of Blizzard titles. Too often I hear friends tell me there isn’t anything that even compares, and to them I say, “Ha, look at all the things you can be playing instead!”

One article I really enjoyed was Bree’s coverage of the ArenaNet lawsuit against the German hacker. It was a wild story that really deserves a ton of praise. I also enjoyed Eliot’s recent VPN where he discussed the behind-the-scenes look at the MOP team. And Carlo’s BDO PvP explanation was great too, even if he took the wind out of my BDO sails!

Tyler Edwards: My favourite column I myself wrote is my Soapbox on Amazon’s LOTR MMO and LOTRO. Less for the content itself and more for the fact I feel I did a good job of making my points clearly while being respectful to opposing perspectives (something I’m not always great at).

My favorite column by someone else is Colin’s piece on the Living Story being a barrier to entry in Guild Wars 2. It’s written by a fan of the LS, but it still absolutely nails all of the problems with it. Impressive self-awareness and humility there.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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