This week’s Massively Overthinking is inspired by one of Justin’s Daily Grinds, ironically. It was the one about the best online card game you’ve ever played, and when I saw his headline, my brain instantly leaped to the old Star Wars Galaxies card game, which I never played and in fact had some serious objections to as it was an obvious pay-to-win subversion of the game in a time before lockboxes. However, I was still grateful that the minigame existed, in spite of not caring for it at all, because it was how SOE was paying for upkeep and injecting new content into the game. I mean, this was a major problem, as that meant less crafter content going into the game with actual patches. But also I wanted the content, and I gobbled up my free five packs a month and used in-game coins to purchase other folks’ card loot and houses and furniture and jawa vendors.
In other words, I am conflicted as heck about this content. It was bad, but also it was good, and to this day I’m not sure whether it was a net negative or net positive. So let’s Overthink it because I bet I’m not alone; I bet our writers and readers also have similar conflicts. Do you have a love/hate relationship with specific MMO content? How do you reckon with it?
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Haha, aside from whales mad because my opinions don’t cater to their niche needs, and lockboxes that are the modern card packs that keep the lights on by tricking people into gambling away their money?
In all seriousness, it’s probably frequent updates with limited-time rewards. I love Halloween, so this is usually when I’m farming up rewards left and right. For example, I haven’t tried Overwatch 2 since release because Splatoon 3 is just hitting everything I wanted in OW2’s beta but x100 + deeper customization – microtransaction, but I am so worried about being tempted by new Halloween skins and feeling like I will need to rush to catch up before they disappear. On the one hand, it’s motivating and a reminder that online games are supposed to be living worlds, but sometimes we’re in a few of these worlds and don’t have time to be in all of them around the same time. Looking at you, winter holiday updates that release bear mounts/pets in several games at the same time!
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Let me do another example: diurnal and weather cycles! I absolutely love the feel of a day/night cycle, watching the night sky change, switching light types, watching the clouds roll in, having snow waft down from the heavens. Yesterday I was flying around City of Heroes and deeply appreciating a weather mood that was overcast but not rainy; it made Praetoria feel appropriately uneasy. But all of these systems that add immersion can also be bloody well annoying; inevitably, it’ll start raining in Star Wars Galaxies just when I need to be able to see more than a foot in front of my nose, or it’ll shift to dawn in Lord of the Rings Online when the mobs I need for a quest are up only at night. I know immersion comes from dynamism and contrast, but I also don’t enjoy being annoyed by gameworlds.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): About the only thing that comes to mind is the burden of festival events. The rewards are often too good pass up for these things, but I hate feeling the time constraints and pressure to keep logging in during a limited window to get them. By the end of that period, I walk away with that sweet-and-sour feeling — happy to get my goodies, but a bit grumpy that I endured stress for the cause.
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I absolutely do, and it’s the main content I play: the PvP. All I want to do is smash keys and click my way to victory knowing that, even for a brief moment and in a most insignificant way, I’m a winner. And yet, in most PvP games I’m going to lose about as often as I win, which puts me in a most foul mood.
My friends ask me often why I even play it as I’m sitting there cursing at my screen and slamming my hand on the desk. Why do I torture myself? It’s clear that the level of joy I have from a victory is significantly smaller than the anger and rage that comes from losing. So why do I even play?
And I don’t really have an answer for that, which is how love/hate situations often are, I think. It brings me so low, but there are times when I’m flying. There’s just a dopamine rush that I can’t replicate any other way. Maybe if I had some athletic ability, then I could sport it like a normal human. But I can’t, so I play video games.
Tyler Edwards (blog): I haven’t played WoW in years, but when I did, I guess its raid content would qualify. Raids are the focus of the game, and it shows. The set pieces and environments are incredible, they tell powerful story moments, and it just feels epic to be taking on iconic bosses with a large swarm of fellow players. WoW’s raids truly are some of the most mind-blowing content you can experience in the MMO field.
However, prior to the raid finder, I almost never got to experience raids, and when I did, it was usually just the first boss or two. After the raid finder, I got to experience all the content, and that was wonderful, but the community still tended to be a damper on things. At best, it was full of the usual “go go” rush mentality, and at worst it was a festering hive of toxicity. Before anyone blames matchmaking for this, I assure you the PUGs and guild groups I ran in before the dungeon and raid finders were a thing displayed a level of toxicity far beyond what would come later, but still, it was an issue.
You know what they say: It’s not the band I hate; it’s their fans.