Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMO stories of 2022

    
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It’s tradition for us to pick out one big story or narrative arc that defined the year and slap it with an award label, but we actually write around 6000 articles every year, and it’s pretty likely you didn’t read all or even most of them. Hence this annual Massively Overthinking, in which I’m asking the MOP team to pluck out their favorite articles published on the site all year – one article they wrote themselves that they’re super proud of and one article from a fellow writer that represents MOP’s best or most poignant or funny or important work. Readers, we’d love to hear your favorites too!

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): There are so many I’d love to give shout-outs too, but to keep it short, I wanna go way back to the start of the year with Eliot’s on P2E games. This ended up feeling prophetic with not only all the spam-tier pitches we got from the sad PR people who had to shill these “games,” but also for some major events. My concern about this “feature” has been growing as the year’s gone on. Similar (and I promise I won’t make a huge list) was Andy’s on how an NFT MMO would work. I know neither of these were particularly “fun,” like Chris’ on NPCs as muffins (I still think about making a burger muffin), but I feel like they’re going to be relevant for a while so that when other major gaming sites try to talk about it, all of us here at MOP can sit back and chuckle knowing they’re months/years behind.

As for my favorite article of my own work, it was a rough, negative year, and I don’t like that. That being said, one of the worst panels I covered for GDC this year also featured a speaker who really called out some of the NFT/blockchain shills to their faces. The audience was surely made up of MMO players, as the comments constantly reminded the pro-NFT/blockchain pushers that none of what they were saying was a new thing (or sometimes even true) for MMO vets, and it was great seeing that play out again in the comments section here. It’s not so much my favorite article because of anything I did beyond sum up a panel play-by-play that y’all didn’t have access to, but because of your reactions and insight. Both the panel comments and MOP reader comments were a refreshing reality check after a long week of tone-deaf advertising. Thanks, readers!

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My most important work all year was my Working As Intended piece on how “accountability” worked and works in community-driven and classic MMOs as a rebuttal to the fallacy that LFD spoiled some golden age of the genre when MMO communities were capable of and willing to police the toxicity out of themselves. I see people try to whitewash those years and old games, but I was there and I was paying a lot of attention. I’m not letting the genre forget how it really was.

I was also pretty proud of my title for a Week in Review back in April: 3/5 LFM need heals and tank PST link achieves no noobs. You know how hard I gotta work to get nine comments on the weekly recap post?! I just think it sums up the situation perfectly for exactly the type of MMO player who gets it.

As for other writers’ work, this was genuinely hard and I had a whole list, but ultimately I am going with Eliot’s Vague Patch Notes: Star Citizen is not going to live up to your dreams, and I don’t think I’m alone here because it got literally hundreds of comments. It’s genuinely baffling to me that we’re still stuck talking about this game after 11 years of development, and yet there are still gamers absolutely convinced that any day now it’s going to revolutionize everything somehow. You don’t need to believe Star Citizen is a bad game or a scam to point out that it’s staggering along in development hell and we all know it.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Why I Play – World of Warcraft, 2022 edition. This was a painful read but not for the reason one might think. I kind of felt a lot of Andy’s twisting and hand-wringing here, even if I think he kind of made up his own mind and justification before he started putting fingers to keyboard keys. Still, it was an honest admission and a relatable one, especially in regard to keeping the social connections he could in the best way he knew how.

As for my own personal pride, I’ll kind of pat myself on the back for my guest stint in Flameseeker Chronicles simply because it was nice to write something so effusive. Sure, bagging on bad games or venting frustration can be fun, but sharing joy has always been better in my opinion.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): If there’s an underrated writer on this site – and I think there definitely is – it’s Chris Neal. Now, it’s possible that I’m biased because I consider him a friend, by which I mean I am absolutely biased and simply do not care because this is an opinion piece, but Chris does a grand job doing mostly news stories and it’s a shame he doesn’t get to stretch his legs on much more long-form content because when he does he produces great work like his excellent piece about being fully done saying farewell to City of Heroes. He actually did a couple pieces on a similar note this year, but I feel like that one is particularly good and deserves some extra visibility.

As for my stuff, I don’t even know; 2022 was such a melange of horror that I’ve honestly done my level best to block out most of the summer from my memory. Unsuccessfully, I might add. But I was happy with my wrapup to my Dragonflight impressions, mostly because that was where I completely just went on a free-associative long ramble that completely stuck the landing. I look at that and I am happy with what I wrote. Do you know how unusual that is with me? Very.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Our team here at MassivelyOP continues to impress me, so here goes with a pick from each member. Tyler had a great piece on why New World is Secret World 2.0. Chris’ Chimeraland CMA series was a bizarre hoot. Bree had a great personal retrospective of Ultima Online. Eliot’s three-part Dragonflight impressions was fair and insightful. MJ gets props for streaming all the games this year. Larry reacted well to the Legacy of the Sith backlash. Brendan was on top of EVE Fanfest’s announcements. Andrew did a great job covering the backlash against Niantic. Andy tackled how MMOs handle NFTs. Ben helped new players get off to a good start in EVE Online. Carlo had a great comparison piece between Lost Ark and Elyon. I rather liked Colin’s look at Guild Wars 2’s 10 years of operation. Mia covered the final gasps of Elyon. Sam latched on to MultiVersus in a big way.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): There are two columns that really stand out to me. First is Colin’s look back at 10 years of Guild Wars 2. He really pulls out a bunch of key moments while explaining their significance. It’s just really nice to read through it and recall having so many of the same experiences with the content as he did, good and bad.

Then there’s also Carlo’s soapbox asking whether the games of today are really disposable. He brings up a bunch of good points about where games have come from and how it feels like a lot of times we just expect these games to be flash in the pan experiences. Ones that we enjoy momentarily but then move on and never look back. I especially liked how he closes the column.

As for myself, I suppose I enjoyed expressing my thoughts about the lack of PvP in New World outside of the endgame. It’s one of those things that seems so obvious yet New World found a way to make it cumbersome.

Tyler Edwards (blog): I’d like to take the opportunity to show some appreciation for Andy’s piece on extremism in the gaming community. It’s a very important topic that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.

When it comes to my own work, I feel pretty good about my New World coverage in the Vitae Aeternum column, and especially my piece on examining the causes of the “level 30 wall.” I spent a lot of time considering exactly what all went into making the game feel so much worse past the opening zones. It’s also gratifying as a fan of the game to go back now and see that most of the issues I pointed out there have now been at least partly addressed. It shows how far the game has come in a short time.

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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