Tina Lauro Pollock

Reporter

Tina is the purveyor of Massively Overpowered's MMO Mechanics and Guild Chat columns, and is the newly installed writer of the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles for Guild Wars 2. She is hard at work on her first video game, the indie space 4X game Predestination.

Twitter: @purpletinabeans

Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s PR nightmare

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that two Guild Wars 2 developers were cut loose last week after a heated Twitter exchange that was initiated by narrative lead Jessica Price. What started off as welcome insight into the problems with player-character narrative development in MMOs turned into a PR horror show when the dev felt slighted by a comment received in response to her musing.

The internet is alight with opinions on the drama and ArenaNet’s response to the comments made by Price and her coworker, so in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I just had to address it myself.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our preview of Guild Wars 2’s Long Live the Lich, now live

We’ve waited out the short delay, and today’s the day when we get our hands on the third episode of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season. Long Live the Lich promises to be an intense addition to the season: A deadly plague in the hands of an angry Palawa Joko is no laughing matter, after all. I am delighted that we have some new content to uncover and the new roller beetle mount certainly helps, so I’m ready to settle in today and explore the gorgeous new map, the domain of Kourna some more. I was able to get a guided tour with some of the dev team before the weekend and was very impressed with the new map and mount, so I can’t wait to uncover more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll start off with a short recap so we’re all up to speed before I discuss my first impressions. I played for around 45 minutes and we didn’t go into any key story details, so this article shouldn’t reveal any more lore spoilers than the episode trailer, but if you’d prefer to go in without any info about the patch at all, give this one a skip until you’ve played yourself.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Discussing Guild Wars 2 content voids and cadence disruption

Waiting for a Living World release you know is coming eventually is one of the more frustrating parts of playing Guild Wars 2 for the chronically impatient like me, but when you add a delay announcement on top of that, community frustration can quickly accelerate. Cue a minor online panic: Content creators making parody trailers, prominent accounts announcing indefinite breaks, and general fear that we’re headed back to the Heart of Thorns content drought days! I want to slow down for a minute, though, keep my admittedly thin patience intact for a moment longer, and ask if we really need to worry just yet though.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I will dig into what we know about the delay to the next episode’s release and will consider if this is the start of a worrisome pattern or a justified blip on the radar. I’ll also consider why even small delays cause the degree of frustration they do, giving some ideas for how to minimise the impact of cadence shifts in future.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Deep-diving Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System (part 2)

I have had plenty of time to digest the rest of Guild Wars 2‘s  A Bug in the System since the first part of my deep-dive went live, and I can’t wait to finally bring you the second half of my thoughts on the story so far. The episode was an absolute delight to play through and the creative direction for the episode really shone through. From clever mechanics to lore-rich environs, this episode really did have it all, and I just can’t wait for instalment three!

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll finish off my summary and appraisal of the latest story drop, including my high and low points as I wrap up. Just as with the first part, this article is best read after completion of the episode if you’re worried about spoilers, though tags will be used where needed to avoid the biggest spoilers.

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Guild Chat: When sibling rivalry is ruining MMO guild relations

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which I attempt to resolve all of your guild-related issues with the help of the Massively Overpowered commenter community. This time, reader Sol has asked for help in bringing some sibling conflict to an end in his guild: He is an officer who is at the mercy of the two guild leaders, who happen to be sisters who seem to disagree on most guild leading decisions. Sol is frequently asked to arbitrate the disputes and frequently ends up in the firing line himself as a result, and adding to this is the knock-on effect their rather public arguments are having on guild membership levels. Sol is torn: Should he keep on trying to make peace between the sisters, or should he move on to pastures new in the hopes of finding a more comfortable in-game home?

Check out his full submission and my advice on the matter below, and don’t forget to add your thoughts on the topic in the comments.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Deep-diving Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System (Part 1)

Season 4 of Guild Wars 2 Living World was off to a roaring start with Daybreak so I was expecting a solid follow-up in A Bug in the System, and I can now say I wasn’t left disappointed. ArenaNet‘s focus on interesting story delivery hasn’t waned with time and the narrative is greatly improving as a result: Moreover, the teaser trailer for this episode was stronger than any of the Daybreak or even Path of Fire marketing content in my humble but honest opinion. I’ve rambled on about this before, but the trailer had a smooth delivery and polish that simultaneously captivated current players and contained enough information to entice newbies. The episode is gritty, dangerous, and humorous, and I’m delighted to share its twists and turns with you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss the main plot points for this episode and will share my highlights with you. This article is best read after completion of the episode if you’re worried about spoilers, though tags will be used where needed to avoid the biggest spoilers.

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Guild Chat: Rebuilding a real-life home and an MMORPG guild all at once

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which many Massively Overpowered readers get the help they need to achieve better balance within their guilds through the help of our commenter community and my musings on their dilemmas. This time, reader Jase has a well-established, small Final Fantasy XIV guild that has suffered from cliques and division since he was forced to take time away from the game after the hurricanes tragically destroyed his home. A small band of officers got very used to doing things their own way in his absence and were neglecting the wider member base and excluding them from endgame exploits at peak gaming times, but none of Jase’s measures to fix the issue has helped and the guild recently had a mass exodus of members caused by these officers. Jase is left wondering how to rebuild at this point: Although the members have rejoined, they only did so to use the resources the group worked on together and they are trying to get him to relinquish full guild control to them.

Read below for Jase’s full submission and my thoughts on the matter, and don’t forget to share your ideas with this guild leader in need in the comments section. His submission is a lengthy one with many twists and turns, so give it a good read to help with your advice.

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MMO Mechanics: The Fair Play Alliance and mechanising fairness

News of over 30 gaming companies taking a united stand against unfairness and toxicity in online game communities sprung out of GDC 2018 a few days ago, with some rather surprising company names making the list of those involved. The issue of toxic behaviour is a tough nut to crack, and these companies believe that the best way to tackle the issue is by pooling research and resources to share knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. It’s an interesting and complex idea that has got me thinking, so I just had to take up an issue of MMO Mechanics to discuss the potential implications for MMOs and near-MMOs.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll look at the mission of the Fair Play Alliance, discuss the ground they’ve covered so far, explore a case study of how toxicity affects one involved MMO developer, and then will give my thoughts on mechanical rollouts that could be employed to help smash toxicity.

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Guild Chat Special Edition: Interviewing Guild Wars 2 guild POOF

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which we examine all things guild-related and solve problems faced by fellow members of the Massively Overpowered community. This edition is rather different, however: I had the opportunity to interview the key players in a Guild Wars 2 guild named POOF that featured in ArenaNet’s Friend/Ships campaign, which you may have read a little bit about in Flameseeker Chronicles. Friendships have been at the forefront of ArenaNet‘s minds for the last month or so and POOF’s guild story is one that was featured within the campaign (the video is below for those who haven’t seen it). I asked them about how they organise their guild, what makes POOF so special, and how they support their members, and I’m delighted to share their insights with you in a special edition of Guild Chat.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for: After a short delay, episode 2 of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season, A Bug in the System, is finally ready to release. It feels as though Daybreak was a lifetime ago after being spoiled for so long with super-fast episodic content drops throughout the Path of Fire story, so I’m delighted to finally get to grips with some new story now. I had a little glimpse at the action two weeks ago in a dev-guided preview and was honestly left jaw-dropped, so it’s been exceptionally difficult waiting for its release to talk about my impressions. The episode is dangerous, political, and impactful, and I am just about hanging onto my seat as I get to see more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll recap on Daybreak’s content for those who haven’t quite caught up before launching into my first impressions of A Bug in the System. I played for around 45 minutes with some key developers and have only had a glimpse at the content, so this article will be a nice teaser for today without spoiling too much more than the trailer does. Having said that, if you would prefer to go in fresh, give this one a skip to avoid potential spoilers until you’ve played yourself.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: My favourite Guild Wars 2 Friend/Ships stories

Friendships and social interaction are everything when it comes to enjoying MMOs in my mind, so you can imagine how much I adore the Guild Wars 2 Friends/Ships initiative that ArenaNet started this month to celebrate Valentine’s Day outside of Tyria. Using the hashtag #GW2Friendships hooks up players’ game-related friendship stories to a special webpage that is full of feelgood, touching GW2 anecdotes about how the game brings people together, and I’ve had a wonderful time checking out all the ways in which the game has managed to solidify such meaningful relationships between people. It’s wonderful to see a Valentine’s Day initiative that doesn’t centre only on romantic love: I’ve seen stories that involve couples, of course, but most are stories about friendship and some again even tell of bringing family units closer together through their shared hobby.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll take you through some of my favourite stories I found during my browsing and will also share my own. You can read the full submissions by clicking the link in each heading: I don’t want to simply regurgitate each story in this article but I do give you enough information to get the gist while also explaining why I loved it so much. Feel free to join in with the friendly sharing in the comments here as usual, but remember that the Friends/Ships initiative runs until the end of the month and the associated competition for sharing your story (in which you can win a trip to the ArenaNet studio and PAX West!) runs until February 28. Simply use both the #GW2Friendships and #GW2Giveaway hashtags on your social media share of the story to enter: Check out the full terms before posting. Read more

Flameseeker Chronicles: My Guild Wars 2 goals for 2018

It’s the time of year for spring-cleaning and goal-setting, where we look ahead to a fresh start filled with plenty of days left for accomplishing all the things we didn’t quite get around to in the previous year. I love taking stock of my yearly MMO progress, especially in Guild Wars 2, and using that reflection to form some new goals to keep my focus and make things challenging in the year ahead. I’ve decided to share my 2018 GW2 to-do list with you all in the hope that it might inspire you to create one yourself.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll explain my 2018 goals. Some of my goals are far more ambitious than others, while a few on my list are simply continuations of goals I set for myself year-on-year. I never truly aim to complete my entire list, but it does serve as a fantastic point of reference for times when I feel a little directionless or restless and need some inspiration. Don’t forget to share your goals with me in the comments; who knows, perhaps some of your goals would be added to my list too!

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Guild Chat: Choosing your MMO guild officers wisely

Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column through which we join forces to solve a particular guild-related issue for one Massively Overpowered reader in need. This time, we have a submission from reader Dan, who has recently decided that his small casual guild needs some officers after some of his real-life friends volunteered to take up the role. Dan’s question lies in the best way to select those officers and he wonders whether selecting his friends will make the guild seem quite cliquish and impenetrable for the new members, or whether having real-world people he can trust in the role makes things any easier. I’m sure many guild leaders can look back on the early days and sympathise with this dilemma, so I’m happy to provide an answer to this common problem here within Guild Chat.

Read below for Dan’s full submission and to see my reasoning on the matter at hand, and don’t forget to keep scrolling and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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