Columns Category

Enjoy a run-down of our recent long-form pieces, both game-specific and more general. You might also be interested in our list of all of our columns and recurring articles. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Flameseeker Chronicles: Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Maguuma Hylek interview

I had the pleasure of chatting with Scott McGough, a Guild Wars 2 narrative designer who is currently working hard on Heart of Thorns content, about two new Hylek tribes that we’ll be meeting in the Maguuma Jungle. In this special edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, we have all the juicy details about how the two tribes come together to survive in the hostile jungle environment, with hints galore about how those races are equipped for combat and how they might perceive the players’ characters.

The Itzel and Nuhoch Hylek tribes are very different from each other, yet the Heart of Thorns narrative has deeply tied them together in their mutual battle against the dangers the jungle holds, especially the Mordrem. The Itzel are happy-go-lucky iridescent tree dwellers based on treefrogs that believe the jungle provides for all their needs, and their Nuhoch cousins are goliath bullfrogs that prefer to use brute strength and epic belly flops to solve their problems.

McGough will be publishing a blog post about the Hylek tribes on the official Guild Wars 2 website on Thursday, and this will be supported by a Points of Interest show this Friday that will give us a first glimpse of some of the places where players will interact with the Nuhoch and Itzel as well as some of their combat moves. Points of Interest will air on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel at 12 p.m. PT. Read on for the mammoth full interview, but be careful if you are worried about spoilers!
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Jukebox Heroes: The Crew’s soundtrack

Sometimes the best soundtracks are hiding where you least expect them.

Though perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised that The Crew has an impressive score. Racing games have always accented their non-stop driving with terrific OSTs, from Road Rash in the ’90s to the Wipeout franchise (heck, even Mario Kart!). But I suppose my disinterest in The Crew in general caused a general blindness toward its potential for a great soundtrack.

Fortunately, once I listened through Composer Joseph Trapanese’s (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) work, I came all the way around on this. The Crew is one of the best MMO scores I’ve heard in a while, full of vim and vigor. Don’t make the mistake I did of overlooking this gem; listen to the following six tracks and see if I can’t convince you that we’ve got a winner on our hands here.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five things you should know about Ziost before SWTOR Update 3.2

Shortly after Star Wars: The Old Republic launched, I was a part of a group of players asked which planet they would like to see next. Pre-launch we were still learning which planets were even in the game. We knew that there were more planets to be revealed and that we had a huge swath of planets that had great backstories but had not been spoken of during SWTOR’s time period. I remember that some people suggested popular planets we’d seen in the original Star Wars trilogy, like Bespin, but I think the most popular was Kashyyyk.

But not mine. Eric Musco, who was a part of TOROCast at the time, even joked about my pick. “And out of left field is Larry Everett with Ziost,” he quipped.

Three and a half years later, Ziost is coming to SWTOR while those other guys are still waiting for Bespin and Kashyyyk. In Update 3.2, we’ll learn more about Vitiate, the former Sith Emperor, and what he’s been up to since the incident on Yavin IV. We learn that he’s traveled to frozen, rocky world of Ziost.

So why did I pick Ziost as the planet I thought we would see in the SWTOR lineup? My reasoning probably mirrors the reason that Vitiate also chose that planet as a base of operations. How about I break this down into five reasons that Ziost is the perfect planet for Star Wars: The Old Republic?

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Sword and Bored: Encumbrance

Our thanks goes to all those who participated in the comments last week. We enjoy reading what you had to say. Keep it up.

At this point, I think we are getting some new readers who might not be familiar with how our main protagonist came about. Back when Massively Overpowered was rebuilding itself after AOL disbanded Joystiq, Massively, and WoW Insider, we realized we needed a logo. Having done logos and other print art after college, I volunteered to do a temporary one. So I went old-school and drew on paper five or six thumbnail images for the crew to look at. On one of the logos, I had a little knight with a chubby belly and squat legs. He was an instant hit with the everyone at MassivelyOP. He quickly become its mascot, and we named him Mo.

Now, on to this week’s comic, which picks up exactly where we left off last week…

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Wisdom of Nym: What we now know about Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

I honestly hadn’t expected to learn quite this much about Heavensward this soon. I don’t know why I hadn’t expected this, to be fair; we’ve got 67 days as of this writing before the expansion launches, so now is definitely the time to start learning all of these important details of Final Fantasy XIV‘s first expansion. But somehow I suppose I expected the development team to be close-lipped for a little bit longer, to really build up the mystery, to keep it vague until there was literally no other option or something.

We didn’t learn a lot of details. But the shape of what’s coming is much clearer now than it was before the live letter, and we have a baseline for what to expect in the game when we step through the Gates of Judgement in June. There were some interesting revelations and a few that I think rather flew under the radar, so let’s start looking at where we’re going from here and what we can reasonably expect.

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MMO Mechanics: How strong communities are barriers-to-exit

MMOs occupy a unique position in our game libraries because they include a wide range of clever mechanics that keep us logging in day after day, week after week, and month after month. I have discussed how these act as barriers to exit before on Massively-of old: Daily chores and tasks with associated rewards are specifically included in the MMO mix to keep us logging in, and yet most players I talk to say that it’s their particular MMO’s community and social interactions, rather than the daily grind, that keep them logging in on a regular basis.

We’ve had quite a bit of discussion about stickiness in MMOs at Massively Overpowered, and there’s even been some speculation in Massively Overthinking about the death of the MMO guild. Feeling inspired by the sticky argument at hand, in this MMO Mechanics I’ve decided to look at how various MMOs use their community and social interactions as a stickiness mechanic, capitalising on our love for the people we game with in order to keep us logging in.
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The Game Archaeologist: Roleplaying dreams in Underlight

After years of digging into the field of classic MMOs, I know there aren’t too many undiscovered titles that haven’t been brought to my attention (even if I haven’t covered them all yet). But it was a plea on Reddit for a gamer asking for help to remember an older MMO that took place in a “shared dream world” that dredged up a single word: Underlight.

My ears perked up. My eyebrows raised. This… sounded interesting. To the Googlemobile!

I began my usual digging around, piecing together scraps of information that survived from those dark ages of the internet. What these scraps revealed was an MMO that clung to one overriding principle, to roleplay above all else. Even better, it somehow still survives even to this day. So what is Underlight? For that, we’re going to have to go back two decades.

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WRUP: Hourly content update edition

Over the past few years, we’ve seen developers fall more and more in love with the idea of making faster and smaller updates to their games. Clearly, the reason people are disappointed with a given patch has nothing to do with the content of the patch and how much it adds and everything to do with the speed of updates. So we propose the new hourly patch model, in which developers take the server offline every 10 minutes to patch in 1% of a new dungeon or map or quest. Delivering the fastest fragments of content you can imagine!

We already use it on Massively Overpowered, more or less! Our current content update is What Are You Playing, in which you tell us what you’re doing for the weekend after we’ve told you what we’re doing. Community interaction! It’s a great thing. In another hour, look forward to our guide to reading other guides to playing your favorite class. Read more

The Soapbox: The trap of the I-win button

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by a longtime reader named Syndar. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

Everyone grows up knowing that it is more fun to win at whatever we’re doing than to lose, and so it goes in the gaming industry too. No matter what genre of games we play online or offline, we want to be the winner, some of us by any means or method. And so some people look for the easiest way to win.

The superficial point of games on the whole may be simple enjoyment, but those who look beneath seek to figure out the mechanics and maximize their performance too. In MMORPGs, that means sorting out how best to charge onward to the endgame or how to defeat the enemy. As online games evolve through their life cycle, we hear players complain that their class is not competitive because of some other class, and so all too often, developers fall into an impossible balancing patch cycle, making more and more corrective adjustments as the classes take turns at the top of the “overpowered” pile. As ridiculous as it seems, we’re hardly happy until we have that magical I-win button, and without adequate testing, that’s exactly what the developers deliver to us.

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Lost Continent: Looking ahead to ArcheAge’s Dread Prophecies patch

Did you miss the latest ArcheAge livestream featuring the Trion dev team? It was a biggun, and it contained quite a lot of information relative to the upcoming Dread Prophecies patch. Currently 1.7 part one is scheduled for the end of this month, though it may slip into early May given how much stuff is jammed into it.

Whether you’re looking for new zones, achievements, PvP objectives, or furniture items, the new patch probably has something interesting in it if you’re an ArcheAge fan.
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Massively Overthinking: The death of the MMO guild

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor JakeDunnegan, who is worried about the future of MMORPG guilds.

When EverQuest came along, I was introduced to the concept of guilds, which was a bit different from league play in Tribes. Voice chat in EQ wasn’t really a thing unlike the need for Roger Wilco in Tribes. And guilds added so much to playing. Since grouping was so critical in EQ, being in a guild was a must for effective play for anyone but Necros and Druids, who were the only effective solo players at the time.

Requirements for getting in some guilds were extremely stringent, yet the real-world rewards were unlike much we see today. It wasn’t uncommon at all for people to be in the same physical area to get together or folks travelling to stop in and have dinner with fellow guildies. I did this on many occassions, even planning a small weekend stop-over at a guild leader’s house about a half a day’s drive away.

All this and I played EQ for only about two years. We eventually started our own guild, and it would ebb and flow as new MMOs came out, but the game that really, effectively, killed off the concept of guilding — for me, anyway — was the ironically named Guild Wars 2.

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Chaos Theory: Six tips for new Secret World players

Now that Blingzilla is no longer roaming the lands tempting everyone with goodies galore (or turning movement into a stroll through a mire of molasses), players can get back to the business of experiencing all that The Secret World has to offer. And with the recent tweaks and enhancements, not to mention the incredible sales, there are definitely more folks getting in on the conspiracy-laden action. For those who absolutely love the game, it’s awesome to see so many new faces wandering the streets of Solomon Island. We know that these new players are definitely in for a real treat — if they can stick with it!

Even knowing that TSW is unlike the other MMOs out there doesn’t insulate newbies from how jarring it can be when playing for the first time; the sheer unfamiliarity of it all can leave folks floundering and feed frustration. That’s where players throw in the towel, thereby missing out on all that is great about the game. No one wants that! So here are the first six of my 12 total tips — ranging from hints to help shift the way you think about this MMO to practical tricks during gameplay — to ease your transition to becoming a TSW player and maximize the beginner experience.
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Perfect Ten: 10 MMOs that let you turn real money into MMO money

Two days ago, World of Warcraft launched the WoW Token service, which will kill the game forever. It thus joins the list of every expansion and change to the game since launch as a herald of certain doom.

Joking aside, it’s understandable that players would be a wee bit apprehensive, since this is a bold new direction for the game. Sure, people have always traded real money for in-game currency, but before it was usually under the table, shady, and generally the sort of thing that resulted in bans and accounts being stolen. Now it’s totally legitimate. Plop your credit card on the table and get some game money.

But while it’s new territory for World of Warcraft, it’s not new territory for MMOs. There are a lot of titles that have, in various ways, codified the idea that you can drop some real coin and pick up virtual coins. To the great surprise of no one, none of these games has erupted in flames as a result of it.

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