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]

The Daily Grind: How much time do you spend on aesthetics in MMOs?

You don’t want to know how much time I’ve spent carefully decorating my characters’ living spaces in Final Fantasy XIV. Or maybe you do; it is kind of on-brand. And the reality is that it’s about as much time proportionally as I’ve spent decorating strongholds in Star Wars: The Old Republic or assembling outfits in World of Warcraft or carefully choosing which sort of nacelle looks better on my ship in Star Trek Online. Let’s just round up and say that it’s a lot of time.

Keep in mind, many of these things aren’t just time spent arranging things. Decorating a house in FFXIV means time spent deciding on furnishings, figuring out where to get them, usually gathering a lot of items to craft and crafting tons of furniture, then placing all of it. A new outfit in WoW means having most of the look, but having to go run one dungeon or another a few times for the last necessary drop, then color-coordinating the bits that look almost right but not quite. So what about you? How much time do you spend on aesthetics in MMOs? Is it a big part of your playtime, or do you just focus on the functional and then move on?

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Tamriel Infinium: Becoming a Wolfhunter with the Elder Scrolls Online devs

While I have been an MMORPG fan for a very long time, I was also a comicbook fan long before the MCU was a thing. X-Men was my comic of choice. There had to be about a dozen different X-Men titles at one point or another, and many times the characters in those different storylines would cross titles. In fact, a worldwide favorite character like Wolverine could appear in a half-dozen titles in the same month, and that always confused me. How could one person appear in so many places at once? Now, I understand that there was some fudging with the timeline, and it really wasn’t all at once. But he was involved in so many different adventures and troubles that he became the only connecting thread between some of them.

If viewed from a certain perspective, it could be assumed that Wolverine was the cause of trouble that he ran into. Trouble seems to follow him like murder followed Jessica Fletcher. This is the way I’m starting to feel about my character in Elder Scrolls Online. Everywhere he goes, trouble and death seem to follow. In fact, with as many people who have died around my character in ESO, I’m surprised that there is anyone left on the continent of Tamriel at all.

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Perfect Ten: 10 MMO features that deserve widespread adaptation

You know what gets me excited about upcoming MMOs? It’s certainly not the list of expected systems and features that have since become standard for most games in this genre. Good-looking fantasy online RPG? Neato, that’s terrific, but what else are you selling?

No, what truly grabs my attention is when a dev team uses its imagination and comes up with a creative feature that makes me sit back and say, “Wow, I wish they all had this!”

It’s a shame that we have seen plenty of these systems over the years that were tried maybe once or twice but never adapted into the greater sphere. Today we’re going to come up with 10 examples of such features that truly did try something revolutionary (or at least pretty cool) but haven’t seen follow-ups in games since.

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Wisdom of Nym: Why Final Fantasy XIV’s role actions didn’t work

Tucked away in the latest live letter was a bit of information that seems like it’s more relevant than its rather humble placement would seem to indicate. In the not-too-distant future, Final Fantasy XIV is going to remove all limitations on role actions. You can use all 10 of them at the same time! Goodbye, literally any remaining shred of character customization, you will not be missed.

Or rather, you will, but not for what you did but what you were supposed to do.

The big problem with role actions, simply put, is that they never actually accomplished their stated goal at any point. It’s part of the game’s complex relationship with character choices and actions I’ve discussed before, but seeing as role actions are soon going to be altogether yanked from their current state, it seems worthwhile to examine why they didn’t work and what (if anything) would be helpful in replacing them.

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LOTRO Legendarium: Is Lord of the Rings Online aging well?

By now, to me, Lord of the Rings Online is a comfortable, well-worn friend that always offers a very predictable and enjoyable experience whenever I return to the game. It’s absolutely bizarre to me to consider that we’re now in the Post-Ring era of the MMO’s storyline, yet it is all still going strong in its own way.

One thing I cannot deny is that LOTRO is what most people would consider to be an “older MMO.” It’s been in live operation ever since April 2007, and once the game tipped over the decade mark, it joined other long-running titles that had long since shed their youth for maturity and stability.

As I was exploring Northern Mirkwood and going through the new Christmas quest recently, I found my thoughts had turned to evaluating the game’s status as an aging MMORPG. I mean, all MMOs age (if they’re fortunate enough to launch), and not every title can remain young, hot, and popular forever. But that doesn’t mean that they become irrelevant and unengaging when they’ve entered into the middle age of their lifespan. So, I thought, how is LOTRO aging as an 11-year-old product? What is going for it at this point and what is starting to show signs of wear and tear?

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EVE Evolved: A furious supercapital war is raging in EVE Online

This year kicked off with a bang for EVE Online as rumblings emerged of impending war on a scale that the gaming world had never seen before. It looked as if two massive military coalitions were about to come to blows in the most spectacular way when a small border skirmish between The Imperium and Pandemic Horde escalated out of control. Both sides armed heavily for a battle over a space station and moved hundreds of expensive Titans and Supercarriers into position to prepare for the battle. Players estimated that a fully escalated battle could have seen the equivalent of a million dollars in ships go up in smoke, and the story of EVE‘s first “million dollar battle” rapidly captured the media.

While that battle earned a Guinness World Record for having 6,142 players simultaneously in the same battle, it was far less destructive than anticipated. The Imperium decided not to commit its full forces and ultimately less than 1% of the expected value in ships went up in smoke. Fast-forward to this week and the old rivalry came to a head again as The Imperium teamed up Legacy coalition to launch an all-out assault on a Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion staging Keepstar in the X47L-Q system — except that this time both sides committed their full forces. The result was one of the most destructive battles in EVE Online‘s decade-and-a-half long history, and this war may be just getting started.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into some of the history that led to the current conflict and details of the battle in X47L-Q.

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One Shots: Motion sickness

Our headlining picture today comes with a request for some help, so we’re calling all Warframe players to give their aid!

“So I finally decided to check out Warframe,” said reader Ryuen, “but I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how not to get motion sick while sliding/bullet jumping/etc through the levels to an objective? *Tenno slides away*”

I am not the person to ask this. I get motion sick spinning my chair slowly with a child on my lap. I have been forbidden from going on Disney’s spinning tea cup ride. Doctors tell me that I still need training to master this “walking” thing.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite bragging rights reward in an MMO?

The title I display most often in Final Fantasy XIV is “Sidestepper.” It’s not a flashy title, but it’s a bragging rights reward because you can’t get it any more. It’s only available for people who were playing during the original version of the game. The same is true of the various bits of armor I have to glamour for anything that aren’t accessible unless you have the “dated” items. They don’t boost my characters at all; they just are a neat little reward from back in the day.

Bragging rights rewards are something that I’m generally in favor of; instead of creating issues of rewarding the best players with the best gear and creating a vicious cycle, clearing challenges in World of Warcraft awards you appearances that can be obtained no other way. Getting Legacy achievements in Star Wars: The Old Republic can give you emotes that don’t make your life easier, but sure do look neat. So what’s your favorite bragging rights reward in an MMO? Something that doesn’t make you any stronger, but shows off an accomplishment?

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Betawatch: Camelot Unchained reaches the green fields of beta (August 3, 2018)

Someone break out the “It’s Happening” image, because Camelot Unchained has entered its beta testing at long last! Yes, ti may have been delayed several times, but it’s still made that all-important leap to beta. Good work, Camelot Unchained! We’re all super proud of you.

In other beta news, there’s a bullet list. It’s coming right for us!

All of that sounds fun! This is fun. It’s a fun industry. Why not have some fun checking out our list down below, or letting us know if something is marked incorrectly down in the comments? That means we can fix that up, which is also fun.

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EverQuesting: Returning to EverQuest II’s Guk (for the first time)

In my last EverQuesting, I mentioned that I had not participated in much — if any — of EverQuest II’s The Shadow Odyssey content. I’ve since realized that TSO added dungeons all around Norrath, dungeons that I have delved and explored; I just haven’t touched anything related to the expansion’s zone, Moors of Ykesha. That includes all things Guk. And as luck would have it, Daybreak has focused its newest content update on just that! The just-released GU107 Return to Guk is meant to entice players back to The Shadow Odyssey content. So guess who is going to be checking this out?

Perhaps I am more excited to dive back into Guk because I have never experienced it before, but I am sure I am not the only player who hasn’t seen it. If, like me, you missed out previously, you might also be eager for your max-level characters to Return to Guk… for the very first time. Fair warning, however: Guk refers only to a set of dungeons. Dungeons you access from the Plane of Magic in the newest expansion, Planes of Prophecy. So if you’re hoping for a hook to return you to the Moors of Ykesha, you’ll be disappointed. As much as I am interested in revisiting older content, I think Daybreak missed quite an opportunity here.

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WoW Factor: There’s no fixing this Battle for Azeroth story

Let’s be totally clear about something: There is no twist waiting for this World of Warcraft story. It doesn’t exist. There’s no way that this story moves into its next phase and suddenly all of the nonsense that was added here is made all right or acceptable or… well, let’s face it, not atrociously dumb.

I’m putting that front and center because if you’re going to talk about World of Warcraft at the moment, you’re going to talk about the latest Warbringers short and the concurrent in-game events, and that means talking about the fact that this is dumb. I’m also trying to leave people who really don’t want to be spoiled for awful storytelling not forced into it, so be fairly warned; things get spoil-y real quick down below. So if you want to read about how catastrophically stupid this is, read on. If you’d rather have any remaining faith in the expansion not being a steaming pile of wombat leavings destroyed by watching the cinematic in-game, well, maybe hold off.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever run a ‘solo’ guild in an MMO?

When housing first arrived in Final Fantasy XIV, a lot of people wanted personal houses but couldn’t yet get them. So they did the logical thing by forming a guild which was only meant to house that one player and maybe an alt or two, nothing more. All of the benefits of guild membership other than the, you know, camaraderie or support or friendship.

It’s hardly the only example I’ve seen. Any game with tangible benefits for a guild (such as World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic) will have people who want the benefits without the organizational headaches. It’s usually not too difficult to form these guilds meant to house just one person, and some games even let you get something nifty out of it on the exchange.

Of course, it also means that, again, you’re basically playing alone, including taking on group tasks by your lonesome. So what about you, dear readers? Have you ever run a “solo” guild in an MMO? Would you consider doing so?

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR is testing huge changes for the Rishi stronghold

I know I took more than a moment to explain why I liked the new Rishi stronghold coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic in the next big update. It seems that the development team has a little more freedom to really listen to its fans and add items to this stronghold to move it from being a good stronghold to a great one.

I’ve clearly been critical of many of the things SWTOR has done over the year, and I rarely give it amazing scores on my yearly reviews. But I’m still a fan, and it’s improvements like the Rishi stronghold that help keep me interested in what BioWare developers are doing. On a scale that includes jumping the timeline forward 5 years and killing off major characters, creating a PvP stronghold ranks rather low, but I’m surprised at how much it actually helps to create an enjoyable game.

The final round of PTS changes hit this past weekend, and I spent some time goofing around and diving into these additions. Let me highlight some of the changes.

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