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]

Betawatch: Saga of Lucimia’s combat is updated for pre-alpha (June 29, 2018)

The nice thing about early testing is that big things can change and it’s really all part of the experience. Sure, Saga of Lucimia fans may have gotten used to the game’s combat before, but now it’s been completely updated and everyone has to get used to it again. This includes the first iteration of Masteries that are actually meant to be in the game instead of random throwaway ones, so that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, we eagerly await news about Camelot Unchained’s beta next week. It’s supposed to happen! We’re close!

Other beta news? Sure! Let’s go for it.

  • If you want to make more headway in OrbusVR thanks to various sales, the early access title is hosting a bonus XP weekend this weekend. So you get to make more progress in the same time!
  • MapleStory 2 fans and hopefuls can sign up now to take part in the game’s beta testing. You can’t get in if you don’t sign up. You might not be able to get in even if you do sign up, of course, but roll with the chances.
  • A great big graphical update is due for Legends of Aria as the game heads toward another closed beta phase. The key word here is “drastic.” But a good sort of drastic.
  • Rend has a roadmap, which is not a map of roads but a set of plans for future development. You can check it out now. That’s like roads.
  • Last but not least, Citadel: Forged with Fire is testing out a major game overhaul. You might think that the game is already in early access and thus by definition is getting major overhauls, but our more cynical readers probably will point out that “early access” can really mean anything. And they’re right. Have fun!

In short, it was a quiet week, and next week is a holiday so that’s likely to continue the trend. Ah, well; why not enjoy some of the items down on the list below? Or perhaps enjoy letting us know if something skipped test phases without us noticing. There’s enjoyment to be found in many things.

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Choose My Adventure: Capping things off in Final Fantasy XI

All right. When last I left off my Final Fantasy XI time, it was… wait, June 7th?! What the heck happened? If not for the fact that my posts still show up here regularly, I wouldn’t blame people for assuming I was dead, and I certainly wouldn’t blame people for thinking that I had dropped the column altogether. But neither of those things occurred, and I’ll happily explain… past the cut.

The important thing is that after the last column, my goal was back over to leveling and to seeing how far I could get within my one month of playtime. The answer is… well, about as far as I initially thought, but it didn’t look like it at first. After all, at level 25 and having hoped to hit the game’s first level cap before my playtime was up, it sure seemed like it would be a tall mountain to climb, even if I had at this point gained some fifty-odd levels across multiple jobs.

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Chaos Theory: A year in the life of Secret World Legends

We’ve talked all about Secret World Legends‘ first anniversary party, but now it’s time to talk about the game’s first year. Fans can easily recall the fateful time of the reboot; some Secret World vets even say the game died that day (although technically the servers are still running and). But did it? No. I mean, TSW’s servers are still running, and thanks in part to SWL, profits are up. Secret World Legends has continued on, growing and developing. And by developing, we mean more content! So what all has happened since that infamous day last June? How well did the game follow its roadmap for the year? Let’s take a stroll through 12 months of memories to look at all the progress forward (or back) in our first SWL anniversary retrospective.

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Vague Patch Notes: On balance and differentiation in MMOs

Do you like fighting games? I don’t. Let’s talk about fighting games. But bear with me because you’ll get where this is going.

While I might not personally care much about fighting games, I still wind up spending a lot of time reading about them because that’s just the sort of thing I read for fun. And balancing a fighting game is honestly pretty difficult, thus it’s something that gets talked about a lot. It’s difficult enough that there are, in fact, two different ways to do it.

This does have a lot of bearing on MMOs, though, where balance doesn’t get talked about nearly as much and tends to get talked about in rather dim tones when it is discussed. But in order to understand that you need to understand the difference in balance methods, why World of Warcraft players miss Mark of the Wild, and why balance matters in the first place.

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The Daily Grind: Should every MMO with factions have mechanics to switch factions?

Lots of things bug the living heck out of me about World of Warcraft, but one of the bullet points on that list is the fact that there’s still no way for an individual to switch factions. It just doesn’t happen, despite the fact that we know there are members of Horde races in the Alliance (and vice-versa) and plenty of space for disagreeing with your factional stance. City of Heroes got this right ages ago, and that was a game where the factional split was based on actual morality, not just political alignment.

Personally, I think every game with factions should offer a mechanism to allow players to swap their faction. There should be no hard-and-set uncrossable faction lines. Even in Star Wars: The Old Republic, you should have the option to make a reformed Sith or a fallen Jedi if you so desire, and classes like Bounty Hunters don’t even have factions in the first place.

But perhaps others feel like that would erode some of what makes factions distinct. Having watched people develop strong factional identities in games like Final Fantasy XI (which encouraged you to swap factions) that rings false to me, but what do you think? Should every MMO with factions have mechanics to switch factions?

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Perfect Ten: The best MMO debuts by year, 1997-2006

By now, many of you probably know that I’m the curator of the MMO Timeline on my personal blog. On this page, I’ve attempted to catalog the launches, expansions, business model shifts, reboots, platform transitions, and sunsets of MMOs by year. It certainly helps me to get a high-level overview of certain eras of online gaming history as well as to trace the development of certain titles.

For fun, because that’s a lot of what Perfect Ten is about, I wanted to start with the year that MMORPGs really took off and select one title per year over the next two decades that I felt had the best debut and was the most exciting title to launch that year. Some years it’s going to be really easy to pick, while others… man, I am setting myself up for some hate mail, aren’t I?

Let’s turn our time machine back to 1997 and get this show on the road!

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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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Wisdom of Nym: The Final Fantasy XIV beast tribes, bottom ranks

I have mentioned before that I’m a big fan of the beast tribes of Final Fantasy XIV. Final Fantasy XI, too; there’s a charmingly alien and exotic quality do them that hits a perfect balance for me, a race of adversaries and allies both that’s painted in far more complex shades than you might otherwise expect. But alas, not all of the tribes are created equally, and while FFXIV might not have quite caught up to the diversity of FFXI, we still now have a large number to choose between.

We aren’t likely to see any new tribes until the next expansion, but that doesn’t mean now is a bad time to talk about the various tribes and which ones are really cool, and which ones are… not. Thus, we start our ranking at the bottom and work our way up. So let’s kick things off with the worst tribe that’s currently in the game, but you’ll have to click past to see what it is. Go on, take a guess.

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EVE Evolved: Will EVE Online’s Abyssal Deadspace ever be expanded?

EVE Online‘s recent Into the Abyss expansion has managed to grip me in a way that few expansions have, providing a challenging new solo PvE feature that’s as addictive as it is lucrative. Now that players are starting to figure out ship fittings and strategies for taking on abyssal deadspace and it’s being farmed at an increasing rate, the question on many players’ minds is “what comes next?” The Triglavian storyline is far from resolved, and these new size-restricted instances could be expanded on in dozens of different ways to spark a virtual renaissance for small-scale PvE and maybe even PvP.

CCP Games has a long history of making impressive “first steps” like these in new areas of gameplay, but sometimes those ideas don’t go much further and the first steps are the last. Abyssal deadspace could easily become another one shot feature that joins EVE‘s permanent gameplay, just like the Sansha incursions that are still in the game years after they probably should have ended. I seriously hope that CCP doesn’t abandon the feature this time though, as further work on abyssal deadspace has the potential to open up whole new types of gameplay that aren’t available anywhere in EVE right now.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I theorise about some of the different ways abyssal deadspace could be expanded and how the story of the Triglavian Collective still has a long way to go.

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One Shots: I have had just about enough of you!

There are certain locales and cutscenes in MMORPGs that I’ve noticed get screenshotted more than most, and none seem to be quite as popular as the fisticuffs/rebar scene from Secret World Legends. Are we all so bloodthirsty or is it just such an epic moment of vengeance that we can’t help ourselves?

Hirku sure couldn’t: “Off-topic this week because I played SWL’s Last Train to Cairo storyline for the first time last night and wanted to share my pics of kicking Saddur’s ass.”

That poor guy’s been impaled more times than a YouTube video of a girl telling us her opinion about cutoffs has gotten comments. That analogy totally ran away with me. MOVING ON.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMO social hangout?

There was always something happening in Pocket D in City of Heroes. You can expect to see people talking it up in Deep Space Nine in Star Trek Online. There are swarms of people hanging out in Ul’dah in Final Fantasy XIV. For various reasons, every MMO has its social hubs, places where players choose to congregate in numbers for roleplaying, talking, or otherwise just hanging out.

All of these hubs are not created equal. Sure, the fleet starbases filled this purpose in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but they were always kind of gray little nothings that didn’t have a heck of a lot of character. By contrast, I always liked Jeuno, which was the main hangout spot for a long time in Final Fantasy XI; the look of the city really worked for me. So what about you, dear readers? What’s your favorite MMO social hangout? Is it still a busy place now, or was it more from the early days of the game? And is it from your game of choice, or was it just a place to congregate that you really liked regardless of your overall playtime?

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Whatever happened to Tibia, The Realm Online, and Meridian 59?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately? That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing!

In this week’s edition, we’ll be catching up with three MMOs from the 1990s to see what they’re up to in 2018: Tibia, The Realm Online, and Meridian 59!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Future plot points for SWTOR and other unanswered lore questions

Last night, BioWare Creative Director Charles Boyd and Community Manager Eric Musco were guests on the Passionately Casual Podcast to discuss the lore of Star Wars: The Old Republic. And since I host a segment on that podcast regularly about roleplaying in the Star Wars universe, I got to sit in on that interview and pose my own questions about the current and upcoming lore for the game.

I realized after listening to the questions that I asked last night that some of them deserve a follow-up to help strengthen your understanding of where the question came from or understand why I put forth the question in the first place. I’d like to spend a moment talking about the answers that Boyd gave to my questions and what I think they mean for the MMORPG. Of course, there might be some spoilers for the latest additions to the game story, but if you’ve not played through it by now and are still reading this column, spoilers probably aren’t that important to you.

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