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The category collects all of our more meta features and posts, like The Daily Grind, letters to the editor, and posts about the state-of-the-site. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

I’ve still got hype on the brain. We’ve talked about the length of hype cycles and under-hyped MMOs. Now I want to talk about games that have actually suffered from their own hype specifically.

No Man’s Sky and WildStar pop to mind immediately for me as games we cover that were grievously wounded by hype. Both games effectively promised and teased far more features and more interesting features that they actually delivered, causing hype for the game to turn into venom post-launch. And in both cases, the game studios have made considerable effort to turn it around, but the grudges linger.

PUBG strikes me as another game that was heavily hyped last year but quickly succumbed to a prettier, cheaper, more accessible, and more polished game.

And howsabout Destiny 2? A contender, right?

Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

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Leaderboard: How much input do you expect to have into a developing game you’ve paid for?

Last week, a developer from Parisian developer Dreamz Studio posted about how early access was the best thing that happened to his game, specifically because the early access playerbase acted a sort of extra pair of hands for developing the game.

“I believe that there’s no need to be a former Chef to make innovating pretty little tasty meals,” he writes. “Indeed, you just have to know the basics and then let you guide by the taste of your customers, right?” The studio basically retooled everything from the main character and the world to visuals and level customization based on eight months of feedback, even adding multiplayer because people begged for it.

This is basically how early access is supposed to work, right? This was the whole point of letting people buy their way in early, either with early access or Kickstarter or preorder packages, and then help test and guide the game as superfans. We’ve just seen it go wrong over and over, either because studios abuse the early access tag to make easy money and then abandon the title and the loyal players, or because early testers abuse their input to guide the game into becoming something nobody but them wants to play and causing it to flop hard. I bet you can name games for each group.

How much input do you, as someone who buys in during a game’s development, expect to have in the game’s ongoing design? To the pollmobile!

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WRUP: Offending the God of Rabbits has worked out pretty much fine edition

So as you know, last week we managed to direly offend the God of Rabbits, which is remarkable partly insofar as I had expected us to offend more deities. This is actually better than we could have hoped for. Still, the rabbit god was very mad, and he wrought a mighty curse upon us.

Except, well… it was a curse for rabbits. So, for example, the curse to have predators never fail to see you when you’re still? That part was really kind of a wash, my cats saw me then anyway. I’m not sure if the part of the curse wherein I will never enjoy the taste of clover is even working or not. And since I don’t live in a burrow, having a damp burrow doesn’t appear to have actually happened.

In short, offending the God of Rabbits has worked out pretty much fine. Let us know how any deific curses you’re working through are going in this week’s What Are You Playing, or just let us know what you’re up to for the weekend.

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The Daily Grind: What exactly defines an ‘indie’ MMORPG studio?

Earlier this week, I happened to see a mainstream website refer to ArtCraft as an indie studio, and it jolted me. ArtCraft, as anybody reading MOP knows, is working on Crowfall, which at least in my estimation is a high-quality, graphics-intensive MMORPG from hardcore MMORPG veterans who’ve been in the business as long as anyone alive. The game has raised at least $12M or maybe $15M, at least counting up what we know about.

When I think of indie studios, I think of the tiny outfits working on games like Project Gorgon, Ever, Jane, and Ascent the Space Game. But of course Crowfall is also an indie, right? It’s not running a $500M budget; it’s not ensconced under a cozy AAA publisher umbrella. It crowdfunds.

Then again, aside from the budget/wealth, its profile looks like a bit like Epic Games’ – it even has an engine to vend now. So is it really just about money? Is Star Citizen, with its multiple studios and AAA budget, an indie because of crowdfunding? Camelot Unchained studio CSE has multiple studios – does that factor in?

I’m curious what you folks think. What exactly defines an indie MMO studio? What characteristics must an indie studio have or not have?

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Want to try Legends of Aria? We’ve got trial keys just in time for the closed beta 2 launch!

It’s a big day for indie MMORPG Legends of Aria, as its second closed beta official kicks off with a server wipe and a juicy patch. CB2, as we’ve previously covered, revamps the game’s art, adds detail to the cities, adds a diurnal cycle, backer rewards, new encounters, better shops, a more realistic map, new tameables, saddle storage, new music, secure house trading, crafting orders, the dungeon revamp, and better fast travel.

“It feels like a different game, and we need to gather as much feedback as we can to get things just right for Open Beta and the Early Access launch,” Citadel Studios’ Derek Brinkmann opines in his letter to testers today, and that is where you come in: The Aria team wants you to test and has ponied up a bundle of trial keys to get the MOP readers in and playing. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 177: ArenaNet A-bomb

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!

Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the most complex character development?

Over the weekend, I was reading a makeup subreddit (don’t judge me – I swear there is a gaming point to this) and the lads and ladies were discussing what they would do if they had to start over with $200 and an empty makeup bag. As I’m flipping through the suggestions for how to maximize your budget with palettes and multi-use products, what floated up unbidden in my mind was that it looked exactly like the way City of Heroes players used to give build advice. Oh sure, every game with talents or whatnot has this, but City of Heroes was extremely complicated at its most extreme end and there was an absolutely epic program called MIDS to help you plan your character down to the tiniest mathematical equation. Put simply, whether you wanted to just have a vague clue which level to take which skill or you wanted to mix-max your every IO set, you needed MIDS, and so people would go on the forums and get into long discussions/arguments about those builds.

Path of Exile has always seemed to me another extreme example of detailed, maybe too-detailed-for-most-people, character development. I wish we had more games like this!

Which MMORPG has the most complex character development? And, as a bonus question, which MMORPG has the niftiest character development tool?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

According to Friday’s Daily Grind on hype cycles, a lot of folks think they begin way too early for most games. But what about games with the opposite problem – hype that just isn’t loud enough?

I’m thinking of games like Project Gorgon here. It saw a flurry of activity when it crowdfunded, and again when it went into early access on Steam, but because it’s such a small studio, it doesn’t really generate much hype on its own, being reliant on word of mouth. It’s a wondrous little game with really unusual and unique ideas, but it mostly flies under the radar.

Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

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WRUP: Moving forward, there are going to be some changes around this prison edition

New prison rule #1: No one is to use “shiv” as a verb any more. Last month there was a big debate over whether or not someone was shivved or just stabbed and we want to avoid that in the future.

New prison rule #2: Just because you’re in jail doesn’t mean that you can’t display a standard of culture, so we are instituting a new mandatory ballroom dancing class for all prisoners running for two hours. We’ll have a rotating schedule for that.

New prison rule #3: Please consult with the guards before enacting your escape plan. We’re not going to stop you, we just want to be able to time dramatically running down the hall at the last moment so that everyone is very excited.

New prison rule #4: The ballroom dancing class has been cancelled. Yeah, we realized that was never a good idea. Finishing school visiting hours are still on.

New prison rule #5: Let the guards know What Are You Playing and whether or not they will need to break up any arguments over cigarettes which may result from it. We don’t want any more arguments over cigarettes. You shouldn’t be smoking anyhow, it’s bad for you.

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Women In Games report suggests strategies to promote gender diversity in e-sports

The subject of gender imbalance in gaming, especially in professional e-sports, and how to rectify it has been a matter of debate within gaming communities for quite some time. A recent article by GamesIndustry.biz’s Haydn Taylor highlights a paper published by Women in Games that puts the spotlight on the topic, providing suggestions for ways to increase gender diversity in e-sports.

Drafted by leaders of women-in-games groups from the UK, France, Germany, and Italy as part of a discussion titled “Increasing female interest and participation in esports careers” held at the inaugural Global Esports Forum organized in conjunction with Intel and e-sport organizer ESL, the paper summarizes the current obstacles inhibiting female participation in e-sports and lays out 12 recommendations for remedying the situation.

The post on WomenInGames.org quotes five-time Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world champion Steph “missharvey” Harvey as saying she believes that the main reason the number of women in e-sports is so low — estimated at about 5% — is that women in gaming are “automatically judged for being different,” citing her own experiences of “extremely graphic” harassment about her gender. Women In Games seeks to eradicate this kind of toxic behavior and promote gender diversity in gaming and e-sports.

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The Daily Grind: How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin?

GIbiz put out an interesting piece this week looking 10 years into the past to see where the buzz was in the game industry back in 2008. It’s worth a read overall (that was the year some rando company called “Riot Games” snagged $7M in funding for something called “League of Legends” – pff, that’ll never go anywhere, amirite), but the segment I want to highlight this morning is the one about the industry hype cycle.

The long-ago author wonders just when the hype cycle for video games should begin, at least in terms of maximizing profits (and presumably not annoying consumers). He compares the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Prince of Persia, noting that the former’s hype cycle was twice as long as the latter’s – and performed significantly better. After all, we’re still talking about AC here in 2018!

It seems a fair topic for MMORPGs as well; for example, World of Warcraft expansion announcements and hype lulls, the difference in buzz lead-up between Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and the seemingly interminable Kickstarter MMO dev/hype/funding cycles are perennial subjects here.

How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin? How long before the planned launch of a game or an expansion – or even a Kickstarter – do you actually want to hear about it?

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Perfect Tenception: Our ten perfectest Perfect Tens (since last year)

Last year on the Fourth of July, I posted up a Perfect Ten that was a list of my favorite Perfect Tens Justin and Eliot had done since New Massively was born. It was a sort of a meta joke, but the post actually did well. Plus, I like funny listicles. I mean, we did one on sexy MMO monsters. We did one about robot fantasies. We did a sequel to the one where we pretend to have goofy conversations with anthropomorphized MMO studios. I love this job.

This year, I’m turning it into a new Independence Day tradition because literally nobody can stop me, and it amuses me to go back and look at some of these pieces that hold up so well over time.

So once again, in honor of those of you stuck at family gatherings today where you’re super bored, I’ve picked out my favorite Perfect Tens from the last dozen months and rounded them up for you below so you don’t even have to hunt for something fun to read. Just hunch over your phone and tell them you’re doing Very Important Work! I do it all the time!

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Journalists and academics clash over the World Health Organization’s ‘gaming disorder’ classification

Ever since the World Health Organization decided it will include its “gaming disorder” classification in its upcoming disease classification manual revision, game journalists, mainstream journalists, and academics have been enjoying a field day fighting over whether it’s justified and what the ramifications will be. As we’ve previously noted, according to WHO,

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming; 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Eurogamer, for example, ran a story from an editor who discussed how he personally was addicted to World of Warcraft. He calls the opposition to WHO’s classification “juvenile,” suggesting that it’s really about “the fear of facing up to uncomfortable truths about game design.”

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