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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: Are you an impulse buyer in MMO cash shops?

During last week’s podcast, Justin and I were discussing MMOs that seem to make it hard for us to give them money, which led us to talk about a cash shop tactic that drives me nuts: limited-availability items. I understand why MMOs put these types of items in the cash shop; as MOP reader TomTurtle noted, in Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet’s “limited availability tactic works better for impulse purchases” because “a good number of players make purchases that they probably wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

I know he’s right. But I am so not one of those people! As I was saying, I am a lister. I made endless lists of things I want to buy and do, and I let them stew a while before acting on them. I try to avoid impulse anything, and I have a system and a hard budget so that I can plan everything to avoid waste and regret. Guild Wars 2’s system of rotating things in and out of the store to try to get me to buy them just in case doesn’t work for or on me.

So because I cannot plan very well for Guild Wars 2’s sales and (more specifically) which costumes will be available at any given time), I spend far less on the game than I otherwise would. If the thing I want isn’t for sale, I’m not gonna just buy something else, and I’m not gonna buy something I didn’t plan on either. I guess enough impulse buyers make up for my particular type that ArenaNet doesn’t care, but it’s still annoying to me.

Are you an impulse buyer when it comes to MMORPG cash shops? Or do you plan your purchases? And what’s your stance on limited-availability items in cash shops?

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WRUP: Tips to having a great date when you’re both just sitting in your car for four hours edition

So actual dates are stupid and gross, right? Not necessarily! You can trick your date into having a great experience when the whole night just consists of you sitting in your car for four hours! Here’s how to probably make that happen, why not, it could happen.

  • Remove any vermin from the car before the date. Look, if you’re just driving to the restaurant, she might not notice the cockroach fighting with the rat in the backseat. But if you’re in the car the whole time? Ask the roach and rat to leave until the date is over. Drop them off someplace nice.
  • Say “this is nice, huh?” every fifteen minutes. Your date will not think it’s remotely nice, but contradicting you would be rude.
  • Have a minimum of two bottles of Snapple in the glove compartment. You don’t want your date to think you’re just avoiding actually going somewhere, so having a full cooler is right out. A couple of beverages, though, help speed the time away.
  • You can get away with making three “wrong turns” that result in 10-minute long detours. Any more than that and your date will suspect you intend to drive toward the nearest pier, jam down the accelerator, and then leap from the moving vehicle whilst shouting the name of a professional wrestler.
  • Do not drive toward the nearest pier, jam down the accelerator, and then leap from the moving vehicle whilst shouting the name of a professional wrestler. Doing this can ruin your chances of getting an OBE.

If this process worked, please don’t tell us about it in What Are You Playing. Just let us know what you’re playing this weekend. That’s what the name means.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 175: Virtual heartbreakers

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin get a little bit crazy and weird as they date MMO NPCs, throw themselves into the middle of studio fights, take a ride on the delay/launch whiplash train, and more!

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: Do you prefer ‘work’ simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds?

In the comments of my piece on Raph Koster’s book last week, a commenter brought up the idea that mimicking the real world in MMOs was a “sad” sort of “obsession” – why would we want to work in a video game in our spare time, he was essentially asking, when we could do something fresh and creative with our video game spaces instead?

I took a stab at answering the question, supposing that just because we can theoretically do a job in real life doesn’t mean we are realistically or physically able to do it, and exploration of the unreachable can be fun. A post on the Psychology of Video Games blog answers it even better: Author Jamie Madigan writes that games like Farming Simulator 17 and Euro Truck Simulator do so well precisely because people like to explore those types of jobs in a low-stress, who-cares-if-I-run-my-semi-off-the-virtual-autobahn environment. “These games remove the worst of the uncertainty, helplessness, ambiguity, and consequences for failure that come with those real world jobs and turn them into game systems that are interesting and fun to interact with,” he argues. “They give players clear goals, unambiguous feedback, winnable challenges, and predictable rewards. All things that most jobs sadly don’t consistently provide.”

That certainly explains it: I really hate thinking about money in real life, but I love playing around in MMO economies where my market mistakes simply don’t matter.

How about you? Do you prefer simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds? Or something in between? And is there an activity that you love in MMOs but hate in the real world?

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The World Health Organization advances its ‘gaming disorder’ classification in spite of heavy criticism

The World Health Organization has gone ahead with the inclusion of “gaming disorder” in the publication of its most recent edition of its disease classification manual. It’s expected to be adopted by member nations next year and won’t take effect until 2022. 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.”

The organization announced its proposal for the new classification last year and was met with considerable pushback from a wide cross-section of both industry partisans and independent academics.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your biggest ever MMO splurge?

Ever since Trove launched its superhero-themed expansion Heroes, I’ve been hemming and hawing over buying the big mama upgrade package for the Vanguardian and the gobs upon gobs of currency that comes with it. You guys, I want it, but I have such guilt over spending that much dough on a single class and the costume fluff I’d probably buy with the rest of it. For the same stack of cash, I could buy five or ten whole games on Steam.

It’s silly. I’ve paid way more for dumber things; ask me how much I paid to move a bunch of toons across accounts in Star Wars Galaxies back in the day when that kind of cash was far dearer to me. So I should just get it while the fam is still into the game. And yet… I keep stalling.

How about you? What MMO have you splurged on lately, and what’s the biggest MMO splurge you’ve ever made?

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WRUP: Guess the person edition

Sometimes, our work chat is mature and productive and focuses on useful things. Sometimes I just use it to come up with creative burns. These are all things I typed on Friday and they’re funny. Names omitted, though! Guess the person.

He looks like someone stretched a human skin on an animatronic frog’s body from a children’s musical show. At six years old, his mother sent out invitations to birthday gatherings because he was never going to a party. He has a great personality in the same way that a blank notebook has a great plot. He looks how ordering a two-liter soda for yourself feels. If he were Native American, his spirit animal would be an empty manilla folder. In high school his list of “character concepts” for D&D looked like his algebra homework.

Have fun speculating or just reusing these in the comments of What Are You Playing! Or just let us know what you’re playing this weekend. That’s fun too.

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The Daily Grind: Does teaching toxic MMO gamers what they did wrong actually help?

As RPS reported this week, Valve has taken the relatively unusual step of making your Dota 2 and CSGO report cards semi-public – that is, players can see reports made against their accounts, and the rationales given, even if Valve took no action on them. The author was bemused to find that he’d been reported for “intentional feeding” when in fact, he just sucked that match. Hey, it happens.

But I wonder whether the reports are useful to actual toxic players who’ve been actioned to teach them where they went wrong; it’s certainly an idea League of Legends clung to for years. MOP reader TomTurtle recently suggested something similar in terms of forum moderation too. “I’d like to see how viable it’d be to have moderators give an infractor a chance to edit their post to be constructive in an attempt to have them learn why their initial language was against the rules” in the service of “informing players why they were infracted in the first place,” he wrote to us.

Even if we agree that moderators’ and gamemasters’ jobs should include not just protecting the community from toxicity but actually attempting to – as Raph Koster puts it in his new book – “reform bad apples,” I wonder whether it’s even worth the trouble, never mind the expense. Does knowing what they did wrong actually help toxic players become less toxic? Or does it just cause them to double down to save face? Is the industry just wasting time and money trying to reform players who aren’t just poorly socialized or clueless but willfully destructive?

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The Daily Grind: How do you handle content lulls in MMORPGs?

MOP reader Joel recently wrote into us with a link to a Dark Legacy Comic (#634) that succinctly captures the problem of content lulls in MMOs. It features a bored World of Warcraft hero character staring at his friends list full of buddies who haven’t logged on in weeks (“wake me for prepatch,” one friend’s tag reads); he then becomes super excited at a newly delivered mail, only to find out it’s an automated brew-of-the-month club missive telling him to share his drinks with his friends. Womp womp.

“I can’t speak for everyone but this episode really spoke to me as there have been a lot of times I’ve felt exactly this way in quite a few MMOs that have hit a lull,” Joel wrote.

I thought it was particularly relevant this summer for MMORPG players; World of Warcraft is in a bit of a lull right now ahead of the launch of its expansion, while Guild Wars 2’s next big patch has been delayed so significantly that I heard the word “drought” being kicked around yesterday.

So how do you handle content lulls in MMORPGs? Do you stick it out, play alts, grind cash? Or do you wander away to play something else?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 174: Fallout vs. Elder Scrolls

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin take tentative steps into the early reveals of E3 — including Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls Online, Anthem, and Final Fantasy XIV, all while dealing with a ton of updates and even an expansion launch. June is here, and we’re all gaming hard!

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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Enter to win a Star Trek Online Gamma Vanguard Starter Pack on PC from PWE and MOP

Victory is Life is officially live in Star Trek Online just in time for E3, harkening back to the much-loved run of Deep Space Nine.

Star Trek Online’s fourth major expansion, Victory is Life, is now available on PC. The update takes Captains on a journey to the Gamma Quadrant, where they will team up with crew members from Deep Space Nine to battle the Hur’q. This includes Quark (Armin Shimerman), Odo (René Auberjonois), Kira (Nana Visitor) and nine other characters voiced by the actors who originated the roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The expansion also introduces a brand new Jem’Hadar playable faction, increased level cap, seven new episodes and an all-new Gamma Quadrant Sector Battlezone.”

To celebrate last week’s launch, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to give away! We’ve got 50 codes for the Gamma Vanguard Starter Pack for our PC readers. Each pack includes a T6 Jem’Hadar Vanguard Dreadnought Cruiser, the playable Jem’Hadar Vanguard Species unlock, a Jem’Hadar Tactical Uniform, the “Victory is Life” title, and the “Plain and Simple” title. Do note that the cruiser can be used by only Dominion captains, and all of it’s for PC accounts only. Read on to enter to win!

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WRUP: Dispatch from E3 2049 edition

We sent this message back in time from 2056 in the hopes that someone could avert this horrifying future. E3 grew so slowly almost no one realized what was happening until it was too late. E3 2049 started in June of 2050, because E3 2048 lasted the whole of that year and well into 2049. It’s been raging for six years now. Six years of unplayable demos, promises about titles that will radically change before launch, plastic smiles on presenters, and hideous, unconscionable attempts at being hip.

And Nintendo is still promising things that aren’t going to actually come out for half a decade. Their fans insist that they’re doing well.

You can change this now. You can stop the spread of E3 as it keeps covering more days. Stop it before we are all lost in this barren wasteland. Also, make sure to take part in What Are You Playing, because that’s how the aliens decide who get the laser eyes. Yeah, that’s 2033. That year was pretty wild anyway.

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