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It hasn’t escaped my attention that survival games have become an insanely popular video game market over the past few years. Titles like ARK: Survival Evolved and Conan Exiles are recycling and refining a formula that seems to revolve around building stuff, building more stuff with the stuff you built before, roaming around, dying to critters, dying to other players, and erecting player towns that are as ugly as they are functional.
As someone who has only lightly dabbled in the genre, I have to put forth this question: What’s the appeal here? Is it just the endless process of crafting? The pride of ownership? Living out fantasies as Bear Grylls? Running your own server fiefdom?
I’m not saying that these games are bad, but they do appear to be pretty much the same thing done over and over and over again. I’d love it if someone explained to me the appeal from the inside!
Of all the chapters in Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games, this is the chapter I’ve been most dreading to cover in our ongoing series on MMOs and psychology.
It’s not just because, as I previously mentioned, it’s one of the most difficult chapters in the book. It’s the findings. Dr. Kowert is very balanced in her handling of the topic, both pro and against gaming in terms of social outcomes. But for me, someone who recently had a huge bout with depression and used online games to deal with it, this chapter began as a knock-out punch to my ego before I was able to rely on some other strategies to stand up and tackle my understanding of the chapter, and myself, from different angles.
Mo’s been collecting letters to the editor for me to address in Ask Mo for the past month or two, and this one from longtime Massively OP community member Siphaed keeps floating to the top:
“Why is it that MMOs get a one-and-done review within a month of a game’s release date? With the way these games are persistent living worlds that keep changing, updating, and evolving over time, shouldn’t there be follow up reviews? Would this not be better for potential customers of these game as well as individuals who are searching sites for reviews and only come across ancient ones that don’t reflect the more recent state of the product? This would also allow a better reflection of the game’s post-launch condition as normal standing. The chaos that ensues with a game’s launch could throw of customers for good without further review down the road. Servers, overpopulation, down time, patches, and so on. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect launch.”
We’ve been covering Nick Yee-founded Quantic Foundry’s game analytics research as it’s fleshing out the Gamer Motivation Model, which seeks to create a modernized personality chart for gamers. This week, Quantic wrote that in its recent survey of over a thousand gamers, it could conclude that at least in first-person shooters,
“A higher proportion of male gamers preferred aggressive, close range tactics when compared with female gamers. Stealthy, long-range encounters on the other hand are preferred by a larger proportion of women compared to men. Interestingly, both groups were consistent in having the stealthy approach as the most popular answer, followed by close range tactics. An ‘in-between’ approach was the least popular answer with both men and women.”
(There’s much more to the post, including charts and responses by age, so have a look.)
I wondered whether those data might apply to MMORPG players as well. After all, some MMOs can also be played first-person or at the very least in chase-cam mode. As someone who’s played tanks, healers, and ranged in probably equal measures by now, I certainly don’t fit the profile. How about you? Do you think your gender influences your chosen MMO roles and classes?
A reader named Rob provides this week’s Massively Overthinking topic. It’s a really good one!
“Why isn’t playing an old MMO from a previous decade seen the same as, say disco dancing in 1986? Seems MMOs have a longer shelf life than other pop culture phenomena.”
Is he right? If so, why? I posed Rob’s question to the Massively OP staff and Patrons.
Music has been on my mind a lot lately. OK, so it is always on my mind! From skipping down the streets belting out showtunes, cartoon theme songs, and parodies of other assorted songs (now you know what I did last weekend!) to signing on livestreams, my mind is always aswirl with music. So when EverQuest II Audio Manager/Composer Mark MacBride made his Terrors of Thalumbra tracks available on soundcloud, I knew I had to go and give them a listen.
As much as I appreciate the art in a game — as much as I love the vistas, the beautiful backdrops, and the intricate details — it’s music that can truly be the heart of a game experience. It’s the music that truly brings out feelings and emotions that connect you to your surroundings; the right music can add things to the picture that your eye can’t see. There is a reason the saying is “the sights and sounds…” The two really do work in concert (OK, pun may have been intended). Music’s ability to elicit images in the mind through sound alone is powerful, and coupling that with visuals is just a one-two punch of immersion. Without one, your experience with the other is lessened. That’s precisely how I feel about these musical tracks. After sitting back and just listening, I realized that as much as I really enjoy the art in EQII’s new zone, it’s these tracks that bring it all to life.
Tuesday brought along a big surprise for me in the form of access to the Legion alpha test. I had pretty much resigned myself to living off of datamined information, so you can imagine that this came as something of a shock. Since then, I’ve spent as much time as possible (which is probably less than you think) working my way through the alpha, killing various enemies, playing with artifact weapons, and loving the heck out of Demon Hunter.
Spoiler warning: I like Demon Hunters. Who’d have guessed? Not me, that’s for sure.
I have not, unfortunately, had time to do a deep dive into everything available in the current test build. I’ll be doing my best to do exactly that over the days, weeks, and months to come, so look forward to that, but I don’t have it all ready to go right this moment. That having been said, and considering that this is the big thing to talk about for World of Warcraft fans at the moment… what’s it like?
Losses aren’t fun in any game. No one ever wants to lose. But in a single-player game you usually can reload from a save file, or at the least recover whatever you lost. MMOs can be a different creature altogether.
That valuable ship that got blown up in EVE Online? It’s gone. That bit of armor you forgot to roll on in World of Warcraft? You’re not getting a do-over. I remember running back from an experience party in Final Fantasy XI, getting unexpected aggro, and getting shivved to death in a matter of moments… and losing a level and all of my shiny new gear as a result of it.
Designers in recent years have done their level best to make sure that no single loss is likely to leave you completely heartbroken because no one enjoys that. But you can still lose out, even if it’s just a matter of losing a roll for a piece of equipment you really wanted or failing to clear content that you’ve been trying to get past for ages. So what’s the most disheartening loss you’ve ever had in an MMO? Did you keep playing the game after that?
As an MMO fan, there are few things as sad as a promising game being killed in development without seeing the light of a full release. Those nagging “what if?” scenarios can drive a fan mad and keep one up through the wee hours of the night.
And while I don’t have the power to resurrect these MMOs through my sheer force of will and present them to you wrapped in a bow, I can perhaps deliver a consolation gift by pointing you in the direction of some of these games’ soundtracks.
Many MMOs that were nearing completion or in development for a long time already had work done on their in-game music. And some of that music has escaped the long, cold fingers of cancellation thanks to composers and fans who wanted to preserve the score. So while it may be bittersweet to listen to the following six games’ scores, it’s also a small triumph that we can do so at all.
Hello, friends, and welcome to a spankin’ new series of Choose My Adventure. This month, I’m going to be diving into NCSoft’s wuxia-inspired Blade & Soul. I know many MMO fans have been anxiously awaiting the Western release of the game, which finally landed stateside last month. For my part, I admittedly didn’t have a whole lot of interest in the game until I was able to futz around in the beta, which piqued my excitement with its action-centric combat and flashy martial arts. I didn’t get to delve into it too deeply, however, so I’m looking forward to see how the game pans out beyond the small taste I got during beta.
As is the custom ’round these here parts, this week’s article will be all about creating my character so I can jump headlong into the game for a new and (hopefully) exciting adventure.
The other day someone pointed me to the direction of a big ol’ page of EverQuest II Easter eggs. As someone who only lightly played the game, I thought it was pretty fun to read down this list and see what I was missing.
Easter eggs have a long tradition of being peppered all over video games, and MMOs have certainly run with them. Part of it is the fun of placing little secrets and mentions around the world for player explorers to find, I’m sure, but the rest of it has to be a continuing attempt to help retain developer sanity. Ever wonder why quest titles are almost 90% puns? Each of those puns keeps a dev from snapping, tearing off his or her clothes, and running down the road while screaming of the futility of “class balance.”
What are some of your favorite MMO Easter eggs? Let’s make a nice list here today!
Look there! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a different comics franchise altogether that’s spawned a popular online action RPG which is going through another leap in its evolution! Today on the podcast, hosts Bree and Justin are joined by the Marvel Heroes team to talk about the latest reinvention of the game.
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.
My experience with World of Warcraft
is minimal. I played the game for about a month just after The Burning Crusade
launched. I have hopped in and out for a day or two here and there since, but it’s never been the game for me. I know that one of the reasons that I didn’t stick with it was because the breadth and scope of the game has grown to colossal proportions. And if I want to experience everything that WoW
has to offer now, I would literally have to play the game for years.
My issues with starting WoW got me thinking about people who might be hopping into Star Wars: The Old Republic for the first time. What is the new-player experience like now for SWTOR? It’s difficult to imagine what that’s like when you’ve been playing the game for over five years now. I may not be an ambassador for this game, and it’s not my job to promote the game in any way, but I do enjoy this game very much, and in spite of its mistakes, BioWare has created a wonderful MMORPG worth experiencing.
Today, let’s look at a couple of different approaches to starting the game fresh. Maybe you’ve never played this game before, or maybe you want to look at it with fresh eyes. This column is for you.