With the ever-developing, ever-growing nature of MMORPGs, the expansion truly has a life of its own. By now we are well acquainted with the cycle that runs from gestation to obsolescence and can usually point to where any particular expansion is on this chart.
The Lazy Goldmaker outlined the typical progression of MMO expansion packs with a six-step cycle that focuses heavily on the economy and raiding: “After the final raid of the expansion we will enter the last content drought. This is typically the longest period with nothing exciting added to the game. We are in the middle of this phase of Legion currently. Most of the markets from the live expansion will still be viable, but profit margins will be decreasing, as will prices on all goods.”
Read on for more MMO blog essays, including ones that cover EVE Online, Wizard101, SWTOR, and LOTRO!
A thinkpiece that we had back in April about the difficulty levels (or lack thereof) in MMORPGs sparked some interesting discussion among gaming bloggers as they grappled with the concept of challenge levels and how MMOs should improve in presenting them.
GamingSF thinks that there is much room for improvement in offering players varied challenges: “I also want to see more MMORPGs introducing non-combat challenges through puzzles and quests that require thinking to complete (e.g. following lore clues).”
And Inventory Full chimes in with this distinction: “I also strongly agree with whoever it was who said that gamers these days equate difficulty with time spent. Indeed, more often than not when someone complains that something is ‘too difficult’ what they really mean is it takes longer than they want to spend doing it.”
Continue on for this week’s Global Chat, as we look at Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor, feelings concerning Defiance 2050, the whole Daybreak mess, and more!
What to make of Shroud of the Avatar? The few MMO bloggers who have looked into this recently released but already long-running title have struggled to get a handle on Lord British’s latest RPG.
The Ancient Gaming Noob calls it “retroist hobbyism” and left him wondering. “What is this game that is by turns awkward, finicky, intricate, deep, slow, and clearly a work in progress?” he asks. “Where does it fit into the gaming world?”
Inventory Full found some merit in it but noted the extreme performance issues and other annoyances: “My willingness to struggle on was further undermined by the D&D style random encounters that dragged me into a private instance every time I tried to travel from one adventure area to another. Not to mention the fact that my weapon was broken and I couldn’t remember how the combat system worked anyway.”
Continue on with us in this edition of Global Chat, as we’ll read essays on altitis, EverQuest, City of Heroes, Elder Scrolls Online, and more!
It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.
MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.
With Project Gorgon now out on Steam early access, many first-time visitors to this strange game are feeling out the world and its systems. So what are they discovering?
Tales of the Aggronaut said that he was “hooked” when he put in a good weekend: “Part of the charm of this game is that it plops you into the game with no real warning or advisement about what you should be doing.”
“There’s never any doubting the sheer personality evident in every aspect of the game,” recommended Inventory Full. “The enthusiasm and good nature of the tiny development team sweeps all cynicism away.”
Project Gorgon not your cup of tea? Join us after the break for blog essays on Second Life, RIFT Prime, Shroud of the Avatar, and even Dungeons & Dragons!
Crowfall is ready to push its pre-alpha testing phase to the limit. A new dev video from ArtCraft this week shows off some of the new content in its 5.5 version, focusing on its new map, Wrath. Wrath includes new adventure zones, which are basically high-stakes PvE areas. I spy lots and lots of spiders! There’s also a new high-elf companion, the female Centaur variant, badges, updated visuals for specific spells and weapons, and the new health and recovery system. Crafters and merchants are in for a treat too, as player vendors are totally in. It’s starting to look pretty slick.
And that all means it’s time to break the servers! “The Pre-Alpha 1 through Beta 3 test groups are encouraged to log onto the LIVE servers and keep an eye on the in-game Global chat channel for announcements about concentrating on single servers and specific areas,” ArtCraft says. “You’ll often be playing with and against members of the Crowfall dev team as we gather data related to scalability. This is very important to ensure fun, speed and stability for players, so we need as many Crows as we can get piling onto the servers.”
RIFT’s new Prime progression server certainly has recaptured or recruited many MMO bloggers to the game as of late, and it is all anyone seems to be talking about. So how’s the word out on the web?
Nerdy Bookahs observed that Trion “chose a perfect time” to release the progression server. The Ancient Gaming Noob initially felt conflicted but soon fell into a groove: “There was the feeling of life in the game, with lots of people around and public groups to join and things just happening everywhere.” And GamingSF said that he’s “coming along swimmingly” on the shard.
It wasn’t all kudos and praise. Endgame Variable hedged his outlook by saying that RIFT Prime was “fun, but I don’t think it will last very long.” Inventory Full felt disillusioned with the way the original game was handled and said, “RIFT simply doesn’t have the depth or breadth of content of either of the EverQuest games, nor the nostalgia factor.”
Read on for the MMO blogosphere’s thoughts on other topics, including inventory woes in Guild Wars 2, the classic multiplayer dogfight sim Air Warrior, and the early access release of Project Gorgon.
Have you ever noticed that you play it way too safe in your MMOs, especially when it comes to interacting (or not) with others? Aywren of Sygnus wrote an honest blog post lately in which she felt challenged to examine and even buck her “safe patterns” in life and gaming and to try to get out of her rut and try new things.
“On my gaming blog, I’ve talked about my struggles with grouping in MMOs, and how FFXIV specifically had to pick me up and forcibly throw me out of my safe zone if I wanted to keep playing it. This is something I still struggle with,” she admitted. “I do everything I can to avoid stressful dungeons, raids or classes. I’m still afraid of tanking and healing for strangers outside my FC.”
Join us for more thought-provoking blog posts from the MMO community as we fill up your screen with the latest in Global Chat!
It seems as though some players’ attention has shifted back to Elder Scrolls Online this spring, especially with the recent Dragon Bones DLC drop. Telwyn over at GamingSF documented a bit of fun in which he enjoyed infiltrating a camp in disguise versus having to do it in stealth mode.
“I find ‘disguised’ gameplay is more relaxed and better paced (since stealth is slower movement),” he wrote. “It’s especially nice in ESO when you need to take time out of fighting-all-the-things in a hostile to read the many books and quest-related texts – having a pause in the action makes it more enjoyable to read these.”
It isn’t all rainbows and puppies, however. Roger from Contains Moderate Peril expressed some frustration at ESO’s leveling gear, or lack thereof: “The One Tamriel Update removed the level restriction on content, scaling everything according to the player, which obviously didn’t help the gear situation. With delves and story quests scaling to your level, there isn’t the surplus of gear generated by content fixed at a specific level. The lack of a server wide auction system is also a major contributor.”
Does it matter how many people are playing your MMO? For some, yes, it does. It’s at least of passing interest to others, especially if players are looking for a “healthy” title or want a large number with which to impress their friends and argue that this MMO is besting another.
So don’t be too surprised that there is an effort to figure out what Guild Wars 2’s (undisclosed) population is at the moment. In An Age challenges one community estimate of 3.3 million players by looking at the available evidence and financial reports.
“Here’s my gut check: Guild Wars 2 probably has about 1.5 million monthly ‘players’ and many times less people who actually log on when there isn’t a holiday event/Living Story taking place,” he argues. “Ultimately though, I think Guild Wars 2 is actually uniquely well-positioned to survive regardless of whether it consists of a million actives or three million tourists.”
Everyone’s talking about RIFT’s new Prime server idea — and whether or not it will get us playing Trion Worlds’ fantasy MMO once again. Naturally, the blogosphere had a few thoughts about this.
Stargrace said that it was “highly unlikely” that she’d return for this: “While I am drawn into progression servers for EverQuest and EverQuest II due to a heavy nostalgia factor, I don’t get those same warm fuzzy feelings about RIFT.”
“If anything induces me to give RIFT Prime a try it will be the extent to which the experience doesn’t accurately replicate the original,” Bhagpuss said. And Endgame Variable takes a look at it from the perspective of a former player: “Do I want to pay a subscription to play old content in RIFT — a game I’ve already played to death — or pay a subscription to play new content in FFXIV or WoW?”
Are you playing Warframe these days? If not, you might be missing out on the growing party of people who seem to be flocking to Digital Extremes’ free-to-play shooter. Plenty of bloggers continue to discover and extol the virtues of this game, even years after it first hit the scene.
“The game’s been around for several years now,” said Nomadic Gamer, “so there’s a lot of maturity in the advice community and when people ask for ‘best builds’ they can be referred to builds created years ago.”
In An Age considers Warframe to be his “‘I don’t know what I feel like doing’ and ‘I only have 30 minutes to play’ game.” And while Superior Realities felt like the game was only “meh,” he did recognize the powerful effect of that word-of-mouth is having with this title.
How do you feel about grinding in MMOs? What about farming? These questions can elicit a wide variety of answers, from shrieks of dismay to enthusiastic head nods. Depending on the situation, grinding and farming can be something to be enjoyed, to be endured, or to be avoided at all cost.
The Game Freak Show says that he has a love/hate affair with grinding and farming, and it presents all sorts of muddled emotions, especially when gated mechanics are thrown into the mix: “While I have forgiven the grind in many RPGs for sucking away my time, this disturbing trend of games that do not have a harsh grind because they’re flawed or made for a different audience, but to force people to drop more cash on the table is something I can’t.”
Continue on for a look at Kritika Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online’s Ravenloft, the best solo MMOs, and more!