leaderboard

Leaderboard is a weekly feature in which the Massively Overpowered staff pitch a poll to the readership. [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]

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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Diablo III starts Season 14 and the Great Treasure Goblin Hunt

The Season of Greed is upon us, and the only way to satiate it is to dive into Diablo III. Season 14 started this past week, bringing the debut of seasonal content, which is really just an ongoing in-game event.

This time around, it’s more treasure goblins: “For the duration of Season 14, all treasure goblin spawns will be doubled. This means that each time you encounter a treasure goblin in the wild, they’ll be accompanied by an exact duplicate of themselves for two times the loot, chaos, and fun!”

As with past seasons, this one features new cosmetic rewards, the boots and pants of the Conqueror set, journey rewards, and conquests. Season 14 will run through September 16th, although the non-seasonal leaderboard will persist past that.

Source: Diablo III

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Leaderboard: What’s the ideal way for an MMO studio to handle toxicity?

MOP reader BulletTeeth pointed us to a piece on The Verge this week about an incident in online shooter Battalion 1944. A highly placed e-sports team member, SUSPC7, apparently went off on Discord about the studio’s slow rollout of skins meant as prizes, trollishly threatening to shoot up the studio. It got back to the devs, who decided to “teach [him] a lesson about comedy” by proposing to reskin his weapon, not with his earned prize but with a hand-drawn penis icon. Yeah, they pranked him.

“I thought you were kind of being a dick,” the studio rep tweeted, going on to tell the player he wanted him to become an “ambassador” for the game.

As The Verge writes, it’s an unusual tactic for a game studio to take against a toxic player in this day and age. While it might be nice to think that studio have the time and money and resources to hand-hold every lost boy and talk him down to being an ally, it’s not particularly realistic, and it creates a perverse incentive system whereby toxic players mop up studio attention that ought to go to non-toxic players.

I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we think studios ought to do when disciplining players. Does this sort of reverse-prank actually work, or would it be better for companies to just boot the problem children and move on?

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Leaderboard: How do you decide whether to refund an MMO or wait it out?

I’ll be happy if I never have to type the phrase “Steam refunds” ever again, after this week of Bless Online coverage. Nevertheless, the idea of trying out a game and taking it back to reclaim your money if and when that game sucks is a relatively modern invention for MMORPGs, and it’s probably here to stay, which honestly is a good thing, at least for the consumer.

Still, I’ve never actually refunded an MMO before. Part of this is because I have plenty of access to try things out (or watch staff try them out) ahead of time, so I know better than to go swipey-swipey with the credit card. I also have seen so much shit go down and so many “preorder exclusive” shenanigans that I rarely buy anything at launch anyway. I am probably not a good test case here. Clearly, a lot of MMO players buy first and think second. That’s how I am with mobile games and apps; I’ve refunded probably a dozen apps over the years when I realized they’d been misrepresented somehow. But it’s never come up with MMOs.

How and when do you decide whether to refund an MMO or wait it out? (There’s some overlap in the answers, so you can choose all that apply.)

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Gloria Victis has overhauled its arena and large-scale factional PvP

Grumpy about the state of PvP in that other MMO? Gloria Victis has arrived to bolster its own version of the classic MMO competitive mode. The MMO has buffed up both instanced and open PvP with new ranking systems and improved rewards for those who participate for their faction. A point to PvP? Be still my heart.

“Players can now compete each other in duels to climb up the top of leaderboard, fighting in fair environment where their own skill determines the outcome of a duel. […] But it isn’t the only change done to promote massive open PVP battles between 3 factions even more. 6 locations which can be fought over, captured and developed by players – massive castles surrounded by farms and lumber mills – have been turned into open PVP locations thanks to reducing the non-looting zones, which are a buffer between the very few safezones and the open PVP areas. However, while the non-looting zones have been reduced, we have added 3 new locations in there too! Each faction has access to its’ own fort where new players can travel in order to support their nation by defending these outposts or upgrading their fortifications, without risk of being looted in their first hours in-game.”

The patch also includes “bandaging wounds and the first load of herbal and alchemic consumables,” with a tease for a future cooking update too.

Source: Press release, Steam

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Leaderboard: What type of multiplayer do you think Fallout 76 will have?

After what was nearly an interminable teaser stream, Bethsoft finally announced this morning that it’s working on Fallout 76, another entry in a beloved franchise and another chance to trot out retro-futurist Pip-Boy iconography. At first, I shrugged – it’s neat, and a lot of us will buy it, but seeing as how Fallout is traditionally a single-player sandbox RPG, it’s not something we’d normally cover.

But then the rumors started flying. Kotaku floated the claim that it’s an “online game of some sort.” Polygon said it “heard the game will feature multiplayer.” The Twitterverse is chirping about battle royale. Nobody seems to know (or be allowed to say) for sure, and barring leaks, it’ll be another week and change until Bethsoft spills its post-apoc can o’ beans. [Update: Kotaku has another piece out since this one went live, with anonymous sources claiming it’s an online post-apoc survival game a la RUST and DayZ.]

So why not speculate? What type of multiplayer do you think Fallout 76 will have? Are you spotting any clues in the trailer? Place your bets – and yes, you get multiple choices here.

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Leaderboard: How much time should you put in to become a great player in the typical MMO?

Earlier this week, GIbiz put out a piece on the Shanghai Dragons, the Overwatch League e-sports team representing China. In a letter to fans, the team appears to have inadvertently revealed that it’s grotesquely overworked; in bragging that the team has the “most intensive training scheme among all the teams,” the team manager admitted that the group trains 12 hours a day, six days a week. That’s 72 hours a week.

As GIbiz points out, not only does this “seem to fly in the face of Blizzard’s goals for a sustainable league that supports its players,” it also doesn’t seem to actually be working, as the Dragons haven’t won a single game in 32 matchups. It’s almost as if hustle/crunch culture exhausts and drains people rather than beefs them up!

Most of us are never going to be, or even aspire to be, professional e-sports gamers to the degree that someone will pay us thousands of dollars per year to train and play. But I bet most of us do aspire to be decent or even great at the games we invest the most time in. So for this week’s Leaderboard, I thought it would be fun to explore just how much time you think you need to put in to be a great player of the typical MMORPG?

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Leaderboard: Does the Daybreak fiasco affect whether you play its MMOs?

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been covering the Daybreak scandal – specifically, how concerns over the impact of government sanctions on Daybreak’s parent companies would affect the games, which spiraled into Daybreak publicly denying that it was ever owned by the company it said repeatedly bought it in 2015 and scrubbing its website and wikipedia of references to Columbus Nova’s acquisition. We’ve all watched on, eyes wide, dutifully recording gaslighting in progress.

But then I have that luxury: I don’t play any Daybreak games and haven’t played any of them seriously since SOE shuttered the best MMORPG ever made. So I can look at the whole situation as the dumpster fire it is, and not as the doom of my favorite MMO, since it already killed that.

Many of you are not in my position. You play DCUO, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2, even EverQuest. You might even be playing H1Z1, although that’s less likely if you’re reading Massively OP. Or maybe the Standing Stone games Daybreak publishes, LOTRO and DDO, are your thing, and you’re not convinced by yesterday’s vague Twitch sidenote that everything’s probably fine. You are watching on in horror, wondering what will happen to your MMO homes if Daybreak implodes. You might even be pretty sure the games will be OK but aren’t so sure you want to put your own money into the mess.

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Leaderboard: Are you still playing Secret World Legends?

I’ve always been curious about you folks who forgave Funcom for 2017. I’m not sure that, were I a hardcore old-school Secret World player, I could so easily let slide that whole “yeah so we’re gonna reboot the game and you can’t bring the toons you spent the last five years building” thing. But given the reboot’s apparent success last year and the ongoing attention on the game by the MMORPG community, a lot of you did forgive the studio and jumped right back in, including our own Secret World vets here on staff. Wherever their breaking point is, that wasn’t it.

Massively OP reader Pepperzine is wondering about that breaking point too and where the game stands in the community since the relaunch nine months ago and the new content that’s finally launched. “Now that around nine months have passed since The Secret World Legends has launched, I think it would be interesting to do a follow-up poll on if the community here at MOP is playing it, quit playing it, or returning for the Africa content!”

Great idea! Let’s do it.

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Leaderboard: Are you giving Ultima Online’s Endless Journey F2P conversion a try?

With the launch of Ultima Online’s Endless Journey free-to-play conversion this week, a whole lotta old-school MMORPG players are turning their attention back to the 20-year-old MMORPG that started it all. If you could make or connect to your account – easier said than done, as our own writers and streamers found out – then you were treated to a Throwback Thursday to end all Throwback Thursdays.

I’ve actually had my old account running on a sub for the better part of the past year, and while I’m happy that the game is moving forward (and still getting love!), I’m also a little bit exhausted from the anticipation – as well as skeptical of the relatively pay-to-win new offering in the cash shop. I’m sort of looking forward to the game getting back to normal after the influx of visitors is done!

How about you? Are you giving Ultima Online’s Endless Journey a try? Let take it to the polls!

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The Daily Grind: How do you deal with your anger in MMORPGs?

Earlier this month, Overwatch made headlines when a player posted up a behavioral therapy chart his wife – who happens to be a therapist – made him fill out after he complained about his game losses. The idea is that you write down your “negative thoughts” about the game experience, then reflect on that to see how your temporary emotion has distorted your opinions, then craft a positive frame instead. It’s funny – but also pretty useful, and even Overwatch Redditors were asking for a blank sheet so they could try it themselves.

That brings us to today’s Daily Grind: How do you deal with your anger in an MMO? Do you complain to guildies, log out, bang your desk, go work out to burn off some steam? Are you handling it as well as the Overwatch Redditor and trying to learn from what went wrong? What do you do, exactly, when your teammates turn out to be “hot garbage”?

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Leaderboard: Do you speculate on WoW Tokens or other legal MMO RMT currency?

Is Call of Duty the next Activision franchise to migrate to Battlenet? Very likely. As Eurogamer broke earlier this month, players are now able to link their Call of Duty accounts to Battle.net – no doubt in anticipation for Black Ops 4.

I bring this up to MMO players because of the potential impact on World of Warcraft – specifically, token prices – as WoW players buy and sell their tokens to spend down their Blizzard balance to buy up the new CoD title (or cash in on the flurry). Redditors are current speculating about the incoming speculation, arguing that tokens prices have been relatively stable over the past few months, spiking for the Battle for Azeroth hoopla but ultimately settling back down. In fact, just covering the potential for a spike can cause a spike, one poster points out. Gamers will recall a similar situation last year when Destiny 2 landed on Battlenet, sending the token to record heights.

And that leads us to some Leaderboard fun. Do you speculate on WoW Tokens or other legal MMO RMT currency (like PLEX, C.R.E.D.D, etc.), or do you stay the heck away from that noise? Multiple responses are allowed!

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Saga of Lucimia argues GM events should be mandatory in MMOs, not an ‘optional service’

A few months ago, we ran a Leaderboard poll asking players what kind of live studio-led events they want out of MMORPGs. By way of example, I compared the types of GM-run live events I saw in Ultima Online and EverQuest. In Ultima Online, we often saw long-running plotlines, mysterious NPCs, decorated special locations, dungeon crawls, and weddings galore. In EverQuest, I saw weddings, yes, but also GMs running around massacring newbies to get the highbies to come take them out (which wasn’t such a grand time as you lost experience on death). In Asheron’s Call, well, don’t take my word for it – just listen to Andrew talk about some of the biggest MMO events that ever took place in the genre.

Such GM events – the good ones, at least – are the subject of Saga of Lucimia’s weekly dev blog, which ought to make the majority of you who voted for plot, roleplaying, and activities other than endless murder in your event happy.

“Over the years, that type of interaction faded away as it became too ‘cost prohibitive’ for companies to maintain the type of staff required to create such unique events, and these days you are hard-pressed to find a GM logged into any game, much less get customer support to answer your emails in a timely fashion,” Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson maintains. “Cash shops and loot boxes are the name of the game these days. Game masters? What are those?”

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