Back in my World of Warcraft and RIFT days, I spent an awful lot of time in dungeon runs as a healer. I even still function as a flashpoint medic in Star Wars: The Old Republic when our healer isn’t pulling his or her weight. It wasn’t that I sought out healing roles to begin with, but that my class selection (Shaman, Druid, Cleric, Operative) just so happened to include heals, and I guess that curiosity and peer pressure gradually convinced me to give it a try.
I won’t say that I was the all-time best healer you’ve ever seen, but I generally kept my group alive and pulled us through some incredibly tricky fights. I even enjoyed it, once I got past my initial jitters and embraced the lifestyle. These days I don’t heal as much, although I actually do miss it.
So anyway, here are 10 lessons I learned as an MMO healer (semi-retired)!
Any game with classes adds new classes over time. It’s almost axiomatic. I don’t know why absolutely every game cannot be designed with the classes that the designers want from day one, and I really don’t know why I can’t say that, look at a brand-new game, and still find myself immediately asking about when I get new classes. I was speculating on new classes for Star Wars: The Old Republic when it had been out for two weeks for funk’s sake.
But whatever game you’re playing, there’s a pattern to these new classes being added. It’s an inevitable pattern, one that happens time and again. It’s also a pattern that fits nicely into an article structured around the titular number of bullet points, which is really good for me because I apparently cannot rename the column to “Perfect Seven-And-A-Half” for a week. This is also why I still haven’t gotten a drinking game in here.
You know how you wince whenever you think of typing /played into your MMO and realize just how many hours you’ve given to a pretend world? I can only cringe at the thought of seeing a tally of how many in-game quests I’ve performed since 2001. At least 20. Probably more.
Game developers are quick to tell you that there are really only a small number of quest archetypes, including “kill 10 rats,” “FedEx,” “click glowies,” and “escort the suicidal NPC.” Yet within those categories are thousands of sub-types of missions, from the unimaginative to the truly bizarre. The best ones arrest our attention, keep us enthralled, and leave us wanting more.
Having done so many quests over a decade and a half, I’ve noticed that even some of the stranger quest sub-types tend to pop up across a spread of MMOs. When you’re done killing 10 boars for their livers, take a gander at this list of weirdly specific quests that we keep encountering.
My original plan for this week – during the few moments that I was capable of coherent speech rather than just babbling about the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV expansion – was to give you lovely folks a drinking game. Each time you see certain things come up in indie MMO Kickstarters, take a shot. And I might still do that one day, but I decided against it for two reasons. One is that it feels a bit like punching down, which I don’t like to do.
But the second reason, and the more important one, is that not all of the fault can be laid at the feet of indie Kickstarters. The part where you expect to build a functional MMO on a budget that won’t pay for a single programmer, yes. Pretty much everything related to Greed Monger, that’s on you. But some of these terms come up over and over because they’ve been bludgeoned into formless masses now, and so it’s not really the fault of the indie folks that you can throw these terms in front of more or less everything.
One question that consistently pops up across the MMO gaming circuit is, “What are the most popular/healthy/active MMOs out there?” Every time I see this question, I sympathize with the concern behind asking it. For some players, finding a game that not only exists but is hopping and has the greatest potential for a future is of paramount concern.
Massively OP reader Duffy suggested that we cover this very topic when he asked, “Which MMOs are struggling and which seem to be rolling in gravy? Do MMOs in general do very well or are most just able to keep the lights on?”
It’s a difficult question to answer off-the-cuff because there are a lot of variables to consider. Instead, I researched several angles, including player tracking services, frequency of patches, financial reports, and even how often each game pops up on blogs. While the following isn’t definitive, I feel strongly that the following 10 games are the healthiest live MMOs on the western market right now.
It might seem a little odd that the one thing to break through my current state of hyper-excitement for the launch of Heavensward and the upcoming free-to-play conversion for WildStar is the shutdown of Infinite Crisis. But it’s also the first piece of news that I’ve actually found kind of worrisome, and I don’t usually get unsettled. Games get shut down, games keep running, launches happen, impacts are overestimated — it happens.
Infinite Crisis was not something I would call one of my main games, or even something I would call one of my games at all. I’ve played it at demo events and that’s about it because I don’t much care for the genre. But even if you share my general ambivalence toward the market, even passing into full-on antipathy, you should be paying attention to this. This is news, it’s important, and there are reasons to care about it even if you normally would have let it pass wholly under your radar.
For a writer on a multi-MMORPG news site, following pretty much every online game’s Twitter feed comes with the territory. It’s always interesting to me to see what “personalities” each feed develops over time, from the shy guy who posts only once a month to the toddler-esque accounts that repeat the same information every hour on the hour so that you can’t ignore it.
Most Twitter accounts are informative, but there is one that keeps catching my eye with — how do I put this nicely — how absolutely crazy-awesome it is. And that account is RuneScape.
Any time the official RuneScape Twitter account sends out a notice, there’s a 50% chance that it will be some nutty non-sequitur or appropriated meme that has only the vaguest connection to the game. Lots of the posts make game references that pass me by (which is to be expected), but the tone and weirdness of it all arrests my attention frequently. That’s why I need to share it with you today so that I’m not alone in bathing in the bizarre.
I imagine that most of us have a future bucket list of MMOs that we wish would get here already. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that I was salivating over several major up-and-coming releases, including Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and WildStar. My list of most-anticipated never seemed to get smaller, it seemed.
Flash-forward to 2015 and it feels as though we’re in a different era all of the sudden. Games are still being made, to be sure, but there seems like there are fewer blockbuster-wannabes on the horizon. I’m really happy playing what we already have, although I miss that feeling of “ooh, I can’t WAIT!” that used to drive my excitement.
Even so, there are several titles in development that have my attention to varying degrees. Maybe some of these aren’t the big-budget extravaganzas I was used to and maybe a couple are long shots, but as it stands, here are 10 future MMOs I can’t wait to play.
It struck me, very recently, that a decade is a long time for MMOs.
If we’re going to count Ultima Online as the first proper MMO as we think of them – and I am – we’re almost 18 years out. Most games have not seen all of those years, and I’m not just talking about the games that launched more recently. It’s rare to find a game that’s been going for a decade, and even rarer to find one that’s been going for a decade and is still getting updates rather than just being stuck in maintenance mode.
So here’s a Perfect Ten celebrating 10 titles that have made it past that mark, even if they’ve just squeaked over the border. Sure, they’re no longer the fresh-faced darlings of the industry, but when you look at all of the great titles that have either shut down or slipped into quiet maintenance over the years, “still going” is often a pretty huge boost by itself.
A common question that I see posited around forums and Reddit is, “What MMO should I play?” If there is a more loaded question than that in this community, I haven’t heard it. What is usually being asked, by both newcomers and long-time players, is, “What MMO is right for me that I haven’t played yet?”
While I hear you and have been there, the truth is that there is no one universal answer to that question. There are just hundreds if not thousands of MMOs, big and small, out on the market, each with its own personality, feature set, and setting. Those have to be compared and matched up with the millions of people who all have their own unique preferences. It’s what makes recommending an MMO a difficult proposition.
I’m game for difficult! Today’s list won’t be “10 MMOs that I think you should play” but a rundown of how to sort through the important categories that are out there in the hopes of finding the game that’s right for you.
Are you ready to have you mind absolutely blown open? Because I have an astonishing truth to lay at your feet: While doing this job, I visit a lot of official game sites. A lot of them. Pretty much constantly.
Here’s an equally astonishing truth: Most of them are terrible. And I’m sure basically every person out there who has been forced to navigate through official MMO sites would probably agree with me. Like designers of many other websites, the designers seem to be absolutely certain that I want one thing when I go to the site when what I really want is something entirely different.
Let’s codify this, then. There are a lot of features that every game’s official site should have that very few of them actually do; today, let’s talk ten features that pretty much every official MMO site ought to have… which a depressing number of them lack, sometimes for really incomprehensible reasons.
Every MMO represents a journey, starting with an idea, progressing to a fledgling beta, launching as a production title, and growing thereafter. All of the games we know now aren’t exactly the same as they were one, two, or more years ago by virtue of change.
Thus, it’s often easy to remember that many MMOs launched without what we would consider fairly important features, particularly those specific to the game’s vision or name. I list these today not to make fun of the games (well, not just to make fun of them) but to illustrate how features are often sacrificed in the pursuit of getting a title out of the door — and how far these titles have come.
Two days ago, World of Warcraft launched the WoW Token service, which will kill the game forever. It thus joins the list of every expansion and change to the game since launch as a herald of certain doom.
Joking aside, it’s understandable that players would be a wee bit apprehensive, since this is a bold new direction for the game. Sure, people have always traded real money for in-game currency, but before it was usually under the table, shady, and generally the sort of thing that resulted in bans and accounts being stolen. Now it’s totally legitimate. Plop your credit card on the table and get some game money.
But while it’s new territory for World of Warcraft, it’s not new territory for MMOs. There are a lot of titles that have, in various ways, codified the idea that you can drop some real coin and pick up virtual coins. To the great surprise of no one, none of these games has erupted in flames as a result of it.