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Massively Overthinking: What important lessons are MMORPGs failing to impart?

MOP reader and Patron Brett has a burning question about the lessons we’re learning (and not learning) from playing MMORPGs.

“In his book Theory of Fun, Raph Koster suggests that games are really just systems of learning things in a way that we enjoy with fewer consequences. In his words, ‘That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning.’ If that’s true, then modern MMORPGs and their narratives would seem to be a pretty mixed bag of lessons – individual power can be accumulated like wealth; evil can be conquered through solo and group acts of courage; violence is a feasible solution to almost every problem; your race, nation or profession defines a lot about who you are; and accessorizing with the most expensive bag is possibly the most crucial decision to make before leaving home.

“So with so much opportunity at the moment for our real-world societies and communities to be better, I’d like to know what you think is the most important lesson or lessons that MMORPGs could be teaching us, but currently don’t? How could these games leave us wiser or more richer people for the experience?”

I’ve posed Brett’s questions to the team for the resurgence of Massively Overthinking this week.

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EVE Online is planning to weaken Force Auxiliaries

It’s just too easy for Force Auxiliaries to heal other ships right now in EVE Online. That’s the reason behind the balance proposal put forth on the official forums for a rebalancing pass. Essentially, the numbers are just too high and the counterplay options for FAX are too limited, so the plan is to reduce the numbers and see if that balances out. And they’re significant numbers, lowering healing output at all ranges while increasing capacitor costs across the board.

The estimation is that it would lead to an overall 37% reduction in potency, a significant change that seems to be warranted pending more general player feedback. To that end, feedback on the proposed change is being solicited now. One can imagine the effect this might have had on the game’s latest big conflict at UALX-3, which the community has dutifully summarized for those wondering what was lost in the latest stellar dust-up.

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DC Universe Online adds the Teen Titans storyline Judas Contract today

It’s time for a new story in DC Universe Online, and this time the game is taking a spin with one of the universe’s more popular teams with the Teen Titans. Since Cyborg is leaving the Titans to work with the Justice League full-time, there’s a hole in the Titan roster. Players of the heroic persuasion are eligible, and players of the villainous bent are sneaking in anyway… but there’s another infiltrator sent by Deathstroke, and players will need to ferret out who it might be.

The patch includes new duo content, new raids and elite raids, and a new alert as part of the overall story arc. There’s also the new Augment system in the game, replacing the old R&D system and equipping various Augments directly to your character. Check out the full patch notes to know what you’ll be diving into, and then go hang out with a bunch of teenagers.

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Perfect Ten: Endless dungeons in MMOs

Most MMO dungeons are normal songs. You start out and you have a pretty clear picture of the beginning, middle, and end; they don’t really change up much. But the endless dungeon is like improvisational jazz. Sure, there’s a beginning and often a fairly reliable end, but the space in the middle can be filled with all sorts of things. You don’t even know what’s going to be there until you’re already in the thick of it. It could be filled with creme! (Probably not, but hey, life is weird sometimes.)

Our reader Arsin asked us a while back about MMOs with endless dungeon modes of some sort, and well, we do our best to find these things out. The goal here is to have an online-only game with randomly generated content between the start and end. Arguably some of these might not fit your personal criteria, but that’s all right; there’s plenty of variety here!

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The Daily Grind: How should MMO studios handle game reboots?

Over the past several years, we have witnessed several MMOs being rebooted and relaunched, including Final Fantasy XIV, Secret World Legends, and, most recently, Defiance 2050. There are various reasons why studios would want to do this, including addressing key flaws in the original game, switching over to different business models, and benefiting from a new round of publicity and review ratings.

Looking at the above titles as case studies (and more if you can pull up examples), we see both positives and negatives of these experiences arise. Not many players are keen on starting over in MMOs after investing dozens or even hundreds of hours on their characters, and because of this, there is a heavy price to be paid if the relaunch isn’t significantly different and improved from the original.

How should MMO studios handle game reboots? What would you recommend be the steps that studios should take in handling existing accounts, upgrading the game, and starting everything all over again?

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Destiny 2 deploys Solstice of Heroes: Moments of Triumph update

Good times just might be here if Destiny 2 has anything to say about it. Today, the sci-fi shooter deployed Update 1.2.3 and the bounty of content goodness contained within.

There’s a lot here, although some players are griping at the endgame raid focus of the patch. The update contains prestige raid lairs, 6v5 quickplay in the Crucible, Iron Banner upgrades, tuning for exotic armor, additional bounties, and a ton more. Plus, starting on July 31st, the Solstice of Heroes event will unleash the new Moments of Triumph bounties. Complete enough of these bounties, and you’ll be able to earn a t-shirt, Sparrow, and emblems.

Go into depth with the developers on the July update after the break!

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s beast tribes ranked, the top ranks

The fun thing about ranking the beast tribes of Final Fantasy XIV is that before I started in on this, I actually had no idea who would wind up where. I knew there were some tribes I liked more than others, but the actual final rankings surprised even me. Mostly toward the top; some entries, like the Lupine, were always going to be low on the list. But who would have thought that the top spot would go to…

Well, you’ll have to read for that. For now, let’s just make sure you’re caught up with the bottom ranks and the middle ranks. We’ve got five tribes left to go, and so by process of elimination you no doubt have a relatively clear picture of what tribes have to be here in some order, but let’s count them down. Starting with number five, just past the break. (The other four are further past the break.)

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Final Fantasy XIV plans its next major patch for September with a crossover in August

Ready to hunt monsters in Final Fantasy XIV? Not just in general, but as part of a crossover with Monster Hunter World? You’ll get your chance starting on August 7th according to the most recent live letter, as the crossover event starts then and treats players to two versions of the trial against the great beast Rathalos. It also represents a new sort of challenge as it’s available in both normal and Extreme modes, but the former is an 8-player challenge while the latter is limited to 4 players. Of course, that also marks the arrival of the next part of Eureka, so players will have plenty to do on August 7th regardless.

Those who take part in the event will be able to earn a new mount (Rathalos himself), a new armor set, and new minions and outdoor furnishings for completion. So that’s reason enough to take part.

Of course, players who are more interested in the next part of the story and the next set of dungeons will want to hop along until September, when patch 4.4 is scheduled to release. That will contain a new trial against Suzaku, a new pair of dungeons, the conclusion of the Omega series with the Alphascape, and all of that lovely new storytelling. Check out a gallery of shots for the live letter just below, and keep your eyes peeled for more information in the coming weeks.

Update: we’ve added the new trailer for the crossover event just below.

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The Daily Grind: Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

I’ve still got hype on the brain. We’ve talked about the length of hype cycles and under-hyped MMOs. Now I want to talk about games that have actually suffered from their own hype specifically.

No Man’s Sky and WildStar pop to mind immediately for me as games we cover that were grievously wounded by hype. Both games effectively promised and teased far more features and more interesting features that they actually delivered, causing hype for the game to turn into venom post-launch. And in both cases, the game studios have made considerable effort to turn it around, but the grudges linger.

PUBG strikes me as another game that was heavily hyped last year but quickly succumbed to a prettier, cheaper, more accessible, and more polished game.

And howsabout Destiny 2? A contender, right?

Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

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Destiny 2’s upcoming patch tweaks Quickplay, Rumble, and bounties as Bungie preps for Forsaken

Destiny 2’s 1.2.3 patch (yay soothing numbers) drops on Tuesday, and if you’re thinking it may be a good time for re-entry, you’re gonna wanna know what’s in it. Several things! Quickplay is now 6v6, Rumble is back on the table, and bounties are back – and they won’t be as “gotta do them or else” as they were in their first iteration.

“The bounties returning to Destiny 2 in Update 1.2.3 are a return to most of the properties of bounties in The Taken King. They will be obtained from a variety of vendors, they will generally award XP and faction reputation (though some will offer even better rewards), and can be redeemed “in the field” to immediately claim your rewards. In Forsaken, you may also see some bounties drop in the wild. There are two new mechanics. Bounties will expire if left uncompleted, and acquiring them will cost a small amount of Glimmer. We wanted to avoid the ‘grab every bounty you see until your inventory is packed and sort them out later’ experience without constraining players to the tiny inventory they found in previous iterations of the game.”

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Battle Bards Episode 124: Old MMOs, new music

It’s a catch-all, catch-up episode for the Battle Bards as they dig through new soundtrack releases from MMORPGs that they’ve covered in the past! You may be prepared for an eclectic and enjoyable mix of music — but there is no way that you can steel yourself for the raw and heartfelt confessions that take place on this show.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 124: Old MMOs, new music (or download it) now:

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Perfect Ten: Best MMO debuts by year, 2007-2017

Continuing from my previous column, I’m going to be running through the second decade of graphical MMORPG launches and picking the best title to debut in any given year. From doing the first decade, I know that this thought exercise isn’t always fair; some years have several great contenders, while others see one mediocre one rise due to a lack of competition.

Still, it’s kind of fun to look back at MMO history and to see which game was really the best of that year. And if you ever felt sore that a particular title got overlooked, well, consider this a retroactive awards ceremony of some sort.

Let’s dive right in where we left off with 2007!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 177: ArenaNet A-bomb

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!

Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.

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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