the daily grind

No, it’s not a slow news day; it’s just The Daily Grind, a long-running morning feature in which the Massively Overpowered writers pose gaming-related questions to the MMORPG community. [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: Do you want to see a battle royale mode in any live MMORPGs?

Literally nothing is sacred, and no video game franchise seems capable of escaping the pull of the battle royale, as my trip to a kiddie arcade proved this weekend. Not even PAC-MAN is safe.

Strange to me, however, is that so few existing MMORPGs have sidled up to the subgenre. We see MOBAs and shooters tacking it on left and right, and yeah, games like Maverick are working on bridging the genres, but nothing in existing MMOs. It’s weird, right? It seems like it would be super easy to just whip up a new battle royale battleground or arena in MMOs with PvP sidegames. They’re made for this sort of enclosed PvP minigame.

Battle royale does nothing for me, but dang, it’d be nice to see some MMOs get a cut of that easy money, which I’m sure they’d reinvest back into the RPG part of the game. Right, guys? Guys??

Do you want to see battle royale in any live MMORPGs? Which one might best be suited for it?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Are you an impulse buyer in MMO cash shops?

During last week’s podcast, Justin and I were discussing MMOs that seem to make it hard for us to give them money, which led us to talk about a cash shop tactic that drives me nuts: limited-availability items. I understand why MMOs put these types of items in the cash shop; as MOP reader TomTurtle noted, in Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet’s “limited availability tactic works better for impulse purchases” because “a good number of players make purchases that they probably wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

I know he’s right. But I am so not one of those people! As I was saying, I am a lister. I made endless lists of things I want to buy and do, and I let them stew a while before acting on them. I try to avoid impulse anything, and I have a system and a hard budget so that I can plan everything to avoid waste and regret. Guild Wars 2’s system of rotating things in and out of the store to try to get me to buy them just in case doesn’t work for or on me.

So because I cannot plan very well for Guild Wars 2’s sales and (more specifically) which costumes will be available at any given time), I spend far less on the game than I otherwise would. If the thing I want isn’t for sale, I’m not gonna just buy something else, and I’m not gonna buy something I didn’t plan on either. I guess enough impulse buyers make up for my particular type that ArenaNet doesn’t care, but it’s still annoying to me.

Are you an impulse buyer when it comes to MMORPG cash shops? Or do you plan your purchases? And what’s your stance on limited-availability items in cash shops?

Read more

The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMO social hangout?

There was always something happening in Pocket D in City of Heroes. You can expect to see people talking it up in Deep Space Nine in Star Trek Online. There are swarms of people hanging out in Ul’dah in Final Fantasy XIV. For various reasons, every MMO has its social hubs, places where players choose to congregate in numbers for roleplaying, talking, or otherwise just hanging out.

All of these hubs are not created equal. Sure, the fleet starbases filled this purpose in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but they were always kind of gray little nothings that didn’t have a heck of a lot of character. By contrast, I always liked Jeuno, which was the main hangout spot for a long time in Final Fantasy XI; the look of the city really worked for me. So what about you, dear readers? What’s your favorite MMO social hangout? Is it still a busy place now, or was it more from the early days of the game? And is it from your game of choice, or was it just a place to congregate that you really liked regardless of your overall playtime?

Read more

The Daily Grind: What are your summer MMO goals?

Now that most schools are out and the heat has begun in earnest in the northern hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to retreat into sunless rooms and pour yourself into MMORPGs. It’s also the perfect time to get stuff done and accomplish everything that’s been stacking up on your gaming backlog.

Getting everything ready for Battle for Azeroth is a high priority for me, although I’m pretty much ready right now. Past that, I’d love to get through Star Trek Online’s newest expansion, enjoy my weekly DDO group nights, and find my way out of Northern Mirkwood in Lord of the Rings Online. There aren’t any summer festivals that are particularly calling to me right now, but that may change.

So what are your summer MMO goals? What do you want to get accomplished by the end of the season?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Do you take the lead in MMO groups?

There are many different sorts of leaders in group content. There are the people who are “leaders” in the sense that they set the pace and communicate with the team, but they aren’t pushing people to do things. There are people who are writing out a long enough list of commands to create an entire novel. And there are people who think that having a little indicator of being the party leader makes you the unquestioned lord and master of the group. This is true in pretty much every game.

But today, we’re not asking about your leadership style (no one ever says “I’m an imperious dillweed who isn’t half as good as I think I am” in response to that, after all). No, today we just want to know if you are a leader. After all, if a party in Final Fantasy XI has one leader, it by definition has five followers. So do you take the lead in MMO groups? Do you gravitate in that direction? Or do you much prefer to be the one doing the following?

Read more

The Daily Grind: How much dough have you dropped on Steam in its lifetime?

VentureBeat noticed this week that it’s possible to figure out just how much money you’ve blown on video games, at least through Steam, by using Valve’s “account spend tool.” A lot of people clicking that tool are about to get a sobering reminder that they’d better stay on Valve’s good side if they don’t want thousands of dollars’ worth of games whisked away into an account black hole.

My own number… well, let’s just say that it’s not nearly as bad as I was fearing. I’ve spent far more money on World of Warcraft than I’ve spent on Steam. But that’s probably because most MMORPGs I’ve paid into for so many years aren’t there, and most of what I do buy on Steam is deeply on sale. And my husband and I have our accounts linked too, so we don’t double buy much. I escaped easy – less than the VentureBeat writer!

How about you? How much dough have you dropped on Steam in its lifetime? Does the number give you pause about just how inured to digital distribution we’ve all become?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Do you carry a torch for any MMOs that were killed in development?

Maybe I’m alone on this, but the more I examine MMO history, the more it troubles me how many potentially great games never even got a chance to launch. There have been so many promising titles over the years that, for various reasons, were killed off in development prior to release.

I would have absolutely loved to have seen what Project Copernicus would have become, especially with the talent behind it. It kills me that I’ll never be able to play Ultima X Odyssey. And let’s face it, Privateer Online might have actually delivered the satisfying space experience that Star Citizen’s been promising for years now.

Do you carry a torch for any unreleased MMOs that met an early end in the development phase? What do you imagine might have happened if those games launched?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Do you prefer ‘work’ simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds?

In the comments of my piece on Raph Koster’s book last week, a commenter brought up the idea that mimicking the real world in MMOs was a “sad” sort of “obsession” – why would we want to work in a video game in our spare time, he was essentially asking, when we could do something fresh and creative with our video game spaces instead?

I took a stab at answering the question, supposing that just because we can theoretically do a job in real life doesn’t mean we are realistically or physically able to do it, and exploration of the unreachable can be fun. A post on the Psychology of Video Games blog answers it even better: Author Jamie Madigan writes that games like Farming Simulator 17 and Euro Truck Simulator do so well precisely because people like to explore those types of jobs in a low-stress, who-cares-if-I-run-my-semi-off-the-virtual-autobahn environment. “These games remove the worst of the uncertainty, helplessness, ambiguity, and consequences for failure that come with those real world jobs and turn them into game systems that are interesting and fun to interact with,” he argues. “They give players clear goals, unambiguous feedback, winnable challenges, and predictable rewards. All things that most jobs sadly don’t consistently provide.”

That certainly explains it: I really hate thinking about money in real life, but I love playing around in MMO economies where my market mistakes simply don’t matter.

How about you? Do you prefer simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds? Or something in between? And is there an activity that you love in MMOs but hate in the real world?

Read more

The Daily Grind: What’s your biggest ever MMO splurge?

Ever since Trove launched its superhero-themed expansion Heroes, I’ve been hemming and hawing over buying the big mama upgrade package for the Vanguardian and the gobs upon gobs of currency that comes with it. You guys, I want it, but I have such guilt over spending that much dough on a single class and the costume fluff I’d probably buy with the rest of it. For the same stack of cash, I could buy five or ten whole games on Steam.

It’s silly. I’ve paid way more for dumber things; ask me how much I paid to move a bunch of toons across accounts in Star Wars Galaxies back in the day when that kind of cash was far dearer to me. So I should just get it while the fam is still into the game. And yet… I keep stalling.

How about you? What MMO have you splurged on lately, and what’s the biggest MMO splurge you’ve ever made?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Do you play MMOs with expiration dates?

It’s not a new phenomenon, because I recall seeing it back in Final Fantasy XI, someone saying proudly that he was happy to be with the current linkshell… until World of Warcraft launched, then he would leave. That isn’t me recounting; that was exactly what he said at the time. He was playing the game, but he was literally as committed as it took for him to keep playing until something else launched.

This hasn’t gone anywhere, either. I see people loudly saying that they’re only playing a game until something else launches. “Oh, I’m in Elite Dangerous until Star Citizen is out.” “I’m just playing Guild Wars 2 until Crowfall launches.” You get the idea.

This has never made a whole lot of sense to me. Playing an endless game with a self-imposed end date just strikes me as weird. It clearly strikes a lot of other people as perfectly normal, though, and perhaps for a lot of people it is. So what about you, dear readers? Do you play MMOs with expiration dates? Do you already plan to leave but want to play an MMO until then just the same?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Which MMO’s music brings back all the feels?

One of the reasons that I love and listen to MMO music so much — other than it rocks, obviously — is that it has this incredible power to trigger nostalgia and latent memories of time spent in-game.

It’s amazing: I might have been away from a game for years or haven’t even thought about it since it went offline ages ago, but the second I hear the main theme or an iconic track, it is like I never left. Occasionally I marinate in City of Heroes’ score or the vanilla World of Warcraft soundtrack just to be transported back to around 2004.

Which MMO soundtrack brings back all the feels for you? Is there a particular theme that makes you close your eyes and gives you goosebumps as you are transported back in time?

Read more

The Daily Grind: Does teaching toxic MMO gamers what they did wrong actually help?

As RPS reported this week, Valve has taken the relatively unusual step of making your Dota 2 and CSGO report cards semi-public – that is, players can see reports made against their accounts, and the rationales given, even if Valve took no action on them. The author was bemused to find that he’d been reported for “intentional feeding” when in fact, he just sucked that match. Hey, it happens.

But I wonder whether the reports are useful to actual toxic players who’ve been actioned to teach them where they went wrong; it’s certainly an idea League of Legends clung to for years. MOP reader TomTurtle recently suggested something similar in terms of forum moderation too. “I’d like to see how viable it’d be to have moderators give an infractor a chance to edit their post to be constructive in an attempt to have them learn why their initial language was against the rules” in the service of “informing players why they were infracted in the first place,” he wrote to us.

Even if we agree that moderators’ and gamemasters’ jobs should include not just protecting the community from toxicity but actually attempting to – as Raph Koster puts it in his new book – “reform bad apples,” I wonder whether it’s even worth the trouble, never mind the expense. Does knowing what they did wrong actually help toxic players become less toxic? Or does it just cause them to double down to save face? Is the industry just wasting time and money trying to reform players who aren’t just poorly socialized or clueless but willfully destructive?

Read more

The Daily Grind: What obligations do studios have to provide a griefing-free MMO environment?

There’s some interesting stuff to be unpacked in a recent analysis of Conan Exiles that characterizes it as replete with griefing, racism, sexism, and general unmoderated player garbage. Equally interesting is the official response from Funcom, which is essentially “this isn’t an MMO so we’re under no obligations to moderate this stuff.” You can read that as any mixture of “we don’t want to hire moderation staff” and “we want money more than we want players to be happy” as you desire.

It’s true that Conan Exiles isn’t a full MMORPG. It’s also true that there are official servers with Funcom’s name on them, which means that there’s a legitimacy there. And it raises the interesting question of what obligations studios have to the players in this particular environment.

What qualifies as “griefing” can have a wide scope and cover a lot of things, and some of that is part of the game at its core; after all, there’s plenty of griefing behavior beyond PvP that makes a game like EVE Online what it is. And that’s not even counting servers that aren’t officially run by the development team. So what obligations do studios have to provide a griefing-free MMO environment? Does it apply only to official servers? Only to MMORPGs? Only to sufficiently large servers? When is moderation no longer the problem of the game’s owners?

Read more

1 2 3 4 5 99