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: Did BlizzCon deliver on your expectations?

It’s not exactly a stretch to say that Blizzard Entertainment casts a long shadow over the field of online gaming. World of Warcraft remains an absolute juggernaut of the MMO field despite its recent history of shedding subscriptions with zeal. Hearthstone seems to be everyone’s favorite as-long-as-I-have-five-minutes card game. Overwatch has the interest of many people who otherwise ignore team-based shooters; Diablo III is heir to a long legacy of not-quite-MMO item farming. Odds are that whatever your flavor of game may be, you have a Blizzard game somewhere on your hard drive.

This year’s BlizzCon addressed all of the company’s games, and that meant covering a lot of ground. Whether you were watching for Legion news, new Hearthstone cards, or more details on Heroes of the Storm, it’s probable that you caught at least bits and pieces out of the event. So did it live up to your expectations? Did it leave you excited, disappointed, or somewhere in between? Were our liveblogs awesome, or too awesome?

You don’t need to actually answer that last one.

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel about solo boss fights in MMOs?

I’ve been having a blast going through Star Wars: The Old Republic’s new expansion, soaking in all of the great story beats and locales. However, it was Knights of the Fallen Empire’s occasional (and easy) solo boss battles that got me thinking whether or not these encounters were really as engaging as group boss fights.

I would imagine that it’s more difficult for developers to design boss encounters around a single opponent, especially if that person was too specialized to pull off the damage or survivability needed. Thus, so many of these solo fights are rather tame, except for The Secret World, which has no mercy on anyone caught alone.

How do you feel about solo boss fights in MMOs?

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The Daily Grind: What are your hopes for BlizzCon 2015?

BlizzCon 2015 begins later today, and I have to admit that I’m nervous. Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm aren’t exactly my cup of summoned water, and I don’t really care about the Warcraft movie except in that it bolsters the MMO industry, but Diablo is a franchise near and dear to my heart, and I’m one of a handful of staffers at MOP who’ve played and loved World of Warcraft through its long history.

Guys, I even liked Mists of Pandaria.

But Draenor didn’t do anything for me, and I dread that Legion might suck. I want it to not suck, both as a player who’d like to go back and as an MMO writer. WoW is treated as a bellwether for the health of the western MMO industry, and I want to see WoW’s numbers going back up — and staying there — not crashing down again if Legion is lackluster.

That’s my hope for BlizzCon: Let Legion be awesome.

How about you? What are your hopes for BlizzCon? What do you want to see the most? And what do you actually expect?

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The Daily Grind: What feature do you wish MMO devs would stop implementing?

There are few things in this life that I’m sure about, but one of them is the fact that I can’t freaking stand MMO story. I wish devs would stop wasting time and money by shoehorning single-player narratives with cutscenes into multiplayer virtual worlds and instead spend time and money building tools with which players can tell their own stories. Or you know, just go make a single-player RPG and leave MMOs alone. Whichever.

I’m also sure that many of you disagree with me!

So let’s make a Daily Grind out of this. What feature do you wish MMO devs would stop implementing? Story? PvP? Crafting? Something else?

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite MMO starter zone?

A lot of love and attention is poured into beginning zones by developers. After all, these are players’ first steps into your world, so you want to make the absolute best impression possible. Plus, if an MMO ends up becoming a player’s favorite stomping ground, these early zones become nostalgia fuel for the start of a wonderful journey.

Today I’d love to hear about your favorite beginning zones. I have so many of them, from Northshire Abbey in World of Warcraft to the Shire in Lord of the Rings Online. Even WildStar has a pair of terrific newbie areas with Everstar Grove and Northern Wilds that are brimming with personality and views.

What are yours?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the healthiest living MMO?

Back in June, Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti wrote an article listing what he considered the 10 healthiest MMOs, a subject that quickly proved controversial, in part because the definition of “healthy” is so hard to pin down. “There are a lot of variables to consider,” he wrote. “I researched several angles, including player tracking services, frequency of patches, financial reports, and even how often each game pops up on blogs.”

To some people, an MMO’s health may not matter all that much: They’re going to play what they want to play right now, the future (and other people) be damned. Others worry endlessly that the game they are investing time into may not be around in a year and strongly prefer to be in a “safe” game with apparent longevity, even if it’s not necessarily their favorite game.

How much does a game’s health matter to you? How do you go about determining the health level of an online game? And what’s the healthiest living MMO?

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The Daily Grind: Do you care about spoilers or surprises in MMOs?

My friends and I were debating the merits of spoilers the other day, and I came to realize that as per usual, I was the only person in the group who didn’t care about being spoiled.

In my opinion, surprise is overrated when it comes to entertainment because if you’re playing a game with quality mechanics or a game with a story that you connect with emotionally on some level, it’s still going to be a game with quality mechanics or an emotionally involving game regardless of whether it’s the first or the 51st time that you’ve played it. If the game in question relies chiefly on a narrative twist, though, it’s a one-trick pony and probably not worth revisiting.

Which is why I always scratch my head when people get all crazy about avoiding spoilers. What about you MOP readers? Do you care about spoilers or being surprised when it comes to your games or other entertainment? If so, why?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMOs can you just not stop thinking about?

You know what game I keep thinking about playing again recently? TERA. I cannot tell you why, aside from the fact that it’s stuck in my memory since I mentioned it in a column a few days hence. There are lots of things I didn’t like about the game, but there’s something about the game’s sense of style that stays with me. It sticks in my mind for reasons I can’t adequately explain, despite the things I don’t like about it.

But I’m fairly sure we all have games like that, games that on a whole we don’t care much about that nevertheless stick in our memory. So what about you? What games hang in your memory unexpectedly, even if you don’t think the game as a whole is spectacular? Do you keep going back to them, or do you just sort of move on?

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The Daily Grind: What are you doing in-game for Halloween today?

Hey! Didn’t you know that today was Halloween? Perhaps by the subtle reminder provided by every MMO running crazy events starring zombies, jack-o-lanterns, and adorable ghosties?

Well it is. Halloween, that is. Or as The Secret World calls it, “Every day of the year.”

So what are you doing in-game for the holiday? Is it business as usual or do you have plans to dress up and go to a guild party? Are you taking advantage of the many holiday events and quests out there before they flutter away in the night?

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever been in a relationship with someone you met through MMOs?

A week ago, a Reddit user posted a casting call for a new reality show that will attempt to follow romantic relationships formed inside of MMORPGs that spill into real life.

“Have you found true love in an MMO?” reads the flyer sent to us by the production studio. “Are you having a relationship with someone you met in an online game? But haven’t yet met in the real world and are ready to take that next step? An Emmy winning production company is looking for gamer couples who want to share their story and come together for the first time IRL!”

It took about five seconds for jokes and “catfish” accusations to begin because, you know, Reddit, but even if you’re not into reality TV, it’s still a neat question.

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The Daily Grind: Will you play Worlds Adrift?

Worlds Adrift is one of those titles that gets more fascinating the more I follow it. Initially I was put off by the open PvP, but the physics-based explanation by developer Bossa Studios makes sense, so I’m fully on board the hype train at this point.

I’m really interested to see how the game’s gathering implementation turns out. It departs from the usual MMO repetition and puts the onus on player skill, which theoretically means that no two gathering actions are the same.

What about you, MOP readers? Will you play Worlds Adrift?

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The Daily Grind: Do you think Blizzard will ever make another MMO?

So Overwatch is now in closed beta, which I imagine excites some people immensely. Any Blizzard product has that effect, I’ve noticed. But when I read the news, I became a little wistful instead of jazzed, mostly because it reminded me once again that Blizzard ditched its ambitious Project Titan MMO for something safer and far less massively multiplayer.

That’s Blizzard’s right, of course, and I wouldn’t even argue strongly that it was a bad business move. Having a diverse portfolio is a smart way to keep a large studio stable. Even so, I really would love to see what the minds there could do with another MMO. Maybe it won’t happen this year, or the next, or ever, but… yeah, I would like to see it.

Do you think Blizzard will ever make another MMO? What would be the studio’s best shot if so?

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The Daily Grind: Do you prefer soloing or grouping in MMORPGs?

As we belatedly covered yesterday, the developers of upcoming indie MMO Saga of Lucimia believe that group-centric play is the solution to a problem supposedly created by the deluge of “solo-friendly” MMOs that offer “the instant gratification that the entitled hipster generation of ADD players need in order to stay subscribed.” Yikes.

Without getting into whether soloing belongs in MMORPGs — an eternal debate of its own — I want to ask you which one you, personally, prefer to do.

I tend to favor games that support both and scale well between them; City of Heroes and classic Guild Wars spring immediately to mind as being games that scaled beautifully to accommodate whatever party size. Party when my mates are on; solo or LFG when they’re not!

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