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Culture

The Daily Grind: Have you made any friends via groupfinder mechanics?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Dungeons

EverQuest II group builder
Raid finders, dungeon finders, and various LFG mechanics are becoming a modern MMO staple, but apart from throwing together five or six strangers and hustling them through a piece of content, they don't strike me as being particularly social.

I do use them to clear content I otherwise can't do, of course, but whenever I've attempted small talk I've been met with indifference. On one occasion I even got some outright hostility! "Less talking, more DPS," was the family-friendly gist of it.

What about you, Massively readers? Have you made any MMO friends via group finder mechanics, or are they simply a means to an end?

[Image source: EQ2Wire]

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

One Shots: Moons over Bajor

Screenshots, EverQuest II, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

STO
Outer space: It looks cool whether it's in color or black and white. Case in point? Check out both varieties of today's headlining screenshot, submitted by reader Chris.

"Here is the deep space science vessel USS Aurora passing over one of the moons of Bajor in Star Trek Online," Chris writes.

Personally, I think the light and dark contrast looks so much cooler in black and white. That's of small consolation to the crew of the Aurora who went blind sailing directly into the sun, but hopefully their families will find some solace in my admiration.

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The Daily Grind: Have games replaced movies?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion

Batman wallpaper
A friend and I were talking about The Last of Us film adaptation recently, and his indifference to the project in spite of being a huge fan of the game raised an interesting question. He basically said that he doesn't look forward to movies anymore, because MMOs and games in general have become his preferred entertainment medium.

I pretty much agreed, which was startling because both of us are thirtysomethings who grew up idolizing films and filmmakers from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Now, though, if it's not a Batman flick or a fantastical HBO series, I'll get around to it whenever, if at all. There are just too many great games to explore!

What about you Massively readers? Have games or MMOs replaced movies and television for you?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Free for All: Why developers need to stop apologizing

Culture, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Free for All, Miscellaneous

RuneScape screenshot
Remember the old saying "confidence is attractive"? Well, it is. It's possible that we've all been the victim of a confident person at one time or another, whether we're buying that extra add-on for our cable package or "investing" money into a Kickstarter. This is exactly why an MMO developer needs to be confident and keep the apologizing to a minimum.

Apologies come in many different forms. Over the course of our lives, we spend a lot of time giving and receiving apologies. It's not as sinister as it sounds; saying "sorry" helps cut down on confrontation and can even help to form new relationships. Unfortunately it's also very easy to apologize too much. In this age of indie development and crowd-funding, developers need to be aware of when they are saying sorry too much, and players need to watch out for overly apologetic people.

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The Daily Grind: What kind of MMO are you looking for?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

TSW
Word of mouth is one of the strongest influencing factors for me trying out an MMO or returning to one. When I see friends having a good time and saying very good things about the game, then I'm much more tempted to load it up to see if it will click with me.

I've noticed that every so often in our comments someone will be looking for a specific type of MMO and will be soliciting recommendations for that. I thought that today we could help each other out: If you're looking for a new or specific type of MMO to play, then put down what you're looking for in the comments. If you can help one of your fellow gamers out with a first-hand testimony, then please do.

What kind of MMO are you looking for?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Eerie comparisons between MMOs and real life surface

World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Culture, MMO Industry, Second Life, Miscellaneous

We all joke about how unrealistic MMOs are to our mundane, tax-filled lives, but Redcentric did a little digging to compare how virtual worlds and the real one stack up in various ways. Some of the results proved astounding.

With World of Warcraft, Redcentric noted that the population in both the game and the US military have about the same percentage of males (84% to 83%), while EVE Online's male population (96%) is more similar to that of the astronaut crowd (90%). The agency also noted how Second Life has 10 real-world embassies in it and that a previous ban of real-money trading in the game caused a very real financial crisis for a bank that wiped out $750,000.

So how do these three titles compare to real-world cities in regards to population? World of Warcraft at its peak was close to Moscow's population (11.5 million), while Second Life almost hit the levels of San Fransisco (825K) and EVE Online barely surpassed Edinburgh's 495,000.

The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best soundtrack?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Music

GW
As the resident MMO music nut here at Massively (but not the only one, oh no), I spend probably more time than is healthy listening through soundtracks and hunting down pieces of music that ears have not heard in years.

I've got my favorites: The Guild Wars and World of Warcraft albums are a no-brainer, but I'm equally partial to Runes of Magic and Lineage II as well. If I have to pick a "best" out of the lot, my brain shuts down, I panic, and I grab the first Hello Kitty Online folder I see.

So I'll leave it up to you all: Which MMO has the best soundtrack?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Daily Grind: Does griefing in MMOs reflect a sinister personality?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Great costume.
A recent psychology paper picked up by Slate suggests that maybe there's more to bad behavior on the internet than previously thought. Researchers asked study participants to evaluate what they found most fun about commenting on the internet, then gave those same participants a personality test to determine their levels of sadism, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism -- the "dark tetrad" of antisocial personality traits. (One of the agree/disagree statements on the personality exam? "I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.") The researchers found a significant correlation between those who flagged as sadists and those who claimed to enjoy trolling and expressed "sadistic glee at the distress of others."

While the study focused on the 5% of participants who cause comment moderators the most grief on the internet, over here in MMOland I'm wondering whether this study would map equally well to griefers in video games since we might define griefing in a virtual world the same way: causing someone distress because it's pleasurable for the griefer. That guy who ganks your lowbie and corpse camps you for an hour might not be so socially well-adjusted in the real world after all, in spite of what griefer-apologists have been claiming all these years. What do you folks think? Does griefing in MMOs reflect a sinister personality?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Daily Grind: Have you created any pro-quality MMO fan content?

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Music, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen Retaliator concept art
I spent part of the weekend listening to Star Citizen's blowaway-badass unofficial soundtrack. It's unofficial because award-winning composer Pedro Camacho has been tapped to score Cloud Imperium's space sim sandbox opus for realz. Fortunately, though, that hasn't stopped an enterprising group of musicians from creating their own pro-quality digital album and releasing it for free on the SC forums.

What about you, Massively readers? Have you created any noteworthy fan content for your favorite game?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

EVE Evolved: What to expect from EVE Fanfest 2014

Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), World of Darkness, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content

EVE Evolved title image
Almost 10 years ago, EVE Online developer CCP Games started a new tradition with the first ever annual EVE Fanfest. The event started out as a largely informal gathering in a tiny venue that allowed players and developers to mingle on a more personal level, but it's now grown into something massive. Over a thousand players now make the annual pilgrimage to EVE Online's birthplace in Reykjavik, Iceland, to hear what the future holds for their favourite MMO. For many, the event is also a social gathering, a chance to swap stories with other players, and a rare opportunity to meet the corpmates they fly with every day in the virtual galaxy of New Eden.

The Fanfest weekend is typically a packed schedule of panels, talks, roundtable discussions with developers, and keynote speeches revealing the future of the game. While the event is understandably focused on EVE Online, it's recently expanded to cover aspects of DUST 514, the latest goings-on with World of Darkness, and even CCP's new virtual reality dogfighter EVE Valkyrie. CCP has announced that this year's event will see a monument to the EVE playerbase unveiled in Reykjavik Harbor as well as the first reveal of EVE's summer expansion, but what else can we hope to glean from this year's event at the start of May?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the EVE Fanfest announcement and speculate on what we might expect to hear from this year's event. Will this be the year that World of Darkness gets some serious news? And what's new for DUST 514?

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Free for All: Five reasons to continue loving MMORPGs

Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMORPG

RuneScape screenshot
It's been all gloomy around here lately, hasn't it? Well there's a good reason for that, as you might know. Luckily I have survived the cuts that affected much of the AOL Tech network, although that means that Rise and Shiny and MMObility, my two other regular columns, will be consolidated into this one. While it might seem like less work for me, in actuality it means that I have less room to tell you, fair reader, about all of the fantastic MMOs that continue to come out.

Yes, I said continue to come out. It's easy to become a Seymour ("I hate my interests!") in these days of non-stop hype, but the truth is that the MMO genre has continuously pumped out content for many, many years and will keep doing so for some time. So to celebrate the fact that three of my columns are now coming to you in one megacolumn, I thought it'd be fun to remind ourselves just why we enjoy this hobby.

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One Shots: Off the Grid

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Vindictus, Miscellaneous

AO
As a former Anarchy Online player, I was always curious what the Grid looked like for the Fixer class, but I never was so curious that I rolled one up. Fortunately, reader Azzura was able to satisfy my curiosity this week with this awesome-looking structure.

"This is one of my favorite screenies I have, inside the Grid," he submitted. "You would click a machine and get digitized in to this area filled with exits to all over the game. Funcom seems to like this method of travel as you can tell by popping into Agartha in The Secret World.

We have sights and wonders the likes of which will make your ocular cavities gush forward in unabashed emotion after the break. Frankly, I wouldn't risk it; your eyes might not be able to take the strain.

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Twitch Plays Pokémon... beats Pokémon

Culture, News Items, Browser, Miscellaneous

The pokiest of all men.
When is a single-player game an MMO? When you hook it up to a chat parser and let everyone fight for controls, much like wrestling with five other people to play a single-player game. Twitch Plays Pokémon has garnered a great deal of attention based on its quirky premise and execution, but all good things must come to an end. After 16 days of play, the game has finally concluded with victory for the multitudes.

The channel is currently counting down to something happening on Sunday morning. Will it be a restart? Another Pokémon title? An attempt to use a similar premise on another game? No one knows. (Most theories involve a restart or the next generation of Pokémon titles, though.) You can keep an eye on the page to see what happens next, or you can just enjoy one of the strangest stories of turning a single-player game into a multiplayer online one... even if it was just for half a month.

The Daily Grind: What's your ideal small group size for instances?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

I love hanging out with friends in-game, especially when we get enough of us on to go run a dungeon or two. However, I've noticed that the standard small group size in MMOs isn't exactly "standard;" it fluctuates from four to six depending on the game in queston.

Four has the benefit of assembling a group easier and faster, although it perhaps makes it more difficult to slot all of the needed roles. On the other hand, six might be too many depending on how few folks log in that evening. But I'm not going to Goldilocks you folks by saying that five is "just right." The truth is, I don't know what I prefer in a small group size. Flexibility, I guess.

So what's your ideal small group size for instances? Would you be open to MMOs boasting, say, a three-person or seven-person small group?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Storyboard: Six things people (falsely) believe about roleplaying

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

What a charming long road it's been.
Roleplaying is one of those things that you know a lot about if you've done it and very little about if you haven't. That's fine; it's not as if you need to know the fine details of PvP balance if you never PvP. But there are tons of gaping holes in people's conception of what roleplaying actually entails.

So what do these people use to fill in the blanks? The horror stories. The nonsense. The garbage. A bunch of things that have no real resemblance to this important portion of our hobby.

All you can do to fight ignorance, of course, is provide information. So let's go ahead and look at some of the most common misconceptions I've seen about roleplaying and what the reality is behind the misconceptions. If you already know this, feel free to just pass this around to your non-roleplaying friends and family. Or just nod vigorously all the way through.

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