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Opinion

The Soapbox: In praise of SWTOR's 12X experience

Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic

It's taken 12 times the normal XP rate, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally my main MMO (at least for another week or so). Well, OK, it's also taken a series of spectacularly ill-considered decisions by XLGAMES and Trion, but that's a rant for another day.

I've been playing SWTOR quite a lot over the past month since BioWare's subscriber-only pre-expansion boost has cut all of the godawful grindpark garbage right out of a galaxy far, far away. Too bad it's just a temporary fix, though -- here's hoping that the devs give veterans the option of keeping the XP bonus long after December 1st.

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The Daily Grind: Do special currencies in MMOs annoy you?

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

A reader discussion in a past Guild Wars 2 update article made me realize, once again, how much I loathe special event currencies. You know the type: It's patch day, and here's an event, and if you want the rewards, you have to grind a shiny new currency to get them! Never mind that you already have a pile of gold (and in Guild Wars 2's case, karma and gems) earned through your adventures up until now; those credits are mysteriously useless at the new reward vendors, who accept only some new currency.

Commenters rightly pointed out that if modern devs did what old timey devs did, players would just rush in and buy everything on day one and not do the grind. But so what? Why should it bother us that people get to actually use the currency they've already earned and banked? That's the whole point of gathering money in MMOs in the first place. And if there's so much existing currency in the world that everyone could buy everything without additional grind, that's the studio's problem for providing insufficient sinks and a poor economy in the first place, not ours. In fact, special events themselves could be an awesome gold sink! Instead, event currencies signal to players that their existing achievements and savings matter not at all and that the event isn't really going to be much fun on its own merits.

What do you think? Are you also sick of special currencies in MMOs? What would you prefer to see in their stead?

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 Think Tank: Assessing Draenor's launch

World of Warcraft, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor launch has come and gone, driven by the chaos we've come to expect from this year's MMO launches. Was it a bad launch... or the baddest launch ever?! In today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers, as players or industry watchers, how the launch and Blizzard's response stacked up next to those of 2014's other offerings.

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The Daily Grind: Would you play a historical MMORPG?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

One of these days I'd like to play a historical MMORPG with triple-A production values. Maybe something set in the American old west, or the Renaissance, or maybe even something prehistoric (and preferably sandboxy). Some of gaming's most successful franchises have certainly mined historical periods with great success, whether we're talking about Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, or Red Dead Redemption.

Why not MMORPGs, then? Why does almost every title have to be fantasy or sci-fi? What about you, Massively readers? Would you play a a game without wizards or ray-guns? Would you play a historical MMORPG?

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!

Leaderboard: Which aspect of ArcheAge needs immediate attention?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Leaderboard

It may be stating the obvious at this point, but ArcheAge has had a rough couple of weeks. First there was the Auroria patch and the resulting downtime fiasco that prompted a Trion apology. Then there was the thunderstruck tree market meltdown that was triggered by a new cash shop item, followed by this week's exploit-related shutdown of the very same cash shop.

Clearly XLGAMES and Trion have a lot of work to do, but I'm betting that the community has differing opinions on what that work should entail. In this week's Leaderboard, tell us what aspect of ArcheAge needs immediate attention. As always, the poll's just past the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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The Daily Grind: Are you still playing WildStar?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wildstar
My name is Justin, and I have a confession: I still play WildStar. I even... like it. I know! Stop spitting on me already!

It seems as though 2014 is the year of new games getting tarred and feathered (usually justly) after their much-anticipated releases, and WildStar is no different. I won't deny that the studio has a lot of work to be done on the game, but my feelings for the game haven't changed. I still really dig this weird sci-fi romp, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Maybe it's the housing system (the best I've seen, period), the memorable world, the quirky humor, or the variety of activities, but I haven't grown bored of it yet.

Are you still playing WildStar? Have you been hesitant to say so after reading so much negativity around the internet? Speak up and let me know that I'm not alone!

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!

Massively Speaking Episode 322: WarStar

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

wow
Call it the Week of Expansions. This past week we saw three major expansions release as well as huge news swirling around one of this year's newest MMOs. It's almost too much discussion to cram into a mere hour, but somehow Justin and Bree will make it fit. Justin will probably sit on it to smoosh it down while Bree latches it shut.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
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Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: How to tell a great story in an MMO

Fantasy, Lore, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

rift
My character still hasn't (ahem) ascended to Nightmare Tide levels yet, so today's RIFT story will instead be about Storm Legion. I had been working my way through the Eastern Holdings in Brevane when I encountered a quest chain that floored me with brilliant storytelling that showed exactly how MMOs can utilize this platform to tell tales in ways that other mediums cannot. It is audacious, bold, and incredibly dark, especially for RIFT. And I cannot praise it enough, especially in light of long-held claims that RIFT is often weak on story.

I have two caveats before we go through what made this quest chain so great. First, I'm going to spoil it from start to finish, so if you haven't played it and want to remain innocent, just bookmark this column to read later on. Second, there are some truly edgy themes in this recap. Got it? Let's go!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR's 3.0 combat

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR 3.0 combat
BioWare has finally begun revealing the specifics of the Discipline system landing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion. We have seen the Bounty Hunter, Trooper, Inquisitor, and Consular paths. We have seen in detail how the Discipline system changes the leveling process in SWTOR. We've seen that tanks become tanky faster; we've seen that healers gain healing abilities earlier in the leveling process. A primary goal of the new system has been to ensure advanced classes learn role-specific abilities earlier without worrying about those abilities being exploited by hybridization.

With characters now able to level to 60, BioWare gave each advanced class at least one new ability. For instance, Deception Assassins gain Ball Lightning, a 10-meter ranged ability that inflicts 2652 to 2780 damage and costs 32 Force. Many of the new abilities were specifically designed to make your character feel more powerful, which makes sense, right? You should feel that your character is growing with each level. But do these changes and additions actually make you feel more powerful, or are they just unnecessary impedences to the current priority flow or rotation?

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The Daily Grind: Do you read gaming-related novels?

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

Stewart Butterfield
No, not the novels posted in our comments. Actual novels. Literary and pulp fiction!

Gamasutra recently ran an article chronicling an author's attempt to publish and market a book aimed squarely at gamers. The writer ran into difficulties, however, because of the publishing industry's insistence that "gamers don't read books." He got his book published, but when marketing fell to him, he couldn't convince gaming outlets to cover it, and even though reviews were positive, sales were poor.

Major MMOs like The Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic all released lore-oriented novels, but my suspicion is that such books are made to sell games, not to sell books. What do you think -- do you actually buy and read gaming-related novels?

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 Nexus Telegraph: Is WildStar's raid size change too late?

Sci-Fi, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, Dungeons, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

You cannot play potential.  You cannot enjoy what could be fun.  You can only play the game that there is, and a pile of wasted potential does not make a game worth caring about.
Very few people are going to contest that scaling WildStar's biggest raid down to 20 people is a good move. Some will, yes, but when 400 players are working on content five months after release, that's a good sign that it's not doing the most basic job of getting people to play it. Bringing Datascape's size down is an indisputable good thing.

The question, of course, isn't about that. It's about whether it's too small a change too late in the game.

Make no mistake, this is a change that is significant enough to merit an announcement, but it's one that just missed the big patch we finally received not too long ago. (My initial reaction to that is middling, for the record, neither bad nor really a break from form or something that justifies its long delay.) I would be surprised if we see this change actually live in the game before next year. And it's a change of more conceptual significance than anything else because unless someone very quietly managed to clear Datascape without telling anyone, the end of that raid has gone unseen.

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite MMO ship?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

I finally got my ArcheAge fishing boat over the weekend, and now I'm setting my sights on bigger and better ship designs. And I'm doing a lot of fishing, naturally!

I'm kinda partial to the Lutesong Junk, but then again the Eznan Cutter is pretty badass, too. What do you think -- what's your favorite in-game ship in ArcheAge or any other MMO?

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!

Lost Continent: Lucking into a breezy ArcheAge bungalow

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing, Lost Continent

My ArcheAge avatar is pretty fortunate. Last Friday night he became the proud owner of a breezy bungalow, which is that big bamboo marine house that you've probably seen in screenshots, videos, and the like.

The bungalow's blueprint costs a whopping 300 gilda stars -- i.e., no small amount for a guildless guy like me who mostly duos his way through Haranya. I'd managed to save 250 of the character-bound gilda by doing various dailies over the past several weeks, but I had a few days to go before I'd finally be able to afford the plans. How did I come up with the balance ahead of schedule, not to mention the boat load of materials required to actually build the house? That's an interesting story, and it's another example of how ArcheAge's mechanics are a necessary breath of fresh air in a stale genre.

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The Daily Grind: Should EVE Online add manual flight controls?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

The Daily Grind title image
On Friday, developer CCP Games stunned us with the news that EVE Online will be adding manual flight controls in December's Rhea update. Gamers have been asking for twitch controls since EVE launched in 2003, but the idea has always been shot down as infeasible because it would put the server under extremely heavy load. CCP mentioned its interest in twitch controls during Fanfest 2013, and I speculated on a possible server-friendly implementation in an EVE Evolved article shortly after, but the fact that the feature is about to be released still comes as a huge surprise.

The new controls will be optional and quite limited. Ships will be able to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise and pitch their ships up vertically up and down, but we won't be able to do loops or rolls like in a dogfighting game. Developers also want to add joystick support soon, but so far there are no plans to add manually targeted ship weapons. Many players are excited for the new controls, and some of them are already asking for further features like the ability to lock the camera behind their ships for a more hands-on flight experience.

The announcement has prompted debate in the EVE Online community, and not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. Some have complained that twitch controls don't suit EVE as the ships are supposed to be massive starships with full crews rather than single-pilot fighter craft. There's also some cynicism over whether the feature is only being worked on now due to the growing popularity of Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous. EVE could be positioning itself as a viable alternative for any players who are disappointed with the new space games, a strategy that has worked in the past to help it absorb players from games like Earth & Beyond and Star Wars Galaxies.

What do you think? Should EVE add manual flight controls, and is this an attempt to appeal to the mass market?

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!

Perfect Ten: Lessons I've learned from working at Massively

Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

wildstar
In spring of 2010, I was asked to come on board Massively primarily as a feature writer who would also do a little news on the side. This opportunity was incredible since I was already blogging multiple times a day about online gaming, so why not be a part of the professional side of writing?

Over four years and nearly two million words written since, I've witnessed a lot here at Massively. I've gotten to interview some big industry names, been allowed to take on fun pet projects, gone to conventions as a member of the press corps, and made a lot of good friends. I've also learned several lessons that have helped me to grow as a person and a writer, and I thought I'd jot a few of those down for one of these lists.

Fun Perfect Ten factoid: When I proposed this column to the editors, I had done extensive research on lists that other sites had done (as to not cover similar territory) and drew up about 40 new topic ideas. In retrospect, it might have been overkill. I could have just written in an email, "People like lists."

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The Soapbox: In praise of SWTOR's 12X experience

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