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Opinion

The Soapbox: Better models for MMO endgame progression, part one

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

I don't think the all-bear model is sustainable, though.
Last month, my three-part Soapbox series on reasons studios should abandon raiding as the core mechanic of their MMOs produced no shortage of comments. One of the persistent refrains from the pro-raid side was, as expected, "if you're so smart, why aren't you proposing alternatives?!"

The obvious answer would be that it wasn't the point of the articles. The series was about reasons to drop raiding, after all. But it's also not as simple as "here's what games should be doing" because there are countless alternatives. Tons of alternatives. I can think of at least six off the top of my head.

So for this new series, let's consider models that don't rely upon raiding as an endgame progression model. Some of these are close cousins to endgame models found in games currently on the market, some of them are not, and none of them has been designed with fine details or lore or what-not in mind. They're drag-and-drop, as it were. The point here is explaining the multitude of options available for an MMO's endgame that don't rely upon raiding for their focus. Today's article will cover the first two of six I have in mind.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's big fanfest reveals

Fantasy, Classes, Expansions, Endgame, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

This is, what, five whole months away?  I can't wait that long!
Christmas came early for the forward-looking Final Fantasy XIV player this year. I know some people are upset at the fact that there were more revelations in the Japanese fan festival than in the ones in Vegas or London, but the timing is different. (I'd also point out that the expansion was announced in Las Vegas.) We've gone from having only a dim view of what's coming to having a pretty clear picture of what awaits through the next few month.

One of the things that awaits is, of course, endless yelling about Machinist. Because boy.

So let's start unpacking the stuff we learned from Tokyo. I say "start" because there is no way to get everything in one column, certainly not with deadlines and other considerations to take center stage. It's going to be a few months, but there's a lot to chew on just about 2.5, even if we ignore all of the expansion stuff, which I have no intention of doing.

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The Daily Grind: Can you get immersed in an accessible MMO?

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

I like Elite: Dangerous. The game's not a revelation at this point, but it's a solid space shooter that could grow into something more. My favorite thing about ED is the docking. I imagine that most people find it tedious, but personally it adds an extra layer of escapism and conjures plenty of old-school flight sim nostalgia. And, of course, it's mechanically satisfying to fly an efficient approach, squeak a big boat through the slot, and micromanage your thrusters all the way down to the landing pad.

All I do in ED is take courier missions, investigate unknown signal sources, and dock. Technically I guess I'm progressing toward a bigger bank account and thus bigger ships, but my particular gameplay experience is pretty simplistic and pretty slow-paced. Is it sandboxy? Eh, not really, but at least it doesn't feel directed, linear, or otherwise pre-planned even when I'm purposely repeating gameplay patterns. There's this sense of being a small part of a larger world, which allows ED to deliver -- somewhat paradoxically -- bite-sized chunks of deep immersion.

What about you, Massively readers? Assuming you're a fan of immersion, have you found it in accessible games or do you think it mostly stems from prolonged engagement with more feature-rich titles?

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: Do you log into games you're not currently playing?

Super-hero, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Marvel Heroes

I haven't played Marvel Heroes in about two months. Blame Elite: Dangerous, ArcheAge, and a pile of single-player games, I guess, but I just haven't been able to fit it into my rotation here lately. That said, I've logged into the game for 122 straight days, entirely because of Gazillion's penchant for giving away nifty login prizes like an Ultron pet and dozens of others.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you log into MMOs or MMO-lites for prizes even though you're not currently playing?

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: Why aren't more studios investing in post-apocalyptic MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

fallen earth
Some days it makes my heart so very sad that Fallen Earth stands virtually alone in the field of "classic" post-apocalyptic MMO settings. I love that game dearly and wish I had more time to actually play it, but I wish even more that it had a bigger studio and budget to go with its wide aspirations. I fear it is already slipping away from us.

I was among the many desperately hoping for a Fallout MMO, but it seems as though those hopes were in vain. And out of all of the Kickstarter MMOs that I see, none seems to have gone the Mad Max route. So why do you think that more studios aren't investing in (non-zombie) post-apocalyptic MMOs -- and what would you like to see in that genre?

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's Best of 2014 Awards: MMO of the Year

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards come to a close today with our 12th and final award, this one the biggun (and usually the most contentious): our MMO of the Year. To be eligible for this award, MMOs must have launched in 2014, full stop. (If you want to know what would win the staff's best-MMO-ever vote, it's Star Wars Galaxies, and now I've saved us all that discussion, and you're welcome.) All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Best MMO of 2014 is...

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The Daily Grind: What MMO do you wish you hadn't waited to try?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Marvel Heroes, Hands-On, Miscellaneous, OARPG

Marvel Heroes
Marvel Heroes is one of those MMOs (OK, pseudo-MMOs) that I reaaaaallly should have given a try a long time ago. Diablo-clone? Check! Superheroes? Check! Picking cars up and slamming them into the pavement? Check! Loot falling outta the sky? Check! When I finally gave it a spin earlier this month, I felt silly for having waited so long, but I kept telling myself it wasn't different enough from the OARPGs I already had to make it worth the download.

Plus, lookit how pretty this part of the UI is. I mean, that is color wheel gamer nirvana right there. I can't even explain how much I want to hug this tab. Happy Christmas to me; now I have a new game with a ton of content stocked up and just waiting for me.

What about you, Massively readers? What MMO are you kicking yourself for not having tried sooner?

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: Massively's MMO industry predictions for 2015

Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Miscellaneous

SWTOR
It's that time of year for looking ahead and trying to predict just what will happen in the MMO industry in the year ahead of us. Will we play it safe this year or predict all sorts of wild and crazy things that everyone can quote and laugh about next December? Magic 8 ball says yes. Go big or go home when it comes to predictions!

Join the Massively staffers for this next-to-last Think Tank of the year and share your own predictions in the comments.

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Shroud of the Avatar's Richard Garriott and Starr Long on MMO community

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Interviews, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Shroud of the Avatar

Some Assembly Required:  Garriott and Long interview shows Shroud of the Avatar wins at community
If you've been making a list of sandbox features and checking it twice, chances are you'll find many of those items in Shroud of the Avatar. And if player-generated content and a great community are near the top of that list, then this crowdfunded title might very well be the present you want to get yourself! While still under development, this sandbox has already grown exponentially from its humble beginnings of a chicken in a room to a current state that includes a bevy of features -- with more arriving like clockwork every monthly update. And plenty of those features are tools and systems that allow players to make the game a personalized experience for themselves and others.

What about Shroud of the Avatar makes it so great for player-generated content? What makes the community great? And how has Steam affected the game? I sat down with Portalarium's Richard Garriott and Starr Long to talk about the move to Steam, updates, PGC, and the amazing community that's supporting the game. These guys had so much to share that this is only part one!

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Most Anticipated for 2015 and Beyond

MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Most Anticipated MMO for 2015 and Beyond. Pretty much every MMO that isn't out yet or is planning a major content update in 2015 was eligible for this award. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Most Anticipated MMO for 2015 and Beyond is...

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The Daily Grind: Do single-player games give you a craving for MMOs?

MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Secret World

I made a dent in my Steam backlog this month, and one of the older titles that I finally got around to beating was Alan Wake. This has nothing to do with MMOs, really, except for the fact that the game's creepy atmospherics and its focus on the supernatural made me want to fire up The Secret World.

What about you, Massively readers? Do your single-player adventures ever give you a craving for a particular 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!

Leaderboard: Are you playing Elite: Dangerous this week?

Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Leaderboard, Elite: Dangerous

I'm vacationing from Massively this week, but I'm not vacationing from MMOs. Unless Elite: Dangerous isn't technically an MMO. Maybe it isn't, I dunno, because I haven't played long enough to form an opinion just yet. Anyway, Elite! Launched yesterday! Yay! Maybe after my vacation I'll manage to write something more in depth, but for now that will have to suffice.

What about you, Massively readers? Are you playing Elite this week? If so, what do you think?

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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Landmark's PvE arrives today; SOE shifts to EQ Next full-time in 2015

Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

We've waited a long time for the chance to have our faces eaten off by vicious monsters in Landmark, and now that opportunity is almost here! After a bit of delay, the infamous PvE patch is heading into our favorite sandbox today. This is seriously going to be a game-changer. Of all the patches throughout the whole year, this one is the biggest -- surpassing the August PvP update and even the original alpha launch, at least according to Creative Director Dave Georgeson. And he's not kidding! I got to check out Landmark's new mobs, linking and triggering, armors, props, and more with Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels. I didn't think it was possible to be even more excited for this patch, but I am! Can I hear a squeeeee?!

Oh, and for everyone who is waiting anxiously for EverQuest Next news, here's a tidbit from Georgeson you might enjoy:
When we get to those game mastering systems [after the start of the year] that means we are working on EQN full time. Because those are the systems we need for EQN, and that's what we're building when we're building those game mastering tools. So we're so close to transitioning the team almost entirely to EQN, and then we'll take the elements that we build for EQN and port them over into Landmark, but our focus will shift almost entirely to EQN after the new year.

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Best Update or Expansion of the Year

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Best Update or Expansion of the Year. Every patch, be it small freebie update or traditional paid expansion, was eligible for this category, as long as it released in 2014. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Best Update or Expansion of 2014 is...

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The Daily Grind: What was your best open-world PvP experience?

Culture, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

black desert
As someone who usually stands on the outside of the whole PvP scene, I'm often curious about the appeal and goings-on of fighting endlessly against other human opponents, especially in MMOs. People seem to talk highly of open world battles and epic moments, although my experience has been limited to being corpse camped on a World of Warcraft server and taking part in many confusic and hectic keep battles in Warhammer Online.

So sate my curiosity today and tell me a time when you had your best open-world PvP experience. What happened and why was that such a treasured memory?

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!

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