| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Opinion

The Daily Grind: Do you want adjustable difficulty levels in MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

DDO
There were a few of us sitting around the other day moaning about how a certain MMO (that will not be named because we're afraid of it just like Voldemort) was too difficult for a casual player who wanted to see the content without concern for rewards. That got us on the topic of adjustable difficulty levels, something that's quite common in most video games but not so much in MMOs.

That doesn't mean difficulty levels are absent from the online gaming space. Dungeons and Dragons Online, for example, has expanded its difficulty options for instances that allow players to set it at anything from solo all the way up to tough-as-nails elite. RIFT also implemented chronicles to allow raid-shy players a way to see these fantastic setpieces and get the story without having to join that niche community.

Do you want to see more adjustable difficulty levels in MMOs? What would that look like?

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!

Jukebox Heroes: Guild Wars Eye of the North's soundtrack

Fantasy, Guild Wars, Opinion, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Buy-to-Play

The final Guild Wars soundtrack not only took the first game out in style but instantly became one of the best of the series to date. I'm not willing to put it above Prophecies, but it's not too far behind, either. As a whole, it's a wonderful symphonic journey through new lands and new themes, and just about every track is quite listenable.

You can't deny that this is Guild Wars to its very core, as composer Jeremy Soule only adds on to the franchise's legacy rather than supplants it with a different direction. Even so, it represents a mastery that wasn't quite there in past albums. If I listened to this soundtrack without knowing its source, I would have pegged it as a major motion picture release rather than a video game with angry bears.

It was definitely a difficult score to pick a mere six examples from; I'd recommend that soundtrack enthusiasts listen through its entirety. For a Guild Wars 2 player, it's really interesting to go back and hear the early versions of tracks that Soule would later reprise for the sequel.

Continue Reading

Flameseeker Chronicles: The true nature of Guild Wars 2's Sylvari

Fantasy, Lore, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Races, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

Honey, you've got a big storm comin'.
Remember last week, when I made a comment about how neat the little touches in Guild Wars 2's Gates of Maguuma release are? Stuff like a vine poking at a waypoint in Dry Top and making it spark? Hey, it was actually kind of cute! Aww, the big fella probably doesn't know what a waypoint is. Maybe he's hungry. Those aren't for snacking on, you silly vine.

Right. Well, hide your Miracle-Gro because more vines are now spreading eastward across the waypoint network. As of this writing they've gotten as far as Lion's Arch, which as we all know hasn't seen enough trouble lately. Some of them have even fully entangled the floating waypoint doodlehoppers, growing larger in the process. So I may have been right about the snack part, but that doesn't exactly bode well. What exactly is going on?

Continue Reading

The Daily Grind: Do you tell people you're a gamer?

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

I'm not ashamed that video games are my hobby or my job, but reconciling games with the real world isn't easy. I don't volunteer details about what I do to anyone I suspect just wouldn't understand. But sometimes people ask you directly. Earlier this summer, I was in the hospital (having a baby!), and my nurses kept asking what I did for a living -- you know, just polite small talk. "I'm a journalist," I said. Few people inquire further. But one did, and I sheepishly admitted that I write about video games. "Sweet," she said, "we play consoles in my house too!" She wasn't into MMOs, but we still talked about video games for half an hour, and I felt dumb for trying to hide what I do. More than half the country plays video games, so why do we hide it?

Maybe you don't, which is what I'm asking you today. Do you tell people you're a gamer? How do you reconcile your hobby with people who still think video games are for kids or weirdos?

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!

A look at the Legend of the Condor Heroes Zero beta

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Culture, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play

LotCHZ
Age of Wushu might have a bit of competition in Perfect World's newest Wuxia-themed MMO Legend of the Condor Heroes Zero. Despite the fact that the title sounds like a bunch of random words thrown together, Steparu took a close look at the game in its current beta state to let us know what to expect.

In true Steparu style, we get a very detailed look at everything from character customization to gameplay to combat and more as shown in the videos embedded after the cut. Steparu ultimately thinks the game deserves another look in a more finished stage, but you can read more impressions over at the official review page.

Continue Reading

The Nexus Telegraph: The basics of crafting a WildStar build

Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Have I used this before?  I think I've used this before.  Please, let me know if I've used this before.
There are few things I love so much as writing a column for June 30th only to find out on the 30th that the patch I'm discussing is going live on July 1st. You know, when it's too late to change anything. I really would have been happy to have found that out before the day.

But, hey, WildStar's first patch came out, and now I've had a couple of weeks to explore it a bit. Am I happy with it? Sufficiently, yes, although I haven't yet digested it in full. For one month out from launch, I can't complain much.

Of course, that's not the first thing that I want to talk about today. I want to talk about builds. Rather than giving you the absolute best-of-the-best builds for tanking and DPS and so forth, which I can't quite do, I want to help you figure out how to make a build that works. It's a satisfyingly interactive, and there are lots of very functional options however you choose to build your character.

Continue Reading

The Daily Grind: What's your favorite Secret World deck outfit?

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

Before I get to the traditional question that powers the Daily Grind, I'd like to give a pre-emptive heads-up to any Massively newbs in the audience. Yes, it was a slow news day when this piece was published (8:00 a.m. EDT). Yes, this is pure fluff meant for fun and perhaps discussion over a cup of coffee.

With that out of the way, let's talk The Secret World. More specifically, let's talk about the game's spiffy deck-based outfits. I just finished collecting all of them on my Templar. Some of them are truly butt-ugly, but a handful of them make my character look even more badass than he actually is (which is pretty badass, don't get me wrong). Anyway, which deck outfit is your favorite?

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!

Ask Massively: Seven seriously spectacular reasons to hate clickbait

Business Models, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Hehe
Oh hi! Welcome to our clickbait article, and thanks for clicking! No really, let's talk about clickbait. Massively reader Avaera recently posed to me a question that dovetailed nicely with a few complaints I've seen in our comments. He wrote,
Does Massively make a deliberate effort to minimize the number of perceived "clickbait" opinion pieces? That is, to make sure that any controversial topics or unpopular opinions are discussed only sparingly, so that the perception and reputation of the site is kept relatively neutral? I can completely understand trying to manage a certain tone for the community; I'm just curious if that is an explicit factor in some editorial decisions.
I'll tell you, but first you have to click to find out!

Continue Reading

The Daily Grind: How much time do you spend on irritating quests?

Fantasy, Horror, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Secret World

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half doing this stupid jumping puzzle in The Secret World. It was the fifth tier of a six-tier sabotage quest in Transylvania, and I absolutely hated every minute of it! I kept at, though, inventing a few new curse words along the way, and I finally finished the quest.

What about you, Massively readers? How much time do you spend trying to complete frustrating or irritating quests?

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 Game Archaeologist: World War II Online

Historical, MMO Industry, Opinion, MMOFPS, The Game Archaeologist

ww2 online
The 1990s saw the rise of flight simulators that thrived on detailed, complicated controls and handling. Such games threw out accessibility and casual-friendliness for stark-raving realism, and a certain subset of gamers really thrived on them. I tried my hand at a couple and found myself breathing rapidly when pouring through keyboard charts and doing basic algebra just to get a plane off of the ground. Not for me, I said then.

I don't think there's ever stopped being absurdly complex video games that aim for immersion through detailed realism, even though that appeals to only the fringe of the fringe. Some people have their gaming standards set exactly that high and no lower, and some devs refuse to water down their visions just to sell more box units. For these people, Cornered Rat Software (CRS) created World War II Online, an overly ambitious MMOFPS that stumbled out of the gate in 2001 but has gamely soldiered on since then. Over a decade now an epic war has been raging for control over a continent, and it's been up to the fiercely loyal fans to keep the fight going.

Today we're going to take a look at the guts 'n' glory of this project to both praise its complexity and curse it for the same thing. If nothing else, it was a game that could only have arisen from the early landscape of 3-D MMOs, and for that it warrants our attention.

Continue Reading

The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best newbie support system?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Everybody's a new player to a particular MMO at some point, even if grizzled vets would like you to believe that they were already at the level cap when the cosmos came into being. I think it's easy to forget how complex and mystifying these games can be to a fresh set of eyes, especially when one is coming into the game long after launch.

That's why I always applaud an MMO that puts an emphasis on supporting newbies with helpful advice and even structured mentorships. Two examples come to mind: Fallen Earth has a terrific help channel that's staffed with volunteers and CMs on a regular basis, and Anarchy Online had a player advisory group that roams the beginner zones looking to help lost players.

So which MMO do you think has the best newbie support system?

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!

Dino-survival: Hands-on with The Stomping Land's early access alpha

Betas, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions

Stomping Land
Yesterday, I examined up-and-coming dinosaur-survival MMO Beasts of Prey. Today, let's look at another game in the same niche genre: The Stomping Land.

The Stomping Land isn't technically billing itself as an MMO, but it boasts a semi-permanent world. But my experience in it was nothing like the trailers shown back in May. The current game is totally different. In fact, it seems to have regressed. There's no customization, there are no berries, and no one I talked to knew how to name a tribe. It feels like a semi-permanent shooter, similar to other survival games except without a lot of the building. You either make a teepee or you don't. You make a bow or you don't. You have a dinosaur mount or... you don't. The biggest servers I saw had 24 people, meaning I was able to avoid other players very often, but the game was more fun when I encountered people -- at least people who didn't one-shot me and waltz away.

Continue Reading

Tamriel Infinium: Immersion matters in Elder Scrolls Online and every other MMO

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

Grahtwood art
I'm fully on board with all of the changes ZeniMax listed in its latest state-of-the-game update. My only concern has more to do with personal OCD issues than it does with any long-term effects on Elder Scrolls Online. See, as I mentioned in a previous piece, I love the fact that ZOS allows me to play all of the game's quest content, which is spread across three different factions, on a single character of a single faction. I hate alts, or more accurately, I hate the need for them because they pull me right out of the game world.

Oh yes, I'm going to talk about immersion, even at the risk of inviting a bunch of anti-immersion comments. I'll even define the dreaded "I" word, though of course it's pretty subjective.

Continue Reading

The Daily Grind: Is the term free-to-play intentionally misleading?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Mobile, Miscellaneous

Earlier this month, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority barred EA from advertising its mobile game Dungeon Keeper as "free-to-play." Why? Because Dungeon Keeper has a countdown timer that blocks progress in the game, a timer that can be bypassed with money. "From the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays," wrote ASA, "and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players. [...] While we understood that the average consumer would appreciate that free-to-play games were likely to contain monetization functions, we considered that they would also expect the play experience of a game described as 'free' to not be excessively restricted."

Welcome, ASA, to the MMO community's endless debate over what constitutes free-to-play! This "free-to-wait" game mechanic is nothing new to us; it pervades mobile titles as well as many MMORTS titles and indie MMOs (Glitch and Villagers and Heroes come to mind). As a gamer, I find the mechanic not so much exploitative as obnoxious, and I'd rather not see it spread. But I spy a slippery slope here. Do you think the ASA is right? Are MMOs with this mechanic (or similar mechanics) misleading consumers? Which F2P games could be legitimately F2P under the ASA's understanding of the term?

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: Finding the magic in MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

About a month ago, a Massively reader wrote to our team to ask for help on an issue many of us -- and probably many of you -- struggle with: a genre with lots of games and not enough stickiness (and patience!).
I've been around the MMO block (since EverQuest); I even dabbled in Meridian 59. And I keep seeing game articles that make me want to try or retry lots of MMOs, but between my schedule and investment in other titles already, I cannot bring myself to jump into old or new games for more than a few play sessions. There's so many to play that I just can't bring myself to settle down for a little bit to really get enough of the experience to enjoy it.

For example, I recently played Asheron's Call for a total of three hours after subbing and reading articles that compelled me to try it. But it felt foreign and clunky. I couldn't stick around to really appreciate it. I fear the same results in other games I'd like to try. Can you give me advice on shedding the urge to judge and dismiss a game if it doesn't click with me immediately? Is there a way to not be jaded or lazy with being a newbie (yet again) in older titles? Help me play more MMOs for the sake of experience and new loves!

- MMO junkie seeking help "finding the magic"
I polled the team for advice in this week's Think Tank!

Continue Reading


Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW