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Opinion

The Daily Grind: Would you play an all-endgame MMO?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

I'm hard on MMOs with endgames, especially endgames that focus on a single repetitive activity. The problem isn't so much what that activity is but that MMOs spend so much time making you do something else before you can get to that activity -- instead of just letting you just do that presumably ideal and fun activity from the start. That's prompted some clever players to wonder, why not just make an all-endgame -- an all-raiding -- MMO?

To be clear, I'm not talking about sandboxes or persistent PvP games that can be perceived as entirely endgame. I'm talking about a classic themepark experience with the levels and questing ripped out -- just endgame dungeons and raids, pure PvE group challenge, from the moment you log in to the moment you log out. If raiding really is about the challenge and the thrill of big group PvE, such a game would be welcomed by hardcore raiders... right?

And more importantly: Would you play it?

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: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

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

DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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The Daily Grind: Do you spend time on facial customization?

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

ArcheAge has a lot of options for avatar facial customization. This is cool, but I wonder how many people actually use it.

My guess is that few players look at their avatar's face after character creation, and fewer still notice the fine details on other avatar faces. Maybe it's just me, though. How about it, Massively readers? Do you spend any time on facial customization in the MMOs that offer it?

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 like having NPCs fight alongside you?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
The news that some garrison NPC followers will be able to become your bodyguards and fight alongside you is the first Warlords of Draenor information that's interested me at all. I love such systems in other games, such as companions in Star Wars: The Old Republic and Neverwinter.

It's probably the same reason why I like pet classes: Having a combat NPC there makes me feel less alone and more in charge of a team, even if there's only code on the other end and not an actual human face. (Or so I assume.) Although, as in SWTOR, it might be a little awkward in WoW to see dozens of people running around with the same companion you have.

Do you like it when a game gives you an NPC to be your bodyguard?

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!

Global Chat: Going negative

Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar

eso
It's hard to be positive as a blogger, I'd say. It's not only really easy to get whipped up into a writing lather when you're upset about something, but negativity sells as well, at least in the short-term. People love a good rant, especially when it mirrors their line of thinking and doesn't bash a game they like. Even I, though I try to stay positive as a rule, have fallen into such patterns.

This week in Global Chat, we're going to see more negativity than normal -- or perhaps, more critical analysis with vivid metaphors. That doesn't mean it's all downers nor mindless emotional wordsplosions. But I thought it was fascinating how these stories caught my eye over the past couple of weeks of MMO blog reading.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: The case for mounts in Guild Wars 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

You'll have to excuse my dog, he's never seen a rug before. It's flying? Oh, I didn't notice.
I love my new rug. It's a little on the thin side, but it's got a nice pattern and gets great gas mileage. It floats high enough off the ground that my cats can't get hair all over it, although it also probably helps that it exists only inside the world of Guild Wars 2.

The only drawback is that, like the very similar riding broom, the magic carpet isn't a true travel mount. It's just a bundle toy you can ride around on at normal speed, although the difference is small enough that it's ignited the cyclical discussion about whether or not real mounts belong in GW2 again. It's a topic near to my heart, so jump past the cut and I'll address some of the common arguments against mounts -- as well as explore the peculiarities of ArenaNet's stopping just short of adding them.

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The Daily Grind: Do you miss maker's marks in MMOs?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Crafting

UO
An off-hand joke in the Massively team email last week prompted a neat conversation about items in MMOs -- specifically, crafted items that have maker's marks attached to them so that players know which characters made them, even as they're traded from player to player through the years. Sadly, MMOs' insistence on bind-on-pickup items frequently makes discovering a crafted item made by someone famous, someone with a cool name, or someone who left the game years ago less possible.

Do you miss such items in MMOs? Can you think of modern MMOs that include maker's marks?

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 science of language, community, and MMORPGs

Culture, Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Virtual Worlds, Miscellaneous, MMORPG

Johannes Jansson
Back in August, Massively wrote a little post about Swedish research on MMOs and language learning. That article provoked me, a gamer and teacher of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), to hunt down the original research and talk directly to the researchers, Dr. Liss Kerstin Sylvén from the University of Gothenburg and Dr. Pia Sundqvist from Karlstad University, to better understand their research and findings.

Note that we'll be talking here about games and language learning specifically, not other forms of game-related education. Also, Sylvén and Sundqvist don't consider themselves "gamers." Sundqvist remembers Pac-Man as her first game, both admit to playing Angry Birds on their cell phones, and Sundqvist is "allowed" to sometimes watch her 17-year-old son play League of Legends. I find this interesting because they are non-gamers who seriously consider games capable of being educational without specifically being developed to do so. This isn't a simple merger of a hobby with work; this is work in a field of interest that's still being explored.

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The Mog Log: Predictions for Final Fantasy XIV's fanfest

Fantasy, Classes, Events (Real-World), Endgame, News Items, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

Someone said to me at one point that they were sorry I had to go on an anniversary trip with my wife instead of going to fanfest.  I can't begin to explain the degree of wrong involved in that statement.
There's less than a week to go now. Final Fantasy XIV players nationwide will congregate in Las Vegas for the fanfest starting on October 17th, and I... will be nowhere near there. I'll be on a trip with my wife celebrating a year since our wedding. But it's not as if I could talk about the revelations from the festival now anyway, since it's not for another several days. I'm going into this just as blind as you are.

But we can still speculate, can't we? Of course we can. In fact, there's some stuff that's almost a certainty going into the fanfest and some stuff that remains a bit more speculative. So I'm going to make some guesses about what we'll see at the festival and shortly thereafter, and next week we can all either laugh at my guesses or not. I won't be watching all of it in purely real-time, but I'm pretty sure we'll see the following.

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The Daily Grind: Have you considered how much time you spend gaming?

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I typed /played on a Star Wars: The Old Republic alt the other day, and I was surprised to learn that I've spent nearly 26 hours of my life on a throwaway MMO character! Granted, 26 hours out of approximately 700,000 (assuming I live to the ripe old age of 80) isn't very much. But still, it seems like a significant amount of time to devote to disposable entertainment.

What about you, Massively readers? Have you done a /played on one of your characters recently? Have you ever stopped to consider how much time you spend gaming?

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: Fixing EVE's player activity

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been a sort of running gag in EVE Online throughout the years that players spend inordinate amounts of time docked in stations and spinning their ships around in the hangar, but this is oddly close to the truth. Those of us who have been hooked to EVE for years know just how intense the game can get at its most frantic and how incredible it is to be present for historic events and important PvP battles, but those moments are rare, and there's typically a lot of downtime between periods of activity. For every PvP battle fought, incursion fleet formed or wormhole op organised, players often have to spend hours in stations or in space amusing themselves or doing busywork.

With gamers now spreading their increasingly limited free time across a growing catalogue of online games, some EVE players log in for only a few minutes per day to queue skills, chat with corpmates, and see if anything interesting is happening. The recent announcement that the upcoming Phoebe release will contain infinite length skill queues has some players concerned that people will lose the motivation to pop their heads into New Eden each day and see what's going on. Since the best sandbox gameplay is emergent in nature, just getting players to log in so they're available to take part in something awesome when it happens is extremely important.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I ask whether EVE is in trouble due to its recent decline in player activity, look at the impact of people with just a few hours per week to play, and suggest a new app idea that could help solve all of those problems.

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The Daily Grind: What long term MMO goals are you working toward?

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

I've resigned myself to getting a fishing boat in ArcheAge round about 2017. That's OK, because there's a lot of other stuff to do in the game and I'm having fun with it, but good grief does 250 gilda stars and two thunderstruck logs seem impossible at this point.

That boat is my goal, though, so I'm going to stick it out.

What about you, Massively readers? What long terms goals are you working toward in your favorite 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!

WoW Archivist: Class protests and the Million Gnome March

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Classes, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, WoW Archivist

Naked gnomes everywhere
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on October 8th, 2014, and is included here by permission.

Betas make players nervous about their class. It happens every time. Blizzard makes changes, often drastically, and for better or worse some people hate the changes. I've been keeping my eye on the beta class forums since the Warlords beta began, and I've seen a lot of unhappiness this time around. The ability pruning that was one of Blizzard's major design goals for classes this year has removed depth from rotations, taken away both utility and cosmetic options, and in some cases radically altered or deleted abilities that players enjoyed. Beta testers have voiced strong opposition to many of the changes.

In 10 years, I haven't seen players this up in arms about class issues since classic WoW -- an era when many specs and mechanics were simply broken in PvE, PvP, or both.

This past Friday, something happened that I believed would never again happen in WoW: an in-game class protest. With much more open lines of communication from developers to players in recent years, I thought the game had matured beyond the point that such things would ever be necessary. But here we are, almost 10 years after the most famous class protest in WoW's history, and players once again felt the need to gather in Azeroth to voice their complaints.

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The Daily Grind: What's the dumbest mount you've ever seen?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

rift
There are a lot of reasons why I'm super-duper pumped about RIFT's new water-themed expansion, but shark mounts that can "walk" on land are not among those reasons. Not only are these a safety hazard for anyone who grew up with a mortal fear of sharks after his babysitter let him watch Jaws when he was six, but it looks plain silly. There's a line crossed here with trying to take an animal that isn't normally a beast of transportation and forcing it into that mold.

But I cannot say whether or not this is the dumbest mount in MMOs, because that's your job. Well, your job as of today. What do you say?

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: Carebearing your way through ArcheAge

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

ArcheAge is, in part, an open PvP MMORPG. "In part" is the key phrase there, and I've had a few people ask me if it's possible to play XL's sprawling sandpark opus without getting ganked or otherwise forced into an ill-fitting playstyle.

Not only is it possible, but PvE has made up the overwhelming majority of my gameplay for the past month.

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