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Opinion

Enter at Your Own Rift: Five advantages RIFT has over WoW

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

rift
From its inception, RIFT has taken the position of being both a World of Warcraft clone and a direct competitor for its playerbase. It's not as if Trion Worlds has been subtle about it: The early campaign slogan of "You're not in Azeroth anymore" all but reached over and tweaked Blizzard's nose. While some didn't like the direct comparison, I thought it was a wise move for RIFT to acknowledge its obvious ancestry and its position as a cocky upstart.

While I've never been of the opinion that only one MMO can "win" or that we should always disparage games other than the ones we play, I won't deny that comparisons get made. Listen, World of Warcraft is a fun, slick game, one I spent many years playing. But just because it's one of the most popular MMOs in the world and stuffed full of 10 years of content doesn't mean it holds all of the cards (nor is it the MMO that currently grabs most of my gaming time).

In fact, RIFT has several distinct advantages that it's used and continues to use against Big Blizz, and it's those advantages that I want to praise today.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Planting the seeds of memory in Guild Wars 2

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

Little glowing friends. Shiny, happy people. Plant joke.
They say that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I don't know who "they" are, but I don't think that particular truism was ever meant to cover a literal repeat of history. Guild Wars 2's latest living world content release has players doing exactly that: planting memory seeds, taking an uncomfortably invasive peek into Caithe's past, and trying to figure out exactly what might have led her to abscond with Glint's egg in the previous chapter.

This stroll down memory lane technically takes place over 20 years in GW2's history, but it's new information to us, and so the statute of limitations on spoilers hasn't expired. You'll probably want to play the content before reading any further, unless you think my writing is improved by a lack of context (if that's the case, don't tell me).

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Biggest Story of the Year

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

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Biggest MMO Story of the year. We're not talking about a single article or a game's plot here; we're looking for dominant, ongoing news arcs in the MMO space that had a big impact on the genre. 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 Biggest MMO Story of 2014 is...

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The Daily Grind: Would you have played a Diablo MMO?

Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Diablo III, OARPG

Diablo 3
A few weeks ago, Blizzard content designer Kevin Martens admitted that the studio once considered turning the Diablo IP loose on an MMORPG. It's off the table now, but it still got me wistful. I've been strangely attached to the Diablo franchise and its clones for a very long time. Seriously, it's not even possible to pry the Torchlight series or Titan Quest off my harddrive. But Diablo itself just has a compelling, gritty gloom to the world that would make an MMO version a welcome in a genre that's obsessed with bright and happy fantasy worlds.

Massively's Brendan Drain once opined that Path of Exile is the sequel that Diablo II deserved, but is it MMO enough to count here? Would you have played a Diablo MMORPG, and what would you want it to 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!

The Mog Log: A tourist in Final Fantasy XI

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log, Subscription

The column you never expected to see!
I don't write much about Final Fantasy XI in this column, but those with some knowledge of its history know that wasn't always the case. There are long stretches of the column that have focused on Final Fantasy XI's trials and tribulations. It's just that as I've said many times over, there's not a whole lot of point to talking about FFXI on a regular basis now. While Final Fantasy XIV keeps getting bigger and better, FFXI is slowly and quietly declining.

But that doesn't mean you can't take a trip back.

A few weeks back, my wife and a dear friend floated the idea that the three of us could try heading back to Final Fantasy XI, exploring the game from the start, completely fresh all over again. It would be very different from how it had been before. And true to form, it certainly has been. The game is very different now from the one I remember, and it's interesting to look at why, even from the perspective of someone just about to hit 20 for the first time on a single class.

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Most Underrated MMO

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
We're breaking with tradition this year when it comes to the Massively end-of-the-year awards. Instead of lumping them together into one huge article that no one reads because everyone's busy cheering and jeering over the GOTY down in the comments, we're going to pace ourselves so the little ones get some attention too. We'll also be explaining our votes so you can see the split and the rationale behind our picks. And because we know you want to have your say too, we'll throw in a reader poll just for fun. Please don't cheat.

Today's award is for the Most Underrated MMO of the year. As will be the case for many (though not all) of this year's awards, games must have launched in 2014 to be eligible, which makes the list of eligible games fairly short. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for every category, so some games will literally win by a hair.

The Massively staff pick for Most Underrated MMO of 2014 is...

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The Daily Grind: Are you playing any of the December releases?

Expansions, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind

This is a pretty full month for MMO content releases. We've got a couple of new games in The Crew and Elite: Dangerous, though how "MMO" they are remains to be seen. We've also got expansions for Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, and Destiny, one of which I'm already playing and another of which I'll get to before the month is out.

What about you, Massively readers? Do any of this month's MMO content releases tickle your fancy? Which one(s) are you 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!

EVE Evolved: The Sleepers are coming!

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, Roleplaying, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
Ever since the announcement of 100 new wormhole systems and the unique Thera wormhole hub system, some interesting things have been going on in EVE Online. A new star appeared in the night sky and began rapidly growing in brightness like a supernova, and curiously, the light from that star was able to be seen from every star system in New Eden simultaneously in clear violation of the laws of physics. Two days prior to the event, Sansha's Nation were seen scattering from an Incursion site and leaving the area without using wormholes, hinting that something big was happening in their home system. Combined with the intruiging story of Thera, this has had even non-roleplayers scrambling through the EVE lore to come up with theories about what's to come.

Players slowly set apart picking the mystery to pieces, conducting a galaxy-wide search to find the origin of the bright star and sending people into the test server to get clues. The mystery intensified when players discovered that the star was likely near or within restricted Jove space, and soon after they began finding strange cloaked structures throughout known space. While observing these structures, players even found that an all-new form of Sleeper NPC called the Circadian Seeker was periodically warping into the site and using some kind of scanning beam on the cloaked structure. All of this comes in anticipation of the public release of the Rhea patch on Tuesday 9th, which will introduce hidden Sleeper sites in known space and kick off the arms race to discover tech 3 destroyers.

In this lore-heavy edition of EVE Evolved, I look at everything we know of EVE's new Sleeper storyline event and try to figure out how it all fits together.

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The Daily Grind: Who's your favorite child NPC?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

gw2
This might be a difficult topic because in truth we have not seen an over-abundance of children NPCs in MMOs, nevermind ones that speak or are part of missions. I'm mostly reminded of the tag-along I had in World of Warcraft's Children Week when I think of young characters.

However, I'm most impressed with the handling of Taimi in Guild Wars 2's storyline. She's easily the best character of the group, and somewhat unique in being very young and also partially disabled. I love that those two characteristics don't define who she is, but instead her vivacious and sometimes reckless genius does.

So who is your favorite child NPC in an 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!

Soloing through SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

Sci-Fi, Expansions, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMORPG

Impressions of soloing through SWTOR: Shadow of Revan
Some people question how you can be a solo player in an MMO. To be honest, I, too, question how someone can do the whole game solo, but I do understand the desire to experience the game at your own pace. I believe the creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic understand this, too. Game director James Ohlen said that the biggest thing players wanted was the continuation of Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. Although part of the SWTOR story did continue the Revan and Exile stories, a lot of players haven't even touched on that storyline.

In a multiplayer game, it's hard sometimes to experience the story solo with all the group-only material. However, Shadow of Revan creates an amazing opportunity for the solo MMO player to really experience the full story it has to offer.

Fair warning: I will not spoil major plot points for the expansion, but I will reveal some key characters in order to talk you through this leveling experience.

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Lost Continent: Yep, F2P sucks for ArcheAge

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

Thus far I've put up with quite a lot of crap in my quest to like ArcheAge. There was the launch debacle in which no one realized that many millions of people will show up and expect a working service if you yell "come play for free!" Then there was the Auroria debacle, in which no one cared about server accessibility during a competitive launch event.

And of course there's ArcheAge's easily exploitable code, the ramifications of which include hacks, cheats, and bot-related problems that continue to be visible to anyone taking Trion's really-guys-it's-only-a-tiny-minority spin with a grain of salt.

Finally, there's the grossly intrusive monetization plan that prevents subscribers from playing certain parts of the game unless they spend additional money in the cash shop. ArcheAge has a comically long list of problems, but it's this last one that's finally wearing me down.

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The Daily Grind: What's the worst character name you've ever seen in an MMO?

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Humor, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

In writing his article about Final Fantasy XIV's character rename service, Massively's Eliot rattled off a few silly names he's seen in-game that could really use a rename token. What you didn't see was the list of awful names he passed along to the writers behind the scenes: Combyo Beard, Carfullof Whiteboys, Sharing Needles, Stupid Name, Popular Character, Avengers Assemble. And here I was thinking Ffxiv Blows and Mycat Isanimro were pretty wretched, but I should have known better. There's always something more wretched to reset the wretchedness scale.

How about you, Massively peeps? What's the worst character name you've ever seen in an MMO? Bonus points if it makes me laugh. Bonus-bonus points to the first person to call me out for the joke name I used for my Second Wind Torchlight II character. Names are serious business.

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: Digging out of MMO doom

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

This year, we've been watching multiple MMO companies dig themselves into deep holes with mistake after mistake, some seemingly preventable. Do you think there's a hole so deep that an MMO studio can never dig out? Do you think that serial goof-ups like WildStar and ArcheAge can pull a SWTOR and actually be making trucktons of money three years from now? Or is everything DOOM, etc.?

That's precisely what I asked the Massively writers in this week's Think Tank.

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The Daily Grind: What game do you intend to play more in 2015?

MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

I can't quite believe it's December. Pretty soon it'll be Christmas, then New Year's, and then we'll see if 2015 is an unintentional comedy for the MMO industry just like 2014! I kinda doubt that it will be, simply because there aren't as many new/big games on the way.

In any case, there are a few pre-existing titles that I neglected this year, and I fully intend to return to them in 2015. What about you, Massively readers? What MMO do you intend to play more of in 2015?

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 a studio's home country impact your faith in an MMO?

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

skyforge
I've been cautiously excited about the development of Skyforge, although something's really been holding me back from gushing too strongly about it: the fact that its dev team (well, one of them at least) is located in Russia. Maybe it's silly and even a bit nationalist, but I am somewhat less trusting of MMOs that hail from other regions than my own.

Maybe it's a fear of making payments to studios in countries across the world. Maybe it's a fear that the studio won't have my own best interests in mind in operating that product. Maybe I've been let down by too many titles that were developed overseas but never made the transition to my home shores.

Does a studio's home country or region impact your faith in an MMO? A reminder: Let's keep the discussion free of nation-bashing, please!

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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