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Opinion

The Daily Grind: Do server merges make you more or less worried about an MMO?

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

Server merges, megaservers, connected realms, server consolidations -- call them whatever you want; a server merge is a merge, and it means a game's population has shrunk and servers need to be shed. Usually, MMO gamers take that as a herald of doom and race to the forums and blogs to argue over the technicalities of who's going where, what stuff will be lost in the transfer, and who predicted something patently inevitable a year ago. Onlookers pronounce the game a failure.

But maybe that's the wrong atittude altogether. By the time most games merge servers, I'm usually heaving a sigh of relief. RIFT, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest, even World of Warcraft -- all of these MMOs benefited enormously from their merges or faux-merges, in spite of the way merges look to people obsessed with schadenfreude. For players playing a game whose devs recognize a population problem and fix it while they still have the resources to do so, it's practically a game-saver, not a game-killer. When you're stuck on a dead server in a game that has just enough resources to keep going but not enough to merge, then the game is screwed.

What do you think: Do server merges make you more or less worried about 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!

The Think Tank: Autumn is the season of MMO expansions

Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

SWTOR
Happy autumn! It's a season of MMO expansions. World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online, and bunches more are all getting major updates or expansions in the next few months. Presumably, expansions aren't meant only to give existing players something to do; they're also meant to give old players reasons to come back. But do they work?

That's the question I asked Massively's writers in this week's Think Tank. Do we return for expansions? Do we avoid them? Do we even like them? Let's talk expansions.

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Captain's Log Supplemental: Exploring the story of Star Trek Online: Delta Rising

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

Two hundred passengers set sail that day for a three-year tour of duty.  (A three-year tour of duty.)
If you think about it, Star Trek: Voyager is basically a remake of Gilligan's Island. Ship goes out for a routine trip and gets stranded, and for the next several years the crew of that ship tries to get back home and repeatedly fails. I bring this up because I recently had a chance to to on a tour of Star Trek Online: Delta Rising, and I kept thinking that "going on a tour" was just the first step before being stranded in the quadrant myself.

Well, maybe not, but it's as good a segue as anything.

Lead Designer Al Rivera and Senior Producer Stephen Ricossa took me on a trip through all of the various systems of Delta Rising and several of the upcoming story elements. If you don't want to be spoiled on the expansion before it goes live, you might want to steer clear, but there are some fascinating developments awaiting otherwise. When players finally warp into the Delta Quadrant, they're going to be seeing familiar faces and facing some old problems -- very old, in one case.

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The Nexus Telegraph Extra: WildStar's deafening silence

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Answers so mysterious they've decided not to share any of them.
How many people are currently playing WildStar?

I don't know. You don't know, either, beyond vague guesses based on things like Raptr numbers, which say more about what Raptr users like to play than about actual game popularity. But it seems like the sort of answer that could be used to at least deflect a great deal of criticism, doesn't it? If Carbine Studios is sitting on two million players at a reasonable level of activity, that wouldn't shut down all discussion of the game's myriad problems, but it sure as heck would demand some rethinking.

That's precisely what I asked when I, at Carbine's behest, sent the team questions about the health of the game over a week ago. The bad news is that Carbine still hasn't answered my questions, nine days later. But the good news is that in the interim, Carbine was willing to tell another site that WildStar does not have a "player interest" problem, which seems like the sort of waffley question you'd answer if you really didn't want to be specific.

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The Daily Grind: What little things in MMOs put a smile on your face?

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

I loaded up Star Wars: The Old Republic for the first time in a while this week, and it seemed like BioWare upgraded its planetary approach cutscenes since the last time I played. Maybe it's just the one on Tatooine, or maybe it's always been that spiffy and I just don't remember it.

Either way, it's a nice touch that tickles my Star Wars fancy.

What about you, Massively readers? What little things about the last MMO you played put a smile on your face?

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: Warlords of Draenor vs. Shadow of Revan

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Leaderboard

Last time in Leaderboard we pitted this winter's Warlords of Draenor expansion against this fall's Nightmare Tide expansion. This week, let's see how the top dog fares against another highly anticipated MMO content dump, this one bolstered by the worldwide media juggernaut that is Star Wars.

How about it, Massively readers? Warlords of Draenor or Shadow of Revan? Vote after 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 playing Lord of the Rings Online?

Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

lotro
Lord of the Rings Online has had a busy year in 2014, as the title took its first steps into Gondor, announced a brand-new class, and recently opened up the Dead Marshes for adventurers. I've been playing off and on this year, glad to be moving into the territory defined by the Return of the King. However, I won't deny that the lack of an expansion and the year's other big news have overshadowed this once prominent title.

So out of curiosity, I wanted to ask you if you're currently playing LotRO. Are you? Be truthful and remember that this is for posterity, so do be clear.

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: ArcheAge's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Jukebox Heroes, Music

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ArcheAge is well-known for being one of the more beautiful MMO game worlds out there, but does its music stack up in comparison? The answer to that is a little yes and a little no. I got ahold of it several months ago, well before I was even paying attention to this game or its strong following. I felt that it was decent: pretty in spots, but short and not significantly better or worse than a lot of fantasy scores out there.

It's certainly an Asian-style soundtrack with similarities to the Final Fantasy series and TERA. The score was composed by Music Director DaMeAte and reportedly garnered a few awards over in Korea. Good for it, I say! Let me present to you six of the best offerings from this album and let you make up your own mind as to whether they exceed or disappoint expectations.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you should play before SWTOR's Revan expansion

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

Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you have to run before SWTOR's Revan expansion
The next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic is coming in December, and any BioWare fan already knows the primary antagonist: Revan.

Revan has been BioWare's focal Star Wars character since its first Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic. SWTOR even features Revan in multiple questlines. I could recommend that you read Drew Karpyshyn's book Revan, but there are plenty of ways to get Revan's story in-game. In fact, there are eight different questlines that you should run if you want to get caught up, and more importantly, if you want to prepare yourself for the next expansion. If you have been living under a rock for the last three years, be forewarned that this article will contain spoilers for you.

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The Daily Grind: Do you play on your MMO's public test server?

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

Ultima Online
Even after they're officially launched, many MMOs still maintain public test servers where volunteers can help the devs test out upcoming content (or at least sneak a peek at it). I am not usually one of those players, but long ago I spent a lot of time on Ultima Online's test center. UO made it super easy to test by allowing players to boost their characters skills and giving them a bank full of resources. In fact, I knew players who loved the flexibility and lack of grind so much that they considered the test shard their home shard in spite of the wipes, and even today game-wide events are still held there so that people from all servers can attend.

Do you spend time on MMO test servers post-launch?

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: Dribs and drabs of WildStar

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

Admittedly, talking about it seems a little silly.
The past few weeks have not been a fun time to be a fan of WildStar, and we still have heard distressingly little about what's coming in the next patch. Heck, the most I can think of hearing about in recent memory is the announcement that the game will not feature any sort of holiday content this year, and as those of you who know me will probably guess I kind of wanted a Halloween event. (I like October.)

But let's talk about what we do know and where we are right now, since barring any further developments, there's not much more to be said about what isn't working. Either things get addressed or they don't. So let's talk about the next drop, what we will and won't be getting from it with any measure of luck, and about the complete lack of holiday content and why anyone should care. Yes, even if you normally don't care about holiday content!

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The Daily Grind: Do you deal with publisher shenanigans for a game you love?

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

I love ArcheAge. It's basically rekindled my passion for MMOs, and despite its design flaws and a godawful business model, it's easily my favorite genre title in quite some time.

That said, Trion's acting like it's never done this before. The company's customer service is flat out terrible, as the only response I've received to a ticket filed on September 25th has been a form letter asking me if I still require service.

And I won't even get into the botting and exploiting issues that remain unresolved and that bode ill for the future of the game's player-driven economy. All that said, I'm in a bind because there's no other MMO like ArcheAge, so I can either quit or I can deal with Trion's indifference. What about you, Massively readers? Do you put up with similar shenanigans because you love your game, or do you vote with your wallet and take your business elsewhere?

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!

Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen

I actually said the title of this piece out loud the other day. I was compelled to do so primarily because of a certain sandpark's launch as well as the fact that it's been dominating my game time for a solid month now.

And yeah, I left off the Stick and Rudder part when I said the title out loud because "Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah Star Citizen is a game I'm following!" would've sounded even stranger than "Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!"

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever enjoyed a grind despite the grind?

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

I've been fishing my ass off in ArcheAge. You kinda have to if you want to make a virtual career out of it, because it takes a while -- and a lot of clicking -- to get your fishing skill from newb to 10,000 and thus to the real meat of the system.

This is clearly a grind, and ordinarily I loathe MMO grinds. For whatever reason, though, I'm really enjoying this process. What about you, Massively readers? Have you ever found yourself enjoying a grindy activity even though you hate grinding?

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: How much of a completionist are you?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

eso
MMOs are dangerous territory for the "must see, do, and experience it all" type of player. With mission checklists, achievement pages, collections, rare kill lists, armor sets, and map exploration, these types of games appeal to and encourage completionists to fulfill their destinies.

So how much of a completionist are you? While I will engage in collections and achievements, they are still optional fun for me. What is mandatory are finishing up all of a zone's quests and filling out the map at a minimum. Also, if there are any options for fleshing out a character's development, I will be pushing to max out all of those fields. What about you?

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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