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Opinion

Massively Speaking Episode 323: Fun buddies!

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

When Bree's away, the kids will play! This week, Justin invites his fun buddies, MJ and Larry, to come on the show and jaw about recent MMO expansions. And also the Star Wars trailer. And also we're just goofy. This is professional podcasting, peoples!

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

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Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Previewing SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

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

Hyperspace Beacon: Playing the Shadow of Revan
When I was first introduced to the expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, there were two things I wanted to see: the continuation of the class story and Yavin 4. And I'm happy to say that this expansion delivered both of those in a satisfying way. When I spoke to studio game director James Ohlen and lead writer Charles Boyd about the expansion a few weeks ago, they told me that Shadow of Revan would close one major chapter and open a new book for SWTOR. After seeing the expansion, I have to agree that Shadow of Revan does put a great cap on a class stories and opens the door for an exciting future for the game.

I don't want to give you the impression that everything in the expansion is exactly what I wanted, though. There is a surprising lack of exploration, the amount of content fell short, and parts of the maps felt slapped together. The screenshots depict beautiful scenes, but sometimes form outweighs function.

Before I continue, I feel obligated to tell you that there are spoilers of previous content in this piece, but the important parts of the new content will remain unspoiled.

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The Daily Grind: Do you prefer 'action-combat' in MMORPGs?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

AoC
"Action-combat" has been one of those stock gameplay tropes that MMO developers have been shoving into their games since at least Age of Conan. But is it actually wanted by the core MMO audience?

Massively reader theodorus321 commented last week that he prefers the old-school TAB-targeting combat systems of older MMOs. "I don't want a challenge to my leet gaming skillz," he wrote. "I want to explore an interesting and immersive world while building up my character in the conventional way and finding some cool stuff." He got 16 likes, so clearly, he's not alone. I agree with him too! I'm happier with slower, more tactical RPG combat or hybrid systems than I am with purely twitchy stuff.

What do you think? Would you rather have "action-combat" or old-school tab targeting or something else entirely in your MMOs?

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: The two-way community street in Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Culture, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

It's not one-sided.  So few things are.
If there's one thing that hit me after the live letter this weekend, it's that the Final Fantasy XIV community is kind of a mess.

I've been working around this game since before it launched, and there have always been weird issues going on with the way the community has worked. Part of this is because the game's community has a weird sort of isolationist streak, as if the online installments of this particular series are the only online games in existence, but part of this is also a matter of dealing with a community team that reports to bosses who aren't speaking the same language as the US playerbase.

Community management is a two-way street, and this weekend's antics served to remind me of how many elements of this really need to be addressed. So let's talk about how both the players and the community team can improve our overall culture from both sides.

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The Daily Grind: Did you spend money on MMOs over the holiday?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

I managed to escape Steam's Black Friday sale with my wallet intact. I did buy a few titles, but I spent less than 15 bucks in the process, which is quite a reversal from 2013 and 2012 when I gorged on games that I still haven't played yet!

I didn't spend a dime on MMOs, though, mainly because I already own the interesting ones and I try really hard to avoid virtual currency, cash shops, and the like. What about you, Massively readers? Did you spend any money on MMOs over the holiday?

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!

Captain's Log: Why Star Trek Online is kind of a mess right now

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

A little messy and incoherent despite... hmm.  Commentary.
I haven't had nearly as much time to play Star Trek Online lately as I would have liked; I've had other projects to work on, other games to play, and a lot of holiday stuff going on. So my main captain, who's been trekkin' around since launch, is still woefully underleveled. I accept entirely that this is my own fault, but I haven't been stressing out over it; I have no need to rush up to the cap.

That attitude is helped substantially by the fact that the people who are rushing up to the cap or already did rush up are awash with complaints. The speed of leveling. The speed of upgrade mechanics. How the Tier 5 and Tier 6 ships interact. The price of items. The amount of mission content. Gaining new specialization points at the cap. Sure, some of it is pretty normal complaining, but there's a general sense of discontent with the game at the moment. And I'm honestly not surprised because this problem was always going to crop up, and it could have been managed so much better.

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Lost Continent: Why so impatient with ArcheAge?

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

It's kinda silly, but I feel like giving up on ArcheAge. It's silly because the game launched in mid-September and we're currently in November. The fantasy sandpark does have more than it's share of problems, but logically I know that it's way, way too early to start piling dirt on its imaginary corpse.

That said, there are so many MMOs clamoring for my attention nowadays that the idea of being patient with one of them is almost laughable. I'm not alone here, either, as many gamers I know look for the first available reason to leave an MMO and cross it off their to-do list, simply because they're wired to complete tasks and the ginormous glut of games long ago passed the point of overwhelming.

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Perfect Ten: Mobile apps to enhance your MMO lifestyle

World of Warcraft, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Opinion, RuneScape, Mobile, Wizard101, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, DUST 514, Guides, EverQuest Next, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Landmark

We're living in the age of smart phones, when there are more cell phones than there are people on this planet. I can't go anywhere without seeing people constantly whipping out their little rectangular companions for the constant stream of information, social connection, and Candy Crush interludes.

While MMOs aren't making great headway on these devices, in part due to the limited input scheme, several wise studios have made good use of the mobile market to give players a way to keep in touch with their games even while AFK. Today we're going to count down, count up, and count sideways 10 official mobile apps that will enhance your MMO lifestyle.

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The Daily Grind: Is your character religious?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

rift
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like your character's choice of religion (or not) was far more of a feature of pen-and-paper RPGs than in most CRPGs and MMOs. I can't think of many MMOs where you're ever asked to assign a fictional religion or deity to your character, save perhaps for Neverwinter's cosmetic choice and a more beneficial (and optional) selection in EverQuest II. Oh, and I think that some of the Guild Wars 2 races ask you to pick a deity as part of your personal story, so there's that.

But that doesn't mean that your character can't have a deity to worship, if only in your own mind. After all, combat prowess isn't the beginning, middle, and end of character development. Does your character adhere to one of the faiths in the game? Does he or she have a patron saint of the underdark that is prayed to on a regular basis?

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: Ridiculing e-sports is bad for MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, MOBA, E-sports

LoL
I don't love e-sports. I've never really been a fan. I used to enjoy spectating Guild Wars matches, but only in short bursts. Truth is, I prefer playing in PvP to watching it. I feel that way about real sports too; the ones I like, I'd rather play than watch. (Except tennis. I have no idea why, but I could watch that all day.)

And if the MMORPG community's comments are any judge, I am not alone in my indifference to e-sports. Actually, "indifference" is probably too tame a word; some MMO gamers are outright hostile to e-sports, be those e-sports jammed into proper MMORPGs or waaaaay out on the fringes of the online gamosphere.

That hostile ridicule of e-sports, however, degrades online gaming, our corner of it as much as anyone's.

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The Daily Grind: Are superhero MMOs doomed to be niche?

Super-hero, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Comics, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Valiance Online
When Valiance Online launched its Kickstarter a few weeks ago, Massively's commenters posed an interesting debate over the viability of the superhero MMO market in general, not just the workability of a genre with three competing City of Heroes spin-offs. Some readers are convinced that the superhero genre is too risky and niche for MMORPGs, noting that the existing superhero MMOs have been more or less solid but small, nowhere near World of Warcraft huge. Fantasy, and to a lesser extent sci-fi, just dominates this scene. (Although we had a moment of hope when Blizzard first revealed Overwatch, it turned out to not really be much of an MMO.)

And yet superheroes are killing it in movie theaters; the comic genre has transcended geek culture to become thoroughly mainstream. There should be a huge audience for such games, and superhero MMOs just plain make sense: They're an ideal setting for fun skills and powers, beating up bad guys, and dressing up in costumes.

So what's the deal? Why haven't we seen a staggeringly huge superhero MMO? Are they in fact too niche after all?

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: Giving thanks for MMOs

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

WoW
Indulge us a little today, won't you? In our Think Tank today, we the Massively writers gather 'round the virtual feasting table on our virtual golden yacht to express thanks for those MMO-related things we're grateful for. Won't you share yours down in the comments also? We can get back to arguing over raidmills and gankboxes tomorrow -- I promise.

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Norrathian Notebook: First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice

Fantasy, Galleries, EverQuest II, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Crafting, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook:  First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice
Although Altar of Malice has been available to All Access subscribers for two weeks, EverQuest II's 11th expansion just opened up to everyone on Tuesday. That makes this a great time to share my initial impressions of the new lands and new content. Mind you, these are literally only first impressions: I am not one to blow through the content at a break-neck speed just so I can consume it all in as little time as possible. That's relegated to pecan pie. MMOs aren't a race to me. I prefer to gradually savor the content, stretching it out so the experience lasts. I've actually also been holding myself back from doing too much so I can run through things with those who can finally join me now that the expansion is fully released. I will continue to poke though it at my pace while I continue my other endeavors (do you realize just how long it takes to decorate a house?!). As such, a full review of everything will have to come at a later date.

So what my thoughts as I amble amble my way through the land of the lost... er, jurassic park... I mean, Altar of Malice? EQII's dino-riffic expansion definitely has its highlights, like offering a heaping helping of nostalgia, but it has its disappointments as well. Here's my take.

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The Daily Grind: Are you gaming on Thanksgiving?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

It's Thanksgiving in the States, which means that no one's manning the Massively yacht! Ahhhhh! Just kidding. It mostly means that I'm eating too much stuffing and mashed potatoes and hopefully gorging myself on some uninterrupted MMO time after dinner.

What about you, Massively readers? If you're celebrating today, will the festivities include any game time?

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: Can you co-exist with players who don't share your preferences?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard

Do you ever feel like the MMO genre has gotten too big for its britches? Take Eliot's soapbox series on raiding that we're publishing this week as an example. It's generated an enormous amount of conversation, but when you cut through the noise in the comments, you're left with two (or more) groups of people who can't seem to co-exist.

They don't want the same things out of MMOs, they don't share the same MMO backgrounds or experiences, and in many cases the happiness of one group equals the unhappiness of another.

Some people feel that MMOs should cater to as many different groups as possible, but can they? And should they really? Personally I don't enjoy going to Rush concerts with people who hate progressive rock, nor do I enjoy going to Georgia Tech football games with people who hate football and/or my Yellow Jackets. So why would I want to play MMOs with people who hate sandbox mechanics, crafting, or any of the other genre conventions that I prefer?

What do you think, Leaderboard readers? Can you co-exist with MMO neighbors who don't like what you like? Vote after the cut!

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