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Opinion

The Daily Grind: Who is your favorite in-game companion?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

swtor
While not every MMO features companions, there are enough out there that I wager you've played a title or two with a strapping NPC at your side. One of my absolute favorite features of Star Wars: The Old Republic is its companion system. The day that I finally earned my HK-51 was one of the most glorious moments of my life, just narrowly edging out the birth of my children and the return of Arrested Development.

Who is your favorite in-game companion? Did you choose that companion based on personality, looks, or general combat assistance? What is one of your favorite stories involving that character?

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!

Tamriel Infinium: Five reasons to return to Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

Today seems as good a time as any to mention returning to Elder Scrolls Online. I'm not talking personally, mind you, as I've been playing pretty consistently since early access. The winds of MMO change are doing their thing, though, and I'm seeing a bunch of thinking-about-returning-but-have-some-questions threads at my usual ESO forum hangouts.

Maybe this is due to all the fail trolls glomping onto WildStar while eyeing the fast-approaching North American version of ArcheAge. Or maybe it's because ZeniMax has added quite a bit of post-launch tastiness to its ESO recipe.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's expansion and communication

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

We're hard at work developing stuff, some of which will come off as tone-deaf.
So we finally know what the next expansion is going to be for Star Trek Online, and my speculation regarding the Xindi and points related turned out to be way off. Nope, we're heading into the Delta Quadrant, which is less interesting to me than the Gamma Quadrant, but I suspect the powers that be are exploring all the angles of existing content first. It's coming with a level cap increase, a new tier of ships, a bunch of new tricks, and apparently some bonus communication misses.

Delta Rising is really on track to be a pretty divisive expansion anyway. It was inevitable, really; raising the level cap now was going to lead to problems no matter how it was handled. Unfortunately, Cryptic Studios hasn't done a great job communicating what's in the works for players, nor have the first few things that we've heard exactly countered some early suspicions. It was a minefield that's thus far been navigated largely with a push and a blindfold.

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Leaderboard: How do you feel about loyalty rewards?

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard, The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online announced its vet reward program recently, and while it doesn't take effect until next month, it got me to thinking about similar incentives in other MMOs. They're pretty common, of course, and even F2P games offer them provided that they also offer an optional subscription tier.

Personally vet rewards aren't much of an incentive. I mean, sometimes they offer a neat-looking vanity pet that I'll look at once and subsequently forget to ever summon again, but I can't recall ever anticipating a loyalty reward or remaining subscribed in order to get one. What about you, Massively readers? Are loyalty rewards nothing more than a nice bonus, or are there some that go above and beyond in terms of desirability? If so, which ones? Don't forget to 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: What would you want in a World of Warcraft 2?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
Your guess is as good as mine as to how serious Blizzard was being the other week when it floated the possibility of a sequel to World of Warcraft during an interview. After all, words are cheap, but development is crazy expensive.

But let's have a little fun with this concept today, whether or not a WoW 2 is in the making. Assuming that there was one being brewed up, what would you want to see done with it? Would it embrace more sandbox features? Would it simply remake the current game or jet off on its own timeline? Would you even prefer a platform switch, such as a mobile WoW or a virtual reality-based one?

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: The music of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Opinion, Jukebox Heroes, Music

wow
Cataclysm was the first World of Warcraft expansion that I was not there to experience. While I initially applauded the idea of the devs changing the world and bringing the new tech to old spots, that fundamental change in the land that I used to know so well ended up causing me pain. Nobody likes to think of something beloved changed and lost forever. So I stayed away and missed what is probably the worst-reviewed expansion to date.

As such, it was the first WoW expansion score that I listened to outside of the game. To my ears, it was substantially darker than previous efforts, although there contained moments of beauty and excitement. Due to the nature of the expansion, the soundtrack is all over the place thematically, occasionally rewriting old zone music (alas).

The one thing that really pops out at me from this album is how the composers extensively used various background sound effects and noises to suppliment the tunes. I'm not sure if these were added for the album or if these exist in-game, but they certainly add more in terms of atmosphere. Interestingly enough, one of my all-time favorite World of Warcraft tracks came from this expansion, so it certainly wasn't a wasted effort.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Guilds, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Crafting, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet
I'm writing this late on Sunday night, and I have some disappointing news: My Star Wars: The Old Republic guild did not make the top 10 on the planet we were attempting to conquer. It's partly my fault; I happened to choose the planet that would be the most hotly contested. Who knew that other guilds would flock to Makeb when conquests went live?

It wasn't all bad. In fact, I'd say that SWTOR kind of pulled our guild together a bit. We participated in content we hadn't done in a long time. It was a rallying cry for us: "Hey, look, this stuff is fun, and you can still have fun doing it." On top of that, it's reintroduced the idea that open-world PvP is possible. But with all the good that it's done -- player housing, guild housing, and open-world PvP -- there are somethings that have fallen short of what it could be.

I think the best way to explain is to tell you about my week.

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The Daily Grind: Are kids poor MMO consumers?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

LMFO
Earlier this year after announcing sunsets for the apparently popular Free Realms and three other titles, SOE's John Smedley declared that his studio was done with MMOs aimed at children. "No more kid's games," he said on Reddit. "Kids don't spend well and it's very difficult to run a kids game. Turns out kids do mean stuff to each other a lot."

The last comment is no doubt true and manifests primarily in unfettered chat, as former Massively writer Karen Bryan explored a few years ago. But is it likewise true that "kids don't spend well"? Kid-friendly games like Wizard101 and Super Hero Squad Online seem to be doing just fine. Funcom sure thought the market was ripe for another go at a LEGO MMO. And I suspect that tweens are heavily responsible for some of the crazy IAP spending going on in the mobile space. If I were a kid now instead of in the '90s, I would have blown my allowance on Guild Wars 2 microtrans instead of comic books and trading cards.

What do you think? Are kids truly as terrible an MMO audience as SOE believes?

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: Habits that WildStar should keep

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

It's time for another round of Good Idea, Bad Idea.
Last time around in this column, I talked about the stuff that WildStar desperately needs to get out of its system, and quickly. I'm pleased with it. With the scaling-back of the update pace and some changes that I expect to be coming, I'm hopeful on that front. (Incidentally, if someone has a link to an actual promise of monthly updates from Carbine Studios, pass that along, since I don't think anyone ever actually promised it so much as just wound up doing it.)

So why am I still playing the game? Because it's got a lot to recommend it despite those failings. These are not bad habits that the game needs to kick but things that the development team should arguably double down on. They're arguably the best parts about the game and certain what makes it stand out the most. So in direct counterpoint to last week's article, here are the things that WildStar should keep doing.

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Stick and Rudder: Star Citizen is standing on the shoulders of genre giants

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

It's confession time, folks. My Star Citizen fandom has been on the fritz. It's not that I'm less enamored with Cloud Imperium's sci-fi sandbox opus; it's just that the interminable waiting coupled with a pretty severe case of themepark MMO burnout (help me, ArcheAge, you're my only hope) has conspired to foul my gaming mood of late.

Fortunately, CIG read my mind and pulled me back in with its gangbusters Gamescom reveals.

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The Daily Grind: Which IP(s) would you not want made into an MMO?

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

I'm not sure what to make of this Seldon Crisis thing. It's inspired by Asimov, according to the announcement press release, but I'm having a hard time seeing how something like Foundation will translate, however loosely, to MMO gameplay.

Maybe it will and maybe it won't, or maybe the Asimov connection is tenuous and a marketing ploy for what's really the same old PvP game. We'll find out, I guess. It got me to thinking about other potential MMO IPs, though. We've asked before what IPs you'd like to see made into an MMO, so today let's turn that around. Which IPs would you not want to see made into an MMO? And why not?

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!

Perfect Ten: How to spend $46,750 on MMO crowdfunding purchases

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, The Repopulation, Star Citizen, Shroud of the Avatar, Pathfinder Online, Trove

sota
Do you ever look at your wallet and say, "Ugh, this thing is too full! It's causing a bruise on my tushie every time I sit, and no gas station ever has change for a thousand-dollar bill!" Are you tired of the endless cycle of purchasing luxury sedans to roll them off cliffs only to realize that the auto industry is making them faster than they can be destroyed?

We here at Massively feel your pain, and just as soon as I finished eating a breakfast of scrambled eggs made from endangered birds, I hopped off the company's gold yacht and got to work tracking down ways that you could relieve yourself of the burden of wealth.

So here is my plan, in 10 simple steps, for you to shed $46,750 of your bank account, all by blowing your enormous disposable income on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding options. No, please don't thank me by sending me a gigantic check. I would only shred it to use in my robo-hamster's cage.

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The Daily Grind: What's the most challenging MMO you've played?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

tsw
I've played my fair share of challenging MMOs over the years. From obtuse interfaces to steep learning curves to tough-as-nails combat, the myth of MMOs being nonstop faceroll games has been disproven time and again. However, if I had to pick the single most challenging title, it would be The Secret World, hands-down.

Nothing about The Secret World comes easy. The combat has you struggling sometimes against standard mobs, the game's many systems are complex and non-intuitive, the story isn't spelled out for you, and some of the quests tax my brain far more than my reflexes. Don't get me wrong; I love TSW to its core, but it's stupid hard at times, so much so that it's kept me from seriously pursuing an alt.

What would you say is the most challenging MMO that you've ever played?

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: Emergency soccer practice

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Today's Ask Massively question comes to us from a reader named Chris, who has had it up to here with you quitters! Yes, you, guy who just AFKed out of Warsong Gulch!
After playing my fifth consecutive round of SMITE with an AFK player, I am fed up. AFKer, quitters, or whatever you want to call them -- they suck. Why is it unreasonable to expect gamers to commit to finishing a simple (even possibly enjoyable) 30-minute activity? Why can't they stay in their seat and just freakin' click some buttons? Leaving doesn't cost the quitter anything, but it certainly sucks for the team you leave short-handed. If this were a little league baseball game, we wouldn't say, "It's just a game, so you go ahead and eat pizza with your buddies instead of playing with us." And why can't game companies find a way to make this problem go away? Reporting systems are just a small step away from absolutely useless!

I know that real-world stuff happens. The doorbell rings, the power goes out, or the kids set the kitchen on fire. But AFK rates seem way too high for just that. Gamers seem to conveniently forget what it really means to finish what they started. And if you can't do it for a simple game, how in the hell will you do it when it is something truly hard?
Unfortunately, I know this problem well. In my guild, we call it "emergency soccer practice," an actual reason someone once gave us for quitting a dungeon group.

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The Daily Grind: Are MMO mods and emulators on their way out?

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

E&B
We don't talk about emulators on Massively often because we're forbidden to encourage illegal activities or link or name specific emulators save those rare few publicly sanctioned by studios (so please don't). In fact, we've written before that emulators are a frustrating topic for many of our writers since gamers pour boatloads of creativity and technical skill into both legal and illegal emulators for games dead and alive, creativity that we can't write about even when we'd like to.

I can't be the only one who's wondered whether legit modders and underworld emulator coders are abandoning their craft in favor of more legal ventures, however. There might be more sunsetted MMOs, moddable UIs, and calls for "classic" game versions than ever, but the rise of low-risk crowdfunding, easy Steam greenlighting, and modular multiplayer titles that encourage customization makes me suspect that people who once modded shady MMO emulators or built interfaces for the masses are being lured away to work on something more legitimate or profitable or resume-worthy.

What do you think? Are emulators and modding going out of fashion? (Please don't link to anything illegal!)

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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