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Perfect Ten

Perfect Ten: Why the second half of 2014 will be awesome for MMOs

World of Warcraft, EVE Online, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Landmark

In the midst of mid-summer doldrums, it's easy to fall into a mild depression thinking that everything cool that was going to happen this year already has -- especially in gaming. The spring launch blitz is now officially over, with two highly anticipated MMOs launched, and now some people might be wondering if the rest of 2014 will be all downhill.

Spoiler: It will not be.

We started talking the other day in the Massively office about just how much there's coming for the latter half of this year and why we're excited to see what the fall and winter months bring. There's so much to look forward to, in fact, that it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to a mere 10 entries. But that's my job, and that's what I did. Here's why the second half of 2014 will be awesome.

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Perfect Ten: Annoying things you hear in general chat

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

General chat, sometimes called "Barrens chat" or "zone chat" or "the party line," is both the bane and the secret fixation of my existence. It's like a text-based reality show that plays out in real-time whenever I log into an MMO. If -- for some rare reason -- I'm bored of playing the game or talking with friends, at least I have the jibber-jabber of screeching opinions to fill my eye sockets.

It's safe to say that general chat earns its bad reputation, but have you ever stopped to analyze exactly why that is? I have. I have traveled that long, terrible path, and at the end I peered over the edge into the abyss, and the abyss told me that I was a carebear who needed to L2P. Here are my findings.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs from the '90s

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, EverQuest, Lineage, Meridian 59, Opinion, Ultima Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

saved by the bell
The course of MMO history and the developer pioneers who forged a path to online gaming have long fascinated me (so much so that I write an occasional column about it). While we often think of MMOs as modern entertainment barely out of its infancy, the truth is that you can trace the industry back decades to see a fringe group of devs and players striving to make these games a reality.

While the number of MMOs in existence exploded in the early- and mid-2000s (and hasn't stopped growing since), the 1990s are often an overlooked decade that featured more than the one or two games that are usually mentioned in brief history overviews. There were actually far more titles than most assume, even if you dismiss text-based MUDs and the like. Today we're going to run down 10 MMOs that were born during the era of the dot-com revolution, dial-up modems, and the peak of the Simpsons (third through seventh seasons).

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs that influenced me greatly

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

DDO
Every one of us has an "MMO resume": a list of titles that we've played, whether briefly or extensively. Some of those are just games, casual flings that meant nothing. But others can take a more meaningful role in our lives, influencing how we experience and view MMOs.

I would scarcely say that my resume is one of the most robust you'll ever see; I'm sure plenty of you have played more than I. However, I like to think that I've had a journey over the course of a decade or so that's shaped who I am as a gamer. Since it's my birthday today, I'm going to share 10 of those influential MMOs with you and what they've done for me. You're going to get me cake.

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Perfect Ten: Great MMO time travel adventures

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, The Secret World, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

BTTF
Writers and geeks alike can't seem to get enough of time travel, although the ratio of horribly crafted time travel tales to fun and smart ones is pretty lopsided. I've come to realize that MMOs are positively littered with ways that players are invited to jump around the internal timeline of the game, and I wanted to share a few of them in this week's countdown.

When you think about it, the proliferation of time travel quests makes a lot of sense from a developer viewpoint. There is a ton of lore that goes into each one of these virtual worlds, but for the most part the players are affixed to a very specific (and unmoving) point in time. Hopping about in time is a great way to experience other eras and actually see history instead of just reading it in a quest box. Plus, if done right, these quests can be quite memorable.

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Perfect Ten: Strategies for juggling multiple MMOs

Humor, Guides, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Among my friends, I have a reputation for being "that guy who plays all the games." People are constantly asking me how I manage to handle so many MMOs simultaneously on top of work and family, as if I've managed to clone myself or I never sleep. The truth is far more mundane: Work and family get top priority with my time, and what I have left for gaming is simply spent wisely.

The thing is that I'm just always enamoured with so many MMOs that I can't just play one and nothing else. I have to be a "juggler:" a player who balances online worlds. With limited time at my disposal and a desire to be in three or four MMOs at any given time, I've done a lot of experimenting with different ways to juggle titles.

There is no one best way, I've found. It depends on how "fair" you want to be to your MMOs and whether it's a priority to you to give each of them more or less the same attention and time. Each of the following strategies has pros and cons, and if you're trying to handle two or more titles, you're simply going to need to figure out what works best for you and your allotment of time.

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Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO April Fools' pranks of all time

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

WoW
There are two types of people on April 1st: those who are annoyed and indifferent to the tomfoolery going on all around them, and those who gleefully embrace the zany antics and baldfaced lies. For the record, I am of the latter crowd. I love April Fools' Day and the humor and creativity that it inspires. While this day is by no means contained to our neck of the woods, MMOs have a long-running streak of trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I think a good goof has to have several qualities to make it truly memorable. It needs to be original. It needs to be actually amusing, whether or not you "fell for it." And it needs to tweak our expectations and understanding of how MMOs work. Sometimes there are even important ideas that emerge from these jokes that could, indeed, make these titles better.

So let's go through my favorite MMO April Fools pranks of all time, as catalogued by yours truly!

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Perfect Ten: Why I'm looking forward to WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, WildStar, Subscription

Sometimes you just know when a game is going to click for you before you even get much time in it. It has a personality that agrees with your own, visuals that cause your retinas to salivate, features that were probably stolen by devs from your dream journal, and a good balance of comfortable familiarity and exciting newness.

That, to me, is why I'm on board the WildStar train.

Listen, I'm not one of those people who feels that a game needs to "win" or dominate all of the rest of the landscape. I don't care whether WildStar is more or less popular that the rest of the field or whether it goes free-to-play or not (obviously, I would like it to do well so that it doesn't close up shop!). If it's not your thing, fine, but that won't stop me from being giddy as its release approaches.

WildStar is definitely my most anticipated MMO for 2014. Hit the jump and let me tell you 10 reasons why!

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Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Arena
Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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Perfect Ten: The journey from announcement to launch

Betas, Launches, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

One of the aspects that I love about MMOs is just how dang fun the build-up to launch can be. I know this period can make some people cranky (Jef) because they'd rather have Santa randomly kick in their door, toss in a bunch of unwrapped video games and Minecraft foam accessories, and refuse to stay for milk and cookies. Not me; I love the build-up, the anticipation, and the goofy fun of partaking in all of this with a like-minded community.

There's something awesome about each stage of the journey from announcement to launch, even if it brings out the crazy in many of us. Now that I think about it, if MMOs didn't exist, where would the drama llamas go to bleat out their discontent? Would trolls go extinct under their mossy bridges? That sounds just awful.

I don't care if liking all of this stuff makes me a big lame-o. I eat lame-os for breakfast because they're high in fiber and there's a free beta key in every box. So get ready to face the full might of my unadulterated joy in three... two... one...

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Perfect Ten: MMO features that were hyped but never delivered

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Humor, Champions Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Octonauts
Developers like to talk a big game. It's expected, it's encouraged by all parties, and it's part of the fun. When a game or big expansion is coming up, the spokespeople for studios like to hop on stage, grab that mic, and start proselytizing for all they're worth. And while some promises come to fruition, others are various shades of white lies, and still others never come to be at all.

These are the features that studios would much rather you forget were mentioned in the first place, although this is the internet and the internet never forgets. Well, players who latch on to everything devs say as absolute truth never forget.

Sometimes things happen along the way in development. Studios run out of time to get in all of the features and have to prioritize which make the cut and which do not. Features end up not testing as well as hoped and the studio quietly drops them because the PR hit for the features not going in is much less than the disaster that they might cause. And some developers like to flap their gums and spout brainstorm ideas that send the actual programmers and designers back at the company into spasms of agony when they try to figure out how to make them work.

Today let's go through 10 features that were talked up but never delivered in MMOs!

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Perfect Ten: Lessons from three months in Neverwinter

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Humor, Perfect Ten, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content

D&D
Recently I decided to end a good run in Neverwinter, my second time back to the game that went well over three months. It was a strange period, no doubt, mostly because of the conversations I'd get into people about it.

"You're playing Neverwinter? Are you, like, trying to be ironic?" they'd ask, with internet eyebrows all quizzical.

"I know! I don't understand it either!" I'd invariably respond. "But... it's fun. It is!" That last bit always dribbled off my lips.

Then our friendship would be terminated and I'd have to rely on my fallback companion, a pen pal from Austria who sends me notes in an archaic form of German. I guess Neverwinter isn't a super-serious MMO for super-serious players, but there's something very Pringles about it: Once you start playing, you can't stop. Well, at least not for three months. So since my time in it is through (for now), I thought I'd share with you 10 lessons I picked up in three months.

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Perfect Ten: Online collectible card games that will tap your heart

Opinion, Trading Card Games, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, HEX, Hearthstone

Card Hunter
While it might be a stretch to put collectible (or trading) card games in the same family as MMORPGs, it's hard to deny that their audiences are pretty similar and quite open to a little crossover between genres. Massively has made mention of TCGs as their numbers and popularity seems to be on the rise online. That led up to the day that my editor came into my office, smacked an Elmer Fudd Pez dispenser out of my hand, and told me that I better do a top 10 list on card games "or else."

"Or else what?" I chirped before thinking.

"Or else you'll be our full-time Darkfall columnist," my editor said.

So hey! We're talking about card games today! How about, I don't know, 10 of them?

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Perfect Ten: New MMOs to watch in 2014

MMO Industry, Opinion, EverQuest Next, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Shroud of the Avatar, Elite: Dangerous, Pathfinder Online, Trove

perfect ten
Out with the old desk calendars that you didn't use past February 2013 and in with the new, I always say! It's a brand-new year, and while we don't know all of the twists and turns that we'll travel in MMO news in 2014, I dare say it promises to be a fascinating ride.

Last January I gave my list of 10 new MMOs to watch for that year, and I'm a sucker for traditions. With 2014 a mostly blank slate right now, I want to lay out the up-and-coming class of games that at least have a shot at releasing by December. There are the big names, of course, but several other titles that could be sleeper hits if all goes right. Which will succeed, which will flop, and which won't even get out of the door? I don't claim to know all, but I know all, so here are my prognostications for 2014!

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Perfect Ten: Biggest MMO news stories of 2013

World of Warcraft, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, News Items, Opinion, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, DUST 514, World of Tanks, EverQuest Next, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar, Diablo III, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Star Citizen, Trove

As the light slowly fades from 2013, we spend our final moments quaffing eggnog, putting up President's Day decorations, and reminiscing about the year that was. We stare at the past and realize that it's a mirror reflecting our own journeys through the past 12 months. We contemplate the impact of one small decision that ripples out and touches souls everywhere. And then we stop getting so maudlin and start getting excited for what 2014 has to offer.

For me, I live for end-of-the-year lists. Man, I love 'em. I will devour them, drinking up everyone's opinions about what what the best what, what movies or songs I should check out, and what idiocy drives some people to write top 10 lists. Seriously, am I right? Learn to use a paragraph format, people!

Well, here's my top 10 list covering the year's top stories in the MMO industry. Some are pretty obvious, some will be up for debate, and all will be in the past soon enough. So what will historians say about 2013 and online games?

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