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Perfect Ten

Perfect Ten: What I'm thankful for in MMOs

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten
It is good to give thanks. It is good to be grateful. I love having a holiday this time of year to encourage me to do what I should be doing all of the time, which is to recognize the blessings that I have and the sacrifices that others have made on my behalf. Even when it comes to games, there's so much to be thankful for.

So if you'll excuse a list full of sentiment and seriousness, today I'd like to give a shout-out to 10 things that I'm thankful for in the realm of MMOs. Check them out and then perhaps add your own thanks in the comments section!

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Perfect Ten: Why we need more post-apocalyptic MMOs

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Humor, Post-Apocalyptic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

With the recent re-release of the 1988 classic RPG Wasteland and the development progress of Wasteland 2, my mind's swimming in post-apocalyptic wonderment these days. Aside from those titles and the insanely popular Fallout series, post-apoc hasn't proven to be as popular a setting for games as it is in, say, film, TV, and novels. And when it comes to MMOs, the only major effort that's been made to produce a similar title has been limited to Fallen Earth (and in a lesser sense, Defiance and Xsyon).

Now, I love me some Fallen Earth, especially as of late, but every time I log in it makes me think of just how rich and fertile this setting is for MMO studios. Considering just how rampant fantasy titles are, I feel strongly that devs need to be exploring outside this well-trod path to other genres, and the post-apocalypse is a perfect place to start. Here are my reasons that we need more post-apoc MMOs, and no, I'm not going to list "rampant prostitution and drug use" because that would also apply to a Los Angeles MMO.

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Perfect Ten: What making games taught me about MMO development

MMO Industry, Opinion, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten What running games taught me about MMO development
Since 1998, I've created and run countless games in my role as a youth minister. Despite the accusations from some corners that games waste time, I've been a firm believer that they're one of the most universal bonding experiences and can be used for a purpose.

I've also learned a lot of lessons while coming up with my own or adapting others' games. You can have the perfect game on paper, but throwing it to the "test server" of a group of insane teens can show you just how wrong you are. It's through games that I've tied together my hobby and professional life, and it's definitely opened my eyes to some of the complex issues that developers deal with on a daily basis.

So you know how they say that you have to walk a mile in another's shoes to understand where he's coming from? Well, I've done this with games. Here are 10 lessons that running games taught me about developing and operating these complex MMOs we love.

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Perfect Ten: Virtual haunted houses

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Trek Online, The Secret World, Humor, DC Universe Online, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten Virtual haunted houses
Happy Halloween! Or if that's not politically correct enough for you, Happy Scare-Related Holidays feat. the Stylings of Ed Casbar and His Electric Teeth. It'd be the best of holidays if most people didn't have a prejudice against a middle-aged guy going trick-or-treating. Hey, us adults need sugar fixes too, you know! And just because you don't understand my seductive Night Elf cosplay outfit doesn't mean it's less valid than the tots with Iron Man masks.

At least the online world is prejudice-free, which is why I love bouncing around between MMOs looking for a little haunted mansion action. Let's take a quick tour through 10 virtual haunted houses that go from zany to freaky, although not necessarily in that order.

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Perfect Ten: Consequences of living in an MMO world

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten Consequences of living in an MMO world
Escapism and daydreams are, in my opinion, wonderful and part of what fuels our creativity and excitement. I mean, most of us probably engage in some form of escapism just by the act of playing MMOs. These are settings that make us heroes, gives us clearly defined objectives with assured rewards, and continually dole out progression and backpats. Am I the only one who purrs when the game says, "Well done, chap?"

But there's always that next level of escapism where the mind starts to fantasize about leaping through the monitor and living in these vivid, exciting worlds. Consider the amount of homework or responsibilities or job tasks you have on your plate, and then consider dropping it all to spend your life as an adventurer in Azeroth, Norrath, Tyria, or Eorzea. Wow, that would be such a relief, wouldn't it?

Nay, say I -- it would be a nightmare from which you would be unable to escape. You would most likely star as an ironic mishap victim in a Twilight Zone episode. Today we're going to look at 10 consequences of trading the real world for a virtual one.

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Perfect Ten: Places you see in every MMO

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten Places you see in every MMO
MMOs are places of great imagination, where developers take fantastic concepts and make them real (in a sense). MMOs are also places of great copycatting because tropes are so strong and it's really dang hard to be 100% original. Plus, consciously or subconsciously, devs draw upon other games when they make their own because that's what they know.

So we end up with this enormous array of virtual worlds -- mostly fantasy -- and it's hard to ignore the fact that we end up encountering the same places in different games over and over again. Some of these places are pretty generic (ooh, another wolf den), and some are oddly specific (chapels with back rooms that reveal a sinister secret), but chances are that you've seen every item on this list more than once.

I'll be honest, this was just about the most brutal list to make for Perfect Ten so far. Not because I couldn't think of any, but because there were just so many from which to choose. In the end I just grabbed the first 10 that came to mind, but I'll bet that we'll see even better examples in the comments.

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Perfect Ten: MMO industry moves I didn't see coming

Asheron's Call, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online

Perfect Ten MMO industry moves I didn't see coming
Despite -- or more accurately, because of -- my love for video games, I would never want to work in the games industry as a developer or what have you. I think it's an industry that doesn't have a good track record of job security, sane hours, or products that you could feasibly spend years working on that might not make it to ship. But I love writing about the industry. I love the news. That's why I adore being at Massively.

I also love the news because MMOs and studios constantly surprise me. Hey, maybe you're an amazing clairvoyant person who can not only predict but accurately foresee all of the jukes and twists that the industry makes. I am not. When mental superpowers were being handed out, I got "setting people on fire with a mere thought" instead of what appears to be the widespread "know it all" ability. I don't regret it. I mean, you probably already knew that I was going to post a picture of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi being attacked by bees on the front page of Massively.

But I think that the surprises are part of the fun. No matter what we've seen in the past and no matter how knowledgeable any of us is about MMOs, the strange developments keep on coming. So this week I want to list 10 stories that I really didn't see coming at all.

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Perfect Ten: My favorite classes

Classes, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten My favorite classes
Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; a few of my favorite classes have nothing to do with such musical nonsense. Of course, now that I've started thinking about that song, my brain has to finish it before I can do anything else. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, yup. Brown paper packages tied up with strings, uh huh. These are a few of my favorite things. OK, can I move on now?

Seriously, how boring was life in the 1940s that tied-up brown packages were worth singing about?

I've played a lot of MMOs over the past decade or so, and in each of them I've agonized about which class I would make my main. Sometimes this resulted in me creating a wide selection of possible candidates, each vying for my affection while I cruelly sentenced the losers to permanent deletion. But in the end, here are 10 classes from 10 separate MMOs that tickled my fancy and totally kicked woolen mittens in the interest department.

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The Perfect Ten: Literal kill 10 rats quests

Asheron's Call, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Humor, Runes of Magic, RIFT, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Literal kill 10 rats quests
Webster's Dictionary describes "kill 10 rats" as "something nerds do, now shut up and read a few intelligent words." I think the editors are getting a little lazy there at Webster's, but that's nothing compared to the OED crowd that routinely slips in paragraphs of cut-and-pasted Hunger Games fan fiction just to pad the volumes.

Anyway, we all know that "kill 10 rats" is a derogatory term for those quests that make you slaughter a certain number of things to make life happier for the quest giver. Why that quest giver has a very specific number in mind has always fascinated me, but never mind. It stems from a long-standing RPG tradition by which lowbie characters typically start their career by doing a little rodent culling in the basement of a tavern. That's how all great people got their start, Abraham Lincoln included.

With "kill 10 rats" already being a trope, developers have this habit of trying to be coy and meta by actually putting quests in their MMOs where you, yup, kill 10 rats. I get the feeling that they think they're doing something clever and cheeky, even though practically all of their competitors have done the same. So here we go: ten literal "kill 10 rats" quests that you can find in your games today.

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The Perfect Ten: Obnoxious studio buzz words

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Obnoxious studio buzz words
So say that you write for Massively. Or say that you work for another news site while wistfully refreshing Massively's front page hoping to see a "we're hiring!" notice pop up. Or say that you're a two-headed frog that has a respectable blog that one head writes for while the other one eats flies. The important thing for this example is to imagine that you write news.

Because you write news, a good chunk of your day is spent prowling for stories. Some of them you find while browsing. Some of them are sent to your email. Once in a great while your cell phone registers a call from California and a way-too-peppy voice tries to sell you on the notion of writing a 2000-word feature on a game that only the mole people have heard of. In all of this, you are exposed to a great amount of PR-speak. You see the same phrases pop up, again and again. You understand how words can be hollow shells wrapped around a complete lack of meaning. You start to go mad until your other head tells you to snap out of it and eat some more flies.

So today you're going to join me here on this side of the news desk as we look at 10 of the most obnoxious buzz words or phrases that studio PR and devs like to toss our way. You could get really cynical reading this list, but I suggest that you make a bingo sheet instead to turn this into a fun game that never, ever ends!

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The Perfect Ten: MMO commercials that take us back

World of Warcraft, Video, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Commercials that take us back
I don't see a lot of commercials these days. I like to imagine that I'm a one-man force out to frustrate advertisers, ducking and weaving whenever they try to wing a 30-second spot at me. A lot gets through, but I've long since canceled cable, and the only traditional commercials I sit through are the ones for the occasional YouTube video.

But there's something about a good commercial that can take us back on a wave of "remember whens?" and community bonding. I hear more discussions about creative ad spots the day after the Superbowl than the game itself. Commercials can even be a time capsule that unlocks memories for us of favorite movies, toys, and experiences.

But what about MMOs? Well, they have commercials too, although not as many have made it to the standard airwaves. They're out there, though. Lurking. Emitting nostalgia rays from the past. And I've been hunting them down, looking for commercials that take us back to a simpler, goofier time. A few thousand dead brain cells later, I've got 10 of the margh make it sop pleaze pleaaa...

Enjoy.

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The Perfect Ten: Franchises that would make great MMOs

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Franchises that would make great MMOs
Any MMO player worth his or her salt has a binder full of ideas for games, usually based on a favorite book, television, or movie franchise. We've talked about it before. We've discussed whether or not it's a good idea to even have IP-driven MMOs. But you know what we've never done? We've never consulted me.

I'm hurt, to be honest. I know that I'm just one of millions of MMO players, but I have a binder too! It's a vintage Trapper Keeper with a wizard on the cover who is dashing among abstract geometric shapes. My mom thought it was cool and my friends think it's totally rad. Inside are the secrets to hit MMOs that studios are just too scared to make but would be bigger than World of Warcraft if someone would just take the chance. I know it.

Today I'm going to open up that binder and shove my ideas in your face. And then, knowing how these things go, I will raise up every geek voice against my picks in the comments section. Bring it on. My wizard can handle all of you.

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The Perfect Ten: Why game holidays rock

Events (In-Game), Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Why game holidays rock 20
It's as inevitable as the tides, political scandals, and new flavors of Pepsi. Whenever an MMO announces that it's introducing new holiday content into its game, the grumpies come out. "Wah!" they cry. "Why are developers wasting time on this! It's useless! Pointless! Just the mere notion of it makes baby kittens die worldwide!"

What my poetic license is trying to say is that some folks are displeased and they make themselves well-heard because of it. I like to think that after posting angry comments, they then go around the rest of the day slamming doors, flipping chairs, and sulking noisily so that someone will ask them why they're in such a foul mood. The answer, if truthful, would be endlessly entertaining. Then again, I used to throw snit fits when I got sent to jail in Monopoly.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love in-game holidays. Love. Them. Beyond the novelty of what they do, there are plenty of reasons that even the most jaded holiday-hater should simmer down around this topic. I think I'll list 10 of them.

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The Perfect Ten: Why I love collector's editions

Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes

The Perfect Ten Why I love collector's editions
If you've ever wondered what kind of naive sucker would plunk down a semi-thick wad of perfectly good cash on an overstuffed MMO collector's edition, hi, I'm Justin. I do just that. I don't buy collector's editions for every MMO I pick up, but I do have a strong habit of purchasing them that dates back to the original World of Warcraft CE.

I can't help it; I love collector's editions so much. In fact, my interest in them is so keen that the number one and two questions I have for any anticipated MMO in beta are: (1) When can I pre-order the CE and (2) what's included in it? I'm like a junkie, except that instead of burned spoons and constant trips to White Castle to stave off the munchies, my shame is marked by mountain-sized boxes that litter my closet.

It's confession time for this collector's edition addict. What are my reasons for this undying love, this unbridled passion, this all-consuming need to own the best edition possible? You're about to find out.

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The Perfect Ten: Movies for the MMO fan

Culture, Opinion, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Movies for the MMO fan
You love movies? Sure, who doesn't? I certainly do; I've been reviewing them with friends since 1997. I'm always fascinated by how many out-of-the-way gems there are that go overlooked by the mainstream audience, and I love how films tie into our daily experiences in unexpected ways.

MMOs haven't quite gotten popular enough to spawn their own sub-genre of films, apart from the odd fan project or the long-rumored World of Warcraft flick. That doesn't mean that we're lacking good movie role models for our hobby, however. I think that there are plenty of films that are perfectly suited for the MMO fan, even if they've never been thought of as such.

So here are 10 films that speak to us as gamers. To make things interesting, I excluded any movie that shares the same IP as an MMO. Read this list and let me know what you would pick!

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