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The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind: How can bots be so prevalent in a sub game?

Fantasy, Bugs, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO - Bots in Cryptwatch
Have you ever wondered why MMO devs do (or don't do) certain things? I have, and my latest bit of wondering concerns The Elder Scrolls Online and its bot problem. "Problem" is used somewhat subjectively here, because the infestation of AFK players in Tamriel hasn't harmed my personal play to any measurable degree, though I'm sure it's doing no favors for the long-term health of the in-game economy.

But when I see a cluster of five or six AFK melee bots around every single public dungeon boss, "problem" is the only word that comes to mind. I'm not exaggerating, either, I have literally seen 24/7 bot camps in all of the public dungeons from Glenumbra to the Alik'r desert.

Yeah, ZeniMax says it's aware of the problem and is doing something about it. But, let's get back to my wondering in the opening paragraph up there. What, exactly, is the company doing about it? ESO is a subscription game, which means that all of those bots entered credit card numbers that can be immediately and permanently banned. Is ZeniMax doing this? If so, why not say that instead of the nebulous devspeak in yesterday's update letter. If not, why not?

I understand the futility of trying to ban bots in a F2P game where new accounts are as easy as a new Gmail address and an IP spoof, but I don't understand how so many of them can continue to exist in a game that requires a CC for access. And hey, I would ask ZeniMax myself if I thought I would get anything other than a PR non-answer. So instead, I'm asking you, Massively readers! What do you think? How can bots be so prevalent in a sub game? Bonus points if you have any relevant development insights to share in the comments.

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: Are you into stealthing mechanics?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

WildStar
Apart from the Imperial Agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I haven't played a lot of stealth-able characters in MMOs. For me, I just don't see the appeal of sucker-punching bad guys instead of facing off in a fair fight; it kind of makes me feel as though I'm bullying them. Plus, having to walk slower in stealth, constantly worry about positioning, and ignoring the illogic of disappearing in broad daylight all wave me off of such characters.

But that's me and those are my hang-ups. I know that stealthing is pretty popular in certain quarters, and I can concede that when done right (as in the Thief series) it can be a compelling mechanic. So I'd like to hear whether you're into being all stealthy in MMOs and what you think about how these systems have been handled over the years.

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: What's your ideal MMO group size?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

GW1
Massively's commenters got me thinking on MMO group size after an article a few weeks ago about socially soloing in games. Even though I like and support the option to solo in MMOs, my favorite games have actually had very large group sizes, far larger than the now-standard World of Warcraft five. Some newer games cut that down to four! But I really loved classic Star Wars Galaxies' 20-person groups and even City of Heroes' and Guild Wars 1's eight-member parties. Something about throwing a huge swarm of people into a group and going out and just Doing Something really appealed to me in a "the more, the merrier" way, especially when the game scaled to meet our needs rather than tried to mash us into a mold for prefab content. And nothing seems worse than having six guildies online and being forced to leave one behind because parties cap at five bodies.

What do you think -- what's your ideal MMO group size?

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: Which NPC is the most annoying?

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO's Angier Stower
"Do you know the old saying? 'Neither a borrower or a lender be?' Rubbish! Without borrowers and lenders, how would we ever be able to buy or sell anything? But pardon me. Welcome to the bank of Daggerfall."

So says one Angier Stower, clerk for Elder Scrolls Online's aforementioned institution and quite possibly the most annoying NPC I've ever encountered. It's not that she feels the need to justify her existence to me every time I need to use the bank, it's that she just... keeps... talking. And talking. And talking. Going through that entire spiel in full voiceover mode every time I open the banking UI.

She's so annoying that some enterprising soul has made a mod designed expressly to shut her the hell up! So thanks very much for that, Wobin. How about it, Massively readers? Who's your pick for the most annoying NPC of all 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!

The Daily Grind: What's the silliest thing you've done for an MMO achievement?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Anniversaries

LotRO Grindaversary fireworks
It's festival time in Lord of the Rings Online, which means that it's time to do all manner of inane activities in order to collect tokens and trade them for mounts, clothing, etc.

I'm actually more amenable to this sort of thing than I used to be, probably because I'm maxed out and looking for any sort of excuse to visit Middle-earth. And what better excuse is there than a series of achievements that grants the title of Master Blaster, provided you have the patience (and the silver) to stand around and fire off 300 vendor-purchased fireworks?

Yep, that's my what's-the-silliest-thing-you've-done-for-an-MMO-achievement story. What's yours?

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: What naming restrictions do you approve of?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

WildStar
A recent beta patch in WildStar included several changes to its naming rules. Numbers in names are out but special characters are in. I'm really not a huge fan of most special characters because they're used to circumvent the fact that your desired name was chosen and so you're going to create a similar-looking name that will be all but impossible for your friends and guildies to type.

Of course, in some games this isn't a problem because players can pick any name they like as long as it's attached to their permanent handle. But that's got its pros and cons too.

What naming restrictions do you approve of? Personally, I wish all MMOs allowed for first and last names, since this usually solves the problem of taken names while increasing variety. I also don't know how prevalent "leet-speak" is these days to necessitate the removal of numbers.

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: Which MMO has the best economy?

Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting, Player-Generated Content

SWG
I'm an incurable trader and merchant, maybe even more than I'm a crafter, so I'm forever droning on about the good ol' days in long-gone sandboxes where players, not raid bosses, delivered all the objects used in the world. Making stuff is great, and lots of MMOs, even themeparks, have that, but I also I like setting up shops, trading on auction halls, finding great deals, and knowing just when to buy low to sell high, which isn't always the type of creative PvP gameplay that modern MMORPGs enable, let alone embrace.

But you can't trade in long-gone sandboxes, either, so today I want to tap the collective wisdom of the Massively readers: Which MMO has the most vibrant crafting and trading economy, right now, in a legally playable and living MMO? Specifically, where's the best MMO to truly be a player merchant?

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: What's your favorite browser MMO?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Browser, The Daily Grind

Heroes & Generals is still badass
Browser-based MMOs aren't normally my bag, but yesterday's Heroes & Generals update reminded me that there are a couple of nifty ones out there. Aside from H&G and SOE's late great Clone Wars Adventures, though, I don't have much experience with the genre.

So, help me out, Massively readers. What's your favorite browser-based MMO title?

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: Are you for or against data mining?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Big Brother
I'm just as much of an information and news junkie as most of you are. I probably wouldn't be working for Massively if I weren't, really! So yes, I like to know the full scoop as soon as possible, and I really can't resist getting sneak peeks at the good stuff. But there's a line that can be crossed in this relentless pursuit of information, which is being totally OK with data mining.

Data mining is the act of combing through game files to find hints of upcoming content or to completely spoil current content in the game. Sometimes it's employed by sites to break NDAs and spill secrets that devs want kept until a later date. Sometimes it's used to grab maps or discover the existence of a new class in the making. There have been plenty of times that data mining efforts resulted in rather large spoilers that robbed the official reveals of their impact.

So I'm curious: Are you for or against data mining? Is it too spoilery for you or do you appreciate the sleuthing efforts of dedicated fans?

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: What real-world lessons have you learned from MMOs?

Culture, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Back in January, a Lifehacker op-ed chronicled six things the writer had learned from playing World of Warcraft -- useful, real-world things, not just how to spec out a frost Mage. For example, he learned that things you like can feel like a grind, and he learned how to quit something wonderful with grace.

I've learned even more practical things than that from my years in MMOs. I've learned leadership skills, honed math and spreadsheet skills, and worked on mastering the art of patience -- OK, so I'm still working on that one. I've also watched ESL guildies perfect their language and writing skills and seen still others parlay this hobby of ours into careers in gaming and coding and journalism.

What about you? What real-world lessons or skills have you learned thanks to 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 Daily Grind: Did you reconnect with any games thanks to PAX East?

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Events (Massively's Coverage)

State of Decay campaign ending
Now that PAX East is winding down, it seems as good a time as any to take stock of the news coming from this year's convention. On a personal level, I was excited to hear about the (eventual) MMOification of one of my favorite games. I also enjoyed catching up with Guns of Icarus, an indie title already holding its own and with its eyes on a larger persistent world prize.

What about you, Massively readers? Did you glean any useful nuggets from PAX East or perhaps rediscover a game you'd not thought about in a while?

Massively's on the ground in Boston during the weekend of April 11th to 13th, bringing you all the best news from PAX East 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about WildStar, Landmark, or any MMO in between, we aim to have it covered!

The Daily Grind: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Kids, Family

Pirate101
As a parent of toddlers, I have often wondered what games I will be playing with them when they get old enough to want to dive into MMOs (if they ever want to, that is). Considering that during this past year we've seen several kid-friendly titles shut down, I'm worried that there might not be any left in a few years.

Recall that Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Toontown Online have been terminated in the past 12 months and answer me this: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out? I can take heart that KingsIsle is still going strong and that LEGO Minifigures Online is in development, but I don't see a lot of interest in studios making MMOs for the much younger set. What do you think?

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: What's your favorite MMO-related song?

Fantasy, Video, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Music

Malukah's Beauty of Dawn
We talk MMO soundtracks in depth here at Massively, but by and large our focus is on instrumental, orchestral, or electronic scores. Recently I've been setting my MP3 player on auto-repeat for a vocal track, though. It's called Beauty of Dawn and it comes to you courtesy of The Elder Scrolls Online and fan favorite Malukah, who rose to fame a couple of years ago on the strength of her Dragonborn cover.

What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite MMO-related song (or artist)?

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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The Daily Grind: What do you hope to see at this year's PAX East?

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Previews, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

PAX East
Massively will be on the ground in Boston at this year's PAX East, which officially starts on Saturday. We'll be scurrying all over convention land to check out WildStar, Landmark, EVE Valkyrie, Warlords of Draenor, Guild Wars 2, Star Citizen, The Repopulation, PlanetSide 2, Guns of Icarus, State of Decay, and Infinite Crisis, among others. A few big MMO studios won't be present, of course; I think everyone will grok why ZeniMax Online might be a bit too busy for another con just now. But big guns like Carbine and SOE and Blizzard will all be in attendance at the first gamer-centric rather than media-centric con of the year.

So what are you looking forward to seeing out of PAX?

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: What game deserves an expansion?

Culture, Expansions, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

UO
I'm actually really happy to see that Ultima Online might be getting expansions once again because I love seeing classic MMOs bucking the trend of fading away and becoming irrelevant. Actually, I'd really like to witness many more games get expansions, since an expansion gets the excitement, attention, and community interest like a mini-launch. That's always good for the genre as a whole.

So what game deserves an expansion? What would you like to see in it? You get bonus points if you manage to go the entire comment without using the word "Cantha" in it!

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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