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The Think Tank

The Think Tank: Fixing the Landmark-EQ Next perception problem

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, The Think Tank, Landmark

Not a Landmark post on Massively goes by without at least one commenter essentially telling SOE to talk about EverQuest Next or shut up. Massively's MJ Guthrie, who writes our EverQuest franchise column, has herself explained until she's blue in the face that Landmark is EQ Next's foundation, and SOE has talked plenty about EQ Next independently too, but for some reason, the explanations aren't sticking with the MMO populace, so the same complaints are voiced in every thread.

So what gives? Has SOE been too confusing with the Landmark/EQ Next co-branding? How can SOE dig itself out of this persistent perception problem? That's what I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: What will MMOs look like a decade from now?

World of Warcraft, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
A reader in my Working As Intended column last week penned this thought-provoking gem:
"I have no idea what games will look like say in 10 years time. I am sure some of these current games will still be going and doing well because of the investment of those playing them now. What new stuff will be coming out then, I have no idea, especially as the 'Minecraft generation' gets older."
What will the Minecraft generation make of World of Warcraft? What will MMOs look like in 10 years? These are the questions I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

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

DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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The Think Tank: Autumn is the season of MMO expansions

Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

SWTOR
Happy autumn! It's a season of MMO expansions. World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online, and bunches more are all getting major updates or expansions in the next few months. Presumably, expansions aren't meant only to give existing players something to do; they're also meant to give old players reasons to come back. But do they work?

That's the question I asked Massively's writers in this week's Think Tank. Do we return for expansions? Do we avoid them? Do we even like them? Let's talk expansions.

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The Think Tank: How to save WildStar (if WildStar needs saving)

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Massively Meta, WildStar, The Think Tank, Subscription

WildStar
When I posed this week's Think Tank question -- what would you do to save WildStar -- to the Massively team, it sparked a heated discussion over whether the game even needs saving in the first place. Fair enough. It's possible to have a long run of bad news and not be in trouble. It's possible that players are just overreacting to Carbine's canceling Christmas. But justified or not, there's growing perception that the game isn't doing so well. I'll address that perception more tomorrow, but for this Think Tank, let's talk about what Carbine can do to fix it.

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The Think Tank: Remembering our first MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Hands-On, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

UO
This week, my very first MMO, Ultima Online, turns 17 years old in what can only be an intentional effort to make classic MMO gamers feel very, very old indeed. I've been thinking a lot about the game and returned to it recently to scope it out, so for today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their own "first MMOs," their first memories of the genre, and whether their firsts have survived the test of time.

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The Think Tank: Surveiling ArcheAge's launch

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Sandbox, The Think Tank

ArcheAge
Some of the Massively staff have been playing ArcheAge during its head start and launch week, and some haven't, but all of us have been watching to see how the first major sandbox launch in recent memory fares. For today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their impressions of the game whether they are playing it personally or examining the launch from an industry perspective.

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The Think Tank: Consoles and the future of MMOs

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Consoles, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank, Destiny

Destiny might not be a pure MMO, but its huge launch on the fringes of the MMO space this week has prompted us to ponder whether the future of core MMOs lies in the console market. In this week's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about just that.

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The Think Tank: The best of PAX Prime 2014

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

ArcheAge
This year's PAX Prime has drawn to a close, as has our coverage, but how did it fare, on the whole, for MMO players?

I polled the Massively writers for their favorite announcements and showings from the con. Here's what we think was the best and most interesting MMO news to come out of PAX Prime.

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The Think Tank: The desirability of world-changing game events

Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

GW2
World-changing events can have a huge impact on MMORPGs, both positive and negative. Guild Wars 2's living story, which laid waste to Lion's Arch and face-lifted several other areas in the game, is well-known for its permanent plot-based world changes, but EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, and many older games have also dabbled with brazen alterations to the landscape... and players aren't always happy about it. For today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers what they think about such content: Are we fans of permanent, comfortable, unchanging worlds, or do we prefer game worlds to change over time and in our absence, even if that means virtual places we once loved can no longer be visited?

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The Think Tank: Building an MMO without levels

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

Welcome back to another Think Tank! This week, I charged the Massively team with a single task: Elevator-pitch an MMO without levels. What should an MMO without levels look like? Can it even be done in this modern MMO era? Here's what we came up with -- we'd love to hear your take too.

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The Think Tank: Saying farewell to Vanguard

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Massively Meta, The Think Tank, Sunsets

Vanguard is being retired forever next week, and this time there won't be a studio waiting in the wings to rescue it from doom. Today, Massively's staff hopes to give it a fond farewell. Join us in sharing our thoughts about the world of Telon.

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The Think Tank: Star Citizen and armchair speculation

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, The Think Tank, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

Star Citizen pew pew
This week, Star Citizen announced it's now raised a total of $48 million in crowdfunding and revealed its $50 million stretch goal, which is an absurd amount of money (but still not as absurd as how much some other AAA MMOs reportedly spent). "As a professional gamer and armchair developer with several failed armchair projects under my belt," wrote Massively commenter computerhelfer with his tongue firmly in cheek, "I can safely say this project has acquired too much money. This project makes my armchair feel uncomfortable."

Apparently, large sums of money and large-scale projects make a lot of people uncomfortable, at least judging by the huge and sometimes nonsensical debates that sprawl across our Star Citizen posts. In today's Think Tank, I've asked some of the Massively writers to speculate on the future of the game, its impact on the genre, and how much higher that crowdfund number might go before all of the core pieces of the game have launched.

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The Think Tank: Finding the magic in MMOs

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

About a month ago, a Massively reader wrote to our team to ask for help on an issue many of us -- and probably many of you -- struggle with: a genre with lots of games and not enough stickiness (and patience!).
I've been around the MMO block (since EverQuest); I even dabbled in Meridian 59. And I keep seeing game articles that make me want to try or retry lots of MMOs, but between my schedule and investment in other titles already, I cannot bring myself to jump into old or new games for more than a few play sessions. There's so many to play that I just can't bring myself to settle down for a little bit to really get enough of the experience to enjoy it.

For example, I recently played Asheron's Call for a total of three hours after subbing and reading articles that compelled me to try it. But it felt foreign and clunky. I couldn't stick around to really appreciate it. I fear the same results in other games I'd like to try. Can you give me advice on shedding the urge to judge and dismiss a game if it doesn't click with me immediately? Is there a way to not be jaded or lazy with being a newbie (yet again) in older titles? Help me play more MMOs for the sake of experience and new loves!

- MMO junkie seeking help "finding the magic"
I polled the team for advice in this week's Think Tank!

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The Think Tank: Happy birthday, Star Wars Galaxies

Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Anniversaries, The Think Tank

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the launch of Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO whose untimely sunset at the end of 2011 continues to make sandbox fans sigh mournfully. This week, in honor of the anniversary, I asked the Massively writers whether they think we'll ever see another new Star Wars MMORPG (other than those we still have, of course), let alone another epic Star Wars sandbox. It's time to speculate!

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