Tag: massively

This week in /saved

Here are some articles published this week that i found worth a read.

This week, there are a lot of posts. Many of them cover the topic of Massively’s closure, but there were many other interesting posts, as well. So many, in fact, that i had to leave some out. I don’t even touch the subject of SOE becoming Daybreak, but that’s mostly because i didn’t read (but /saved some) posts concerning this topic and i…don’t have an opinion, yet.


J3w3l from Healing the Masses takes a dive into why and how permadeath mechanics influence her enjoyment of games.

While short, Belghast gives a quick view on Albion. I haven’t read anything about it that didn’t come from the official website, so i found it interesting to read, even if it’s just two paragraphs.

The discussions

There was one discussion going on about…..payment models! It’s great to see new topics coming up all the time, isn’t it? But i found this one to be quite interesting.

Payment models

I don’t really know who started this round; the first post that i noticed and /saved was from the lovely Free-to-play Fuckery series from J3w3l, in this case concerning Trion and lockboxes. It wasn’t all said and done on her site, though, as Murf continued the series on her blog with The mobile Menace. In the meantime, Tobold also had his say, beginning with a post about how “it’s your fault” that games close when you don’t spend money and goes on to say that Grind2win isn’t particularly better than pay2win. He then continues and picks up on J3w3ls lovingly titled series by arguing that f2p games, in his opinion, aren’t subsidized by people who have no money, but spend it anyway but instead by people who do have enough money to burn. Which, brought up another post by J3w3l in response, arguing, well, that it aren’t really the highly educated wealthy people funding f2p.

All in all, very entertaining, especially J3w3l’s rants. But others chimed in, as well. I can’t say who posted her’s first (i think both are female, pls. correct me if i’m wrong), but i’m with Syl on this topic– i don’t care, just make a good game and i’m fine (although i won’t spend money for lockboxes). I’ll have to close this chapter with Liore‘s short post, however. Very concise!

Time vs. Money

Off of this discussion, something branched out- the topic being whether it’s fair to value time spent higher than money spent (or vice versa) in MMORPGs. Azuriel was first, declaring time as a fair measure for progression since everybody gets 24 hours a day. Syl, again, makes the point that, first, addiction is a bad thing, whether you spend way too much time or money on something- and it isn’t depending on payment models.

To put down my own opinion, and be quick about it, i’ll say that there is no fair payment model and neither a fair progression model. That’s coming from someone who doesn’t have the time to play as much as most others, even if i’m concentrating on one MMO. I’ve seen people burn through an MMOs content in two weeks, barely sleeping. They bought the box, played 200 hours and were done with the game. In the meantime i bought the box and 3 months of sub, played maybe 150 hours in that time, but spent twice the amount of money.

Replacing Massively

Scree thought about the possibility of bloggers taking the spot of Massively– in my reply i tried to think about that, as well, and concluded it wouldn’t be easy. Aywren wrote a better post on the subject, with clearer implications on why it might not work. And then there was Liore, asking an important question- even if we were able, would we want to do it?

Massively’s shutdown

Of course, there were many posts about Massively shutting down. Some of them were mentioned in the last post on Massively, but really, this post went on longer than i thought and Wilhelm Arcturus has an excellent overview of blogs covering the topic.

Not so easy

I guess this could also be a comment. I’ll save up the /saved post for tomorrow or sunday, today i’d like to visit an idea Scree had over on his blog– to try a summary, he suggests that the big advantage Massively had over normal, amateur bloggers was access to devs/expos/PR and a team of writers. He suggests that maybe, bloggers could do the same job just as well.

It wouldn’t work

Not directly, anyway. First of all, a team of bloggers would take years to reach the same recognition this team has going for it, and justly so. Those writers have dedication and worked hard to get where they are- my guess is that amateur bloggers wouldn’t want to invest that much time in the same kind of work. Even when there were new writers, they’d profit from the respect Massively has attained. Normal bloggers wouldn’t be able to put out the same quality, content wise.

Furthermore, while there are a lot of talented people in the amateur blogging sphere, they wouldn’t put out the same quality of writing. I read a few posts on the topic, and there seem to be quite many bloggers who think Massively was more or less just a press release aggregator.

But i think that’s not true, to be honest. The last year or so has seen an upsurge in stuff like that, but i think that was because they felt cornered- the budget was cut in half and they wanted to prove that they could still reach the goals they were given. As i said in my first farewell-post, many of the writers began using Patreon after these budget cuts, so my guess is that they saw the sword coming down to them.

I always liked the content they put out- maybe i didn’t agree with it every time, but it was worth a read- and Massively was a site that got read by developers. The last developer i saw on some amateurs blog has been Brian “Psychochild” Green when arguing about free-to-play with someone who doesn’t really want to discuss the topic. But we know they’re reading Massively.

Then there’s the cost of things. You could, of course, put out a podcast, it’s not that expensive, and some people do. Still, i think there would have to be some investment in time and money to make it of a good (sound and content) quality as well as fun to listen to.

We now know that, apparently, WoWInsider’s last budget was about $8k/month, since that was the amount they wanted to raise to be “full operational”. I don’t know if Massively’s budget was higher or lower than that, but i don’t think you’d find reliable people who would pull off a Massively-like site without getting paid, because it is work. And you’d probably, even when not paying anybody, need to invest money- since you also need the traffic and reach to get developers to pay attention, so you can’t just let this site rest on some cheap server or on wordpress.com.

And lastly, who’d have the “power” to get the “high-profile” amateur bloggers together in such an enterprise? Who should and would call the banners? Don’t misunderstand, i’d love to see a co-op blog somewhere, and if somebody asked, i’d try to contribute. I just don’t think it would be able to “replace” Massively.

No, “we” couldn’t step in. Thankfully, they’ll continue.

Is it just me?

When the closure was officially announced, i had the feeling MMO devs both big and small hurried to get their news out to Massively while it’s still up and running, and i saw how other sites- namely MMOGames.com and MMORPG.com picked up their pace and tried to rise the quality and involvement of their sites to win as many users as possible in the time the Massively team isn’t able to. By the way, i think that’s ok, but it was noticeable- at least to me. I can only imagine how mmorpg.com might be hurrying along the redesign of their site to maybe get it in place before Massively Overpowered becomes a thing.

Of course, i did something similar. These days, i started using Twitter more- by way of sending out automatically generated Tweets for every post i publish here, by following more bloggers, reaching out a bit more. What this resulted in is, mainly, chaos. I use Feedly to read blogs, but i’ve followed other blogs here on WordPress that aren’t in my feedly, yet. I’ve followed bloggers i recognized on Twitter, but they haven’t made it over to WordPress or Feedly yet.

And i think that Massively’s shutdown brought some people closer together, or maybe that’s just my impression because i have been quite insular myself, before. And really, if that and a good, healthy and financially viable Massively Overpowered come out of all this, we might have won something.

When it still wasn’t clear if the Massively team continued and tried to do something, i found myself thinking similar thoughts as Scree- but in a different manner- i asked myself if a team of bloggers might be able to fill the gap somewhat- at least for the readership. Nothing that would rise anew right now could even hope to get the same recognition by developers and the casual readers alike. But for people who read blogs anyway, it might’ve been possible to shovel a little dirt in the crater that was there when Massively came down.

I’m really glad they’ll continue. And i really hope they’re quick about it, because “next month”…well, i’m afraid to think about what that would mean for the amount of money they’d get through kickstarting.

Since, right now, i can’t help out with money, i’d like to try and help them by keeping them in our minds, so i’ll find some links to articles that i liked.

The Massively Legacy

So for today, i’ll go with one of Jef Reahards pro-virtual-world articles, this one from the column Some Assembly required. It touches on the subjects of balance and fairness in MMORPGs and, as one would expect, the author doesn’t think everybody should be on equal footing.


Yesterday i didn’t play. Well, this is a lie, because from 22:30 to 23:00 i couldn’t stand to refresh the Massively site, the Twitters and other stuff anymore, so i went and did something. More on that later.

Massively Overpowered

Massively overpowered - home of the Massively team
Great to have you(r) back!

When i got back, there it was: the former Massively crew took its golden yacht, sailed into the sunset and became Massively Overpowered. Here’s how to find them:

Website: Massively Overpowered

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MassivelyOP

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/massivelyop

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/massivelyoverpowered

The homepage is not up yet, but we’re promised a mailing list soon(tm). Then there was talk about a kickstarter, we’ll see about that.

What we know so far

It seems the whole team is on board, when looking at the Twitter accounts. Mike and MJ will do the streams, and we know Justin and Bree will do the podcast. Let me just say that yesterday, the tables turned- i was finished with griefing and sadness and excited to know what’s coming next.

So basically, i spent my evening on Massively. I had a good laugh when i saw what their last stream was. That was very fitting- as was this comment. I let the stream open to listen, read the chat, but i didn’t see much of the game MJ was playing.

They were also friendly enough to link my two posts on the topic of the shutdown (Thank you!) and i went to read one of them again- oh well, i have to say, i’m not very satisfied with my language. I need to put in more effort to communicate more clearly. I’m afraid this post will be scribbling, again, so sorry for that.

What’s to come

First off, let me just say that i love the name. Massively Overpowered is great, because it makes use of the former page’s name while adding something that takes the attention away from that at the same time. I also like their logo and the fact that they don’t wait for a few days to “unveil” it.

They’ll need our help, though. There was talk about kickstarter, but maybe it was used as a general expression and Patreon is what we’ll get. I don’t know (yet), and i don’t really care. I will be a supporter either way, the difference will be in the amount of money i’ll give. I don’t want to overstretch it, i too have a budget, after all, but i think i’ll begin with a larger amount and settle to something that’s appropriate. The team from Blizzard Watch made it, as of this writing, they’re just north of 9000$/month- let’s give the Massively crew the same support.

The wishlist

I know it’s early, but of course i had a thought or two on how the new site could be even better than the old one, at least from my perspective. First of all, news are great and i’ve come to understand that many visitors seem to be looking for that, but i’d like to see more weight being put into the blogging/opinion/community part- experiences in game are interesting to me, as is opinion, and i liked, for instance, their “General Chat” column where they’d link to blog contents they found interesting.

Bring back Dungeon Tours! It was such a great idea from MJ, to show off dungeons in different games and play with the community. It wasn’t good to see it go, and i think it’s relatively easy to set it up again.

The excitement

And here’s my biggest wish: the authors should make more money than they earned being AOL employees. They’re taking a risk and it should pay off.  I’m hoping for a win-win: we, the readers, might be getting even better content and community, they, the creators, get more money.

I’m really looking forward to see what they come up with, i’m sure it will be great and i’m really confident it will be even better than AOLs Massively. Starting something new is exciting, so i wish Massively Overpowered all the best!

As i said, i was so excited to get the news that i had to launch a game to relax a little bit. So here’s what i did.

Minstrel boost

Lotro's elf starting area
Lotro’s elf starting area

So what did i do in the 30 minutes while waiting for the big news to come? I logged into Lotro and did something i was thinking about for quite some time- i took a minstrel on Landroval through the Intro/Tutorial zone and bought a Gift of the Valar from the store. As it happens, it’s discounted these days. Still pretty expensive if you have to spend money, but i’m a lifetime subscriber who hasn’t played in the last two years or so, so i had plenty of Turbine Points to spend.

It isn’t so much cheating, though. I already have a minstrel of level 50 on Belegaer, the german RP server and always wanted to have my main character on Landroval, since the community is more active there. But why play the same class again, to level 50? So i took a shortcut, and now i have the Beorning in the starting area and the minstrel in front of the entrance to Moria. I need to get through there, i want to see the world beyond! So if you have any suggestions on how to get through Moria very fast, let me know, please. I’m sure the design is very good, but it’s just not for me, these caves.

A massive sendoff

So, Massively’s closing on tuesday. The whole affair, though, proved to be a somewhat positive thing; the community loving that site is a good thing to see these days. There have been lots and lots of encouraging comments, blog posts and so on. While we are “between Massivelys”, i wanted to write down some thoughts about what Massively was like and hopefully, what it’ll be like, soon.

The community is strong in this one

I spent some time thinking about what it is that made Massively unique in this industry- i mean, there are other sites, like mmorpg.com, tentonhammer.com, mmogames.com and zam.com, but to me, they fail when it comes to providing the “Massively experience”. I think this has a lot to do with how personal, subjective and full of character the Massively writers are. Sure, we all have our favourites, possibly those who cover the games we each play, and for me, i like Justin Olivetti, MJ Guthrie and Jef Reahard the most. Bree’s also great, especially when she does some no-bullshit-writeup. But she wasn’t in the front rows often since she became the Editor-in-chief and lost her three main games in one year. It’s quite a team, when you think about it- Justin and MJ are almost always positive, taking a glass-half-full view on the games we all love, while Jef…well, i haven’t seen Jef happy since starting to read Massively. But he has always been a strong proponent for MMORPGs being virtual worlds, a sentiment i share.

The other writers are also great, of course. Eliot’s and Larry stick out because they are the ones who mainly stick to one game; this is something that you can feel when reading someone’s articles. The knowledge of the game is there, as is the love for it.

Oh yeah, this paragraph was about the community. It is noteworthy that 98% of the comments in these last days have been very positive and expressed the will to “do something” in order to not lose Massively’s writers and community as assets. Twitter handles were exchanged, i too dusted my old Twitter account off although i wanted to get a new handle with this blog. Speaking from my perspective, there aren’t too many community members who seem to be following the others, as in me, but i can’t fault anyone for that- i was a silent reader, mostly. That is something i will change in the Massively-to-come.

Massively Next

It seems to be clear that the staff will strike out on their own. They hinted at this being a possibility several times.

So what can they do? Patreon seems reasonable- go for a subscription model, make us pay for content. I’m sure, right now, there will be a lot of people supporting their efforts. But i also have to say that Patreon is also a bit risky- they could lose subscriptions over time. I don’t know if a Kickstarter is possible, but it would have the benefit of a lot of money rolling in right now instead of a monthly stipend that could be cancelled at any time. Still, when we think “Online Magazine”, Patreon would possibly be the way to go.

Also, they’ll have to move fast. I don’t want to be Negative Nancy here, but all these people telling them they’ll support Massively? They mean it, but give them time to realize that a world without Massively isn’t some kind of strange alternate reality one couldn’t imagine before and support will dwindle. Right now, people are emotional- hell, i am- and while one could say that it wouldn’t be the good thing to do, i’d advise to take advantage of that. They’ll get the most money 1 or 2 weeks after the closure- later on, it will become less with each passing day. They have to make their move. WoW Insider seems to be ready to go on february, 3rd, and i’m looking forward to see what they cooked up and i hope, Massively’s writers have something, as well.

While i think it’s really sad to see WoW Insider go, my first concern is Massively. I’m not so sure why they don’t join forces, though. I think it’s reasonable to assume that whatever both teams come up with, that it’s not going to be as large-scaled as what they were before. I think if they banded together, put the readerbase on one project, they’d both win.


Even if AOL didn’t interfere much with what Massively wrote and did- at least it didn’t seem much- there will be some changes coming. As said, i expect the new project to be somewhat smaller. Also, when your readership directly pays your bills- either by Kickstarting your idea or in a Patreon-style-subscription format, they’ll hold you accountable. That said, i think if it’s going to happen, the quality of Massively Next will be even better than what we have now. Also, the staff could write stuff that they’re passionate about- maybe we’ll see more roleplaying topics, maybe we’ll see more opinionated articles like the Soapbox. The Massively team has our hints as to what we’d like to see.

Anyhow, with this team together, i can see a really good, cooperative blog/news page coming up, and i could even see how it could be even better than Massively- at least for us, the readers. I’d hope the authors would also come out on top, but that remains to be seen.

Putting your money where your mouth is

So Ex-Massively author Rubi Bayer asked us to put our money where our mouth is. And i can tell you, i’m totally willing to do that. Since the €/$ – conversion rate is messed up right now, i can say that i’d put 10€ (wow, that’s only 11.30$ right now) a month in- if it was a monthly payment. Otherwise, i’d look into what combination of one-time-injection and subscription would work for me.

As for Rubi’s asking to help those authors out- i’m with her, maybe one should do that in the meantime. But i can also tell you this: first of all, i won’t be able to support everyone- it wouldn’t make a difference to either of them if i tried to, say, split my 12$ in three parts or something. Also, i’m slightly worried that if it works out “too well” for one of them, they might not be hungry enough to get Massively Next going- but that’s silly, maybe. And then there’s a third reason: whatever i’d put in, i’d send it off to Massively Next when it comes up, so the injection would only be temporary and i’ll feel terrible when i transfer it over to the new Massively.

Nevertheless, i think i’m going to become a Patreon of one of them- still want to sleep over it, but i’m positive. No question, though, that i’d pay for the Massively-team-new-site.

Joystiq likely to be shut down- Massively as well?

So yesterday this news broke. AOL may be shutting down Joystiq. Massively, being a partner site, might also suffer this fate. I have to say, if it were to happen, this would mark a sad day for the MMO and blogging community. I think maybe the authors saw it coming with the last round of layoffs and budget cuts, because they prepared themselves and set up more prominent personal blogs.

You can find Justin Olivetti/Syp, of course, over at biobreak.wordpress.com, but others made a move, as well.

Larry Everett opened up Hyperspace Beacon to get his Star Wars related posts out, and he also puts at least snippets of his Massively column on this site.

MJ Guthrie has a few projects- her personal Twitch page being one, then there’s lookingforshinies.com and her Landmark-roleplaying-writing-the-games-history-page i just can’t seem to find right now. I’ll look for it later.

Bree has her own blog, as well, at skycandy.org, and then there’s Eliot Lefebvre on his own site.

Others can be found at other places- Beau Hindman is with mmorpg.com now, as is Shawn Schuster.

I’ll update the list if/when i get the other adresses, as well- if i remember correctly, Mike Foster also has some project going on.

With that out of the way, let me say this straight: Massively can’t be allowed to vanish.

You’ll have mmorpg’s closing shop, that’s just business, but Massively shutting down would be a huge loss for our favourite industry. Granted, i liked the page more when it was more blog and less news, when every author was excited for their game and every column made you wonder why you didn’t see all the wonders of these games- the way it was before the last cut. But even now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a site like Massively. It’s still mostly designed as a blog, even if news take a front seat now and the game columns are not that great when the author isn’t excited about their game, but sees the same flaws in it as we do.

This site is made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. It also is vital for my interest in the genre in the first place. It is a very important site, in my book. All authors, even the more and more grumpy ones, love the genre and this is what shines through each and every article they put out- and this is what differenciates Massively from other sites who try to write in a neutral tone or something- one might be able to visit other sites for news, but not for the excitement!

Also, one has to wonder- where would the games get appropriate coverage, then? I see no real competitor to Massively, the other sites are even more news-related. I’d hope the Massively writers might be able to stick together somehow and publish something indie, but it really isn’t that easy to earn money in the internet- although i could see ways- maybe offer in-depth game guides, sell them as pdf or something, in addition to the column.

I don’t think these sites where they could get donations would work- maybe, if they really stick together and want to reform Massively, but by themselves, i don’t think they’d be able to do it this way. They would need to offer paid content. But this isn’t the topic for today.

I really hope this are just rumors, or by some magic trick Massively won’t be affected, but to be honest, the pointers seem to indicate otherwise. Most important, perhaps, i hope it works out for all employees, who i feel to almost know in some fashion, so there is somewhat of a relationship there. I know it’s just a second job for most of them, but my guess is that they love it. So they should keep it or land on their feet, continuing to do what they love to do.

Others chimed in, John Smedley, for instance (although he gets picked on by Massively sometimes)- have to say, the thought that maybe someone would buy it didn’t cross my mind. Ah, here’s hoping.

Best wishes and hopefully, this is all wrong.

It’s not about grouping

Massively’s Jef Reahard posted another noteworthy soapbox column over on their site, stating that of course he cares what “you” are doing in an MMO. I found it difficult to understand what he was expressing, exactly. The only thing he mentioned directly was “solo questing” and the common saying that “you shouldn’t care what others are doing in an MMO”. Funny enough, i agree to the second part and am what you’d call a solo quester. I wrote about the reasons for that, so i’ll concentrate on the second part of his criticism, the don’t-care-part.

So we're in a group- did it help?


Normally, i’m with Jef on many occasions- i think he’s what you’d call a “core player”, which in this case would mean that he likes his MMORPGs to be “virtual worlds” more than games. But in this case i think that if games would follow that philosophy, you wouldn’t and needn’t to care about other players’ activities in your MMO. The reason this comes up is because themeparks are designed in a way that makes combat just about the only activity “worth” pursuing, and solo questing / solo progression is just the most accessible part of that activity.

I do, however, agree with two sentiments he only scratches at the surface in his opinion piece- one being that we all influence each other, even more so when we are thinking about a free-to-play game with an ingame shop, the other one being that MMORPG design took a wrong turn at some point in their history. But this is not about grouping up, storylines or quests. This, in my opinion, is more about trying to get attention of a wider market (remember: World of Warcraft is so successful because it gained a lot of players who didn’t play MMORPGs before WoW. Also, as a disclaimer: WoW was my first MMO, as well) and a strong focus on combat and loot. MMORPGs can be social without grouping up and doing dungeons.

Guild Wars 2 event

I could just log in and chat with my guildmates while playing solo. I could gather resources and sell them on the market, someone else could use them to craft something- all the while not being in a group but playing by him- or herself. Maybe i stand at a crafting station and get to chat with another player whom i meet at these stations regularly. Also, i would argue that grouping up to do a five-player-dungeon is not really social in a “massive” sense, because, after all, you are only interacting with three, four or five other players. If you are interacting, that is. With dungeon finder tools, “Hello” and “Thanks!” are often the only sentences someone writes to the group mates.

If we wanted MMORPGs to become more social (again?), there’s really no way around the fact that games need to be designed in a way that favors social interaction, friendlist-building and stuff like that. There are a few good ideas out there, like Guild Wars 2’s loot and gathering system (which has its own problems regarding the ingame economy), The Secret World’s time-to-kill and, for instance, Aions open world group zones, where Elite mobs roam the area, so that you are kind of forced to group up to travel these zones comfortably. Nothing really worked in getting us, the players, to play or interact more often. But i think this is the way to go. Add a good gathering/crafting/economy-component to that and forget the notion of instanced content altogether, and you might be on to something.

The Secret World

Of course, there still is the other side of the medal- the players. After adding incentives to group up, play and interact with each others as an option, which is important- it shouldn’t be mandatory, we would still have to do our part.

What i noticed- and i’m surely not alone in this- is that the perception of other players has changed since we took our first steps in whatever our first MMO was. Mine was WoW, and i was amazed- all these other people played the same game. We helped each others out, gave instructions and advice on how to get better in playing the game, we faffed around, doing things that made no sense in regards to progressing our characters. My wife and an ingame friend of her made a tour to see the world bosses in early WoW when they were level 30 or something. It was dangerous, it made no sense and they had lots and lots of fun.

Today, other players- in a more general sense- are players we meet via dungeon finder tools, who generally criticize what we are doing, have no respect for beginners (or, from the other point of view: steal our time by being beginners), hurry through the dungeon and/or become obstacles in progression (“forced grouping”, “gathering node thieves”) or kill our fun by perhaps killing us in world PvP, or hacking, cheating and exploiting their characters to success in a Sandpark of our choice, thereby destroying an economy and a whole feature for those looking for that kind of experience.

The model home was all i got
The model home was all i got

I’m not saying this isn’t true- i made some, if not all those experiences, as well, and i don’t like them, either. But i think we should look at other players in a better way. Because no matter who you are going to ask, everyone, even the hackers/cheaters and gankers, will say that other people ruin their fun in an MMO. Of course they don’t mean everybody, but each group has another group they don’t like: hardcore/casual, crafter/raider, roleplayers/gankers, pve/pvp and so on. So the real problem might not be “not caring” what others do in your MMO, but “caring too much”. They made Wildstar for hardcore raiders and it didn’t work out so well for Carbine. Now they make the game more accessible and the “hardcore” players don’t like the “dumbing down”.

I think, in the end, what i’d want to say is: we should give every player we meet the chance to get in your friends list. I think most players aren’t the monsters we make them out to be.

Also, if your MMORPG is a “real” MMORPG, there’s enough room and stuff to do for all kinds of players.

Another thing would be cash shop purchases, of course, which directly influence what the developers do in the future- you don’t like lock boxes, labor point potions or raid gear? Don’t buy them- not even when/if the publisher “forces” you.