Meeting our MMO Doppelgangers

Custom character creation is one of the most defining aspects of the MMORPG genre. Stuck with alter egos longterm, players may spend more or less time initially creating their character’s looks but almost everyone agrees that it’s important not everybody look the same in massively multiplayer games. As a non-alt player who cares about customization a great deal, I have high expectations of character creation screens. But whether a game makes it easy or very hard to create a more unique avatar, adventuring alongside thousands of other players means that one day it is inevitably going to happen: you meet your doppelganger online.

My human priest in WoW was far from a popular model in an MMO that has always offered very little in terms of individualism. While scores of white- and violet-haired nightelf twins were running around everywhere in vanilla WoW, it took months before I encountered “myself” in Azeroth. I still remember how weird this felt – in fact, I remember being mildly annoyed about it. Wearing the same gear was obviously inevitable in early WoW but looking the exact same all the way down to the bend of your nose was a big no-no in my book. Whenever I re-encountered that player in Ironforge, I would rush in and out of the auction house quickly. Go away, imposter!


This is an intervention! (

I never even thought about this issue until I encountered the above tweet the other day. It certainly didn’t occur to me that there could be such approval for MMO doppelgangers. I guess encountering someone with the same taste as you is some kind of confirmation but I still can’t feel positive about it. Maybe it’s a matter of being too immersed in your online self (there’s no identical me in real life…I think), in a way it takes away from the whole illusion created by virtual worlds. It’s probably a little silly of me too, but…..don’t copy my character design, okay??

Happy Friday to all the unique butterflies out there!

Straight Talk: It’s not the Games, it’s You. Welcome to the Club!

You know how MMO players, veterans mostly, have this discussion of how everything was better in the olden days, how newer MMORPGs are sucking with their silly free-to-play models and self-sufficient playstyles and so forth? For a precursory read, I’ve recently critically addressed the whole social aspect of that debate. Today however, I’m going slightly further and just say it: if you’re not enjoying newer MMOs anymore, if you can’t get invested or find the right crowd to play with, the problem is most likely just you. Today’s array of available games is not worse than it used to be, it’s better already on account of sheer variety, polish and accessibility. There’s more of everything, good and bad.

This is something I have known for a while in my own case but it just got driven home once more, listening to two newer podcast episodes by fellow TGENerates Braxwolf and Liore. On Beyond Bossfights, Brax and Roger recently had an in-depth discussion of how getting older has affected their ability to be involved in games, as they are struggling to juggle increasing real life demands with gaming quality time. Bottom line: with changed priorities, games and online communities are just not that important anymore. Also: they have been there, done that. All the while in Cat Context episode 84, Elli and Liore admit that they’ve “already met all the people they wanna know in MMOs”. This is a very interesting way of phrasing it. Their strong WoW bonds persist and they’ll readily give up new acquaintances in new games if it means getting comfortable with old buddies they share a history with. They kinda wanna play with people but not necessarily put up with the whole effort of meeting strangers.

This is all completely fine, in fact it’s how I feel myself. A while back I made this point in regards to Wildstar, where I have had the pleasure of being part of a friendly and engaged guild full of younger players fired up about Wildstar and raiding and the whole shenanigans. They are having the same fun I used to 12 years ago and the same drama-lama, for a fact. I just can’t chase that stage of early MMO enthusiasm myself because I have already been there. Also, I really don’t want to – it’s exhausting!


MMOs are not the problem and online communities aren’t either. There have always been trolls in WoW and elsewhere, always been horrible global chats, broken mechanics and bad parties. And there have always been many great new people to hook up with for those who are looking to spend the time (and nerves), to socialize and share moments of epic win. If it somehow doesn’t work out for you anymore after so many years of doing the same thing, then that’s simply put the natural order of things progressing. And how could it be any different?

We’re in this together

Maybe there’s a degree of wistfulness in the admission, but dwindling MMO investment is just another area where life is telling you that you’re getting older and more experienced at things, without literally handing you a pair of reading glasses and a walking cane. One way or another, it happens to all of us. That doesn’t mean we have to stop playing them, in fact it’s an opportunity to explore different ways of doing so without judgement. Thanks to a variety of titles offering playstyle diversity, you don’t have to call it quits on a genre you’ve come to love; no dramatic gestures or vows of abstinence are required.

I used to be a competitive raider, a guild leader, a PvPer. I have always been an explorer, home decorator, riddle solver, gear collector and professional screenshot taker. Who knows what else I will be in the future?

Favorite MMO things: Races


Bleu from Breath of Fire I

Not too long ago I talked about my favorite mounts in MMOs, so today we’re off to the races! Most MMOs have them and make full use of the fascination that is learning about different cultures and exploring different playable species. Unlike in the real world where there are no different races among people, no matter the American English use of the word which is alienating to me personally, MMOs can conjure up genetically different humanoids or even more alien, yet sentient beings for us to play and get involved in.

I’m a fan of racial diversity in MMOs, despite often having opted to play humans in the past, often for reasons of size, armor design and frankly identification. Fantasy MMOs have a wonderful opportunity to create content beyond all rules, so thanks to all of you who don’t follow my example and make more daring race choices instead! I love Tera’s Popori, the Asura and Charr in GW2 or Wildstar’s crazy Chua that defy at least some of the tiresome “shorties cliché” that’s so widespread in this genre. Things get especially interesting when MMOs dare venture into dragon territory, designing playable races that leave little room for anthropomorphization.

That said, I am still that boring conservative that won’t alt and prefers horses as mounts in MMOs, simply because I can’t shed my formative D&D years and that classic interpretation of high fantasy. I also find it takes time to get into ingame personas, so over the years I have only ever grown attached to very few of my characters. In chronological order:

  • Syl, Human in WoW
  • Syl, Arisen in Allods (yeah I don’t change nicks either, sue me)
  • Syl, Norn in GW2
  • Syl, Cassian in Wildstar
  • Syl, Au Ra in FFXIV

I have also had some brief flirts with Asura, Gibberlings and Lalafell but sooner or later, I end up playing characters that are tall. Of the four mains, Arisen and Au Ra are by far my favourite MMO races. No other race design has ever come close to the eerie grace of Allod’s undead cyborgs – if you dig cyberpunk and Egyptian mummies, the Arisen are for you (they disappear into a sarcophagus when going /sleep)! As for my current love that is FFXIV, the Au Ra may or may not be related to dragons but at the very least, their race design clearly toys with a human-dragon/lizard hybrid concept. Given that my longterm online name is based on a wild-elf/dragon character from the Dragonlance novels, there couldn’t be a more fitting race for me to play in MMOs.


At this point, I ask myself what races I’d like to see in MMOs that we haven’t seen yet? Considering some past JRPG favorites, I am leaning towards frogs (Glenn from Chrono Trigger) and naga (Bleu from Breath of Fire). I believe there were frog people in Everquest which has completely passed me by. Furthermore I would really like to see another serious attempt at darkelf/drow design sometime. Drow never seem nearly as badass in MMOs as I always imagined them reading the Forgotten Realms. Black skin, white hair, red eyes – what’s not to love?

Pre-Order Ordeal: Overwatch and Black Desert

In this crazy month of November, I couldn’t even catch up with all the games if I wanted to. First, there’s that FFXIV 3.1 patch packed with new content; I’ve just spent two delightful nights playing through the Void Ark and Maiden’s Rhapsody questlines, squealing like a fangirl because epic FF7 and FF11 nostalgia! I would also really like to advance my Wildstar housing project but ever since re-subbing in September, I have barely touched the game. Instead, I sank hours into the coop frenzy of Vermintide, with some Undertale on the side. I gave Telltale’s Minecraft Storymode a shot too but got so appalled at the lazy cliched writing and slow, dumbed down gameplay, I got it refunded on Steam after one hour. And now that Fallout 4 is out, I don’t see myself going near another new title anytime soon.


Guess who’s back

Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t pre-order more games though, right? Ahem. Blizzard got me and damn my weakness – looking at the Overwatch deals after Blizzcon (for some reason I recall there were three?), I decided that I really couldn’t live without Black Widow’s alternative costume. I always knew I was going to get Overwatch, so why the hell not – the game is already a safe bet in my book. That way, I don’t have to remember to get it when the time comes and I’m totally not rationalizing.

Now word has reached me about the Black Desert pre-order bundles which I didn’t expect to see so soon. The game will be buy-to-play and while I am mighty curious (mostly because I want to spend hours on the character creation screen), I am torn on pre-ordering this one. For one thing, I am still very glad I never bought into ArchAge at the time, considering what went down there. For another, my backers purchase for Landmark stings me to this day (I am cheap, I hate bad buys). Granted, the Black Desert page seems very transparent and comprehensive where the different goodies are concerned – still, I think I will hold off no matter the temptation.

I see myself spending some time in BD when it comes out but it’s doubtful I am ever going to live there and care enough to get virtual property and start caring for collectibles like pets and mounts. (Who am I kidding – my home lies firmly in Eorzea. And a good thing too.) In truth I fully expect this new MMO to do a lot of horrible stuff in the mid-and longterm, starting with the type of grind we’re so used to by Korean titles. Also, I don’t think I have it in me these days to pre-order MMORPGs; given how this genre requires players to spend weeks before they can possibly make up their mind, isn’t it almost counter-intuitive to do so?

P.S. It is entirely possible I will have pre-ordered Black Desert before the weekend. I have a horrible track record where new MMO resolutions are concerned!

Invisible Audience: What your Podcast Stats Won’t Tell You


It’s 2.5 years now since I joined Syp and Steff on the adventure of podcasting about MMO music. Without fail, we have recorded two episodes per month – about 2.5 hours of time spent on Skype and a couple more hours to actually prep for the shows. Battle Bards is somewhat more time intense than other podcasts I have participated in because the entire concept is based on thematic challenges between the three of us, meaning research must be done in advance and picks must be shared and prepped. That sounds like a lot of work for a niche podcast but we’re obviously really into the subject matter or we wouldn’t be doing it. Same as for blogging, you have to podcast for yourself first.

Intrinsic motivation or not, it doesn’t mean you don’t hope for a degree of feedback and positive reception. Blogging and podcasting in a public space are social activities and about connecting with kindred spirits. So whatever content you put out, you hope it’s somewhat useful to somebody else, informative or entertaining. Most of us assume it is at least a tiny bit, but we rarely get unmistakeable “proof”. For one, much fewer people tend to comment on blogs than there are readers; no matter a positive or more critical comment, feedback is therefore valued and appreciated. About half of my frequent commenters are bloggers themselves who understand this very well.

In my humble experience, podcasting is a similar beast yet different from blogging. It takes time to establish a podcast, get the word out and build a backlog – that last part being a major factor both for blog traffic or podcast downloads. It’s very easy to misinterpret podcasting stats by mistaking monthly downloads for individual listeners; as long as you remain active in whatever you do, you’re bound to get more hits and/or downloads over time because of a growing archive. This is especially true for episodic and thematically narrow podcast formats where individual episodes aren’t subject to time / decay of interest. It actually takes dedicated services like Libsyn for more accurate analysis if understanding your podcast’s growth and audience are what you’re after. Often it’s all you can do and even then, you can’t track downloads from other platforms such as iTunes.

Battle Bards is maybe a curious case insofar that our first two episodes were both downloaded 1000 times when they came out, looking at libsyn. I personally did not expect this and put it down to several factors including the three of us being longtime bloggers (which is three times the advertising power) as well as novelty and curiosity (“let’s hear how these folk sound in real life”). Our initial numbers didn’t remain steady – they went back to an average of 300-500 downloads per episode in our first year. Today, our first ever ten episodes all range between 800-2000 downloads each which demonstrates what has happened over time. The backlog is still being listened to.

Roughly from Q1 of 2015, our average downloads per episode have now doubled from what they were in year one. This means there must be a bigger audience but it’s difficult to say how many regular listeners we have, joining from start to finish. Really, who IS our core audience? When do they listen to Battle Bards and from where? Cold numbers give no feedback.

We receive comments from time to time and emails which are always a highlight. They’ve become more rare of late which to me indicates that our more vocal listeners have already made themselves known. Podcasts don’t really inspire continuous interaction the way blogs do; our format certainly raises no big questions to be debated and there isn’t synchronous interaction happening in a comment thread. If someone leaves us a message, it can take up to a month before we reply on air.

So generally, unless you’re part of a super popular podcast with a huge following, you have to deal with the silence of an invisible audience. Stats can tell you that you’re still alive and going but they won’t tell you anything about who’s listening. They also won’t give you a thumbs up and say how much they enjoyed that last episode. Your absence may be noted but as long as you’re always on schedule, your listeners are counting on you silently. Or so you hope.

And that’s okay. It’s still really sweet whenever one of them steps out of the shadows to announce they’re still there, though.

Thanks, Scott!

Who are the MMO Core Players?

brief exchange today between myself and Gazimoff on WoW’s fluctuating player base, got me thinking about the often referenced „core players“ in MMOs. Although there’s unfortunately no data on who today’s longtime WoW subscribers are and when they started playing, it’s reasonable to assume that WoW has a core of the faithful, made sticky by longtime relationships, memories and trophies accumulated over the years. Social ties and virtual property are an important glue for MMO retention and WoW hit the market like a blazing star in 2004.

But really all sarcasm aside (I’ll try!), who are the core players in WoW? Are they the ones who never unsub, never fluctuate? Are they the all-abiding, undemanding that Blizzard need never worry about? Are they the so-called fanboys and fangirls?

What constitutes core and how many core players are there in an MMO like WoW? Is it enough to remain subbed for a certain amount of time to qualify or invest a certain amount of money? Is it the current 5 million players or much less than that – 1 million, 500’000 players? More importantly, how long until we’d find out, how long until the last non-core player is ready to quit WoW and never look back?

What does it take to reveal an MMO’s core?

Questions, questions!

Women of Overwatch: A Closer Look at Character Diversity

I keep creating more tags for my blogposts which is a real problem. I have SO many tags by now!

Anyway, Overwatch! Blizzard have finally revealed the last of their 21 heroes (funny number?) this Blizzcon, several of which were female characters hooray! And not just your standard fare either – looking at the final 8 heroines, you can tell that Blizzard have actually made an effort in the right direction and are listening to some of that criticism related to representation in character-driven gaming. For their newer games, anyway.

Zarya and Mei

Zarya and Mei

Of course there is no pleasing some people which is one of my biggest gripes with extreme internet culture. You can browse that Kotaku link above to find commenters faulting Zarya’s design for being “too stereotype”. Now look, yes the characters are still stereotypes – for one, the entire game is based on hefty cultural/ethnic stereotypes for both its male and female candidates. Overwatch is doing what most oldschool beat’em ups used to: featuring folk from “around the world” representing a specific country. Their looks are stereotypes, their accents are stereotypes (although I think they should have hired me to voice for Mercy!) and there will be gender-related stereotypes. Also this being a Blizzard title, everything is highly stylized rather than nuanced.

Presence of such stereotypes need not mean absence of diversity however. I am pleased with the variety Overwatch is bringing in terms of female character design and role combos! I’m already loving some of them, so let’s have a closer look at what we actually got, shall we?

Overwatch heroine overview

First off, I did a quick breakdown of role-age-flavor for all 8 female characters, to get a very basic idea:


– The average age of Overwatch’s women is 28.8. For men it is 36.9. Two of the 13 male characters are non-human.
– While role spread is even for the ladies, there are only two male supports (plus 3 tanks, 4 def, 4 off).
– 25% of female body types fall into a skinny/sporty category, 37% into curvy/sexy (with heels, no bare midriffs tho!) and 37% into heavier/muscled types. About half of them can be considered classic “pretty or cute characters”, the other half ranging from tomboy geeky to strong athletic types (no less attractive but obviously not exactly standard, either). Gear choice and role correspond to these flavor differences (healers…) which makes more or less sense.
– For male character design, about 23% can be considered attractive/hot in a western culture mainstream sense (Hanzo, Lucio, McCree). Generally, with the exception of Hanzo, male characters wear non-sexy gear with little to no notable skin bared (bare bellies also for Junkrat and Roadhog…not hot).

Naturally, these are my subjective impressions of the 21 playable characters, your mileage may vary here and there. I’ve intentionally used simplified, superficial characteristics which serve the purpose of this overview. Body types, armor and role spread (sometimes even gender-locked roles) are an often discussed subject in online games and players are quick to write off characters as the “hot or ugly ones”.

In action and depending on additional gear to come, things may yet change. To me it seemed useful to analyze actual numbers behind Blizzard’s approach to the Overwatch roster. There’s some refreshing stuff going on just like there are still differences between male and female representation. The most significant differences are age range and what I personally wanna call rugged/scarred/crazy characters which remain firmly the province of men. All the female champions seem neat enough and aware of body hygiene.

With all that in mind, there is more character diversity in Overwatch than I am personally used to from MOBA/TF-types and the 8:11 gender split (not counting non-humans) is very nice. So for that I give kudos to the Overwatch crew! Progress happens one step at a time – I’ll take whatever I can.

On the Telly: Great British TV Shows

It’s Blizzcon weekend and I feel rather indifferent about that. It’s exciting times for fans of WoW or Blizzard’s other IPs and it should probably interest me as a general MMO blogger, only it really doesn’t. I see the attraction of cons in terms of meeting friends and having a geeky good time (collecting swag!), otherwise it’s a queue and bathroom hell I’ll happily skip for youtube summaries later on. I remain mildly attracted to Overwatch – other than this, I’ve only one thing to say: TOLD YOU SO in case that Legion launch date will indeed fall into September 2016!

Because all gaming news is overshadowed by Blizzcon this weekend and I’ve been watching a couple of awesome British TV shows lately, I decided to take this opportunity to highlight a few you might wanna check out on Netflix or elsewhere!

Cliffs are bad news

Cliffs are bad news

Good: Broadchurch (2 seasons, to be continued)
I’ve binged on both seasons of Broadchurch this past week and would describe it as a very gripping, emotionally intense crime drama, sporting half of the Harry Potter cast. While this is not exactly a rare breed of genre, Broadchurch is intriguing for its grey areas and constant twists and suggestions; anyone can be made suspect and will be as they get swallowed by the whole machinery of investigation and court procedure. There’s the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” – in Broadchurch the entire village will pay because they didn’t. Until the very last episode, it remains unclear who the killer(s) is(are) or why they did it. Broadchurch isn’t very graphical but the topics are dark and gritty, contrasting with the English smallville beach idyll that is the beautiful setting for the story. Since child abuse is a central theme of the show, it’s probably too heavy for some.

No show is perfect. There was a major twist at the end of the first season I didn’t enjoy and I felt the second season lost some speed, introducing annoying characters. On the other hand, there’s some great acting in Broadchurch with David Tennant’s delightful Scottish accent for you to enjoy all the way through.

Better: Peaky Blinders (2 seasons, to be continued)
Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy, need I say more? A gangster drama set in Birmingham, Peaky Blinders is violent and gritty, grandiose and flamboyant as it follows the rise to power of one particular local clan inspired by historical record. The show is as much a story of three brothers (and one more insignificant sister and baby brother) raising themselves and coping with First World War related PTSD, as it is an early 20th century mafia romance with great period settings. It portrays rising social and class issues, complex family themes as well as the psychology of addiction, both to drugs and power. The acting and writing are superb once you got used to the heavy accents.

There’s not much I got to be annoyed with while watching, other than maybe the show’s great antagonist chief inspector Campbell (played by Sam Neil), who is as immoral as the fiends he so passionately pursues. There are no good guys in Peaky Blinders, only broken people.

The lost boys

The lost boys

Best: Sherlock BBC (3 seasons, to be continued)
Several have tried to put a modern hat on Doyle’s classic which can be tricky business but it’s the BBC’s rendition of Holmes and Watson that has managed to do so masterfully and with great respect. The complex technical writing, the outstanding acting by both Cumberbatch and Freeman who have crazy chemistry (tangentially Bilbo and Smaug) together with the modern settings and tools all seamlessly create one fine mystery drama. Oh and the humor! That’s what I appreciate about this show, no matter how gruesome a case there is comic relief usually delivered by Holmes’ bizarre take on the world or then, the quirky interaction between Watson and him which had me roaring with laughter at the best of times. I don’t think anyone else could play that “highly functional sociopath” quite the way Cumberatch does.

I will say that season 3 was a bit of a low point for me as the show became increasingly off-beat and all about the complicated relationship between its two protagonists. I enjoyed it nonetheless and look forward to the next season and the Christmas Special (which is set in the original time period)! BBC rocks the Sherlock Holmes biz, nuff said!



Happy weekend everyone, now with extra TV show inspiration in case you needed it! I already want moar – what is it with British series only ever doing 8 episodes per season, hellou??

Favorite MMO things: Mounts

I was never a big mount collector in MMOs, the way I am/was for gear or companion pets in the past. There was a time in WoW when I belonged to the top pet collectors on my realm, long before Pokémon became a thing in WoW. I remember when Blizzard started adding more and more of everything, halfway through TBC everyone was farming Stratholme, Zul’Gurub and Kharazan for mounts and then the whole protodrake-this and that trend kicked off, the rest is history. Today, players own literally hundreds of mounts and pets in WoW.

Me and my bud in LOTRO

Me and my bud in LOTRO

Very early into the mount mania, I was put off by the sheer amount of often sameish or else ludicrous mount design that bugged me for its silliness. Giant chicken and fetish polar bears are funny for a split second before they become eyesores. I realize, I am a conservative when it comes to picking my own transport companions though; I like horses, adored my horse in LOTRO for its realistic riding feel and sound effects. When it’s not a horse, I’ll most likely choose something that feels either natural to theme and setting or at least part of an established race (or else device) from fantasy fiction. So my favourite mounts are generally –

  • Horses
  • Dragons
  • Wildcats / Lions
  • Gryphons / Eagles
  • Magic/Mechanical devices

Oh and I don’t enjoy switching mounts frequently, either. You know those randomization macros for mounts and pets in MMOs? Yeah, don’t like them! Makes me feel as if I was a zoo-keeper rather than adventurer. Where am I keeping all those animals, Hermione’s bottomless handbag?

That’s not to say I don’t understand the collector’s drive, I do! I’ll check out whatever mounts come my way, sometimes I’ll even get a goofy one (usually for seasonal events) as long as it’s either free/cheap or easy to acquire. I won’t spend any cash on all the mounts however and I certainly wouldn’t grind any, unless the game forced me to. Still, no matter how many I own, I end up using the same one or two most of the time. I like thinking of my mount as companion, the way they are named in FFXIV. When MMOs give you a naming option for your mounts or pets, that’s a big plus in my book. Oh and taming your own mount, what ever happened to that feature?

Speaking of which, I currently own about 15 mounts in FFXIV, most of which were given to me as quest rewards or else as subscription deals. FFXIV doesn’t come with an awful lot of serious horse options, so I actually acquired Odin’s steed via the cash shop, which was money well spent. I also like my Chocobo because it belongs to Final Fantasy the same way mogs do. They are treated respectably in FFXIV with tons of cosmetic options similar to LOTRO’s horses. And the dragon mounts from the current expansion are just fantastic, I’d happily trade 20 different WoW protodrakes for my Midgardsormr and Twintania!


My favorite FFXIV companions

There are plenty of ludicrous, huge and nasty looking mounts in FFXIV too, in case you were wondering. Some of them are mind-bogglingly large and one or two, like the Bomb Palanquin, make me laugh whenever I see them. Yet somehow they still feel more natural within the Final Fantasy setting, maybe because this franchise has always had its frivolous, bizarre moments. Either way, I’m sticking to my horses and dragons – I am boring that way.

Straight Talk: Tired of Social Rants

Important notice: This is a rant about rants, wooo! Also: I have adjusted some of my opinions on this blog over time, as some of the links provided illustrate. That’s because I am old and fickle!

One of the great MMO blogger evergreens is the (anti-)social debate; with the genre becoming ever more accessible and mainstream since its earliest beginnings, players new and old keep musing on the pros and cons of MMO gaming allowing for increased flexibility and playstyle variety. Stuff like removing role restrictions or shared loot, are dividing topics. Depending on where you stand, your “more social” is someone else’s “anti-social” and it’s very difficult to reach any kind of consensus. I hold with what I’ve said in the past, that the two approaches to MMOs can’t reasonably co-exist. A lot of this stuff is mutually exclusive and even when it isn’t, solutions are usually too complex for practical application. LFG tools in many MMOs are ‘optional’ but we all know what happens once they are introduced: they impinge on everybody.

Roger recently deliberated whether he has become a more anti-social gamer over the years. This struck a chord with me because I find myself in the company of many 35-45ish players who have at some point gone through that stage of self-evaluation. As commented in Roger’s thread, I personally do not believe he’s become more anti-social; what I believe is that MMOs have stopped enforcing planned cooperation via game design. I have made this case before at length and I still don’t buy into the whole altruism spiel, nor will I ever. Being “social” is absolutely an intrinsic quality – you either are or aren’t social. The rest is facilitated gameplay.
Then today, Eri followed up with a similar post, professing her disdain for shared loot in GW2 and the “entire shift” to self-centric gameplay in MMOs. I’m rather sure that even in my most hardcore raidleading days, I was pretty darn self-centric in pursuing my dreams of raiding and loot and whatnot. I faintly remember removing players who weren’t up to the task. But anyway, these posts made me realize something: I am so done with the (anti-)social rants. It’s like we’re stuck and never get beyond them.


Year 4 in “A Decade of Love and Hate” – the natural progression of the MMO player.

I carry as much MMO nostalgia with me as the next veteran player, heck sometimes I miss the good old, bad days. They were bad a lot more than good but I am not always rational. In truth, I understand why things are different today and like so many older gamers, I need them to be different. My investment choices like anyone’s, shape what MMOs may or may not become. Inevitable fact: MMOs that are trying to survive, have to be financially viable. MMOs that introduce gatekeepers, forced grouping, fixed setups and any variation of limiting factors, are very likely not going to make as much profit on today’s saturated market. And no, don’t look at WoW – look at Wildstar or ESO instead. I am sure all of us would prefer having both: the freedom/flexibility and the social bonding experiences but it doesn’t work that way. Not in the traditional sense we are so used to anyway, where game design pushed us into talking to strangers, grouping up with strangers, cooperating with strangers longterm until they were strange no longer. Maybe in this new era we need to explore different ways, make more conscious efforts?

There’s a significant percentage of 30+ players populating MMOs today, players with bigger pockets, and they need gaming to fit around their lives, not vice versa. That’s okay! I’m not saying I like quiet party chat or mass-zerging so much either but any solution to these issues will have to either address that reality or remain fictional. If you’re against the social shift in MMOs, great! The solution however, will need to be more original than returning to what we already had. Today is not going away.

P.S. Don’t miss the full strip on “A Decade of Love and Hate” over at Dark Legacy Comics!