MMO Blogosphere Review Of The Year 2011: January! Social Responsibility, Tol Barad Exploits and more…

And so – first up in the Melting Pot’s Massive Review Of The Year, January 2011.

It’s surprisingly hard to remember back just 11 months – but a hell of a lot has changed since then.

Gaming Affairs: Fail Barad and the RIFT beta

January (and late December) was most notably the month of the Tol Barad exploit crisis. For those who don’t remember this particular bit of hilarity, it went as follows:

  • The new Tol Barad Battleground was far, far harder to win when attacking than defending. People noticed. So did Blizzard.
  • Blizzard massively increased the Honor rewards for the attacking team. This did not result in hugs and puppies.
  • Instead, it resulted in Horde and Alliance side essentially win-trading. Both sides would fail to defend in order to get a chance at the much more lucrative attacker side.

Blizzard promptly fixed the problem, but Tol Barad remained a badly flawed battleground. Bad news for us as players, but the quality of the ensuing blog posts made it great for us as readers. A notable stand-out piece was Cynwise’s superb The Raid Dropping Exploit of Tol Barad , which started out with Cyn doing Actual Hard Research on the alleged exploits still plagueing the zone, and then segued into the psychology of winning and losing, the design of the battleground, morale and PvP, and ends up in a thesis about PvP as a whole, and what lessons Blizzard are sending players.

“You can look back on your defeat and say, the contest wasn’t fair, it wasn’t my fault. It had nothing to do with my skill or ability, or my opponent’s skill – it was a no-win situation. Move on.

Or you can look back at your defeat and say, they cheated. The dirty, stinking bastards cheated.”

Meanwhile, RIFT was in beta, and a lot of people were getting excited about it – here’s Kill Ten Rats talking about their Beta experience, and Tobold getting enthusiastic about the Soul system , for example.

Particularly interesting was Dragonchasers’ opinion piece voicing concern about RIFT’s developers – he was worried that they listen to their players a bit too much .

Blogosphere Hot Topics: Social Responsibility in LFD and classless MMOs

In the blogosphere, several big, enthusiastic discussions raged. Tobold wrote one of his best controversy-courting pieces ever when he suggested that every player of WoW has a social responsibility to play a tank or a healer –

“Just like in a sports team not everybody can play on the most sexy position, and some players have to play on the less exciting or more difficult positions, in a World of Warcraft group there is only room for 60% DPS players. That is already more than half, and the fact that this 60% of spots for low-responsibility, easy mode players still isn’t enough, is a symptom of how selfish the large majority of players is. “

The blogosphere immediately exploded with responses , with discussion of everything from whether DPS players are antisocial to whether Tobold himself had a responsibility not to write the post he did!

Eric at Elder Game sparked a smaller blogstorm later in the month, when he wrote that classless systems for MMOs were not the way forward

“Free-form skill choice is much harder than classes. That’s what it boils down to. You can massage free-form skill choices in a million ways, but you’re doing extra work just to get the usability levels that simple classes have built in. Thus, there’s less time to design other features. And even worse, it means there’s less time to balance your game — yet your game needs even more balancing than a class-based game does.”

Numerous bloggers jumped in to respond with passionate defences of classless games, and Eric ended up writing a second post addressing those comments in return – which is also well worth a read

New Blogs

We saw two new blogs start up during January whose name will be familiar to many readers. Resto Is Epic opened their doors with a steady flow of Druid healing and raiding content, and T.R. Redskies started their trademark mix of cross-game analysis and debate. Oh, and a little-known blog called MMO Melting Pot won “Breakout blog” in the Pink Pigtail Inn’s “Piggie” awards!

Other Awesome Posts from January

  • Larissa spoke prophetically of the death of 25-man raiding – a year later, and the numbers bear her predictions out.
  • Windsoar wrote an excellent piece about how we sound whilst raiding that prompted me to compare my in-raid vocabulary to “the first 5 minutes of Four Weddings and a Funeral remixed with a season of the Sopranos played at triple speed.”
  • Rades checkmated the “gearscore” discussion with an awesome piece based on the question What do you do about a raider in PvP gear?
  • Melmoth and Killed In A Smiling Accident leaped onto our radar with his hilarious, thought-provoking discussion of heroism and MMOs .
  • And Zelmaru explained in words of one syllable why she does not want Nazis in her WoW .

Tomorrow: February, where we all discovered that Cataclysm’s raids and instances were really, really hard. Plus, the life of a top gamer, vote-kick controversy, and more…

If you enjoyed this roundup, please consider sharing it!