Should We Fight For Our Communities?

The discussion about whether we should fight for civil behaviour in MMOs – and whether we even can – is really raging in the blogosphere now. Today we’ve got four really interesting perspectives on the subject, from all angles:

  • Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond makes a really interesting argument about /ignore that I’d never considered – that by using it, you’re making the community worse for others“When you /ignore another player without reporting, kicking, or at least explaining to them what’s wrong, what you’re really doing is solving a problem for yourself only, while shuffling off the problem to others. That player may never end up in your party again, but he’s still out there causing problems for everyone else in your battlegroup. Sure, you’re fine, but nothing at all has actually be resolved.”
  • River at High Latency Life argues that we can’t protect people – we have to stand aside, he says, so that they can learn not to be prey” A person needs to develop a thick skin, and one does not develop a thick skin unless we put them out in harm’s way, and let them learn about how harsh the world really is.”
  • Klepsacovic argues that the disadvantages of an LFD-free WoW aren’t disadvantages at all, but tradeoffs for increased civility“For example, I’d gladly trade my instant queues for 15 minute queues (in the form of yelling in trade chat) if it meant that my groups weren’t filled with jerks. Going from group of jerks to not group of jerks is a big upgrade, whereas adding 15 minutes to the wait time isn’t a very big deal to me.”
  • And Healing The Masses considers the entire debate from the unusual angle of an enthusiastic TERA player“I honestly miss the vibrancy of that small Tera community when it first began and will keep looking for it in the next. It really is funny how much simple game mechanics and direction can change the social nature of an mmo into something either quiet or crass.”

What do you think?

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Exciting new games, but which one to choose?

Hugh‘s away for a few day’s break, so the supply teacher is taking the class again – over to Johnnie.

Even though I love gaming, and MMOs in particular, I’m pathetically traditional in many ways. WoW is my game of choice, and has been for several years. I’ve dipped my toe into other gaming waters occasionally, but I’ve been pretty happy with Azeroth. Recently, though, I’ve found myself logging on less and less, and eyeing up other, sexier games with a lustful glare. That’s why it’s so nice that other bloggers are writing about their experiences in non-Azerothian locations: I can see what I’m missing.

  • Zubon at Kill Ten Rats has a great general post about how many games force you to be a bystander rather than a participant. This has become an increasingly big problem for me in WoW (perhaps exemplarized by the “PCs do all the work and Tirion goddam Fordring takes all the credit” storyline at the end of Wrath). Call me crazy, but I want to be the one who kills the bad guy. I don’t want to be the sidekick who stands at the back, cheering on the NPC hero as he gets to kill the bad guy. As Zubon says

“I’ll take fighting at the side of the Fellowship and being second banana there, and I’ll take being the hero of the B-plot while the Fellowship saves the world. I’ll not take being second banana in the B-plot.”

It’s a really great post, and eloquently sums up many of the frustrations I’ve had with recent gaming storylines.

“Maybe it was Tera’s action combat, or perhaps a general ennui with the genre as a whole, but I couldn’t find any spark of enthusiasm for Rift whatsoever. … The game was still as pretty as ever, but again, the incredible fidelity of a game such as Tera, whether you can stomach its design decisions or not, leaves other MMOs looking like so much aged tarnished brass.”

  • Guild Wars 2 is the game that I’m really excited about. If I’m honest, I wasn’t really too enthused at first, but after researching the game for a few of the Melting Pot’s info posts I’m totally sold. It’s been great to read accounts of the various beta weekends. Both Ravious and Hunter’s Insight have reviews of the latest changes. GW2 is looking excitingly pretty and pretty exciting!

  • GW players, incidentally, might be interested to hear that qq & pewpew are giving away 300k of in-game gold. All you have to do is reblog the competition stating what you’d do with the cash.

All of this is completely immaterial, though. I know exactly what game I’m going to be playing next. Mechwarrior Online didn’t appeal to me at all … until I saw Razer’s concept for a dedicated hardware controller. Woah, boy. It will be mine. Oh, yes. It will be mine.

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TERA – the controversy and the lifespan

TERA’s not dying down in the controversy stakes – and today, two bloggers take on the difficult topic of what to think of TERA’s childlike, sexualised player character race. But is it actually any good as an MMORPG? According to Lono, it would appear not…

  • Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered isn’t exactly shying away from the controversy today as he wonders whether TERA is bad enough to take action against, in a piece entitled I Play WoW Because I Feel Violent Toward Minorities“It’s a common way to mock American culture, that a million gunshots are fine but a single nipple is unacceptably destructive to the psyches of our youth. But isn’t that what we’re seeing here? Kill a million trolls and that’s fine. But dress the aliens the wrong way and oh my god what is wrong with you you sick sick person!? “
  • Tobold is also wrestling with the same question – just how bad are TERA’s depictions?“If we argue that there is absolutely no risk that playing Grand Theft Auto or Mafia turns us into gangsters, then how do we justify the argument that depiction of sexualized children will turn us into perverts?”
  • Meanwhile, Lono has just given up on TERA, and not because of the controversy, but because he doesn’t find anything new about it“Unlike what some people like to pretend, setting and story are important features of a game. Mechanics are not the only important aspect. So while Tera has nice mechanics, the setting holds no interest for me whatsoever so I got bored as soon as the new car smell evaporated, I got bored.”

Have you tried TERA? What do you think of all this?

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All Around The MMO World – Weekend Links

Loads of fun, useful and generally readable stuff from the blogosphere from this weekend! Whether you’re hanging on in Wurm, observing TERA in amusement, or could really use a laugh after an awful LFR run, we’ve got something for you:

  • Tobold considers the current “guild size” discussion from a game design point of view“There are other ways, for example in games like A Tale in the Desert. Not only can you be in several guilds in that game, but also everybody can contribute in his own way to the guild’s projects. If the guild needs a huge amount of bricks for a project, for example, everybody can contribute at his own pace.”
  • Avatars of Steel provides some quick tips for Wurmians still avoiding the game’s forums for virus reasons
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings observes some strange behaviour in TERA, as players proceed to mostly ignore the ingame LFG tool“Because queues are instant, the choice as a Lancer is very binary. You either run the dungeon or you go questing. But maybe after doing a few quests, you’re sort of wavering between continuing questing or going for an instance. Seeing a request for a tank can tip you over to one side, and might even allow you to feel altruistic for helping out an existing group.”
  • And Bravetank offers some more cheering alternative definitions for popular LFG and LFR terminology“In ancient times huntards were esteemed for their wisdom, strategic minds and military prowess. Only the truly gifted could ever hope to reach such heights. If you are called a huntard then you are playing your hunter class flawlessly. Do not be surprised if some people leave the group after calling you this – it is simply that they do not feel deserving enough to be in your company. Forgive them.”

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Controversy Monday – PLEX, clothing and ‘chieves

Want to know where we’re at with the discussion of EVE’s PLEX as cheating, with TERA and GW2’s arguably-inappropriate female clothing, or with the ongoing issue of WoW’s upcoming account-bound achievements?

Yep, it’s Controversy Monday, where we check in with the debates that are still resounding in the blogosphere!

EVE PLEX

Last week, a discussion broke out as to whether EVE’s developer-approved real money transfer system, PLEX, was actually cheating. Over the weekend, the discussion continued…

  • Azuriel of In An Age finds the entire discussion is talking about an EVE that doesn’t exist“Rohan and Gevlon’s arguments have such shapely contours because they imitate the elegance of Plato’s Forms: the “pure” EVE is such, and self-contained. But it’s not. Other people exist, and the relationships can cross over between in-game and out-of-game.”
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings draws a line under his participation by talking about the good that PLEX does for the game“It induces liquidity in the markets, causing ISK to be spent instead of hoarded. It decreases the effect of unsafe third party RMT in Eve. It allows the producers to avoid spending money on subscriptions.”

Exploitative Costume

Many of the upcoming crop of MMORPGs seem to have a … selective attitude to clothing on their female characters, or the lack of same. Discussion last week focussed on Guild Wars 2, but TERA continues to be an issue in the background…

  • Syl at Raging Monkeys discusses the ways in which TERA’s disturbingly child-like race has and hasn’t been de-sexualised“Whether you agree that the Elin are children/infantilized characters or not, whether you agree or disagree if sexualization is a concern in video games – what bugged me the most about this whole charade is the way it got handled. “
  • In the first of two short posts, Klepsacovic of Troll Racials Are Overpowered wonders just what all these sexualised characters are doing in his game about violence“Let’s imagine the reverse, that World of Sexcraft is a popular online game where players control avatars which have sex. This probably exists but that is not a search history that I want to have. Within this game would it make any sense for the armor to have severed heads as kneepads and knives as sex toys? “
  • And in his second post, Klepsacovic also asks what exactly the “perfect body” in these games is perfect for – _“

    There’s nothing wrong with the “perfect body”, except when said perfect bodies mean that male characters appear capable of standing up to danger while the female is helpless, but sure looks great doing it.”_

Account-Wide Achievements

Account-wide achievements are live in the latest version of Mists of Pandaria, and while last week we heard from people who feel the idea’s really bad, over the weekend several bloggers were quite excited by it:

  • Morrighan at Caer Morrighan argues that the Account-Bound Achievements could actually give us more to do“For example – you currently have an achievement to level a toon to 85. Each toon has that achievement and each time you level a toon to 85. What if, instead, you had an achievement that counted the number of toons leveled to 85? “
  • Apple Cider Mage is enthusiastic about cross-account mounts“As someone who has a mount habit that spans several characters, this means that all my characters get to benefit from whatever my main does, especially when it comes to getting to ride around on bad-ass mounts.”
  • And Big Bear Butt is also – well, “excited” may not be a strong enough word“This… this changes everything. Now, I actually have a REASON to go out on my Druid and hunt for moar mounts. I have an excuse to go run through old instances, farm rep, and do all the things that I like doing anyway.”

Found these links interesting? Make sure you don’t miss the latest discussions with the MMO Melting Pot Weekly Digest

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Is Guild Wars 2 too obsessed with boobs? (We already know TERA is)

New MMO TERA is already synonymous with ridiculous, massively-sexualised outfits for its female characters. But is Guild Wars 2 about to join it in that unwelcome sub-genre?

Amongst the reactions to Guild Wars 2 at the weekend were comments about the outfits for female characters, particularly starting characters. At the time, it might have seemed like a blip. But now, bloggers are really starting to react to GW2’s outfit choices, which appear to be pretty mono-dimensional for many female characters.

Is Guild Wars 2 going to join TERA in the list of “cheesecake MMOs”, or will it actually succeed in appealing to a female audience? Today, we’ve got a number of bloggers explaining exactly what Arena.net appear to have gotten wrong – and right. Plus, Rohan of Blessing of Kings demonstrates just how ridiculously bad TERA’s chainmail bikini problem is:

  • Live Like A Nerd demonstrates, in a heavily pictoral post, just how bad (and one-sided) some of the class outfits in Guild Wars 2 get“Guild Wars 2 is all about the cheesecake and none of the beefcake. Ideally, for me you would at least have a toggle. I would want to be able to wear the male gear or robes in that style. But you can’t. In fact, you are locked into your mini-skirts.”
  • Sunnier at A Sunnier Bear shows that Guild Wars 2 sometimes gets it awesomely right, and sometimes (in a different example to the one above) gets it horribly wrong“Guild Wars 2 has a totally awesome physique selector. You get to choose from around eight body types. For charr, I could choose from a wide range of skinny or super built or thick necked and I loved it. For norn, you can choose between skinny+buff or skinny+not buff. Oh, and giant boobs for every single body-type.”
  • Spinks at Spinksville contrasts TERA, GW2, and PS3 game Dragon’s Dogma, and asks why only one of these game offers female characters the choice of skimpy or non-skimpy armour“See, I’m not against characters fighting in string bikinis or casting spells in belly dancer outfits, but I want it to be thematic and I want to have choices. Despite some of the clothing being quite skimpy, none of the characters actually looked like strippers. They looked like characters from fantasy art. I think that’s a powerful point to take away.”
  • And for your ROFL moment, Rohan at Blessing of Kings has been playing TERA, and offers us screenshots of what truly is an epic dungeon drop“The armor is just hilariously bad. It’s like it’s giving the monster a target to aim for. But somehow, instead of being annoyed at the armor, it just amuses me greatly.”

One thing I really don’t understand in all this is why game developers who want to add massive cheesecake boob armour to their games don’t take the time to actually get the anatomy right. I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a lot of reference material out there for artists to work from. But we still end up with anatomy from the superglued-melons school of character design.

Seriously, people, you couldn’t manage an afternoon of Safesearch=OFF Google Image Search?

Will GW2 fall, crushed under the weight of its own unrealistic mammaries? Or are its developers just being cynically accurate about their market?

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GW2 uniqueness, Playing TERA Despite Everything, and more

Three really interesting links round off the day today – from Azuriel looking at just how different Guild Wars 2 actually is, to Bronte wrestling with the question of what an MMO is these days, here we go…

  • Chris at Level Capped is surprised to find that even given all the arguments against it, he’s willing to suspend his criticism to enjoy TERA“But I guess I’m tried of spending energy fighting – even passively – opportunities for enjoyment. I’ve decided that it’s not worth the cost to complain about lore, or about scantily dressed avatars, or animations, or systems, and to use those as excuses for why I’m going to pass on an opportunity that might be fun overall. “
  • Azuriel is fascinated by how Guild Wars 2 jumps in right on the controversial side of many old MMO arguments“I suppose it will come down to how important WvW ends up being to you – I don’t think it’s quite the killer app, as others might – but otherwise there is no other reason for you to “stay” on any particular server.”
  • And Bronte at Are We New At This is debating just what the label “MMO” means in this post-WoW era“Is it that you get to play with more than 30 people? Is it that there is a deeper sense of community through guilds/corporations/forces? Is it the ability to meet random people from around the globe with similar interests in gaming? Or is it something deeper?”

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Helpful Hints, Awful Animations and Bad Asses

It’s been a quiet day today, but the Summer of MMOs is still revving up behind the scenes. And so, in today’s linkpost we’ve got focusses on a number of new MMOs – including neither WoW, nor SWTOR, nor EVE.

Truly, it’s a new era.

  • Syp at Bio Break is perplexed by TERA’s truly awful-sounding ad campaign“As a gamer, I guarantee that you will identify with anyone and everyone in these commercials except for Bas. Unless, of course, you’re a Dutch martial artist who looks like the stereotype of every geek-kicking jock come to life.”
  • With the Guild Wars 2 beta events coming up, Ravious at Kill Ten Rats offers ten handy hints for the many players new to the game“Basically for 2 of the 3 racial starting areas we’ve seen, it is chaos. Ghosts popping out of nowhere in the charr area, centaurs running amok throughout a human starting area, and norn standing around their forest picking their ears while players hunt. Don’t fret!”
  • And T.R. Redskies presents a dire warning to Funcom, who appear to be in imminent danger of screwing their new MMO, The Secret World, right up“You’re about to ruin the promise of this game with animations and cripple a very critical feature of your game by requiring Facebook. I don’t know what Facebook has paid you to make you force fans to register over there, but I warn you that the price isn’t going to be worth it when your game is failing like Age of Conan.”

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Mana Obscura: Is Choosing To Play A Game A Moral Decision For You?

Gazimoff of Mana Obscura caught my attention today with a stealthy fireball of a post asking whether you make moral choices when you choose to play games.

He’s talking about a new game (TERA) that’d previously caught his eye with interesting mechanics and pretty landscapes but the developers sailed out beyond pretty. Beyond, and into the greasy waters of seedy marketing, with oversezualised characters appearing to be their main advertising gimmick. He believes it’s aimed right at a young, white male demographic – a norm we’re trying to move past – and he’s simply not up for partaking in that.

Whether it’s wallpapers, box art or in-game screenshots, it seems that the big focus ins now on emphasising the scantily clad character type as much as possible.

So what’s the big deal? After all, it’s just polygons, right? Doesn’t World of Warcraft have this kind of thing with the infamous Black Mageweave set? Don’t single player games like Bayonetta or Dead Or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball have similar content? Well, yes and no.

It’s an interesting question but as a post it’s not his usual fare. It seems to have taken Gazimoff’s readers unawares, given how much disagreement he’s getting.

How about you? Are there games that you don’t play for moral reasons? And how do they compare to games you do play? Let us or Gazimoff know!

_Quote taken directly from Gazimoff’s post_

_Mana Obscura’s homepage is here_

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