Insights, A Year in Review


“We believed we should never ask others to back and support us in something we weren’t one-hundred percent committed to ourselves.”

Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh
Owner/Creative Director
Soulbound Studios

It’s been a year since I did a longer download of subjects in my head. There has been lots of personal activity across games, lots of me reading, testing, and supporting new ideas.

I’ve also spent a lot of time playing old games (like 1980’s old) as well as investing my guild into GW2. I even took a journey down memory lane in LOTRO on their player community as a long ago now ex-QA Lead provided a lot of interaction with its once faithful community.

In a time that I think many may be wondering if the MMO of yesteryear has passed, I see a lot of innovation and kindle hope that as the market gets more diversity, what once was with something new to it can still be had or made. I welcome your dialog  and where your time in gaming has been spent as I share a look back, a look at, and a look ahead.

Looking Back – The Answers Sometimes Lay Behind Use

When Wildstar community began to flop, and I was feeling burned by the present what I called “laziness” in MMO innovation, I decided to invest in my then 8 year-old son. I was going to start him into my yesteryear world of video games from the 1980s.

This journey resulted in pulling out many of the highly popular 1980s titles (some which still live on). First and foremost I was having a ton of fun. Second, I was sharing this with my son. Third, I was connecting and refreshing for myself what was so lasting or good in these old titles. (Many of these I have already written about.)

Mark Jacobs in pursuit of Community, Player Collaboration, and Replay I have read had many of his Core/Foundational staff read through old Table-top RPG books to ignite and instill a foundation for creativity and innovation in his new game: Camelot Unchained.

All to say, looking over the last year, while silent here, I have been active in the gaming community and frankly having too much fun to stop and write about it. I also would say to all my readers to try the same (whether old PC or old table-top or old console games) give them a try and think abstractly about what it was that makes that re-playable, lasting, and genuine fun. It may be worth having all these MMO directors and developers do the same and think along the lines that made the start of this entire genre so meaningful to us.

Looking At – The Answers Are Not Always Perfect, But It Inspires Our Innovation

MMOs have drawn me as I have written elsewhere for a long time mostly for the reason of exploration, story, and community (role play). It was hard to stay away. However, I wanted something directional to what I had been writing about and also where my guild may have found some respite.

I chose GW2, and I have not regretted that. It’s not perfect, but here are somethings that I think are going well for it, but also provide some things that are probably core to it that I do not think are ideal.

First, the good:

  • Horizontal Progression – MMOS! You do not need new level caps for progress!
  • Not A Stat War – Action combat, trait selections, skill rotations, non gear centric
  • LAS – Skills by weapons, focused play (not staring at your piano keys of skill selection
  • Exploration based – experience and progress can be largely achieved by just being the world. Not a bunch of senseless questing
  • Guild missions/Guild Hall – more progression and meaningful interaction with rewards
  • Raids, Dungeons, Scaling Instances, and World Events – tons of things to do with others
  • Easy to Recruit – your guild mates who join you a year later do not have a hill to climb and you can start doing meaningful things together on day 1
  • Story – a great and engaging story that is easy to get behind
  • Alt friendly – many account wide perks that make leveling alts fun (instead of a chore)
  • Achievement Tracking – This is often overlooked in MMOs or not given full scale focus. It is well thought out here and more than satisfactory.
  • Art Direction – I have no idea why this game goes unrecognized for its art direction, but the stunning art is breathtaking
  • Free – yes the expansion costs money (and it is worth it), but the game is 100% free without limits to content

And Much More…

It is also listed #13 in most played games (not just MMO) on Raptr and was in gameradar’s #3 spot of top25 MMOs.

Second, the opportunities…

  • Loot – this may be a good for many, but for me its TOO MUCH
  • Trinity – while some group content is becoming more role based, there is no dedicated healer, tank, cc, or dps. This is a set-back to me, but it is core to the game and they expect everyone to be contributing in all ways
  • MOBA – while I love the PvP in this game, I did not list it as a good because I think it gets harder for games to balance classes over pvp and pve and its investment becomes harder as it diversifies its focus

I find that this is a game that will grow, it has been with us for 3+ years, and it has a solid following. There is a ton to do and engage players. No matter your # of friends online there is always some type of content you can do that leads to progression.

Looking Ahead – The Answers May Mean Risks Never Before Taken

IGN recently put out its top 2016 titles to watch here, but I am looking beyond that to things that I have written about here and would like to see developed.

Two years ago Chronicles of Elyria began to surface visibility, and this month they announced their launch of crowdfunding. You can learn more about it here.

For started here is what excites me about this game (and what I hope other MMOs consider and rethink).

  • Family Legacy
  • Art Direction
  • Aging & Death – yes you will die!
  • Classless, but skill based
  • Risk and Reward system

Even if you do not think you will play it, I would encourage you to contribute to it from an innovation side of the equation. We need more innovation like this, and I wish Southbound Studios all the best!

In closing, I would love to hear from you and what you are playing or would like to see be created! In upcoming issues on this blog I will be having some interviews. Keep reading, keep the dialog going, and most importantly keep playing those MMORPGs and contributing to the community!