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November 1, 2012

Dear Reader,

Lots of little thoughts here today.  I’ll start by gloating, of course, since I am a jerk.

It’s Good to Be Right:

It seems that World of Tanks has won the Golden Joystick for “Best MMO” title.  A lobby game.  Without a persistent world.  Like D3.

From a month or two ago:

I’m getting some flak, particularly on Reddit, about D3 not even being an MMO and not being designed with collectivism in mind regardless.  I disagree on both points.  First, simply breaking MMORPG down clearly indicates that it is an MMO.  It’s nonstandard, but so is Vindictus, another MMO about which I don’t think anyone would argue with the label.  By definition, an MMORPG must be massive, multiplayer, and online, and you must play the role of a character.  D3 clearly does all those things; that, alone, should define it as an MMO.  If we look at the “four pillars,” again, it fits.  There is character progression, exploration, combat, and story.  I’m not sure why people resist thinking that it’s an MMO, but that’s how and why I define it as such.

The biggest argument against my definition had to do with the persistence of the game world.  It made a lot of sense, really, and I was swayed enough to let the argument rest, even if I didn’t personally agree.  Well, the vote’s in.  The video game industry agrees with my definition.  Striving to find middle ground, I said then that we were probably witnessing an evolution of what MMO meant, that the definition might be shifting towards new styles of games that wouldn’t have previously been considered MMOs.  I mentioned NWN, in fact, which debuted when MMOs weren’t really on the radar.  Nowadays, I’m sure parts of it would be considered an MMO; the online, persistent worlds, but back then, it wouldn’t have occurred to any of us to label it that way.  So it seems the definition has shifted.  I want to thank Tobold for posting on it, as I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Collectivism and Individualism Revisited:

Doone recently contacted me about a follow up he’s posted to the Individualism and Collectivism shared topic that originally aired a few months ago.  His piece, titled “Virtual Worlds, Competition, and Emergent Behavior,” reviews what we discussed before and adds several new contexts for the argument.  I really enjoyed his piece and wanted to make sure to highlight it now, though I’ll also be adding it to the “round-up” post from before.  Thanks, Doone, for continuing the discussion!


I was told when I first bought mists that I would either love or hate the Grummles; that there was little room for middle ground.  I had no idea at the time what this person was talking about.  Then I bumped into the Machinma posted on Rohan’s site entitled “Luckydoo Rap” (I’m not fancy enough to know how to embed).  My first introduction, then, was a carefully scripted one meant to entertain and amuse.  When I ran into them in game, then, I had some context for their strange speech patterns and behavior.  Put simply, I like them.  I think they’re a unique culture added into Azeroth that, while it clearly has roots in the Sherpa lore, avoids the ofttimes racist undertones that Blizzard frequently finds.  It’s been most enjoyable to run into all the references from the Luckydoo Rap that previously made no sense, such as the Hozen “wikket” taunt and the various named NPCs.

Instances in the Mist:

Lastly, I did my first Mist Instance with my wife.  We went random and drew Shado-pan Monastery.  Our tank was underwhelmed with the random choice; apparently, the place has a bad reputation, but we had no wipes during our run.  We did have a couple who left after the third boss; I guess they didn’t get the drop they wanted.  The couple included the healer, so we had to wait a bit before we could continue, and immediately thereafter were greeted with a literal “gogogogogogo” as soon as the replacements joined the group.  I bit my tongue, though; I’m not the tank any more.  I don’t really have a right to complain about being hurried because it’s not me that’s actually being hurried.  Still, what a jerk.

At the end, I asked the tank why he found the place so undesirable, as it had been a pretty good run.  He concurred and simply pointed out that most groups he ends up with can’t do basic things like focus fire adds, click floating dead pandas, and get out of ground death.  It seems, then, that I was lucky in my LFD group, but that it’s just as bad as it’s always been.  I’ll take what I can get, though, and be glad that the “gogogogos” don’t apply to me any more.

It was also odd not to run recount.  Apparently my wife was running it and was not happy with her performance (she’s a ret pally, so I have no idea if they still stink or not), but I got a lot – a lot – of procs on my free lava spell (oh, I switched to elemental by the way; two casterish melee was getting boring).  Not having that information, though, made me much happier; every proc was a glowing ball of happiness untainted by the possibility that I was at the bottom of the dps.  So overall, it was a good experience, with a pessimistic hint at the future.


Stubborn (with a clean yak)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. kaleedity permalink*
    November 1, 2012 7:28 am

    hey now, no need for hating on mr. gogo unless he was being a consistent jerk about it.

    I should probably write out an article on XCOM as I’m about to finish my third run through it and there’s a bit to be said.

    • November 2, 2012 11:31 am

      We may just fundamentally disagree on this one. If someone joins my group and the first thing out of their mouth is “Gogogogogo,” I expect that this new person and I aren’t going to get along. It irritated me to death as a tank, and I would say something about it, which usually met with silence (which I was fine with) but occasionally caused a stir (which I was also okay with). As a dps, it just rubs me the wrong way. Tanks should go at their own pace; they know better what they can handle than anyone other than the healer, and the healer’s only an equal partner.

      Sure, consistent jerks are worse, but first impressions go a long way.

      I’d definitely be interested in an X-Com post. Give me a holler when you’ve got it.

  2. November 1, 2012 8:32 am

    Both games are Multiplayer Online, but I’d argue that D3 is not Massive – at least in the actual game world. Each WoT game, and I’ve only played 30 so matches, has 30 tanks. D3 has at most 4 adventurers. There is going to be a level of subjectivity in this discussion but that’s what we have. To me D3 never felt “Massive”, it was more insular – but that is based on observations of game play and not the AH. That may well have added to the “Massive” character of the game.

    At least no one is arguing that WoT is an RPG despite a persistent crew.

    And have you started to deconstruct Pandarian history as Chinese history told by the PRC? It adds some interesting subtext to the Mogu, the Trolls, and the Alliance/Horde invasion.

    • November 2, 2012 11:33 am

      Technically, WoT IS an RPG – you play the role of a tank, you choose “classes” and you “level.” It’s just not a traditional fantasy or sci-fi RPG. Forgive me, I couldn’t help myself. (;
      Seriously, though, I feel like the community that surrounds something lends a lot to the “massive” quality. I’d argue Halo is Massive, regardless of the fact that only X number of people can play in a single game (I have no idea how many). Hell, even X-Com is massive, though it’s not Multiplayer-Online.

      Really, I like what Coreus said a couple comments later: these labels are useless in describing anything other than hypothetical generic game qualities.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. November 1, 2012 12:46 pm

    I think HMV is not an authority on game genres and I’m skeptical of their judgement here, as I think we all should be. As a multimedia major distributor of ALL forms of entertainment, they stand to gain much from redefining genres. I couldn’t find info anywhere about how they nominated games. I was trying to find out if they are player nominated as well as voted. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a stake in WoT parent corporation.

    Let’s revisit this question: What is an MMO? I think we can start by pinpointing core game mechanics and core gameplay features. We can make a short list of those features based on the games which defined the genre (how else is there to do it?).

    Then define MOBAs. Because WoT seems to me to have much more in common with those than with MMOs, even though I still call it just a multiplayer game (c’mon it’s Halo/CoD/Gears of War without the campaign mode; for srs).

    Now I don’t have answers in terms of defining the MMO genre, but World of Tanks is closer to a MOBA.

    If MMO is only about being massively, multiplayer, and online then there’s a ton of Facebook, flash, and lobby games that have been MMOs for over a decade. I think HMV is playing fast and loose here with definitions. By their standard any game thats online with over a dozen players is an MMO. So throw in Blackjack lobbies, Poker lobbies, and all those other games. They’re now MMOs according to this definition. Genres have to have meaning if they are to be useful at all. The term MMO is coming to mean nothing by these standards.

    In fact, this blurring of lines is very akin to how it’s been done for mixing action games and RPGs. The problem is people being too literal and not taking into consideration core mechanics and gameplay. They’re just picking a few features and saying “it sounds like the player picks a role so it must be an RPG!” But we all know that’s not true, no matter how many games have tried to do this sort of arbitrary labeling.

    Persistency has been a defining feature of the MMO genre which continues to be unique to MMOs (shared world and resources, simultaneously and persistant) and I don’t see how this award changes that for the vast majority of games we call MMOs. I think there’s a corporate interest to define games in this way because so much money is being thrown into them right now. Pardon me if I don’t take HMVs word for it. But I do think its a worthwhile question for us to discuss and I believe there is an answer despite all the gray.

    So I’m going to stick with my initial thoughts on this MMO definition thingy for now. I don’t have a definitive MMO definition and have never claimed to — I think there’s room for gray area here. But I also know that the genre began with persistency and that has continued to be what sets it apart from any other multiplayer game. I think HMV isn’t considering any criteria we should take seriously.

  4. November 1, 2012 5:45 pm

    It’s been my opinion for a while now that genre descriptions are only really useful when talking about generic games. Which makes sense, I suppose. =P

    • November 2, 2012 11:33 am

      Seconded 100%. I think this might be the most sensible thing said about game genres anywhere on this site! (;


    • November 3, 2012 5:31 pm

      Define a generic game. That sounds like some kind of genre all itself.

      Unfortunately, there *is* such a thing as genres are they *are* supposed to indicate something about that variety of game 🙂 What you both have said here makes this article seem irrelevant if you’re to be taken seriously.

    • November 3, 2012 6:23 pm

      Generic in that we’re not talking about a specific games, because so many specific games don’t neatly fit into a single genre. I think that’s the point of this discussion; genres are only useful as vague guidelines. What genre is a game like World of Tanks, anyway? It’s not REALLY a FPS. It’s really an RTS. It’s not really a tank sim. You say it’s not an MMO. So I think the point is that genres are only useful on games that are either very targeted or only conceptual in nature. Using them to define a game can be useful when talking in general terms, but trying to nail something down under so broad a label seems counterproductive in almost every discussion I’ve had recently.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • November 4, 2012 7:09 pm

      I agree. All games don’t neatly fit into a single genre, but they don’t have to and in fact naming as many as applies is a good way to get the idea across. All that matters is that the genres used to describe a game actually tell you something concrete about the kind of game it is. I don’t see it as about nailing something to a specific genre, but using genres as classifications (as many as necessary) to describe a variety of game.

      I think that WoT is some sort of RTS for sure. The next step would be asking ourselves how we know that and why we feel sure of it. It doesn’t follow that just because a few gamers can’t decide how to classify something, that there’s no proper classification or that classifications are vague or are supposed to be broad. That doesn’t follow. However broad or specific the terms are, it’s only important to know what they are. Seems to me there’s an answer in there, but it will take some research to find it …which I don’t have yet 🙂

      You’re good at bringing up good topics. I’ll gladly follow-up the research on this in a future article. Thanks for the engagement.

    • November 5, 2012 11:50 am

      I wouldn’t mind coordinating a post on something along the lines of “the usefulness of genres” in the future if you want to do that. Since our discussion here, I’ve been considering writing on that topic anyway, so might as well see if we can’t get a larger debate going.

      Let me know, and thanks!

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