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All Posts by MissyShade

All Posts by MissyShade

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39 posts found

Thank you all for the well-wishes and compliments.


I know that I haven't agreed with all of you, and some of you may be happy to even see me go, but it's been a pleasure to get to connect with you all the same.


Unfortunately, the column has just been too much for me to handle lately. While certainly has its reputation and traffic, when I struggled to get a column out each week and didn't enjoy what I was doing anymore, it was time to move on.


You're all welcome to ask me questions on twitter, Formspring, etc if there's something else you'd like to know. I'm happy to respond. :)

Also, I'd like to point out that no, I didn't get into the Surplus system either. The best explanation from the system comes from Square Enix themselves. To be honest, it still isn't a great explanation, it still leaves a lot of confusion, but they also have the "it's beta" card working for them - they can change it as much as they want right now, and leave a final explanation for release. And yes, it should have been explained early on, but it's also something that wasn't even possible to encounter until this current beta phase.

As some picked up on, the system really works out the same way an experience curve or rested bonus system does, but in reverse. The psychology of how people interpret the system, however, is clear: people are feeling punished for playing as much as they want, rather than seeing a) the benefits of the system and b) seeing that it would be the same numbers wise in a reversed system. Same thing WoW went through in beta.

Ultimately, I think it's numbers - and here I mean figures in dollars and subscribers - that's going to tell Squeenix which way it should go with this system.

I find it impossible to judge one way or another without having played the game in a normal state (no bugs or bonuses with experience as is the case in Beta 3) to see if the system is actually terrible or 'punishing' in any way; after all, as a gamer myself, I can go anywhere from a half hour a day to five-six hours a day depending on my mood and what I have to do. 

However, there's plenty of fans who will tug with their emotional strings even though they haven't seen more of the game than a couple of trailers and word of mouth from beta players. Misinformation, fear their money or time will be wasted, fear they'll be "told what to do" by the system, are all driving fans into a frenzy right now. Square certainly has a bit of an issue on their hands as they try to work the system out.

Originally posted by mwutil

Playing Devil's Advocate for Sankaku:

You linked the the article from the 24th, but did you bother to read the two articles posted the next day?  The second one in particular is interesting, as it has the original Japanese text of the message posted to the ffivcore messageboards.  Admittedly the English translation below the article should say "8 hours worth" instead of "8 hours", or in other words "the predetermined amount of XP Square thinks a person would be able to get in eight hours", but in the comments this is clarified and discussed.

Did Sankaku troll?  Or did they post the information available to them at the time, subsequently clarifying and posting more relevant information as it came out?  Funny that the entire first part of your article is based on three-day-old information that was rebuked and clarified the very next day.  And also funny that you mention evaluating your sources, but your only source seems to be a translated version of information posted to Sankaku 48 hours ago.

I linked to about  4 or 5 of my 12+ sources in the article, some of which had been posted on Thursday (when I wrote the column).

My point about Sankaku is that they posted information without fully researching the issue, made a very wide-spread claim (one hour per day), and got the community into a panic over it. It's just as much the community's fault for buying into Sankaku's initial post as it is Sankaku, as well as Square Enix for not having explained the system to begin with.

The first part of the article was detailing and chronicling the panic caused by the initial article and misinformation spreading around the internet (Sankaku wasn't the one who said it was account-wide, for instance). Not everyone pays attention to these dramas as they unfold; I merely gave background as to where it started. Square Enix wouldn't have likely detailed the system this week if it hadn't been for the hysteria.

You walk through a magical barrier, which puts a bubble (literally) around you that allows you to do stuff underwater. Personally, I think it's a good mechanic; managing breathing spells is a lame gimmick for underwater zones (anyone remember Kedge Keep?).

As I sometimes do, I will remind people that I often play devil's advocate. I am, actually, rather amused at some of the political assumptions made of me already, even though I've played off these changes as being unnecessary and sensitive in the developer-player-investory relationship.

Would many players welcome the changes? Sure- many have asked for them. This is only list of some of the ideas players have suggested in a way to be more "progressive" in today's world, by being more welcoming to minority cultures and ideas. I actually like some of these ideas myself, but possibly for different reasons than you may imagine.

I think, however, there is plenty of room for depth in our games. They tend to be too shallow, too mimicky, too much boom and not enough thought (and I'm not talking about skill in game play). The more controversial options and lore that a game developer provides the player, the more intense a game can become. Of course, too, intensity can be a bad thing.

Also, perhaps I'm confused, but it seems several of you are both saying "let people do whatever they want" and "don't cram this down my throat by making it part of my game" in the same breath. How can people do whatever they want if the game doesn't let them; and if the game lets them, how does it cram it down your throat?

A lot of my "guild" mates (I actually belong to a raiding alliance in WoW) are already cancelling their subs and writing up letters to send in via snail mail to express their extreme displeasure. I don't think the community is failing to take action on this.


Take for instance my raiding group leader. He is a student working on finishing up his degree, in a very professional and academic field. He is also leading one of the top groups on our server, and as such, utilizes the forums to help recruit new members and communicate with players on the server who have questions about us, raiding progression, etc.

He is now unwilling to continue because he has been given a choice: continue raid leading under a real name, with which his future employers will show great prejudice when looking for information about him on the internet (employers do this now on a wide scale, especially in more professional industries); or quit raid leading and hope someone takes it on who doesn't mind having their identity exposed to the world.


For someone like me or Jon, posting with our real name doesn't matter as much. We're already out there. We're public figures. Since the new RealID forum system doesn't require us to connect our characters to our names, we still have anonymity of a sorts. But the fact of the matter is, if I participate on my server's forum, or a guild or raiding alliance thread, I expose who I am and where I am. And I invite people who don't like me to find out who I am and harrass me further. About the only thing that isn't private for me is my phone number and actual address, but that doesn't take much research to find out after everything else is said and done.

Am I worried about stalkers/harassers despite being a public figure? Absolutely. And while this change isn't going to lead to every individual being stalked, it will happen. My fears are based on my past, where I have been harassed, stalked, and much worse both through online interactions and real world interactions. I would like to not invite more people to "come and find me" even though that avenue is already wide open. I prefer my gaming to be a little more anonymous.

Thankfully, I long ago disregarded the WoW forums as unimportant. Even though I will likely continue playing, at least to some extent, the forums will never be graced with my presence if this change is enacted. It already appears that my raiding group, along with many other guilds, are collapsing with players throwing in the towel.


Privacy does matter. Yes, a first and last name may not be much for some people; for other people, it may be their entire profession or lives. First and last names give away much, and this reveal will go two ways - WoW players will be able to look people up based on their real name, and people will be able to find out that you play WoW and what you post about by looking for you in return (that is, unless Blizzard decides to make forums private to subscribers of Battle.Net only).

For those of you who argue the MySpace/Facebook route: there is a difference that makes your argument weak. A Facebok account is under the user's control. Their name and photo is all I have to share publicly, even though FB is trying to shove its way off any privacy at all. They choose who they friend and who gets more information like their location, their album, their status updates, etc. They choose whether or not that FB real identity will ever be connected with any of their personal hobbies or activities. You may never know that Dr. Smith, your family doctor of 25 years, even has played a single video game based on his Facebook because he controls that content. With WoW's forums, the information is 100% public - if you post, your name and your words are available for everyone as well as the implications of where and what you post about incline. Like the RealID chat system, there is no level of control other than "on" or "off."

There are plenty enough people who are concerned about having their gaming identity connected publicly that will, at the least, make the WoW forums a very quiet place. I appreciate those of you who say "who cares, it's just a first and last name," but I ask you to place yourself in the shoes of many - public figures, refugees, people with a crazy ex or family member, people who have been previously stalked, criminals, etc - and think about how they feel by being possibly forced off using the forums because they have a reason to "hide." Think about professionals who might be risk taking if they reveal their name publicly in a gaming forum; maybe they don't care, but their employers do. I agree  that some may be overreacting too dramatically, but this is still a very important thing for a large number of gamers.

Originally posted by just2duh

 Bit of mixed info coming from this, article says " hitting store shelves this Thursday" yet up top it says (est.rel 2011), so which is it? :P


The article says that PC Gamer will be hitting store shelves this Thursday. :P

TBH, I don't know why anyone expected more from the Torchlight MMO than an extension of the current engine to enhance and support group play. I thought that was pretty clear from the get go. Now whether it will be lobby or persistent world is what I think matters more - I want something a little less like Warrior Epic when it comes to a persistent MMO feel.

Nonetheless, adding multiplayer to my beloved Torchlight would be awesome; I have the people to play with.

Glad you had a great time, Bill.

I'll agree with others' sentiments that it's a shame that gamers can't attend E3 anymore. I still have hope that maybe one day ECA will reverse that decision. I mean, it isn't like everything is public even now; many demos and other things you still have to get a booth appointment for to see, and that's with the event being industry-only.

Originally posted by shava

We won't see hard questions until the access issues are straightened out, and that won't happen until there are trusted sources of hard criticism, which won't happen until there are hard questions, which won't happen until access straightens out which won't happen until...


That sums it up pretty well. It's not advertising so much as it is the access issues. Some game companies are bad when it comes to press relations, but many are respectful.

Of all the reviews I've written, two have burned bridges - at least in so far that both went dead silent on me after the review went up and was sent back to them. Which is amusing, because I know that has to reflect a certain soreness on their part - my review style takes after a more "constructive criticism" approach than a "scathing review" approach. Interestingly, I'm reconnecting with one of these two companies now, so perhaps, on their part, the silence was caused by a different matter.

Of two other very negative reviews I've written, off the top of my head, both companies are in close contact with me still and don't even mind if I ask harder questions. I know, too, many others of us who have managed to keep good relations with companies after negative reviews - as I said, they usually know when they release a bad game.


Nesrie: I actually am growing to enjoy F2P games more as time goes on and I learn to adjust to their model. I obviously don't believe they're "the future," but they're not a bad model when done right.

Originally posted by shava

Originally posted by MissyShade

I write news for two sites, and get paid. It's nothing compared to a "regular" job, but I have not, nor will I ever, accept a volunteer position for keeping up to date on news.

Also, considering that MMORPG pays its freelancers for every piece, I imagine they pay their hired staff too ;)

Really?  How much of their content comes from user generated content?  Last I checked, a lot.  I inquired after a "position" to cover Second Life some time back, and found that they wanted one story a week for no pay.  Maybe it's changed in the last couple years?




I think the freelancers writing here are greater than the actual staff, and I do get paid for every column, review, and special feature I do.

There's more I could comment about this issue (regarding in particular), but won't do so in the public forum.

I write news for two sites, and get paid. It's nothing compared to a "regular" job, but I have not, nor will I ever, accept a volunteer position for keeping up to date on news.

Also, considering that MMORPG pays its freelancers for every piece, I imagine they pay their hired staff too ;)

I just wanted to drop in and leave a note to thank all of you for your comments. The outpouring from the community on this column has simply been amazing, and everything said has meant a great deal. So many of you were brave enough yourselves to share your own personal stories about losing "online" friends, and I think it shows the real character of the community.

It's not often I write something so personal when it comes to my column or even gaming in general; I try to stay neutral a great deal of the time and be more observer than participant. Unfortunately, the events of the past week struck me hard and this topic was forefront in my mind. For those who were bothered by its personal nature, I apologize - be reassured that this isn't my typical fare.


For those who are wondering, I did lose my uncle last week. He was rushed to the hospital on Monday, comatose and doctors didn't think he would make it through the night. Tuesday he was out of the coma and speaking to family, and doctors became hopeful he might recover. Early Wednesday morning, he passed away.

He did have cancer - stage 4 lung cancer, from his smoking habits. I've been told he only knew about his cancer for 2-3 weeks, and he only told one other family member who kept it secret, so it came as a shock to us all.

It's been a stressful time, but now that a lot of the drama is settling down, so are things here. :) Thanks again for all of your thoughts, both here and in my inbox.




Originally posted by Valentina

So will it look any better? Also, will there be more options at character creation?

No new options at character creation.

As for looking better, the mysteriously unrevealed new UI supposedly will be better than the current. The game's graphics are as they stand though.

Keep in mind that this relaunch/official launch is mostly designed to fix problems, not radically change the game or launch a ton of new features. As Smart's put it, they're releasing a finished game (the implication being that the version in December was unfinished, which I can agree with).

The only truly new addition to the game are the instances and the new tribute system that goes along with the subscription-free model.

The game is subscription-free, so it is indeed like Guild Wars' model. That change is already in effect.

There's still a lot of tenatives before this re-launch; a lot of very game-breaking problems have been fixed, but a lot of requested features and fixes are on the list of things that will be fixed either a) on the launch or b) sometime after. The launch won't be a magic fix, but it may be a step in the direction to recovery the game needs if it's going to survive.

I enjoyed playing Alganon again better than I did when I reviewed it, mainly due to the fact that the client was stable and I wasn't fighting half a dozen serious bugs that were making the game a headache to play before.

Yeah, Davin Allen's head has been in the game for a long time, even before Smart was brought on to QOL.

Like the SWG fiasco, I expect we won't know the full truth until years later when the court dust has settled.

Originally posted by SnarlingWolf

There was never a golden age of MMO players working together and everyone sharing and helping. There was a day with smaller populations and more dedicated guilds which falsely made players think back and see how wonderful things were. There has and will always be griefing and selfishness, just as there will always be foolish players and those who pretend the game is real life. There will be those who play 10 hours a day and don't mind sitting around all day, and those who only have an hour to play and want action now.



Of course there wasn't. There was a tendency toward things like monster kill lists then; it's not something you find now. But just because there were kill lists and dungeon rotations doesn't mean things were peachy. MMOs have never been the happy world of Sesame Street.

Nor do I think that grouping up to kill a quest mob "makes" community, any more than sticking flour in a bowl makes bread. There's an off chance that people might befriend each other, but we're talking about utilitarian needs here- not about hugs and friends lists.

Is there a greater game design problem? Definitely, especially when it's newbies fighting over a named mob (anyone been playing Aika's open beta?). That doesn't mean players can't take the obvious solution, though.

I don't look for a group for quests any more than most of you, but when I'm out there and someone else shows up for the same quest mob, I toss them a group invite. It's just common sense.

Lots of interesting discussion here, that I've really enjoyed reading about MMORPG as a news source. I agree with a lot of you. I act as news writer at other sites, and I actually do find it surprising when I not only beat at a news article, but I beat them sometimes by days.

That's more humorous to me too because I'm not in the effort to be "first" - I'm a one-person news staff for one site, and one of three (two of whom rarely post) on another. I try to be timely but know I'll be beat by the dot coms that have dedicated people whose sole responsibility is to get the news and get dozens more press releases and press contacts than I do.

Any way, I have nothing to do with the news content on, so I actually had a question for you.


I see talk about columnists crop here and there. Now, being a columnist is a funny thing; if we say something positive we "must have been paid" and if we say something negative we're "trolling." Then there are the people who yell about how columnists are spouting their opinions in a column, and yet an editorial's goal is to present and promote an opinion or perspective (editorials are not objective journalism - there is a reason op/eds get their own section in newspapers).

All that aside, what is it that you want to see from columnists? I find it difficult to believe that some of you want to see game-specific information, as that would often lead into reviews, previews, or the realms of the game correspondents instead of columnists, but if that is what you want, why? I'm curious.

Originally posted by Khalathwyr
Originally posted by MissyShade

 Have lots to reply to, so I apologize if this comes off fragmented a bit..

First, thanks for replying. Second, I feel the need to state that I'm by no means trying to tar and feather you so if it may look like my writing is doing such I'm not. Eight years as a soldier and I still do the majority of things aggressively but certainly without any genuine malice. That said...

I don't think there is a mixed message being sent by western gamers. Irrespective of what the sales numbers say (even you admitted western numbers were foggy in this thread) I fell comfortable right at this moment making the uneducated (key word there) statement that the number of western gamers who don't use the Items shops is far, far, far greater that the numbers that do. Adding to that let's delve into the actual buyers of those items and I'd have to wonder how many of those transactions were by gold sellers.

As for playing gamer and reporter at once I may be able to sympathize with your inference as I've done the soldier and "diplomat" at once. Smile and grin but keep your thumb on the selector switch and be ready to shoot. I won't ask you to reveal your other "handles" on  this or other sites for the obvious reason (and no, I'm not trying to stalk you, heheh).

I have to disagree a little on your take on why players aren't getting listened to. I think it's simply because it's the easiest route to go. Only one time really in the history of MMO gaming have players concerns been listen to with the route you propose and that other media and company officials have said which is to speak with their wallet: SWG. Even with that the company still didn't "listen" to it's player base and open up a classic server or two to give their previously paying customers what they wanted.

As for the summit or conference idea I think it'd give some formal representation for players. It may not make significant impact immediately yet once it had a few years to grow and establish some clout with the media and then gaming companies I think it may be able to effect some positive changes. I agree that having players follow any immediate manifesto because there isn't a clear, central avenue to communicate on such a large scale to MMO gamers. Sites like these are all we have. Efforts such as those that I mentioned would be to bring together various sites like these to get a more far reaching messaging and closer to full and proper representation. Not just for the RMT issue but for various other issues.

Trouble is a grassroots effort just won't work without some support from the gaming media and media sites (which at current will only remain neutral as you state) or by some well established company taking up the torch to get these recurring meeting in place. As I've said above, the companies aren't going to just listen to us at current (gamers want to play games and if this is all they're offering we have not much of another choice other than to not use the item malls or stop gaming). Such an effort needs a well known General to muster all the proper resources.



In terms of handles, 98% of the time I go by missyshade as handles in the community or just by a variation of my name (such as jskelton). One of the reasons I don't post a lot on community forums anymore is because of my "status" as a press member; some games I have press accounts to and so I tread a little more carefully. Plus I get read and watched by companies, some of whom are trying to "figure me out." I do play the mysterious and silent most of the time because of this, because I try to stay a generally neutral party. Cryptic has asked a friend of mine when he visited their studio if I hate them based on my columns (I don't), and I've had other gaming bigwigs message me in regards to posts I've made on forums.

They know how to find me, and sometimes it's creepy, so I tend to walk with soft steps. What I said to girlgeek was quite appropriate: I am not as transparent in my views as people think. I am more devil's advocate than revealer of my own feelings (a trend I started quite young when debating.)

Any way. . . 

I think every company case can be different. There are certainly companies out there who are listening very intently about microtransactions and trying to give the players what they want as much as possible (usually these are F2Ps though, and not subbers.) And then there are companies that are clearly disconnected, as Lum/Scott's article brought to light about the Allods Online fiasco. There are certainly plenty in between to some degree. 

What is true, though, is that I have yet to see a company take a real in-depth look at what the players want. They do research via perhaps random surveys, or polls on the main page of their site, or read a few forum posts that say "Damn it'd be cool if I could have a unicorn; I'd even pay for it." From what I have seen, most do research ex post facto. So in that, I can agree you're right - many do take the lazier way out of it - but I also will politely hold that the community is still sending some mixed messages.

After all, RMTs in subscription games for the western market are fairly new.

A grassroots effort would be astounding to see from the community in this area though, simply because you don't really see gamers garner behind a cause very clearly, especially one so specific as this - except via those stupid "sign here" petition threads on forums. 


Also, I'll leave a quick reminder note to those of you who have piped in to say that this is being paid to support X and tell you Y, I'll remark again (although it seems to not ever be heard) that I am a freelancer. The only thing tells me in regards to my column is when they're due and when I'll get paid. The rest is all up to me, so feel to direct your nerdrage appropriately. I don't mind.


Folks, I won't be keeping up on this thread as much now, but if you have something you really want to bring up to me, just send me a message here. 


 94% of statistics are made up on the spot.

Subscription games with microtransactions (we're not counting account services here) haven't been around long enough in North America to provide any significant statistics. 

Microtransactions internationally are a different story, as the gaming culture overseas (particularly in Asia) is much different in the way they approach spending money in a game.

 I like a well-done dark forest.


That said, I have to agree with the sentiment that any area, done right, can be really enjoyable. I'd like to see something a little less generic under-water wise, too.

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