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Tales from the Neighborhood: Enter the Blogosphere

Columns By Jessica Cook on March 25, 2015

Enter the Blogosphere

Welcome to the newest column on MMORPG.com!

Before there was Twitter, before Tumblr, even before this site, fans of MMOs and RPGs would sit down and write blogs about their favorite games. Today even with the rise of social media and more centralized website hubs there are still hundreds of small amateur blogs being posted to every week by people from all over the world.

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Blogs have spurred the growth of communities. They can help create buzz about a lesser-known title, or spread a bad review like wildfire. Today’s blogs are where you can find some the most in-depth theorycrafting, media criticism, and industry analysis on the internet, all written by folks who just plain love video games. 

Each week Around the Neighborhood will highlight some of the best from the blogosphere. Sometimes this will focus on promoting different perspectives of a single burning hot topic, but this week we’re taking a general survey of what has people talking in the world of MMOs and RPGs.

Are Star Citizen superfans deluding themselves into thinking that their game isn’t pay to win? That’s the question Azuriel from In An Age addresses in his post “Performance Enhancing F2P”. While browsing the game’s forum he found a comment arguing that those infamous expensive high-end spaceships and supporter packages aren’t “pay to win” so much as “paying to keep up with people who have more time”. Azuriel dismisses that approach as being similar to an athlete saying that they need performance-enhancing drugs to keep up with competitors who have more time to practice. He’s not exactly sure why this attitude bothers him so much, but feels it’s a sign that MMO players may be losing their way in the modern marketplace.

The annual EVE Online Fanfest took place on March 19 to 21 in Reykjavik, Iceland and as usual there was lots of news and space drama for fans of the game. Sugar Kyle from the blog Low Sec Lifestyle attended Fanfest and diligently transcribed the panels for readers following along from home, but she had one post in particular that few other blogs will ever have the opportunity to write: a thank you for being elected to a permanent seat on the Council of Stellar Management. Sugar talks about how shocked and pleased she is to be elected, and how seriously she takes her new permanent role. It’s her “chance to try and save the world” and judging by this post 2015 is going to be a busy year for the CSM.

Ocho from Casual Aggro has returned to The Elder Scrolls Online now that it’s free-to-play, and he thinks the game is “Still Not Quite Getting it Right”. Ocho praises the game for its beautiful scenery and well-written quests, as well as the slightly expanded gameplay options. However, he still feels the game is undeserving of its place in the Elder Scrolls pantheon. Previous games capitalized on playing how you want to play and being the character you want to be in a world of possibilities, whereas TESO’s linear questlines and reliance on the old holy trinity for grouping works to just pigeonhole players, making the game more of a WoW clone and less of a worthy successor to Skyrim.

The Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns expansion may just have been announced earlier this year, but Ravious at Kill Ten Rats reflects that perhaps players have been testing expansion ideas for a while now. In his post “Have We Been Beta’d?” Ravious writes about the frustration that some players felt waiting for news of an expansion, particularly given the release history of the first Guild Wars. In retrospect though, he feels that there’s evidence of ideas being “beta tested” for months now, if not years. Multiple subtle changes to Edge of the Mists, introducing the Mawdrey Season 2 backpiece, the addition of the Dry Top and Silverwastes maps – all of these, Ravious writes, indicate extensive backend testing and information gathering for ideas that it seems will finally be brought together in Heart of Thorns.

It’s not an MMO or an RPG, but Cities: Skylines fever has struck gamers of all genres in the two weeks since it launched. Talarian of Gamer by Design took on one of the biggest frustrations of any city builder in his post “Come On In! The Traffic’s Fine! A Case Study in Pictures”. Talarian writes about how managing traffic in Cities: Skylines seems to be a balance of space versus efficiency, and the best interchanges are often not the prettiest. He examines the traffic problems in his own virtual city and shows using screenshots what changes he made to address the issues and how they did -- and occasionally did not -- solve the problem.

And finally, UnSub from Evil As A Hobby has been keeping an eye on the downward trend of game prices after release and he’s not sure things are working out well in the long run. In his post “Video Games as Commodities, or Victory Through Patience” UnSub writes that the lack of scarcity in digital distribution means that prices start to drop almost from the moment a title launches. Players in turn have learned to wait for the deep discounts they know are coming even months later. This change in attitude often works out great for players’ wallets, but is it a sustainable business model?

And that’s it for highlights from around the blogosphere for this week! If you see a great blog post that you would like to see mentioned in a future column, leave a link here in the comments or send a note on Twitter to @Liores.

Jessica Cook / Jessica "Liore" Cook is a longtime MMO blogger, fan, aficionado, and community goodwill ambassador. She hosts the MMO podcast Game On, and writes the weekly column: Tales from the Neighborhood. You can read more at www.lioreblog.com.