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Tales from the Neighborhood: Mad About Mods

By Jessica Cook on April 29, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Mad About Mods

When a big story breaks in the video game industry, usually everyone has something to say about it. From spur-of-the-moment tweets to lengthy forum comments to long professional articles, nothing gets players talking like big news.

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That includes the MMO blogosphere. Often when a big story breaks you can read multiple perspectives on the issue within the hour, much less the next day. You probably already have opinions on modders selling their work over Steam, or whether Heroes of the Stormy counts as a “sport”. This week we’re also looking at smaller topics like SWTOR’s operation tuning woes, and Blizzard meddling with the price of the WoW token.

No issue is too big or too small for the blogosphere, so let’s see what has people writing this week!

Anyone who follows video game news knows that the big story from last week was the changes in Steam’s Marketplace that allow modders to sell their work.

Rohan at Blessing of Kings is not opposed to the idea of modders being compensated for their efforts, but he doesn’t think it’s going to make much of a difference in the long run. Many modders are adamant that their work is a labor of love, not profit, and they may move away from Steam’s platform after this change. Rohan also points out that mods that are created by a team will likely shy away from the new system due to how much work it will take to sort out who earned what percentage of the profit.

Ikralla at Grimoires of Supremacy! is also happy about modders receiving money for their efforts, at least in theory. In practice, though, he worries that the numbers as they stand right now are too far in favor of Valve / game publishers. Ikralla also raises the concern that this new avenue of profit will prompt people to release a lot of sub-par mods in the hopes of making a few sales. Remember Oblivion’s horse armor DLC? That’s just a taste of the faulty coding, and awkward re-skins that gamers can probably look forward to on the new mod Marketplace!

Shintar from the blog Going Commando is a little worried about the current state of SWTOR’s operations (large group instances). There are three modes of difficulty in SWTOR: story mode, hard mode, and nightmare mode. Traditionally Shintar’s guild focuses on hard mode operations with a little dabbling in Nightmare mode, but this tier has seen them stuck in the early bosses.

Shintar acknowledges that tuning is a tricky challenge in MMOs – make encounters too easy and you irritate the serious players, but make them too hard and you frustrate the entry-level players – but she feels that this tier starts out too difficult and just goes up from there. If the story mode is designed to be very hard, where does that leave the moderate players who want a bit of challenge but also regular progression? Shintar doesn’t advocate content nerfs, but she does wish that Bioware would hurry up and release the next tier of operations before her guild loses interest.

Offline sports fans who turned on ESPN2 this weekend may have been a bit confused about what they were watching. On Sunday, the network aired a Heroes of the Storm live tournament, called Heroes of the Dorm, with great prizes, talented teams, and a very professional stage production. The event had people talking on- and off-line and prompted Asmiroth of Leo’s Life to ask “Are E-Sports a Sport?”. Asmiroth wisely avoided answering his own question but seemed to support the idea of professional MOBAs or Starcraft being treated as a sport. Like basketball, eSports are about achieving an end goal or win condition and packs a lot of action into a short period. One thing is for certain: we can expect to see more conversations like this happening as eSports rise in popularity and prominence!

The WoW Token released a few weeks ago, but according to blog The Dàchéng Diaries the work of Blizzard’s social engineers has just begun. In a post titled “Tokens: A tangled web” Dàchéng notices that Blizzard is playing with the algorithms behind the Token that calculate the bid and offer prices, making a more fluid price graph. Unlike EVE Online’s PLEX, the Token isn’t meant to represent a free market and anyone hoping to speculate on the Token should keep that in mind.

That being said, Dàchéng still has some advice for buyers and sellers. Keen virtual economists should buy a game time token with real money when the price just starts to rebound from a trough, and sell said Token for gold when the price begins to trend downward after a price spike. The future of the Token is highly variable thanks to Blizzard’s influence but using Dàchéng’s advice right now will result in the best deals for flippers.

And that’s the news from the blogosphere this week! If you know of a blog that should appear in this column, leave a link in the comments below or let me know on Twitter at @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.