There Goes the Neighborhood – Massively Shutdown

First reaction on hearing the rumor / news? Damn, some passionate folks are out of a job.

If there’s one thing Massively did right, it’s making their news and article writers very recognizable people with their own opinions and personalities, especially since a number of them also have their own personal blogs in our part of MMO blogosphere town.

Second reaction? Well, crud.

If there’s another thing Massively did right, it’s be a really comprehensive summary list of MMO news and things of interest happening in the MMO world.

Lately, I’ve almost never clicked through to read an article – mostly because specific MMO news these days ain’t that exciting to me, and for one other reason I’ll get to below –  but it’s always been good for skimming through headlines on an RSS feed and getting a feel of what different MMOs out there (including many one will have never heard of otherwise) are doing.

But I can also empathize with a currently very unpopular opinion and post whom some others are reading as being a jerk dancing on someone’s grave, in that there’s one thing I’ll be glad about seeing Massively go.

The quality of the culture and the comments around the articles started going down the toilet a year or two ago, and has pretty much hit rock bottom these days.

-That- actively repels me from a click through because I don’t want to scroll down and end up seeing another flame war, replete with Massively trolls going at each other and anyone not yet savvy enough to recognize them.

A long time ago, when Massively first started, things were very different.

Comments were Rock, Paper, Shotgun-quality or higher, a bunch of bloggers were all hanging out there, and I had a really good time and run as a commenter there, which imo, got my name out there and recognized before I decided it was time to carve out my own lil place on the internet.

I’m really not sure what happened down the road, maybe it was just a side effect of too much popularity, maybe AOL was remunerating based on click-throughs, hits and comments and it was more profitable to let a combative , troll culture rage unchecked and get more people responding that way, maybe the comment system AOL made them use just sucked with moderating tools (I vividly remember a total inability to edit comments for a long time, fer instance) but something happened…

And it just made the bottom of the articles a really unpleasant place to be for me, especially when they somehow managed to attract a Positivity Troll whose name I recognized from the City of Heroes forums.

Every now and then, I would try to get back into the community swing of things with an odd comment or two, usually during the Daily Grind articles which I was quite fond of for coming up with thought-provoking questions and seeking reader opinion and input, and generally end up repeled by something or other.

The absolute straw on the camel’s back for me was when I tried to add a little humor with one comment, in my usual sardonic style, and guess what, my comment got deleted, presumably being read by the editor as a troll, while a whole lot of other trolls were running rampant.

LOL.

Well, I guess I don’t fit as part of the Massively community any more then. Cheers, see you, I’ll be hermiting over here on my corner of the internet, where people who don’t like me or my opinions can decide to stop reading me – no offense taken – and where people who do can stick around.

And that was basically how I took myself out of the Massively commenting community and stopped contributing to clicks and pageviews for the most part.

An inhospitable, controversy-fond social environment / culture had formed and no one was actively community managing or cleaning it up to any visible degree of success.

Do I really want to see Massively go?

Nah.

As I said, I’m sorry for the writerly guys and gals who are now out of a job. I hope they can move on to other better things and get a good income stream going again quickly.

I’m sorry for the loss of a news-aggregating site who covered MMOs primarily and did a good job at providing a specific kind of news service.

But, in this ever-changing world, the only constant is change and even institutions and businesses fade, restructure, shut down, grow or be born again. It’s just the natural cycle of things.

And sometimes, if the work environment has suddenly become toxic or intolerable in some way, it can be better in the long term to clear the decks and move on to other things, or give the place a graceful end.

There will still be plenty of folks content with the old way of how it’s always been, and not seeing a problem, of course. “It was doing fine!” They argue. *stares at SWG, stares at City of Heroes*

Somewhere, behind the scene, a bunch of suits were looking at the numbers. Sorry, but business is almost always about the numbers.

Sure, if you care about it, go ahead and appeal, petition, cling onto hope. If there’s enough of you (those numbers again), you can even change minds sometimes. So that’s good.

But if that doesn’t work out, then we may as well gracefully accept that things change, and then move on to better things – even if we have to MAKE them or the opportunities ourselves.

I hope to see another MMO news aggregator eventually step up into Massively’s place, grabbing hold of its strengths and the niche it was serving, but hopefully rehashing none of its mistakes – eg. having AOL as its boss, allowing a cesspool of a comment community to form and linger, etc.

RIP Massively.

I guess it’s really a new decade for MMOs now.

Minecraft: Agrarian Skies Meets Bragtoberfest – Death Times Three (#UpGoerFive)

I am having a great deal of fun talking like this.

I need to thank my friend for showing it to me.

(If it gets too annoying, feel free to give me notice in writing.)

But I do feel that sometimes, words that make no sense except to the people deep into a thing get in the way of explaining that thing to others.

When we game, (or even in school or at the office,) we use so many of those words. Usually without thinking about it.

It is a good chance to see what we really know by telling others about something, or explaining it in a simple way, using words that make sense to many.

It is like writing a song, or a short story, or that other form of writing where words are carefully picked and placed in a way that sounds good.

It is also really fun.

I love playing with words almost as much as playing with games. Or maybe it is the other way around. I don’t know.

Anyway, two of my writing friends have decided that this month is the month of the big mouth.

They are asking everyone to talk big and show off about what they have done in any game.

(There are also some together-game-playing times that have been set.

I am probably going to have to wake up really early for that. Like five in the morning early. But I will try. Since it is at week’s end.)

As you all know, I have been playing a game of mines and making things. Or in this case, a game of blocks in the sky and making things.

The other day, I went through three lives in one night.

I think that is really quite something to be a loud mouth about. Being really good at dying.

Especially if it’s for the great cause of seeing what’s around the next corner.

The great black dark nothing is all around my world.

That night, I thought it was way past time to go down and face it.

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So I let hot water-like rock fall from the skies and fall all the way down.

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Water-like water followed after it.

This changed the hot water-like rock into rock-like rock.

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All the way down… I’m getting quite good at this climbing down easily broken sticks business.

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When I got closer, one could see… “My god, the nothing! It’s full of stars!”

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Looking up, the rest of the world. “I can see my house from here! Oh wait, it’s ALL my house!”

And then it happened. I touched the dark, and the dark bit back.

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As usual, I don’t believe things the first time around.

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So I had to do it again.

Just how low -was- the death part of the dark? Could I get my stuff back if I just got near enough?

I don’t know in the end.

Before I could find out, I slipped and fell.

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Yeah, time to go leave the dark alone for now.

Falling out of the world hurts.

Maybe I’ll try again when I can fly.

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Good thing I had some hearts laying around to eat and get the lives back.

The world has a strange sense of what’s funny.

I did a thing the book asked me to do, and it gave me this to thank me.

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Oh my… can it be… is it… an up-goer flying thing?

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It IS, it IS an up-goer flying thing!

It doesn’t look very good, and may be hard to start… but it said, maybe, just maybe if you try long enough…

So I went outside and really tried.

I jumped one time. Nothing.

Jumped again. Nothing.

Maybe if I jump two times really quick?

I didn’t quite get it the next few times, but then… after jumping two times a couple more times…

Suddenly…

I was flying!

Flying really high!

Flying really fast!

Straight up!

Then there was a really loud noise.

And a big fire for just a second. I think.

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I guess I didn’t read the red writing carefully enough.

The good news was that I could walk back to pick up my stuff.

The bad news is that I very nearly couldn’t find all of it.

I think all the wood things burned up.

I don’t know where all the rocks went, but there’s always more rocks, not a big deal.

I almost cried when I couldn’t find my very strong tree-cutting thing. I had owned it almost since the beginning.

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Then I thought to look up. Way up.

It was on the very top of the blue tree.

I guess I really was quite high up when I burned up.

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The rest of my food was even further and higher up.

I think I found the problem in the end.

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It was green, you see.

I think that was why it went bad.

I also found my head.

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So I made a remembering place to mark the spot. Never forget.

What did we learn from this?

You know what they say.

If at first you don’t make it, try try again. Some day, I will have an up-goer thing that works.

Until then, this is me, signing off for now.

 

GW2: Completely Wrong Ways To Have Fun in WvW

Or allowing “baddies” their day in the sun.

I used to play the heck out of Team Fortress Classic. As a pubbie, cos I got none of that competitive dedication. My favorite class? The engineer.

Yeah, the one that let you cover up your lack of good aim (or lack of an aimbot) with an in-game auto-aiming sentry gun.

The one that let you emplace a sentry gun, yourself with a shotty, and your ammo dispenser (read: bomb. Who uses it for ammo, really…) in three different places at once to make life difficult for the medic who loved nothing better to poke his head in gingerly, back out, then rush in, grenade your sentry, concussion bomb jump (catching me in the blast in the process) and zip past up the ramp.

I imagine he must have been laughing uproariously as he sped full tilt into the little small room, suddenly banged right into a dispenser blocking the doorway, and then BOOOOOM.

*snicker* That never got old, though some guys did catch on in the end and successfully got the flag. I counted it as a moral victory if the guy had to bring a second friend though.

The point of the engineer was to outthink the other guy strategically, and come up with the best sentry gun and dispenser emplacements (and yourself – can’t count the number of times someone stopped to nade or gun down my sentry and got shotgunned plinked to death from behind, who needs aim when you got a point-blank shotgun) to really perplex your opponent and prevent them getting your team’s flag.

Sometimes you couldn’t win. They’d get your flag over your dead body. (Figuratively and literally.) But god, were they delayed. Your team could grab 1.5-2 flags in the time they got one.

And then there were the nades. The oh so fun EMP grenades. I could never play TF2 for long, even before the cash shop craziness, I missed the nades too damn much.

I was that fucking punch-drunk crazy kamikaze engineer who would run full tilt into the enemy team with an EMP nade primed and go BANZZZAAI and boom, take out 5 of them with 1 of me. Giggling hysterically. I doubt it did much for my K:D ratio. Nor was it meaningful to overall team score unless well-timed (like clearing out a bunch of defenders at a chokepoint for one’s team to rush in.) And I’m sure some would rage about no-skill kills. But it was still funny and fun to do from time to time.

Why have such things in a game?

Because it lowers the entry barrier into a game and brings more people into the game by catering for different playstyles. Because as people dip their toes in, and find something they are comfortable with, they keep playing, and one day, maybe they’ll decide they want to learn more and master something else.

Hunted maps were a bit of a pain for me at first, because, oh god, no engineer *sob*. As a sniper, I would suck. As the civilian, I would probably be brain dead and not have great timing with whatever nade jump I would be expected to do. Default option left: Soldier. Four goddamn rockets. Wtf was I supposed to do with them?

I was just one of those random useless soldiers who ran around shooting rockets into walls and windows for a while. But hey, I liked the other maps in the rotation as an engineer so I stuck with it. I read Hunted guides. I read soldier guides. I watched soldiers who seemed to know what the heck they were doing. I practiced rocket-jumping up the vent like those guys were doing.

It took me a while, but eventually I had it down to a decent enough science that I could join one of those three guys getting the civilian up the vent, shoot a useful preventative rocket into the windows snipers liked to use even as the civilian hopped onto a nade and did a graceful arcing jump across the courtyard and zipped into the exit point. Game, set, match. The snipers barely ever won.

I even downloaded maps to try out conc-jumping because I kept seeing some really good medics perform some amazing feats right in front of my eyes in the flag room. Fucking double conc jumps up into the flag room up high, bypassing all my defences except the dispenser (with which I got them with only once before they learned to take it down) and zoom, out again, before I could ever catch them.

Repeated practice and playing as an engineer eventually got me routinely up to the second highest scorer on the scoreboard, second only to the one offensive pro who was normally doing the job of capping the other team’s flag while I did my job making life hell for people poking their nose into MY goddamn flag room.

But I would never even have started down the path if the game wasn’t interesting or easy enough to give someone with initially no skill some ways to have “wins.”

So what does this longwinded story have to do with WvW?

One of the biggest factors affecting the number of people playing has to do with morale (besides the obvious ‘timezones’ factor.)

This is so important that commanders are advised to pay a good deal of attention to it. Shaky morale means people drifting off, falling behind, running away or logging out of WvW.

But why only wait for those few commanders who know how to manipulate and boost your morale?

I didn’t like the uncertain feeling I was getting when getting shaky on morale, and after some thinking, I narrowed down precisely where I personally was having issues. Losing control. Feeling like the situation is beyond your ability to affect. That other people are doing to you, and not you doing unto them.

Fleeing and logging off at this stage has never made me feel any better.

But you don’t have to fall prey to it, because there are always ways to to affect something or do something in WvW and regain a sense of control that way.

Disengaging from a fight you can’t win and going elsewhere to do something is always a valid option. It’s only running away if you never come back.

Do I have to list examples? You see it everywhere. Stop beating your head on the 3 min righteous indignation buffed supervisor if you can’t get dark fields and life stealing going (and even that’s going away next patch, I hear.) Zergs smoothly do a tactical retreat, rebuff and surge right in from another direction. Stealth classes losing battles go poof all the time and get the hell out of dodge.

Yea, though I live in the valley of the shadow of suck, I shall fear no death.

Especially for an objective.

Random funny mini-stories:

I went yak-slapping a couple days ago with my then level 79 to get the last few smidgens of xp. At that level, I’m sure the upscaled 71-74 rares were very sucky. I ran into some Kaineng mesmer at a sentry I had converted to help in my yak-nomming, and it turned into the most hilarious “fight” I have ever had in game. I couldn’t kill him, my damage sucked. I just focused on trying to stay alive with my new and unfamiliar skillset and build, just about narrowly making it, though to this hour, I still don’t know precisely how. It got to the point where I had the sentry help by stunning him and the hammer was still hitting like a wet sock. Then he figured out to kill the sentry first. Oh shit. Back to dodging and staying alive within that tiny circle. I somehow held on so long that the sentry actually respawned. Rinse and repeat.

I was wondering how the hell to get out of the situation, though I noticed in the minimap that [PiNK] was busy taking the nearby hills keep some time ago. Oh right! I am HOLDING OFF a lone Kaineng reinforcement (though I’m sure he wasn’t stupid enough to run into the zerg there anyway) from reaching the keep. The instant the keep flipped, I jumped out of the circle and ran full swiftness tilt downhill hoping to get within vicinity of friends before getting offed. He kindly didn’t chase and waved, remaining behind to take the sentry.

Got in a zerg. Zerg got very badly ran over by [RET] and the commander decided to fling the remnants off a cliff instead. Oh hey, lucky break, this place a bunch of us leapt off is still shallow enough to not die.

A couple of very dedicated-to-fighting-and-killing [RET] jumped down to finish us off and got gibbed by combined fall damage helping our ineffectual builds.

We milled around wondering how to get down past the next very steep fall while some ranged guys kept us in combat and unable to waypoint. Last order from the commander was jump the hell off the cliff, kill yourself, come back to spawn and regroup. Oh well. Geronimo!

I hit the ground with 300hp left and blinked. LOL. Still alive. I forgot to screenshot it, but I spent a couple seconds doing a celebratory Asura hop at the two [RET] guys looking down at the survivors before waypointing.

Then there was the time Mendon’s was getting ninja’ed by 5 Kaineng and a ram and I was first on scene to report numbers. Two guys caught sight of me and decided to go after me. I took off in the opposite direction with my lil legs pumping. They must have learned the value of “DON’T CHASE” that day because as they gibbed me near Speldan’s, I was watching 4 green dots on the minimap converge on their three remaining guys and a ram at the front door of Mendon’s. I respawned and got back in time to watch the remaining two get swarmed down by the now 7+ TC’ers and got my hit in. Mendon saved. Mwahaha.

Oh, and the things I do for yak noms.

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That yak had extra delicious cookies, I swear. Keep guards? I laugh in the face of keep guards, lying here under this dead yak…

This was when I was still downleveled and hitting like a wet sock. Who cares? I wanted the objective and I got it. Delicious xp to level 80. My hammer’s much better now, thank you.

Even in the worse case scenario of it being guarded and you know you’re going to die if you engage and there’s no one else around to help, there’s always roleplaying a zombie and pulling the yak down with your cold undead hands before you get stomped. And coming back. Zombies never stop coming, even if they fall apart with a sneeze. (And then randomly disengage and hit another yak after they’ve gotten used to your pattern. Very few people have the patience to walk a yak for long periods of time, most will wander off after some time.)

It’s good practice for the time when you need to rush a siege knowing you probably will die but just going all out to fuck it up before falling over.

Repairs cost next to nothing these days. The shittiest dungeon run or repeated WvW deaths will barely take off 11 silver. One sold rare on the TP makes it back with extras, even without a quick dungeon run. Death ain’t nothing to be afraid of.

Oh, and teachable moment. Met someone who asked if I wanted to come along and take a supply camp. I can’t solo a supply camp, they said. Huh? I wasn’t sure if they were pulling my leg. Hey, look, you can so solo a supply camp, I told them as I jogged along with them to the nearest camp. Let me show you.

They were disbelieving. All of them come at me and I’m berserker, they said. You’re a goddamn guardian, I think to myself. Don’t give my favorite class a bad name. A squishy thief could solo a supply camp with patience. But out loud, I say, No, no, you just have to back away far enough. And pick off the scouts first. Let me show you how to pull.

And I did.

They still rushed in while we only separated a scout and a guard (and the supervisor was starting to come towards us) so I don’t know if the lesson on pulling and backing away far enough FULLY sank in. But the principle was demonstrated, and they seemed confident they got it, so what the hey.

One more ever-so-slightly-educated person now capable of soloing a supply camp and feeling like they have the capacity to affect something on the map.

Control. Morale. Strategic thinking. Interesting new moments that make good blog stories and good memories.

Fun.

That’s what’s it’s about in WvW. For me anyhow. And the killers should be happy, because with those mini-wins, I keep coming back for them to slaughter. Take those away and I’ll take my ball and my body home with me. Enjoy post-Trammel UO.