The MMO Grinder 2014 Year In Review
Hey remember how in the past two years I put together a subjective list of meaningless MMO accolades and derision that ended up causing more internet arguments than debate and discussion?
Why not do this again! This past year had a lot of major changes. I dropped Blip for Youtube, something I thought I would never do. I ended up opening a Patreon campaign, which I was honestly expecting (and in the back of my mind, am STILL expecting) to go nowhere, despite reaching three goals within a few months. I was really bad about keeping up this year, considering both January and March went without any full episodes. Finally, this was the year we finally made Grindstone into an actual thing, rather than just a dozen regulars jumping into whatever game I was reviewing, going as far to get us an official logo now.
DISCLAIMER: The following statements are not based on any sort of fact. This is an onslaught of pointless opinions, observations, and anecdotal evidence, based solely on the concept that people really seem to dig this kind of crap at the end of every calendar year. I don’t get it either.
Biggest Surprise: World Tour Fishing
What happens when something you start as a joke ends up… not being as much of a joke as you’d think? Well, ok, there’s still PLENTY to joke about in World Tour Fishing. The bikini outfits. The broken english. The over-the-top battle music for what’s considered the world’s most lackadaisical sport. The name itself so heavily embracing the initialism, WTF.
But what surprised us the most was how fun the game turned out to be. They made the fishing feel good, challenging and intense. Even when you pulled up a fish the size of your finger, the battle to land that fish would make you think you hooked the Loch Ness Monster. Some ended up enjoying the game so much that the kept it going, like MegaGWolf who made it a semi regular thing on his stream.
Biggest Disappointment: ArcheAge
The decidated fans of this game would love to think I wanted to hate this game. They’ll claim I hate sandboxes, open PvP, open worlds, or any of those other things that this game heavily advertised. I did not. I hate ArcheAge because it did none of those things correctly. See, I WANTED to like ArcheAge. I wanted to like it more than any game I looked at previously (besides Neverwinter, but that’s a different story.) I loved the look of the world, the way the game felt as I began to play it in the Sidequest, but I KNEW that community was going to be a problem. So when I decided to test that theory by inviting over every viewer of my videos to participate in the first “Open Beta Tester Event”. I wanted to try out that common dismissal of “Just play with people you invite, and the game is great!”
No. No it is not.
It was digging deep into the game where I started to see the cracks.
This was a terrible sandbox. Locking people into arbitrary, and fairly deep levels before they can partake in half the features being used as selling points is not a smart move.
Having an Open PvP system where players are expected to dole out the justice, leaving people stealing crops in far hotter waters than going on a murder spree was a terrible idea, and forcing people to complete hundreds of offenses before any punishment more severe than a bathroom break’s worth of jail time was doled out was ridiculous.
After a while, I saw more and more of this game’s genuine inelegance and ineptitude peek through the cracks, and as much as I tried to convince myself and the rest of the guild that the game was going to get better once we got “just a little further” it became more and more impossible to believe until the time was up, and I just ended up feeling free of the whole thing.
Sure, I have plenty more to say about it, but that’s all in the video, and I have a few more times this game going to come up.
Biggest Controversy: The Wildstar Subscription Backlash
I don’t think there were any shocking moments involving the industry this year… at least to a point that was on the level of CoH’s shutdown, but like last year, I’ll go into what caused me the most headache on Youtube… for that few weeks.
I called it when I did the Sidequest, I called it when I was opening the review, and I am still going to say I called it now that all the recent news has come out. Wildstar has made some stupid, STUPID moves, but the most baffling of them all was the idea that such an unknown and traditionalist MMO was going to go the Buy/Subscription route, when facing off against a reborn Final Fantasy MMO, a highly anticipated MMO version of Elder Scrolls, AND a new World of Warcraft expansion.
However, that all fell upon deaf ears as a massive portion of the Wildstar comment section on Youtube was filled to the brim with people taking arguments out of context, or calling me, or anyone who claimed they weren’t a fan of the subscription model anymore as being “too poor to play MMOs” or “fans of F2P Pay-to-Win garbage”.
Add on the fact that Carbine encouraged and stoked the flames of this elitist, exclusionary attitude. They claimed their game was for the “hardcore”, a term I honestly don’t understand how gamers can still hear marketing firms parrot and NOT realize they’re being manipulated into thinking they’re part of some exclusive club. Well, turning your game into an exclusive club doesn’t make money, and I think Carbine is easily starting to see that.
My points were not against the models of subscription, or traditionalism at the core. They were arguments against an unknown game thinking it can take the market away from established franchises by doing nothing to change them. Why is a subscription a bad idea for an unknown? Because there are plenty of other, well known games using the model, and very few people are going to place the time and effort into your game in addition to the others they are more familiar with. 15 a month piles on, and I am hardpressed to know anyone who’s actively subscribed to more than two out of their own pocket. Hell, for the longest time, I only had an active WoW account because I kept getting piles of time cards for Christmas.
In the exact manner, going the traditionalist route for a market that has far evolved out of some of the more annoying, clearly time-lengthening tropes, instead of relying on the game’s own charm and strengths to keep you playing it. If you like the old features of WoW and Everquest… GO PLAY WOW AND EVERQUEST. They still exist, and making another game exactly like it doesn’t make a shred of sense if you think you’re going to succeed.
Wildstar is a game that fails by believing it needed to stick to a subscription model, and tropes that have far been phased out of even the games they were inspired by because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” You need to take these arguments as a whole, not just pick out the parts you don’t like and hold the entire thing to the standard.
If you’re still clinging to the subscription ideal, at least FFXIV is still going strong, and TESO is holding out far longer than people expected it to.
Biggest Annoyance: Scarlet Blade‘s perversion defenders
I am NOT writing up this rant a third time, and I honestly don’t care if someone “lost all respect for me” because I used harsh language addressing the issue. They can grow the fuck up. But I will state this one final time.
Scarlet Blade is not a sexual game. Scarlet Blade does not contain sexual acts, or sexual activity. “can u have sex in scarlet blade”? NO.
Scarlet Blade is a pandering title that damages the ideals of true sexuality by forcing a false standard of what sexuality is, upon it’s entirely immature, but still newly pubescent target audience.
It’s a Korean Grinder that the original publisher felt was too generic for the audience, and was subsequently forced to present its characters in an overly fetishized manner, and you can TELL. Take away the fact that the almost all-female cast of playable characters are dressed in pointlessly revealing outfits, and all you have is a fantasy/sci-fi MMO with a very tragic story… both inside the game, and involving its inception.
So don’t hang some holier-than-thou attitude over me because I’m able to see through the ruse. Don’t accuse me of being some prudish, conservative, sex-fearing puritan because I think the whole thing is stupid and know it’s nothing more than a shameful display attempting to attract the horny teenage mind. I mean, shit, wasn’t that list of search terms enough to show who was actually being lured in by this game?
Hell, I actually witnessed and received feedback from some of the most sex positive people I know, who were absolutely repulsed by the game, for the seriously… god I hate using this word… “problematic” issues of false sexual belief and expectations brought upon by this game.
Personally, I see their points, but I thought the game wasn’t all that harmful to those smart enough to see it. When we did MMO Underground, Tyger, G and myself would hoot and holler like fratboys whenever the game was brought up. However, don’t pretend it’s some glorious sexual revolution, either. This isn’t some tastefully filmed arthouse pornography, or even a raunchy fetish film of leather, whips, and latex bodysuits. This is a group of 5th graders giggling at a Victoria’s Secret catalog.
If you want to play something actually sexual, there are options out there. Scarlet Blade isn’t one of them. For fuck’s sake, the publisher won’t even let you walk around naked without banning you, so stop kidding yourselves.
My most backlashed review: ArcheAge
Shock of shocks. The number of downvotes to upvotes (still heavily in favor of upvotes, mind) has been used as a measuring stick as to how “fail” the review was, and of course, not what it really was, one of the few reviews on YT looking to critique the game rather than stroke fanboy egos. ArcheAge was marketed as the second coming, like GW2 before it, and of course, praised to high heaven for ideas that were done 20 times better in other games. Another one hype has crushed as now most of the SAME people ranting about how wrong I was, and how great the actual game is… have gone on to say the game is terrible one the honeymoon period has worn off. But clearly not for the same reasons I had, of course.
If it hadn’t been for this game, this would have easily gone to Wildstar.
Mabinogi rage was shockingly low considering the Nexonite fanbase, even if a few very vocal people wouldn’t stop harping on in the comment section.
My most well-received review: Final Fantasy XIV
Shock of shocks in the most unironic sense. I was actually surpised this turned out so well because this fanbase terrifies me. In fact, the most flak I got wasn’t from any fan of this game, but more the franchise fans in general, especially a ridiculously wordy comment from someone who was a pretty transparent fan of FFXIII, extremely angry and condescending that I referred to his/her preferred FF title as “the one Final Fantasy game that’s nigh universally despised”. Apparently I “didn’t do enough research” for a throwaway joke about a game I wasn’t even reviewing. Whatever, who cares.
I’m just glad the game has found its audience, the rabid fanbase is mostly gone, and moved on to obsessing about FFXV.
My most watched review(s) (of this year): Scarlet Blade
(Near tied with Wildstar, and Mabinogi )
There were a lot of really close ones this year, each of these reaching over 35000 views. Looking at my Youtube list, Wildstar is the most viewed episode this year, followed by Mabinogi. Scarlet Blade is actually third. It makes sense there. I timed the Wildstar review at the highest of interest for that game. Mabinogi was a long requested game, and Scarlet Blade is… Scarlet Blade. The game with boobs I said I’d never review. Each video separated by only a thousand views.
So why did I say Scarlet Blade wins it?
I factored in Blip.
It’s a dead platform and it fails to promote itself, but when posted on TGWTG, I tended to get a nice boost… but barely enough to really count. On Blip, Mabinogi barely reached over 1000 views. The two vids that were promoted on TGWTG in Blip’s format were Wildstar, and Scarlet Blade. Wildstar pulled in a respectable, but comparatively paltry 8000 views. Scarlet Blade? 12,000.
I can see why Scarlet Blade took off on both formats, though. It’s a very, VERY silly game, and the video’s jokes practically wrote themselves. It was a fun, and amusing video for anyone who didn’t think I was trying to turn it into a crusade against sexuality. That major bump by Nash certainly helped it along, too.
Best Community: Final Fantasy XIV
Color me shocked again, considering not more than a year before I was getting harassed on Twitter for daring to imply that the honeymoon period for the game would wear off soon. In the game, the people were, for the most part, very helpful and respectful… Granted I heard that somewhat drops off when you reach endgame, something I AM still working on, but the people at large in the game have definitely reeled in that fanaticism and learned to take the game as a game with flaws, but still a game that they enjoy, and nothing beyond that.
Worst Community: ArcheAge
I can’t believe I almost had to think about that.
Here we are at the crème de la crapè, the very issue that makes the frustrating and inelegant aspects of ArcheAge downright insufferable. ArcheAge is a game designed to let griefers grief, and grief they shall.
Chats were insulting, racist, troll fests, each person trying to be more terrible than the last to impress precisely no one.
Dare to voice concern about the issues, the zealotry of the fanbase will make Guild Wars 2 look like a science symposium. They’ll find excuse after excuse about how you’re “just playing it wrong”. They correct you on how jail really is punishing… if you commit crimes for weeks. How being a pirate is totally not a desired community option… despite so many guilds we saw named “The Jolly Rogers” or “Blackbeard’s Army”. Open PvP isn’t desirable for anyone who doesn’t exist purely to cause trouble, especially when so many systems allow and encourage the behavior.
So is getting in your own guild a good way to surpass this headache?
So many of Grindstone were playing on the first day. We saw less and less each day, and they couldn’t stand it. Those of us who were really far ahead were forced to wait for the game’s level gate to open up before we could all become a force to be reckoned with, and the amount that stuck around in the final days weren’t even enough to fill a dungeon. It might be your ONLY hope of enjoying the game, but in ArcheAge, you either team up against the assholes… or you become them.
See why so many people didn’t want to bother with the game after it was over?
Best Recovery: Marvel Heroes 2015
There were no F2P conversions this year surprisingly, seeing how “well received” so many of the new Subscription MMOs were. But I’d be running low on categories if I didn’t put this as a replacement.
I don’t get what people hated about Marvel Heroes when it launched, and I honestly don’t want to know, so feel free to keep it to yourself. However, When the game rebranded itself as Marvel Heroes 2015, it met with a lot of success and admiration and I honestly don’t understand why, considering I always felt the game was fun. It’s still pretty good that the game finally found its audience, and at the very least, fixed whatever issues it was apparently having. Seriously, I have no idea what changed so much to completely turn the fanbase around. Was it allowing crafting items to stack now? That was kind of shit, before.
Worst timing: Transformers Universe
Oh my god, this was seriously a depressing moment for a lot of us. We liked this game. It was FUN. I still want to do a goodbye style video about this one. This is honestly the first time I’ve found out about a game’s shutdown the DAY I was ready to start working on the episode. We were actually planning on reviewing this game as a full episode for a couple months. The same day I had to break the news to Nate and essentially ruin his day, and having to replace the episode with Dead Island Epidemic was a seriously big downer for the last episode of the year. If you still have an account, play the game, and see the potential that was there. It’s sad it got taken down before players chance to appreciate it for what it really was.
Favorite Overall: Aura Kingdom
Now this is odd… the first review I did in the year was my favorite experience of them all. Yes, I don’t play the game currently, and I’ve heard it’s met with its fair share of botters that Aeria seems less than concerned with taking care of.
Still the time I had in the game was great. The environments were colorful and gorgeous. The music was beautiful and catchy. The story was mysterious and really, really dark in a lot of places. The gameplay was flashy, fun, satisfying and admittedly… stupidly easy. Still the overall experience made me so much more intrigued in the game, and sadly not a single game this year brought me to the level of interest and amusement that Aura Kingdom was able to do. It was also the only other MMO this year where Grindstone had a very impressive showing in. For a few months, this was our new Wushu. Here’s hoping I find something nearly as intriguing, and amusing, and something that community takes as well to as this game, in 2015…
…but I’m not holding my breath.
And once again, I draw the 2014 season of MMO Grinder to a close. If you’re wondering why I haven’t announced anything about MAGfest, it’s because the con was pushed back to the END of January. There will be one more episode, the upcoming Open Beta Tester Event on “Trove” before I head off to the con and meet up with a few Grindstone members there… I may even have some “prizes” to bring along.
If you’re thinking and looking to accuse me of writing this thing to harp on ArcheAge, it’s not my fault the game failed to impress us in so many ways.