About the Show
Q: Why the name, “MMO Grinder”?
A: One thing I was always really bad at was coming up with names for things. (See: “Chaos Reviews”) so when I was planning this out, my original title was “MMO M.O.” which pretty much doesn’t make any sense, I just thought it was clever. I was wrong. I was also constantly discouraged by issues when I’d come up with what I thought was a good title for something, I’d see it was used somewhere else. (I had an idea for a reality TV review show called “Reality Check” but I’m hardly the only person who thought of that pun.) Unlike quite a few people on the internet, I actually check to see if anyone else is using a name regularly before I decide to use it. Because I’m not a complete dick.
I contacted Justin Carmical (JewWario) on the TGWTG forums and asked him tips about making a show. In addition to a lot of information about starting out, he advised me that I should pick a name that brought together the entire point of the series, with something that had a common link. Not sure exactly when “MMO Grinder” came to me but I was VERY shocked to see that numerous Google searches turned up nothing but a Wikipedia page on the word “Grinding”, and someone asking for a free-to-play MMO in a forum. So I jumped on the chance to create something with that name.
Why? Because Grinding is a part of every MMO in some way shape or form. Be it killing monsters to level, playing the same match or course over and over, or even having to travel back to the same area repeatedly are all part of the “grind.” Also, it brings up mental images or a tool or a sandwich depending on who you ask.
Q: Why is the show schedule bi-weekly (one episode every two weeks)?
A: There are two reasons I’ve done this. The first is that I wanted some sort of regular schedule to complete these videos in, so that people could come to expect them within a certain time frame. The second reason I chose a longer amount of time, is because I wanted to be sure I had enough time to play the game to a point where I could understand the basic principles. This allows me a lot of time to take care of other things I need to take care of at home but grants me enough time to allow for any issues with filming, editing or installing that may come up.
Keep in mind that the two-week schedule is roughly tentative. I will try to be sure to AT LEAST get an episode out once a month, and if I do go longer than two weeks, you can be sure to find an update as to why on this site.
I will try my best to release a new episode every other Wednesday, but in the event I get done early I might release it to blip on that week’s Monday or Tuesday.
Q: Where can I leave suggestions for MMOs to review?
A: The best place is the comments of the Suggested MMO List on this site. Leave a comment and I’ll get around to adding it to the list once I’ve looked into it. (Best example for looking it up first: The sheer amount of people asking me to play Kitsu Saga when it was shut down several months ago.) Otherwise, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions.
It’s much less likely if you choose to leave a suggestion in the comments of a blog I’ve posted an episode at, so don’t get too upset if you’ve done just that, and see I haven’t added it to the list. Just makes sure what you suggest isn’t something that’s already there, but I’m fine with people talking more about a certain title they have an interest in.
Q: (Insert MMO here) is awesome! Why haven’t you reviewed it?!
A: The slower release schedule of the show, combined with the SHEER NUMBER of free-to-play MMO games out there means it’s probably going to take me a long time to get to one you might want me to get to. For the most part, I use a combination of what I’d like to play, what other people are interested in, and what I am able to play within time constraints. Also MMOs I’ve had a history with tend to be easier for me to work with, as I know the very basics and don’t have to start completely from scratch. I know I won’t be able to keep that up. There may also be a technical issue that won’t allow me to play a certain MMO title, so keep that in mind. If I find out about one, I’ll be sure to mention why in the Suggested MMO List. If you really want a certain MMO looked at, be vocal about it. Just keep in mind there is a very thin line between “vocal” and “annoying” that you shouldn’t try to cross. Make your case, but don’t pester it.
Q: (Insert MMO here) rocks/sucks! How dare you say that about it!
A: I say this a lot, but I really REALLY try to be as objective as possible with my reviews, but if something annoys me, I’m going to say it does. I will NOT say that it’s going to annoy YOU, however, which is why I do my best to mention exactly what about it annoys me and why. The same goes for something I really enjoy about a game. In the end, I tell it as I see it, and one should be well aware that not everyone sees things the same. It’s the same reason I don’t do numerical scores. They’re too vague and subjective.
Q: Will you give reviews about MMO publishers like Nexon/Gpotato/Other?
A: It sounds like a good idea, but something I’d have to spend some research time on. Back when I first started out, and Pi Story was the title I wanted to do as Episode 3, I was going to try to put off Maple Story as long as I could, and put it together with something I’d call “Nexon Month” (but with a bi-weekly schedule, “Nexon Block” would have been a better name) with each title not only being a Nexon title, but with a little more info as to WHY I wasn’t a big fan of their company. But when I got back to looking at Maple Story and saw they were taking much better measures to alleviate their old stigma of being non-supportive and money-grubbing, I decided not to go on as much of a rant against them as I wanted to do.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of their B.S. is still rampant but they’ve done well to make changes. (I didn’t mention in Episode 5 ofDFO that the outfits used to be given to you AT RANDOM and all you could do was use a purchased coin to grab at least a type of article of clothing, without being able to choose the one you wanted.) Perhaps in time and with some more knowledge, I could do an episode like that. Might be interesting.
Q: Will you review MUDs?
A: No. There are two reasons for this. One is that they are purely community driven, and not something I can explore alone without delving directly into the community. The second is that the fact they often have little to no graphical interface, and lack many standard MMO features, making them much harder to fit into my show’s categories. A re-format of the current formula might allow for a spin-off show based on MUDs but I don’t think I’ll have the dedication to involve myself in them.
Q: Will you review browser based games that still have a graphical interface?
A: It depends completely on the game. This might have to be a case-by-case basis, and I may be forced to re-format the show formula in order to allow such a thing to work. I had considered doing so, in a similar format to a “game quickie” that seems very popular among game review shows, but as of right now, I’m not really feeling the necessity.
I already know of two games I’d consider for “Browser Based” reviews that loosely fit the MMO formula. If it’s something that fits in with the formula of MMO Grinder, but still is contained entirely within the browser, it’s more likely going to be part of the regular MMO Grinder series, but the major issue is just how I’ll record it. I cannot record most of these games with Fraps, but my alternate method of recording will not record windows sound. So it’s a bit of a technical conundrum.
Q: Why won’t you reveal the MMO you plan to review in your next episode?
A: It’s a two-fold personal preference. While I do usually have the next MMO to review planned by the time I finish the previous one (Hence the “next time” clues in the outro), I don’t outright tell you for a few reasons.
The first is I don’t want people “tracking me down” in-game to try to play alongside me. While I understand this sounds extremely selfish, there’s a reason for it. I’m trying to go into these games as YOU would go into these games. Do you know anyone willing to help you right off the bat with a title you’ve never played before? It’s not a fair reflection of the actual community if I have someone in the game willing to help me out right away, and get me anything I need, because chances are, as a new player you’re not going to have that kind of luxury.
HOWEVER… In the event I feel I know enough about a game starting out, and I am looking for a partner or group, I may contact people I know are into the game, for pointers, tips, or even a “tour”, so I may get a better understanding of the game beyond the basics. In fact, you’ll see a pretty good example of this in Episode 6.
Q: Why didn’t you mention (insert gameplay element/quirk here)?
A: The problem with differing opinions on the internet is that everyone has an idea of “what’s most important” and I’m no exception. For examples, it’s quite often people will ask me why I didn’t mention:
- A game’s technical quirk
- How the story is subpar
- Endgame content
To answer these often, but hypothetical issues, I’ll explain them away in an all-encompassing manner:
- I report on what I experience. That’s it. There may be an occasion where I find people are quite often talking about an issue, and I’ll make mention that’s people are speaking of it, but even that comes with the risk of people arguing with ME about it. For the most part, if I didn’t see it, I won’t mention it. It might not bother me as much as it bothers you, and my videos run long enough without having to mention every little oddity I run across. By all means, mention something like that in the comment, but PLEASE stop saying “you missed” or “you forgot” when mentioning it. That’s obscenely presumptuous.
- That, my friends, is not objectivity. That’s purely personal opinion. When I state something as an opinion, I make it clear it’s my opinion, often prefacing the statement with “I feel that…” or “It comes across to me as..”. Stating an opinion as fact is opening the door for argument. I’ll never understand why the internet is so seated in separating opinion from fact, and yet still blindly makes opinionated statements as facts themselves. I guess opinion only counts as fact when it’s their’s personally.
- I don’t review endgame. I don’t want to meet the person who can write a script, edit a video, gather footage and materials and STILL reach endgame content in a matter of less than 2 weeks. This show has been, and always been a NEWBIE guide, and I’ve always felt the game is about the journey, not the destination. There are hundreds of THOUSANDS of places you can read or hear about endgame content if you care to know about it. Not sure why you need me to tell you.
Q: What do you qualify as an MMO?
A: This is a question that everyone has a different answer to, so I’ll define what my qualifier is the best I can. Keep in mind I may make exceptions at my leisure. While some may argue what they feel is or isn’t an MMO, with some being as strict as “must have hundreds of people playing at once” as others being as lax as “as long as more than one person can play it.” I’m somewhere in the middle.
I factor in a lot more then simply players ability to interact within the gameplay itself. My best example is Pangya. In Pangya, you can only play alongside 3 other players, and if you go into tournament mode, at best you’re by yourself looking at player dots on the screen. HOWEVER, the lobby is contained completely within game, and you can form guilds and teams completely within the game itself.
Another factor is progression. There must be SOME form of character progression within the game in order for me to believe it qualifies. MMOs are a very much about rewarding you for your work, but slowly. The more work you put into a game, the better your character becomes, or the more stuff is available to you.
I get a LOT of people asking me to review things like TF2, and the way I see it, TF2 isn’t even remotely close. The ONLY thing that resembles an MMO is the loot and crafting system, which is hardly a qualifier. All classes are available to you. Classes do not become progressively stronger, or have more abilities unlocked the more you play the game. There are no guild forming systems, or matching contained solely within the game. (You need to add Friends on your Steam account to match alongside them. That’d be like me including Castle Crashers as an MMO because you can invite your Xbox Live friends.) This is the same reason I didn’t count League of Legends as an MMO, even though there was an inter-game friend system, there was no guild system or play lobbies in order to set up matches at your leisure. And at least that game had some form of progression.
So to illustrate my criteria for an MMO:
1.) The game MUST contain some sort of in-game community system, involving matchmatching, guild systems and activities that pertain to both.
2.) The game must feature some form of character progression involving skills, level ranks and equipment.
All exceptions are my decision alone. I will not be “convinced” that something fits the category if I don’t want to review it. It’s my criteria, and I don’t need to be “corrected” on it.
Q: Is there anything specific that can/will turn you off of an mmo?
A: Tone and purpose is key here. There’s been more than a few people who asked me to look at Habbo Hotel, and I can’t tell if they’re being serious. Sorry, pool’s closed.
For the most part, I want to stay away from MMOs overtly meant for young children, to the point that communication, the very thing that makes MMOs so interesting to me, is limited or restricted to emoticons or set phrases. (See:ToonTown) Other than that, if a title is just too much of a problem to run or install, or just comes across as way too shady to me, I’ll probably have to skip over it. Evony is unquestionably in that latter category. Look them up sometime, my lord.
One final thing: Subscription based MMOs playable on a hacked or private server DO NOT COUNT AS FREE-TO-PLAY. Do not ask me to review them. (Exception: If the MMO in question no longer exists through legit means, and has permission from the original publisher.)
Q: Just how many mmos have you played?
A: For subscription based MMOs, I started out with Phantasy Star Online of all things. My first true to the current and expected format of MMOs was Final Fantasy XI, and at great risk of getting people to send an army to destroy me, I HATED that game. I have my reasons. It wasn’t until World of Warcraft that I got completely inundated with MMOs, and whenever I got bored in that game, I gave others a whirl. Sub/Pay titles I have played include Guild Wars (You still have to pay for it someway!), Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes/Villains, Aion: Tower of Eternity, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online. (You know… back before subscription MMOs all but died.)
As free-to-play goes, I’ve delved into every title I’ve reviewed in Episodes 1 through 5 well before reviewing them. Others include, Fiesta, Trickster, Audition, Kart Racer, Pi Story, Cabal, Shaiya, Rappelz, Flyff, Runes of Magic, Neo Steam, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine, Secret of the Solstice, RF Online, Manga Fighter, Mabinogi, Last Chaos, Grand Fantasia, Adventure Quest Worlds, Battlefield Heroes, Rusty Hearts and Perfect World Online… to name a few off the top of my head.
And now after having done this show for nearly 6 damned years, (as of 2017) my episode count speaks for itself. My tastes have changed, my favorites have come and gone, and we’ve seen the market ebb and flow. To be honest, I’m surprised there’s still a market to review at this point.
Q: Are you willing to try MMOs with fans?
A: That all depends on several factors. I always welcome tours, but once again, I’ll have to have gotten a feel for the game if I’m reviewing it first. I don’t think I’m even remotely popular enough to start shoehorning in “guest stars” (unless I know them in real life, in the case of my wife and friends who’ve appeared in the show) nor do I wish to do any versions of the show that feature someone who isn’t me hosting it. The future may hold exceptions, but don’t expect something like that for a LONG time. However, your best bet to to join Grindstone. It doesn’t guarantee you access to my group, but you’re far more likely to join a core group within it, or with us.
Q: Will there be any more “Chaos Reviews” episodes?
A: That all depends on what I have time for. The original “Chaos Reviews” were nothing more than a way for me to get a feel for doing a review show. I had no real focus or topic and just talked about whatever I felt like talking about, which is why several weeks or even months would go by without an update from me. If something I’m playing that isn’t an MMO really floors me, (Like LIMBO, Scott Pilgrim: The Game, and Hard Corps: Uprising did) I may take a break to do something for that game instead. It’s just not my main focus, but to be fair, it never was.