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Ask Massively: Several reasons edition

Eliot Lefebvre
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not subscribe to the notion that there is a singular explanation for everything. Consider the above image. Why was it selected as a header? There are several reasons! For starters, it was the first result in a search on Wikimedia Commons for "several." And... well, actually, I guess that's pretty much it. But I'm going to go ahead and add Dadaist discontent to the list of reasons because that usually sums this up fairly well.

Anyway, I can promise this week's answers in Ask Massively involve a larger number of reasons than does our header image. This week, the questions at hand are the reasons why players might choose to play on the test server and the reasons we're still knee-deep in elves, dwarves, and dragons. As always, if you'd like a question answered in a future edition of the column, just mail it along to or leave it in the comments.

Fienemannia asked: Why would people choose to play on a test server?

Several reasons!

1. It's a chance to preview new content before it goes live. If you're really on the cutting edge of content, this can be very relevant, as you can get the difficult phase of learning how to clear it out of the way before the patch drops.

2. It's a chance to learn changes. Major class updates or ability changes take time to adjust to, and as a result your character build might need some tweaking once the patch comes out. You can get the practice and learn the changes you need earlier.

3. It's a blank slate. You can play around with something you might not have tried otherwise without the pressure of playing the main game; decisions you make aren't for keeps.

4. You have been a fan of mainstream comic books for so long that unless everything is reset every couple of months, you don't know how to cope.
Gordian asked: Why are we still swamped in fantasy and pseudo-fantasy titles for MMOs?
Several reasons!

1. Fantasy is a really fertile and broad archetype that allows for developers to use a familiar framework. The less stuff you have to invent whole-cloth, the more time you can spend making things interesting.

2. Fantasy is easy for players to get accustomed to. You don't need to read up on what elves are to have a loose idea of what to expect, which eases the amount of world background you need while trying to understand quest text.

3. Fantasy is a setting where you can reasonably have a large number of heavily armed people roaming around with loose ties to governments and a penchant for taking things off of random wandering monsters. If you pull that off successfully today, you're usually in a country where the average term of office is four months and the most common cause of death is unnecessary violence.

4. Everyone is absolutely convinced that he can beat World of Warcraft at its own game. (After everyone was convinced that he could beat EverQuest at its own game, so nyeah.)
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!