Ask Massively: Big questions deserve big answers edition

Assume the fish is a question, not just an enormous sunfish.  Public domain photos are odd.
Some questions are just too good to leave to my sole discretion. I like to think that I can provide a reasonable response to a number of questions, but I also think there are some questions that merit more opinions. Case in point: a question last week from potaco about whether or not it's harder to focus on a single game instead of several games as a Massively employee. So I'm consolidating responses from the whole team right now, and we'll have an answer to that question this week.

This week's Ask Massively is still packed, however, with questions about getting a new computer for World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic as well as whether or not Guild Wars 2 will provide credible competition for other games when it launches. If you've got a question you would like to see answered in a future installment of the column, mail it along to ask@massively.com or leave it in the comments below. Questions may be edited slightly for brevity and/or clarity.

helbonikster asked: I am in dire need of a new computer but am unsure of where to get one and what specs to look for. Mostly, I just want to be able to play World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic with all the settings turned up and to have it run as smoothly as possible. Any advice?
First of all, keep in mind that there are always two options when getting a new computer. If you're comfortable with building a machine from scratch, that's almost always the cheaper route to go, as you'll be able to pick up parts cheaper. On the other hand, buying a pre-built machine will spare you the hassle of turning a pile of parts into a functional computer, so if you're not really comfortable trying to get a motherboard working off the shelf, that may be the better option.

If you're looking to buy a pre-built gaming machine, Alienware is usually not a bad place to start. The machines there are pretty powerful and have some good tech support behind them. However, they're also nightmares to actually upgrade and have a somewhat cramped internal layout, so you may want to shop around a bit more at Newegg.com instead.

As for what specs to look for, you should probably use the recommended system requirements for SWTOR as a baseline. RAM and VRAM are always worth getting a better version of (having 6 GB of RAM is always helpful), and looking to an Intel i7 isn't a bad idea either. Since SWTOR is a bit newer, anything that can run that game smoothly should be able to handle WoW without an issue.

I am certain that some of our readers will have their own suggestions here. Buying a new computer is something that takes some doing; you usually have it for a few years, after all. Take your time, be patient, and find something that works right for you.
J45neoboy asked: Can Guild Wars 2 really pose a threat to traditional subscription games when it launches?
It most certainly can, just as the original Guild Wars certainly made an impact. How big of an impact it will make, though... that's another question, one that will remain to be seen.

If nothing else, Guild Wars 2 is a big-budget title with a great deal of development that is aiming at not using a subscription model out of the gate. How successful it will be is still up in the air, but even more than its predecessor, it will serve as a proof of concept for games that don't require a subscription fee. We've seen several games be translated successfully, and we've seen several games that have gone free-to-play and been successful, but GW2 might arguably be the first game with a noteworthy budget that's never been intended to have a subscription.
JuliusSeizure asked: Eliot, how come you're the only blogger here who bothers to add the extra value of fun image text? What makes all the others so slack?
Because I'm a rebel. I play by my own rules, and by gum, those images are going to have some funny alt text. Our marvelously gifted editor Brianna Royce lets me get away with it so long as I don't argue with her any longer about the use of "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun. [A compromise every gamer can appreciate at the end of his or her day. -Bree]

The disadvantage, of course, is that the alt text is less useful to those using a very old browser or otherwise limited to reading the alt text. The advantage is summed up beautifully in the Transformers Wiki policies on humor. Draw your own conclusions.
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!

This article was originally published on Massively.