The best of Massively's Field Journal and MMO Mechanics columns

MMO MechanicsDuring their tenure at Massively, Tina Lauro and Matthew Gollschewski were responsible for two generalist columns on the site: MMO Mechanics and Field Journal, respectively. The Field Journal was dedicated to covering interesting elements of mid-tier games, the sorts of MMOs that are popular but not quite popular enough to merit their own dedicated columns, whereas MMO Mechanics represented a deep-dive into the game mechanics and systems that influence the entire industry. Though the columns had short runs on the site, they both still represent some of our most compelling and interesting work. Enjoy this roundup of their material!


Tina Lauro's MMO Mechanics
MMO Mechanics: Predicting the future of MMO game mechanics
I've been thinking heavily about the future since our parent network's budget cuts were announced, so I decided it would be very apt to pen my last edition of MMO Mechanics with that same train of thought.
MMO Mechanics: Procedural generation is the future
MMOs are infamous for the exorbitant amount of both time and money that is required to make a fantastic end product. Much of this effort and expenditure goes into producing very specific content such as leveling zones, quest chains, and dungeons.
MMO Mechanics: Three old mechanics I want back
My column has typically heralded modern MMOs as superior advancements of the genre we all adore, but in this week's MMO Mechanics I want to share a small list of some old mechanics I still mourn today.
MMO Mechanics: Comparing vertical and horizontal progression
MMO players strive to obtain some kind of tangible progression each play session, but the method by which that progression is delivered varies greatly across the genre.
MMO Mechanics: Encouraging the daily grind
I've written before about how developers use clever mechanics to lower the barrier to entry in order to encourage more people to play MMOs, but how do they keep players interested after they have rolled a new character?
MMO Mechanics: Balancing game economies
Most players won't need an economics degree to play an MMO, but strong mechanical forces under the bonnet still guide our actions in our favourite titles.
MMO Mechanics: Exploring death mechanics
They say death must come to us all, and that inevitability extends to our characters in MMOs. The death of our characters may be inconvenient when we want to plough through content, but penalising failure is an essential part of any MMO and further incentivises success by making you learn from your mistakes.
MMO Mechanics: Lowering the barriers to entry
In the increasingly competitive MMO genre, games have to do all they can to keep you as a customer. MMOs have traditionally been quite difficult games to really get into since they typically require a considerable time and money investment and we tend to play them for stretches of several months to years at a time.
MMO Mechanics: Kill 10 rats can be fun!
Quests are increasingly an MMO enthusiast's bread and butter, often becoming the staple component of a game's typical serving of progressive content.
MMO Mechanics: Three fair ways to distribute loot
I mentioned last week that players throw their precious characters into the MMO meat grinder in the pursuit of higher levels, new achievements, or shinier gear.
MMO Mechanics: MOBAs vs. MMO battlegrounds
It may feel as if MMOs have always existed as a core part of our gaming repertoire, but the genre made its indelible mark on the industry just over a decade ago.

Matthew Gollschewski's Field Journal
Field Journal: A strong CoHmmunity
Last week a package arrived for me, sent by the incomparable Beau Hindman. He had been clearing out some of his old gaming paraphernalia, and when he happened on his old City of Heroes disks, something spurred him to offer them freely to anyone in the team who wanted them.
Field Journal: Picking up the pieces of Fallen Earth
I was introduced to Fallen Earth way back in the mists of time, around when I first started reading Massively. It was one of the earliest Choose My Adventures, and I was so impressed that I made my own account and joined in on the fun part of the way through.
Field Journal: Tortage and the problem of starting areas
It's been quite a while since I've played Age of Conan. Rather than try to figure out where I had left off and what I should be doing with my existing character (and possibly ending up with nothing much to write about), I decided to start anew.
Field Journal: Across the DC Universe
Funny story: DC Universe Online was the first superhero MMO I played to any meaningful extent. I briefly dabbled with Champions Online when it went free-to-play, but it didn't grab me enough to make me continue past the introductory area.
Field Journal: Making peace with Vanguard
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is a weird game. It seems almost purposefully to have been designed to turn away players before they can get a chance to see any of the good in it.
Field Journal: Neverwinter gonna let you down
My original plan to talk about some of the better quests in Neverwinter's Foundry has been replaced with the burning need to rant about some of the common pitfalls in the less stellar entries.
Field Journal: Seeking instant gratification in RIFT
I've always been pretty open about my feelings on RIFT: I have an immense admiration for the mechanical ideas and the sheer effort Trion makes, but the world-building and aesthetic choices put me to sleep.
Field Journal: Floundering in Neverwinter's Foundry
Given that I'm a roleplayer, you might think that I find Neverwinter's Foundry an amazing expressive tool that I relish wholeheartedly. To that I respond with a resounding sort of!
Field Journal: Pandaria's pastoral paradise
This week in Massively's Field Journal, I'm turning my attention to the big one, the game that must not be named, World of Warcraft. Some of you might say that's what WoW Insider is for, but our sister site's staff is made up of hardcore players who have kept up with the times and are used to the game's ways, some perhaps to the exclusion of other MMOs.
Field Journal: The true meaning of MMO holiday events
Field Journal is a bold and exciting new take on MMO journalism. Or the meandering ramblings of a chronic game-hopper. I haven't decided yet. Each week I'll be setting for myself a new "adventure" or "field trip" into a game to explore some aspect of it in detail.
This article was originally published on Massively.