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Ask Massively: The next internet fad will be tires edition

Eliot Lefebvre

Tires are round bits of rubber that are placed upon the wheels of vehicles in order to facilitate spinning or something. Also, sometimes your parents might string some rope around one because they're too cheap and lazy to buy you a decent swingset. Anyhow, the next thing on the internet will be tires. I'm calling it right now. Don't look at me like that. We're talking about the same people who made Rebecca Black and Happy Cat famous. Just... tires. Rolling or... whatever.

It's time for Ask Massively this week, as you could probably tell from the introduction about half a step away from a schizophrenic rant. This week, we've got a question about scaling instance difficulty and a couple of questions from our forums, none of which has anything to do with tires. If you'd like to ask a tire-related question, leave one in the comments or mail it along to I guess I can answer MMO questions, too.

Jeromai asked: Do you think developers will ever embrace the idea of truly scaling dungeons, wherein the same layout can be used for a soloist (with say, minion-types as trash mobs and soloable elites as bosses and less reward) and scale up to the point of full teams with extra bosses, tougher gimmicks, best rewards, etc.?

Some have! Aika does offer completely scaling dungeons, allowing any number of players to complete a given run for rewards. The Lord of the Rings Online skirmish system also allows for solo runs, albeit with an NPC as backup.

Of course, most of us who have been long hoping for scaling options have long hoped for them in other games, and the usual answer given is that it's a technical hurdle to overcome. It's hard to design an encounter for one person that scales up in difficulty and participation for five or 10 or 16 people (and so on), which is a true answer, but there's also the simple fact that players who group up are seen as more steady subscribers.

MMOs are a social venture, which is a surprise to no one, but as current design stands, gated group content is how players are forced to socialize. Whether this is a good thing or not comes down to personal preference, as does whether or not this is even true. Speaking personally, I'd love to see the day when content scales better based upon groups, since there are a lot of things that would be more pleasant with two friends instead of seven strangers.
Dashivah asked: What is RIFT missing? It has everything, including polish, but I have a feeling it's missing something important that I just can't figure out. On paper, RIFT is what everyone wants, but I don't want to play anymore. Am I the only one?
When I was playing Transformers: War for Cybertron, Ms. Lady asked me at one point if I was liking it. I thought about it for a while, because it seemed like an easy question at first, but it had a complicated answer. "I don't really like it," I said at last. "But I really want to like it."

Sometimes games have every element you think you want polished to a perfect shine, but as it turns out, the elements that you thought you wanted aren't actually all that critical to your enjoyment. RIFT provides what a lot of players are looking for, but there are a lot of other players who want a less dynamic world or more storyline, and there are others who just don't want to play in the themepark model any longer. Or it could just lack the flavor that keeps you hooked, the sense of a world that makes you think that the setting is really cool even if the gameplay is lackluster.

Take heart -- you're not the only one. RIFT in particular seems to have attracted a lot of people who don't necessarily like it but who want to like it.
Jack Pipsam asked: Did you play The Matrix Online?
I did not. Part of me sort of regrets that, now, but that same part of me also likes to periodically open off mornings by watching the freeway scene from the second film. It was always just shy of hooking me, but I am sad that it's gone.
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!

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