July 4, 2012 2 Comments
Gaming from where I least expect it
June 28, 2012 3 Comments
I started to respond to a reader along this line yesterday, but as I started to churn the idea over and reign in my response to be comment-appropriate, it made me realize there was probably something more significant in the topic I was just barely touching upon in my reply. In my reply itself I alluded to the fact that the industry seems to think there are millions of potential players of MMOs out there, just waiting to be seized up by an appropriately suitable title. That these players do indeed want to be a part of the MMO gaming genre. I’ve mentioned it in the past that I don’t think this is reality, and people seem to be coming around to the idea that WoW really is an aberration and not the standard.
Reality is simple: there are not 5+ million MMO players out there. What we have is a bubble of perceived worth of games in the genre.
The sooner that EVERYONE can wrap their heads around that concept, the better off the industry as a whole will be. I do mean everyone: investors, licensor, licensees, publishers, developers, and fans. We all hold
equal a share of the blame in this situation. Investors see the initial cost, and don’t want to take the chance unless really huge and fast returns can be made, with the potential for astronomical returns in the long run. Licensor and -ees want to get the investor money, because these things are big, and having an entrenched IP can help shore up weak points in a product. Publishers are basically in the same boat as investors. Developers want to make games, and many find the logistical nightmare of funding and distribution impossible without the experience and backing of the others – thus they remain beholden to their monetary support. Fans geek out, expect everything, and remain violently enamored of their first experience.
We’ve been seeing an escalation in the production costs of games. Age of Conan. Warhammer Online. SW:TOR. Each game’s release potentially more expensive than the previous, and that’s just in recent history. None of these games have been the wild success hoped for at their inception, and yet, the perception of the MMO pot of gold hasn’t wavered even a little bit. The price of components surrounding the genre is going up. The believed barrier of entry is seen to be getting higher, based on the actions of the players at the perceived top.
They have forced a bubble, and eventually it will pop.
Conversely, we have those who keep their heads “low”. CCP is the Alpha of the “little dogs”, and doing fabulously well on their “meager” 300k subscribers. How many other companies hold a yearly giant party? Last I heard, Darkfall is still chugging along at a good pace, and is working at their expected snail-speed on development of DarkFall 2.0. Wurm? Xyson? These are all games that are unquestionably sandbox, and have been around for a fair bit of time.
Bubbles are always results of perceptions. The pop will occur when outsiders who think that 300k is a back-alley niche of unprofitable business have a light-switch thrown. When recognition of reality sets in; these games are meant to run for years or decades, not for a three month peek followed by a slow 5 year degradation into oblivion and neglect. Play to the strengths of the genre, and rewards will follow.
Or just keep chasing that dragon, but try not to drag the rest of us down with you.
June 26, 2012 3 Comments
It just means your lazy.
I got to that article, from the article that linked it, which I got to from Syncaine’s post today. This guy in the video is hitting the high-points of what turns me off from modern MMOs, and all in a handy 5-minute clip.
“Easier to balance”
“You’re the hero.”
I loved Skyrim. I’ve gone back and started to replay it with an archer character the last week or so when I’m not sucked into EVE or DoTA2. The industry really needs to realize that the drivers in a single-player heroic story don’t port over to the MMO genre. Period. The qualifiers for what defines the MMO genre is counter to the heroic journey in a single player experience.
What would make Elder Scrolls Online awesome:
Other than that, you’re basically in the clear. You wouldn’t need to add a lot of extra quests, or developer directed content. If you made that above, you would probably see a good surge of player initially, and if you did what you’re supposed to with my $15/month, you’d keep developing and adding new SYSTEMS to the game world. Not just new quests and skins.
After 6 months or so, you could start releasing ways to better harvest/refine resources. An eventual expansion could be sea-faring adventures (player created ships of course). Expanded territory control requiring actual scouts with stealth-like capabilities to keep an eye on roads into-and-out of your hamlet/region to prevent intruders from getting a foot-hold. Maybe even an NPC worker population that can be attracted to your land because you have better pay and living conditions than your neighbors.
Players in this game could decide if they wanted to be craftsman, and make the best goods possible. Perhaps setting up shop somewhere and making enough money from their trade to eventually build a seat of power for themselves. Or adventurous types could seek out deep dungeons filled with increasingly nasty enemies the deeper they get (typical dungeon crawl). Control of territory would mean regular access to these dungeons and the rewards therein. Tie in precious metals and goods deep inside as well, so that the creators of the world would share a dependency with the destroyers in the world.
Obviously PvP and item degradation would be an absolute must. In my vision, your gear would be lootable by others AND would break down to the point where it’s unusable eventually, and probably a chance for outright destruction. That spear the troll hurled at you hard enough to skewer your ticker behind your breastplate means that hole is probably never going to be patched properly.
Anyway, enough rambling. That video was bullshit and indicative of everything wrong in the industry. “It’s too hard an it’s been done, so why bother to change?”
June 22, 2012 Leave a comment
Old and posting images of EVE in place of actual writing.
Four days a week, I leave the house at 7:00 am and get home at 9:00 pm (work + school). I then usually do homework while I eat dinner. I squeeze in an hour or so of gaming when I can, and in that time, I’m usually on EVE (or DoTA2). Here’s some screen-caps of EVE from the past couple weeks. Follow the jump so I don’t a-splode you on the home page.
June 12, 2012 3 Comments
Want to know where I stopped reading this interview?
RPS: You dedicated a lot of the presentation to discussing how solo quests can affect the world – for instance, by putting a horde of restless ghost baddies to rest. Is the goal of Elder Scrolls Online to more or less make the player feel like the hero of a single-player RPG?
Paul Sage: Absolutely.
Right there. The end. Crossed off my list of even-giving-a-thought. It is amazing how a single player game that does SO many things right, can fail on such a big level in the transition. This shit ain’t easy, not going to say it is. But its not that difficult to see the giant flashing light bulbs that are warning of a fail-cascade up ahead either.