Going the distance

Going to rip CrazyKinux today and follow his post by linking a good interview about EVE here. While a bit short, one question in particular brings up a good point about MMOs in general.

Me: You mentioned there being a 10 year plan for EVE, are we now four years in or is that another 10 years?

Hilmar: Another 10 years.

Me: Where do you see EVE in 10 years time?

Hilmar: We have a buffet of options that we’d like to add to the game and we priorities those in cooperation with the community and the response from the players. So it’s difficult to envision where it will be exactly, but I hope that we will add all these dimensions to it, the character aspect, flying over planets, and those type of things, so that its a much richer experience. So you can if you want stay in a station and operate a store, or solely focus on fighting. You have this much vaster set of options and more specializations and create an even bigger social pyramid from having so many options.  

The idea behind a MMOs success is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You make more money if you sell 100,000 copies on day one and keep all your fans for two years than you would if you sell 500,000 copies and everyone plays for the free trail month before moving on. Given this fact, one has to wonder what current developers are thinking when they pack in all the good stuff in one months worth of gameplay, and then scramble to tack on further content to keep people interested, rather than building a game from the ground up to be interesting for years to come. Granted, I’m sure it’s much easier to design a month of content than it is to plan to keep players interested for 2-3 years, but clearly the reward is there. EVE continues to grow despite the fact that it has no retail presence and a grassroots marketing campaign, while most of the games released in that time are either dead or dying.

 

With a slew of MMOs set for release in the next 6 months or so, it will be interesting to see how many of them are build to last, and how many are build to flash and fizzle.

2 Responses to Going the distance

  1. mandrill says:

    Your right, its quite a feat that Hilmar and his buddies have pulled off. I think it has alot to do with the way they work with the people who play it to figure out the direction its going in. Take the character avatars for instance, my wife hates the idea and I’m sure there are alot of other players out there who feel the same way, but having listened to the community CCP have made the use of avatars in stations completely optional. (There was also some concept art show regarding the avatars which hinted at infantry battles for control of stations, boarding actions etc.)
    The whole sandbox approach helps too, give the players enough tools to amuse themselves with and you won’t have to spend as much time building new rides for your theme park and can concentrate on gameplay issues and new tools.

  2. syncaine says:

    I think for any game to really last, it has to lean towards the sandbox formula. There is no way a dev team can keep up in content with players, while player vs player content is limitless. As long as the tools are solid, like they are in EVE, players will use them in creative ways to provide content for themselves.

    Sandbox is also tougher to pull off because at launch, you don’t have too much of a game, since the player created elements are not there yet. It takes time for the world to grow and develope into something interesting, while in a themepark game the interesting content is there from day one.

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