Genre Splitting

October 30, 2012

I want to combine some topics and thoughts into what will hopefully be a larger point; it’s crazy that today, games like GW2 and EVE are considered part of the same genre. Allow me to explain.

Shiolle asked the following:

“How much time (in terms of hours/week) would you consider a mandatory investment to properly play EVE or Darkfall (the way you play them)?”

To which I responded:

“20hrs+, with solid 2-3+ regular hour blocks and being able to play during the prime nights (Tues, Thurs, Sunday), while also being able to schedule to play 3-4+ hours for something major like a siege?

Some of it will depend on the player though. If you are self-motivated, you can get away with fewer hours or more random times. If you can’t in a sandbox, you will need to be online when the majority of the clan is, and for INQ that’s EST 8pm-1am.”

With that in mind, consider this post from Syp, where he talks about going back to SW:TOR, but in his considerations never once mentions the multiplayer aspect of the game, or anything outside his own time and planning. I’m not saying he is wrong here, as SW:TOR is an sRPG in all of its key aspects, but just consider that these games are, technically, in the same genre, supposedly drawing from the same pool of players (I don’t buy the whole pool thing, but many do, so let’s pretend for the sake of this post).

Now what if Syp was talking about Darkfall instead of SW:TOR, but had the same approach? First, he would ‘fail’ in terms of getting anything out of DF, as it’s really not a fun game to solo around in casually. But beyond that, imagine if Syp was a guild member, and you were the leader or officer trying to coordinate things. Members like Syp are a nightmare.

They don’t show up enough to be reliable for in-game planning. They aren’t active enough to generally follow the flow and social structure of a guild. And at the same time, they will show up sometimes and can’t be completely written off when considering numbers (less a factor in DF since there are no caps, but even here it matters for PR reasons), but often can’t stick around to fully see something through like a siege. Manning the wall for an hour and then logging during a 3 hour siege is not much help to anyone, player or clan. Plus when they move on after a month, whatever training or setup you have done with them goes poof as well.

And yet, currently, MMO gaming (supposedly) caters to both players; Those with enough time to play MMOs as virtual worlds to be lived in, and those with enough time to just experience a bite of content before logging off. It’s no surprise that games who try to attract both have spectacularly failed overall, while games who aim more towards one or the other can do well. EVE makes no illusion to offering bite sized 30min chunks of content as the main course, while GW2 (post-release) has been clearly designed just for that, with little to no consideration for pre-formed groups or long-term retention.

I think what confuses things further, beyond how companies sometimes attempt to market to everyone, is that many (most?) players also don’t fully consider this divide. We are, quite simply, looking for two completely different experiences, and in order to have those, we require two very different design approaches with very different time requirements, both for that day (30min vs 3hrs) and long term (1 month and done vs 1yr+ stays). As has often been stated, perhaps it’s time for a whole new set of terms when talking about the giant mess that we consider the MMO genre.


Yes yes, but its FREE garbage!

August 9, 2012

Catching up on blogs, and I just came across this line from Lum:

Everything is free to play, because the financial barrier entry for MMOs is fiercely competitive and in the end it’s very difficult to compete with zero.

I think we have all seen similar thoughts from lots of different places, and it seems pretty obvious right? It would be hard to argue that FEWER people will be willing to try SW:TOR for free than to pay $60 to try it. 0>anything here, duh.

On the other hand, if GW2 had a $70 box cost instead of $60, how many people who pre-ordered would cancel? Some, sure. But many?

EAWare could offer to pay me $15 a month and I’d still not bother downloading SW:TOR, and CCP could start charging $30 a month for EVE and I’d still pay/PLEX for 3 accounts.

~$15 a month is not the great wall of China in terms of a ‘barrier of entry’. Your game being good/garbage is. Or in other words, SW:TOR is a failure not because it costs $15 a month, it’s a failure because the game sucks as an MMO. Focusing on the business model behind the pile of fail is missing the point. Remember all those amazing numbers Turbine brought up the first week of DDO/LoTRO going F2P? Why is it we only hear from them once? Oh right, because F2P or sub, DDO/LotRO are still DDO/LotRO (mostly, but that’s a different topic).

Dropping down to F2P will get you some freeloaders, those who that $15 a month or so really is an issue, and they might even toss you a buck or two occasionally, but F2P is not a magic cure that turns a bad game into a good one. It might help people justify spending time on something average-at-best, but the better ‘business model’ is to make a game good enough that people actually, you know, want to play/pay for. That has been in very short supply the last few years.


EVE: My first kill is a good one

January 4, 2012

The good news? This.

The bad news? Two jumps later my Caracal got popped at another gate camp.

Good times.


Time to be a coward

October 27, 2011

What happens when you trip over yourself one too many times? Get the ban stick out!

It’s funny that Tobold denies deleting my comment in that thread, yet despite seeing the follow-up comment I made here (not deleted yet), he stayed quiet. Strange huh? Not like this is the same guy who disabled comments because of his thin skin in the past, or has gone on crazy censorship sprees when the mood strikes. Nope, totally different guy.

Good times. Off to pick up that 8,000,000 vanity item for my spreadsheet sim.


Play to (profitably) crush: Round 2?

August 30, 2011

 Massively has a nice two-part interview (linking not working atm…) with two original Shadowbane, and now Wizard101, devs that is well worth reading.

The story behind Shadowbane is a familiar one. New devs biting off more than they can chew, having more ideas than time to code them, and ultimately a lack of funds forcing a release and dooming the product. The final bit, about announcing the game too soon and getting people hyped too early (while also possibly allowing the game to get funding), is very interesting and really highlights how screwed up funding can be.

I played Shadowbane briefly during beta and at release, but it was basically unplayable on my machine at the time (5-10 FPS), and by the time my hardware was upgraded and the game was fixed up, I had moved on. But I played the game enough to see the good parts (city building, sieging), and it is telling that no major release since SB has attempted some of the things they had going.

It would also be fairly humorous if these guys took the money they made with Wizard101, a F2P kids game, and created Shadowbane 2. This time armed with all the lessons learned and a proper budget. One can wish.


Fantasy Football: Need a few players

August 18, 2011

We currently have 6 teams signed up for our 12 team league. Some quick math tells me I need 6 more people. Comment here (with a valid email) or shoot me an email if you are interested.


Recruit-a-Random

May 10, 2011

The Rift recruit-a-random program tops out at 3 sales.

If Aventurine had limited their plan to that, I’d have to give up not just the mansion, but also three of my four cars. It would have saved me from 2+ years of fabricating just how awesome DarkFall is, and preserved my blogger e-rep. Yo.

Another day, another sandbox > themepark example.

Use my link please, I really need the spark…err, flaming pony. To better instantly teleport me into a dungeon, of course. Plus if you use my link, every 30 minutes you can teleport to me in-game and gaze upon my awesomeness. That’s a pretty serious bargain IMO.


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