[MUD-Dev] Re: (fwd) AD: [custom graphical] whitestar Crossfi

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Sat May 2 13:14:14 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On 29 Apr 98 at 16:51, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Sat, 25 Apr 1998 14:03:48 -0500 (CDT) 
> Cat <cat at bga.com> wrote:
> > Consider my alternative tool, Microsoft Visual C++ - which I did, in
> > fact, choose.  Had I even considered the alternative of doing a
> > non-web based Java app, as Crossfire did, rather than a Windows-only
> > .exe file, I'd be looking at a simple tradeoff.  The majority of my
> > potential Windows users, the ones who do not happen to already have
> > the Java runtime environment installed, would have to go through
> > extra download time, and extra setup time.  Some of them would still
> > try the game anyway, others would decide it's too much hassle to
> > bother with.  So I lose that number of potential users.  In
> > exchange, I gain some percentage of the users of other platforms
> > that Java runs on - most (but not all) of the non-Windows-based
> > computers out there.  It's a simple question of numbers.  Is the
> > number gained larger than the number lost, or smaller?
> I should probably note up front that your choice lost me as a
> potential customer.  I have only one system out of the half dozen plus
> at home that is physically capable of running Windows (Windows doesn't
> run on Alpha's, PA RISC's etc), plus the minor fact that I refuse to
> own or use any MS products of any flavour.  <shrug>  Then again, my
> computing habits don't fall into any of the more commercially
> desirable mass-market demographics.

I would say that is definitely true of most of us.  Anyone who delves 
deeply into the waters of programming is bound to have tastes, 
preferences, needs, and strong opinions that differ radically from the 
mainstream market.  I certainly understand your position on using MS 
products either on technical grounds or on philosophical principles.
It doesn't necessarily matter which apply.  Personally, I have different 
positions depending on the various products based on technical grounds. 
OTOH, In the current political atmosphere and discussions, my position 
generally could best be stated as Anti-Anti-MS (and I hope the subtleties 
of this not necessarily being Pro-MS are not lost here).  But enough of 
that.  ;) 

> Several points spring to mind (none with answers):
>   You are assuming that the largest possible candidate player base is
> the (or a) driving design metric.  It is especially suspect in a
> hobbiest field where the reasons driving development are typically
> much more personal and often ego/fad/genital-size/religious-crusade
> based.

This may be true of server authors/programmers but I don't think it's 
true of game players regardless of scale.  I see game players as being 
largely platform atheistic.  Even in a very small pie-slice of game 
players you will find the Win/Mac ratios to hold steady.  Still, 
regarding muds, the university target audience is still strong, but the 
platforms are changing.


>   This hobby horse BTW can also be viewed as a direct parallel to the
> standard OS/platform/OpenSource religions.  XShipWars for instance is
> developing under X due to their personal Linux affiliations, but also
> working hard to maintain a parallel Windows port (currently likely to
> run under a freeware X server under Windows).

Nod.  You can make a statement, while still being practical.  And of 
course they are equally free to be udderly impractical. ;)
>   You are also assuming that the short term gain is being valued over
> the long term, and that the long term market state is assumed to be a
> linear extension of the current market state.  I know of several
> projects under current deevlopment which are banking on the
> technologies required to run them reaching the marketplace by the time
> the product is finished (they don't exist now).  Admittedly, none of
> them are games, but two of them are mass-market products.  There also
> those who are banking that the current market balance will alter
> drastically by the time they hit relase, be it the collapse from
> dominance of Windows, the ascendancy of Java (and home JavaTV
> clients), or some other such.

I think he's made a very safe assumption.  I do not foresee the 
"collapse" of the Win platform anytime soon in foreseeable future.  Not 
in the home market.   Sure in the business/commercial market it's 
certainly possible.  And yes, WebTV and JavaTV could have a very profound 
impact looking more than 5 years down the road.  But it's also a 
conservative bet that a great deal of inter-operability will be 
demanded by the consumer and software authors.  

> > So I can gain some portion of the "paltry few percent" by using Java
> > instead, and lose some portion of the "90 percent plus" majority.
> > This can only be worthwhile if the percentage of Windows users lost
> > is pretty small.  But in fact, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that
> > you'd lose more than half of the people that would have otherwise
> > tried out the game.  The number one problem with computer games has
> > always been that they're too hard to set up.  Putting two extra
> > steps in the setup process (download the Java VM, install the Java
> > VM) is one of the worst things you could do.
> If your target market is defined around "anything which has a fast
> enough computer", then yes, this works.  If instead you intend to
> define a narrower and more exclusive target market ("we want the
> geeks!" or whatever), then these various barriers to entry can
> causally act as selection criteria for your public.

Sure.  Geeks may be a target audience, but do geeks really have any 
common interests in the types of game they play?  Do you want to target a 
game at geeks who role-play, geeks who like hack-n-slash, geeks who play 
chess or geeks who wargame?  

I don't particularly think geeks have very much in common.  Just look at 
the loose confederation on this list.  ;)

In fact I want Greeks not Geeks. <snicker>  

It's not that I don't favor intelligence tests for entry.  It's just 
that I don't think "computer literacy" tests are at all appropriate and 
relevant for my type of game.  If I were to conduct a test to exclude 
players, it would likely be centered on reading comprehension and 
creative writing rather than on installation of the client software.

As always, YMMV. :)
--/*\ Jon A. Lambert - TychoMUD     Internet:jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com /*\--
--/*\ Mud Server Developer's Page <http://www.netcom.com/~jlsysinc> /*\--
--/*\   "Everything that deceives may be said to enchant" - Plato   /*\--

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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