[MUD-Dev] R&D

Derek Licciardi kressilac at insightBB.com
Sun Jun 2 22:37:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: Sean Kelly
> On Wed, 29 May 2002, Zach Collins (Siege) wrote:
>> On Tue, 28 May 2002, Dave Rickey wrote:

>>> In terms of MMOG-specific R&D, if I was making hiring decisions
>>> I'd have a statistical sociologist and a social psychiatrist on
>>> staff, and data-gathering tools built into the system for them.
>>> But it's hard to explain what those disciplines have to do with
>>> making games.

>> It's rather easy.  Designing content and marketing the game.
>> Answering the questions that come up on this very list all the
>> time.

> Now try justifying that to a business executive who doesn't really
> understand games but who holds the company's purse-strings.  It's
> similar to trying to justify a large expenditure in network
> security or redundancy to the same person.

> Here's a useful axiom:

>   "The more difficult it is to provide a direct correlation
>   between an expenditure and a profit, the less likely that
>   expenditure is to be approved."

> It's no wonder the y2k problem wasn't addressed until practically
> 1998, even by utilities in some cases.

We get a bit off topic here, but there is also the other side of the
profit equation that helps get expenditures approved.  That is
liability.  Pyschologists and such, could one day be a standard
position on every online game staff, much in the same way that the
community manager has become mainstream over the past few years.
More than likely physcologists and sociologists will become part of
the team as Washington speaks its mind about online games and their
developer's social responsibilities.  Imagine if the murder case
against EQ is won.  As the award gets higher and the cases pile up,
executives get petrified of lawsuits. When general liability
insurance premiums jump higher than the average cost of a
sociologist, bingo a new position is born in an attempt to reduce
costs.  (This assumes the costs can actually be reduced by using a
sociologist)

As for the original question, I would have to think that sooner or
later you will have to spend money on R&D for the community.
Sociologists, physchologists, and other community specialists would
be a great place to start with.  Perhaps if you're the first game
out there, you could even use it in a marketing campaign or
something.  (Not sure though)

The other place that we tend to put a lot of effort into is
prototyping tools.  We look at many tools to decide if they can help
us accomplish one aspect of the production cycle faster or more
efficiently.  Most of the time we end up writing our own, but the
bulk of our research and development goes into tools.  (Customer
Service tools, Content Creation tools, Compilers, Debuggers,
Libraries, PRoject management tools, Asset management tools...)

Even these examples are not true R&D as there is a rather direct
line towards profitability that can be drawn from each one.  True
R&D isn't done because publishers haven't started throwing money
around without attaching that money to a marketable product.  Many
game companies are either using the old tried-and-true ways to
create games(lacking R&D) or they can't afford to do anything but
bootstrap a single game on a tiny budget.(lacking R&D)

Derek

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