Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements for MM (wasComp lexities of MM

Paul Boyle ppboyle at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 10 18:02:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


Koster, Raph [rkoster at soe.sony.com]
Fri 1/10/2003 3:17 PM

> The secrets to a really long-lived, goal-oriented, online game of
> wide appeal:

>   - have multiple paths of advancement (individual features are
>   nice, but making them ladders is better)

<snip>

> The first point of course being the key one.

I'd like to add that while I agree, you haven't mentioned another
component of this that's necessary.  While you could add extra,
disparate paths of advancement willy nilly to an MMO*, for instance,
if you had part of your MMO* population play an RTS game, part play
and FPS game, part play a social game, etc, to compensate for the
skill distribution problems, this doesn't solve your problem, or at
the very least, it only causes you the problem of trying to create
10 games for the price of 10 games instead of 1 game for the price
of 1 game (naively neglecting marketting costs, IP investment,
distribution costs, true)

What I'd add is that you should try to have multiple paths of
advancement *AND* have build your world so that the disparte paths
have multiple points of intersection with each other and with the
game content.  So, if you had say, a RTS-skill game that combined
with an EQ-style treadmill game, then you ought to try to have these
two skills interacting in the same world space, despite the
balancing and design challenges that incurs.  So you'd have
something like the old 'OGRE' board game, where a giant,
multifunctional tank (the EQ player) fights on the same battlefield
as a bunch of single purpose smaller tanks/infantry/hovercraft (the
RTS player)

Note that I'm not advocating making players play both games, that
just limites your audience to the Venn subset of players who like
both.  Perhaps not even making players pay for both games, have a
seperate box and/or subscription for each.  But leverage your world,
backstory, and community in networking both together.  And I only
use the EQ and RTS for the familiarity of the examples. You probably
wouldn't want to merge two such established playstyles because of
the great cost of supporting all the 'necessary' featuresets of the
current generation of treadmill and RTS games.

To sum it up, I advocate giving MMO* games broader choices in their
chosen pursuit and specialization through combinatorial explosion
rather than linear expansion.
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