[MUD-Dev] MMORPG: where to start for making and running a gam e

Koster Koster
Thu Nov 20 13:16:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: Oliver Smith

> The notion of non-prevalence of prior-MMO staff on the SWG team is
> drawn from comments by Mr Koster himself on the SWG forums (such
> as blaming the design of missions on "not many of the team
> [having] worked on multiplayer games before"); I'm no-longer able
> to search/access the SWG forums or I'd try and dig up some of the
> posts for you.

> And again, "quite a few" would need to be scaled against the
> overall size of the team.

It's simply unlikely to end up with a team of mostly MMO vets in a
project of the scale of SWG. There just aren't that many MMO vets
out there, really.

The statements you paraphrase aren't quite what I said. SWG had
maybe half the design team and a quarter or less of the programming
team as MMO vets.  However, there were almost none who had been
through the process *from scratch*, which I think is another
important point to consider. Most of them had come from Live teams
where the basics of the game were already established. I have come
to realize how different a point of view that gives you. Lastly,
there's TYPE of MMO that was played or worked on. The sorts of
content that we ended up lacking might well be described as
traditional mud-style content of the sort EQ excels at, and which UO
was largely lacking; most of our vets were from UO (which echoes
Damion's point about making games like the last one they made...).

There are other, less tangible factors as well. Level of passion for
the game as game versus game as service versus game as job is one
that leaps to mind. There's others. I could easily dive into a
full-blown postmortem of SWG, but I won't. :)

That said, to reach back into the earlier posts in the thread--I do
think that people need to undergo a bit of an adjustment as regards
audience size expectations. When we run the polls and demographics
on the SWG crowd, we find they are mostly, well, MMO players, mostly
hardcore gamers with tricked out machines, they still play endless
hours, etc. The poll was a public bulletin board poll, so there's no
trade secret revealed in saying that only 20% of SWG players said
they had never played an MMO before--even though over half
identified themselves as being primarily SWG fans. Perhaps the
audience overlap between SWG nerds and MMO nerds is fairly
significant? (Is anyone shocked by that? In retrospect, it seems
obvious).

What I am seeing as I informally observe titles launching these days
is that there is a large mass of people who are trying out titles,
sticking for a short period, and moving on to the next title. It's
going to take something pretty significant to do anything like a
million-player or even half-million player game. And I am definitely
seeing a level of frustration with "same old, same old"
gameplay--yet our industry is not really ready to make bigger,
riskier steps. The players' appetites arelarger than what we can
currently provide given our slow iteration time. As current games
become technology platforms for future games, though, I have hopes
of this speeding up--DAoC demonstrated that it could be done.

-Raph
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