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

Sheela Caur'Lir dstgasey at webhiker.dk
Sun Nov 23 14:23:52 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com>
> 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.

This is very interesting actually.  If MMOG industry wants to make
even bigger projects, then they have to not only work on player
retention, but also on developer retention.

I wonder, what is the main arguments for a programmer / artist to
join an MMO development team ?

> 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. :)

Aww - postmortems are "fun" :)

> 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.

Aye, not all MMO's can expect to be million subscriber games.  I'd
wager that a lot of the new and more experimental games will have to
be ready at being niche-games, sure they might get lucky, but it's
as it has been said so often "Hope for the best, prepare for the
worst."

> 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).

Hmm, the obvious being that StarWars itself was essentially a
creation of a universe presented with pretty explosion, romance and
some good intriques.

-However-

I'd think that most of the "fresh meat" that haven't played an MMO
before, would be less likely to visit a public forum and vote on a
poll, so it might be slightly skewed by that simple fact.  I'm sure
we all know how vocal players are these days.

> 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.

Even in many games that does have large content, the problem can
often be that people simlpy cannot "see" that there's a whole lot
more to discover and thus simply label it (unfairly ?) as the same
old, same old.

Some games have so many help boxes popping up in the first 15
minutes that a new user simply gets so frustrated with them that he
turns the help off.  Others never even consider that doing a
Quest/mission might be more fun than mindlessly slaughtering
monsters, because "quests was boring in the last game".

There must be something fairly early ni a game that grabs them by
the balls (excuse me the language) and shows them where the action
is at. Personally, I've always thought that there should be some
sort of instanced zone when/after you create your character and walk
trough it to get to your starting point in the world.  A zone that
would be very linear and handle the first elementary helps and tips
on how to move about and interact with your world. Much like the
start of Morrowind, which introduces you pretty quickly to
interfaces and movement and all.

I believe that presenting your shiny new world proberly, is a good
start.

---
Jens L. Nielsen
(aka. Sheela Caur'Lir)
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