[MUD-Dev] Changing Midstream (SWG's New Look)

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com
Tue Dec 20 00:05:20 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Sean Howard wrote

> If you aren't already painfully aware, Star Wars Galaxies has
> recently gone through and is still going through a process of
> completely revamping the game called the new game enhancements
> (NGE). It's practically a whole new game, which I think most 
> people agreed needed to happen (in theory).  However, the
> backlash  against this change is significant and my ability to
> discuss the whole thing publicly has been met with something less
> than  intelligentdiscourse.  ...

> After SWG's first combat revamp, I've noticed several other
> MMORPGs also having revamps, but not making the same
> mistakes. Could the NGE lead to other MMORPGs recreating
> themselves now that the sacrificial lamb has taken one for theam? 
> Rather than launching sequels like Asheron's Call 2 or Everquest
> 2, could it be a smarter decision to simply rebuild old games in a
> new image than segment a playerbase that may not be able to
> support both?

Its interesting you raise this as I too recently noticed the NGE
having not really played any MMORPGs for a while now. I was
sufficiently intrigued to re-register for a month to have a
look. When I finally connected, I was immediately struck by just how
dated the graphics had become, and this may well be the main
stumbling block for such exercises. Do you alienate your existing,
admitedly dwindling fanbase, trying to pursue new customers, who
perhaps won't have much tolerance for a dated game engine?

Despite this limitation, the new player experience was very
entertaining. It was entirely directed, and I was kept busy for the
hour or so I played. It felt more like a FPS shooter with missions
and a slightly clunky UI, rather than a traditional MMORPG. Having
played everquest 2 though, I was slightly taken aback by the near
absence of sampled speech - another bar that has been raised for
every other game to hurdle henceforth?

The other interesting aspect is the de-emphasising of the crafter
economy and the decision to itemise mobs with meaningful loot. That
is as big a u-turn as I've ever seen in an online game, and I agree
with Sean's point that it might be a little hard to discuss here
given the architects read these posts. From the perspective of my
playstyle it is a step forward. As a monster basher and frustrated
achievement gamer I couldn't find many rewards for my playstyle with
the previous mechanics, you could advance for advancements sake but
at launch there were precious few quests, no drops from monsters,
just a lot of enforced mingling with crafters and entertainers which
often felt overly contrived. I think people with my playstyle just
accepted this though and realised SWG wasn't for them, yet despite
it not suiting my playstyle I'm a little sad that a different model
didn't work, at least in this instance.

There is an interview on gamespot with John Smedley which raises an
interesting question :

  GS: Last question, John. What's the one lesson from your two years
  of seeing Star Wars Galaxies being played, that you wish you knew
  sooner?

  JS: That straight sandbox games don't work. And that we needed to
  focus much more on the Star Wars experience. I think in the past,
  what we probably made was the Uncle Owen experience as opposed to
  the Luke experience. We needed to deliver more of the Star Wars
  heroic and epic feeling to the game. I think we missed
  there. That's what I think we really brought to the game [with the
  update].

  ( http://www.gamespot.com/news/6141213.html )

Can straight sandbox games work?

In other news, Asheron's Call 2 is closing, only a few months after
they just shipped an expansion. Everquest 2 doesn't seem to be
growing as quickly as expected either, despite being a better game
than EQ1 in every way. Tough times ahead for the big commercial
games? Is the market still growing or just fragmenting into smaller
communities on games that cost ever more to develop?

Dan
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