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

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Sat Feb 4 08:29:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 2006

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:

> 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?

I think there's a self-feedback loop where the fanbase convinces itself
they are too good for your game, and any changes just exacerbate this (big
changes more so). I don't see how it's even remotely possible to keep the
same fanbase in significant enough numbers to keep the game alive for
seven or so years.

Also, vets hate newbies. I was on EQ2 yesterday after the newbie island
revamp, and the newbie chat channels were filled with crap about Chuck
Norris - this was a roleplaying server, and not the Night Elf starting
area in World of Warcraft. Apparently, the promise of PvP has brought a
bunch of new players to the game, and let's just say that I'm glad they
are about to get their own server.

> Can straight sandbox games work?

That's really a much, much more complicated question and belongs in a
thread of it's own. However, the short answer is no. The long answer is
absolutely.  The market has in it's mind what a MMORPG should be and what
features it has to have to be competitive taken from industry leaders
(first from EQ, now WoW). Those leaders don't have much sandboxing, and
indeed, most mmorpgs in recent times have actively been anti-sandbox (City
of Heroes, for example), but that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen.
WoW releases some expansion with a little more freedom than it should, and
that's all it would take. I don't know if a sandbox game could come out
RIGHT NOW and get the same population of WoW, but Ultima Online is still
going if that tells you anything about the long term viability of such a

> Is the market still growing or just fragmenting into smaller
> communities on games that cost ever more to develop?

The market is growing fine - it's just growing over at World of Warcraft.
The EVE Online cult seems to be growing as well, or at least their angry
missionaries are more aggressively invading the communities of other

- Sean

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