Monday, February 9, 2009

Time for a change, you seemed to not suck so much. But when I wanted things like my posts to show the publish date for the publish date, and not the date I started writing it, I gave up. Besides, wordpress is what I use most of the time.

So, I'm moving on.

And for those of you lazy enough to read my RSS feed,

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Things I'll try to remember when I am making an MMORPG.

This is a list of things I want to see an existing or new MMORPG address. Some of these are totally pie-in-the-sky ideas and I know they aren't easy to do. That's ok, because having an idea and trying to do something creative is very valuable. More valuable than just rehashing the same old stuff.

No server shards. This might well be up there in fantasy land, but I don't want to have to re-roll, or pay to transfer a character in order to play with my friends. I don't want to have to coordinate friends playing on my server. My character data can't be more than a couple kilobytes in size, so there's no reason it can't really exist on every shard at one time.

No crafting. Don't even bother. Unless you are making Barbie Dress Maker, being a seamstress should not be how I spend time in the game. Sewing, farming, fishing, and making armor are all things boring people in town do. Don't make me do it.

Levels aren't mandatory. I know, I know, everyone is doing it. But don't limit yourself. Think about other games out there and how they handle character growth. Levels aren't inherently evil, but you don't have to just make me grind out eighty of them to let me grow my character. Honestly, I have other things to do.

Have a vision and don't lose it as you grow. Think about combat and how you want it to flow. Is it fast and brutal? Is it slow and methodical? Is it somewhere in between? If you can visualize how you want the game to feel and play, you can keep true to that vision. This, in turn, means the people who like that vision will want to play your game, and they'll keep playing as long as you don't suddenly get amnesia and forget what made people fall in love with your game.

Be better at theory-crafting than your players. Do I need to elaborate on that?

Don't hide your game from me. That is, let me in on the secrets so I can play the game as well as I want to. Don't make me have to reverse engineer your game to be good at it. I don't want to "discover" your game. I want to play it.

Don't make me run places. Seriously. I understand that you want your world to seem HUGE and EPIC. But holding down the "w" key or using auto-run is not fun times. You should also be sure that no one ever has to run back to a previous town for five minutes to just finish a quest. That's really frustrating.

Graphics should be good and consistent, but they don't need to be amazing. I know the flash makes good screen shots and makes people go "ooohh" and "aahhhh". But after three months, when people have turned everything down so they can deal with twenty five people on their screen casting crazy stuff, it won't matter so much. Better to spend that time adding depth and color to the world, instead of shadows and bump-mapped surfaces.

Do you want player opinions? Make your game client gather the data. I would rather answer questionnaires in the game every month than know that your number one source of player input is a bunch of jerks posting in all caps in the forums. I think I die a little bit inside every time I visit forums these days.

Gear isn't character growth. It can be important, but it should always be secondary to skill and character ability.

If your game is about grouping up with people, I want to see options and features. If your concept of a guild is a banner over a character's head and a chat channel, you're doing it wrong.

I think that's it for now. Sometimes a good list is a good venting.

Does it even matter?

Recently, many blogs I read have been making some comments about Warhammer Online subscription rates.

And, I have to ask why this matters. EVE Online, which I consider to be a great MMO with a vibrant and active community doesn't even have 250,000 subscribers according to MMOGCHART. Those charts also say Planetside never had more than 60,000 subscribers, and I sure had a lot of fun playing Planetside for a couple years. If you subscribe to the monkeysphere theory, anything over maybe 500 people is just not going to matter to you as an MMO player.

There are, really, only two ways the numbers can influence the game. One is psychological, and the other is an indirect quality of the game. People might abandon the game under the concept that the game is not reaching it's intended 500,000 subscribers. Or that the game isn't as succesful as World of Warcraft. The more realistic impact is that the game is that the drop in subscribers based on estimates means a cut in services and support from Mythic.

In the end, though, I don't think that the difference between 300,000 and 500,000 will matter when it comes to the game. If it's fun, play it. If it's not, don't.