Archive for August, 2008

To continue the discussion of monetizing MMOs, I want to take a quick look at the potential of the genre. Quoting myself, from last time:

* MMOs have great potential, though it’s barely realized with current games. (Potential as an art form, and as a revenue stream.)

* Current business models in the MMO genre are a limitation on design, especially the predominant subscription model.

Potential is a tricky thing to define. By its nature, it’s amorphous. Still, we can look at what is currently offered in the MMO genre and extrapolate a bit, and we can definitely find areas where more can be done.

In general, the current “mainstream” of MMOs is found in the World of Warcraft, EverQuest 2, and EVE Online. Age of Conan made a bit of a splash, and Warhammer Online is poised to be another big voice in the market. (more…)


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Monetizing MMOs #1: Overview

This one could get big, and I’ve got a lot of sources to quote, so I’ll break it up into pieces.  The series will be concerned with the way that business and design intersect when it comes to MMO games.  I hope to make my case that:

*  MMOs have great potential, though it’s barely realized with current games.  (Potential as an art form, and as a revenue stream.)

*  Current business models in the MMO genre are a limitation on design, especially the predominant subscription model.

*  Giving power to the players is a good thing, though it may be scary, and certainly needs to be carefully considered and controlled.  (And censored… which isn’t a bad thing.)

*  Tradition is a powerful thing, as is inertia.  Both must be harnessed properly, or they can easily be detrimental.

Some of these are very generic concerns that spread to game design as a whole, or even to life, but what better way to look at the vaunted “virtual worlds” of MMOs than through the lens of real life?  Sometimes the best way to understand real life is to look it in the abstract, and sometimes the best way to look at the abstract is to find the concrete within it.


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MMOs and Triangles #2

I got caught up in my rant last time. I forgot to mention the triangles that I wanted to get to. That’s what happens when I try to multitask too much.

Obviously, one triangle is the Game/World/Community triangle that was mentioned towards the end of the previously quoted article. This one is important from a design standpoint. It’s also why I think that “virtual worlds” will probably never truly live up to the imagination. There’s too much call for a Game, and too many idiots in the Community. Still, it can’t hurt to stretch out a bit. MMOs will never be all things to all people, which isn’t a bad thing. Since they tend to live or die based on massive numbers of people, however, it’s important to understand the dynamic.

Another triangle is the Cheap/Fast/Quality triangle for business. You can optimize two of the three, but never all of them. (more…)

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Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”, Act 1 scene 3

“…the borrower is a slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)

“Then since, as he says, the borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor, disdain the chain, preserve your freedom; and maintain your independency: be industrious and free; be frugal and free. At present, perhaps, you may think yourself in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but, For age and want, save while you may; No morning sun lasts a whole day…”
Benjamin Franklin

Interest is usury. It is a tax on production, given to those who were either wealthy or lucky enough to have the money to loan in the first place. It is inherently either inflationary (as the people in charge of the money supply try to stay ahead of it by printing money) or a redistribution of wealth from the debtor to the creditor (if the economy is zero-sum). It is a form of “passive income”, a concept squarely opposed to the time-honored concept of “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay”. (more…)

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MMOs and Triangles

There’s a fascinating little article over here:
Online Game Design
It points to a cool blog here:
Zen of Design

Now, I’m late to the party, as the original post is from almost a year ago… but there are a few things that caught my eye.

…Some view it as ‘Bean Counting’. Players are little more than walking wallets to these groups. “Let’s pick up and shake our customers and see if they drop any loose change!”…

I couldn’t help but laugh at that. I have a long-standing annoyance with bean counters, though, so it’s no surprise.

These approaches miss the point: MMOG design is about making fun. Massive games compete with movies, bars, television; you have to remember that you need to make a fun place to escape. In order to do that, it’s imperative that you understand how players are approaching your product.

…You have to design a product from the customer’s point of view.

MMOs do more than compete with these passive forms of entertainment, they compete with real life, considering the massive time commitment that’s almost assumed these days. I think this is one of the huge problems with the “subscription” business model, but perhaps that deserves a separate writeup.

Speaking of commitment: (more…)

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I happened upon this quote yesterday, and wanted to put a spotlight on it:

“This life is not so much a time for getting and accumulating as it is a time for giving and becoming.”
-Lance B. Wickman

I wish that people understood and lived this. It would solve a lot of problems, not the least of which being the present state of the U.S. economy.


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Apple picking

I want to pick apples.

Or, more accurately, I want my World of Warcraft Night Elf to be able to pick apples.

I’ve been pondering MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) design of late, with the ever-present WoW as a sort of modern prototype for the genre. Yes, it’s sort of the second coming of Everquest; no, it’s not the only MMO out there; yes, it’s the 800 pound gorilla, (more…)

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Ahoy hoy, and welcome to Tish Tosh Tesh, a transcript of whatever tish tosh happens to tiptoe through Tesh’s temporal lobe.

Topics may range from the mundane to the marvelous, from the entertaining to the educational. I make no claim to consistency, and updates will be unpredictable. Life does that, and I make no apologies for having other priorities.

In the meantime, keep it clean, since I maintain the right and responsibility to censor what I find here. I welcome dissenting views, but not disrespect, for me or any other commenter. I love the profound, but profanity will mean your comment is likely to be ignored and/or deleted.


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Since it’s at the cusp of my concerns at the moment, perhaps I’ll write a bit about employment. Specifically, my employment.

For reference, I’m currently an artist in the game industry at a sweet little company called Wahoo Studios, working on XBoxLive games, among other things. My BFA degree is from the Industrial Design college at BYU, and I have a long standing interest in physics and math, so I’m a bit of a right brain/left brain sort of guy.

Trouble is, I like creating art. (more…)

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