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Posts Tagged ‘design’

Product Lifespan

I’ve mused about the lifespan of MMOs before, asking “should we be trying to keep them alive for the long run, or just treat them like any other game”?  In my mind, the subscription model is built around trying to keep people playing for as long as possible.  I’ve suspected that the typical MMO lifespan is more like any other offline game, with many players playing early, and a gradual decline as time goes on.

So I found this little gem in Raph’s archives:

MMO usage graphs

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When I design games (or pontificate about other game design), I keep a few things in mind:

  • Give players choices, and give those choices consequences
  • Keep the core concept simple, but easy to expand
  • Fun before finance
  • Keep the brain engaged
  • Don’t waste players’ time
  • Aim high

Of course, there are genre-specific concerns, but I’ve found that these are the basic things that I try to incorporate into what designs I contemplate or create.  A card game that I recently designed used these as much as the crazy convoluted concepts that I have rattling around for MMOs and RPGs.

Is any of that groundbreaking?  Not likely.  It’s just my little way of getting down some thoughts I’ve had, and perhaps putting some of my other writings into context.  I see games as a unique and precious art form, and I’m always trying to raise the “state of the art”.

Games have given me a great deal over the years, and I’d like to return the favor by making any games that I work on something special.  They keep my brain alive and learning, and I hope that my work can do the same for others.

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Rethinking Thinking

Once again, I’m late to the party.  I happened upon this multipage dissertation a few days ago:

Rethinking MMOs

…and found that much of what I see wrong with the state of the MMO genre has already been elaborated on.  Sure, I might have a sibilant spin on the situation, or a particularly philosophical (or pedantic) phraseology, but in the end, I’m really just riding the tail end of the wave.

So why do I keep writing?  Because I want to, because it gets it out of my system, and because looking at things through new eyes might just help someone think a bit more.  It’s also good when I get feedback, which helps refine my thinking.  It’s also nice to think that I’m coming to similar conclusions in a relative vacuum, just from a bit of play experience and extensive research on existing MMO game mechanics and game design. (more…)

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Groundhog Day

I loved the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.  Sure, it could have been better, but the core concept and Murray’s performance proved to be both entertaining and thought provoking.  So… yeah… MMOs.  In a world where nothing major really changes (at least, not because of player actions), and where completing a quest makes you the Hero of the Day!!! for all of ten minutes before the next schlub turns in the same quest, I think the “infinite loop day” is a relatively relevant concept.

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Endgame in-game?

There’s an interesting article over here that details a presentation from the guy behind the Zen of Design blog.  As much as I cast a baleful eye on the WoW mindset that “the game starts at 70” and some of the misguided game design that comes from that, Damion Schubert has some great points.

Thing is, to my mind, the things that he talks about as being interesting in the endgame are really things that should be either interspersed throughout the leveling grind, or the leveling system itself needs to be severely recalibrated, or removed entirely.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the “endgame” is really the “true” potential of an MMO, why are we wasting time on a leveling system at all?  What sort of MMO design could embrace the “endgame” mentality as Schubert describes it, and make a complete game based entirely on the parts of the game that are the whole point of the MMO genre?

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I posted over here and over here about the subscription model of monetizing MMOs.  I have a long-standing antipathy for the model, but then, I’m the sort that thinks gym memberships are idiotic, too.  There’s this odd mindset that some people have that paying a subscription (sign up and forget about it) is the best way to pay for something you want.  Whether it’s a service (cable TV, MMOs, whatever) or a product (cars, consumer electronics, houses), the trouble is the same; a focus on the here and now masks the long-term cost.  Ignoring the long term is dangerous and costly. (more…)

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The Old World of Warcraft

The “world” of the World of Warcraft keeps getting bigger… but at the same time, it keeps feeling smaller. The impending expansion opens a new continent to exploration, and introduces a new character class. Talent trees are being rejiggered, as new talents are added for those next ten levels, and old talents are changed, sometimes radically. Class balance is shifting again, and there will be much fuss made of the relearning process, good for some, bad for others. There will be new baddies, and new dungeons to crawl. There’s more snow.

All in all, The Wrath of the Lich King will bring some pretty cool stuff to the game, including one of the most prominent figures in the Warcraft storyline. (Is Arthas reeeeeeeally evil, or just misunderstood? Is he even still in there, fighting the good fight against the superior mind of that demon ghost thing, or is he completely lost to the dark side? Will his son redeem him in the end? Will Jaina retire from public service and start wearing lame outfits, pining for her lost love? …pardon the mixed storylines and lore goobishness…)

And yet… (more…)

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