Posts Tagged ‘design’

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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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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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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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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