Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Fuzzy Avatars Solved! Please re-upload your avatar if it was fuzzy!

[Column] General: MMO Design and Mickey’s 10 Commandments

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,614MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Making a great MMO is not an easy task. But there are ten things that every game designer should pay attention to in order to stand a better chance at success. See what those ten things are and then discuss them in the comments.

MMOs are like theme parks. No, not just “theme park” MMOs, even sandbox MMOs are like real world theme parks. However we, or our characters, move through them, MMOs are encapsulated worlds created to give people a temporary escape from day-to-day reality.

Today I write an open letter to game companies, using Disney’s famous, Mickey’s 10 Commandments as a template for game creation and continuation; in hopes that the wisdom of the undisputed leader in theme park design might inspire them to greater heights.

Read more of Lisa Jonte's Fair Game: MMO Design and Mickey’s 10 Commandments.

image

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

image

Comments

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    Great list.

    Lots of truth spoken here, well done.

  • BethelsBoyBethelsBoy South Bend, INPosts: 216Member Uncommon
    thats awesome

    image

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member

    Sandbox games uses storytelling? Say what?

    Sandbox MMOs are about you, the players, creating the stories, in an online virtual world by interacting with each other and the environment and developers should be as hands of as possible in this. So not sure what you mean with "sandbox game use storytelling".

    I would even go as far as saying that developer created quests should not even be in sandbox MMOs. They could, ofcourse, but that is not the main point of sandbox games.

  • WinterclawWinterclaw St Petersburg, FLPosts: 28Member

    You forgot to list something very important: always listen to your playstesters.

     

    If you get into beta and you are constantly being told that the game isn't ready, well it isn't, and you've got a lot of problems.

  • DracondisDracondis Reston, VAPosts: 176Member
    Originally posted by Yamota

    Sandbox games uses storytelling? Say what?

    Sandbox MMOs are about you, the players, creating the stories, in an online virtual world by interacting with each other and the environment and developers should be as hands of as possible in this. So not sure what you mean with "sandbox game use storytelling".

    I would even go as far as saying that developer created quests should not even be in sandbox MMOs. They could, ofcourse, but that is not the main point of sandbox games.

    This has to be one of the most ignorant comments I've read since the RG hate threads.  If sandbox MMOs are to have no storytelling, then they have no NPCs, no Mobs, no quests, no direction, no cities, no travel system, nothing.  Why?  Because all of those are part of a storytelling system.  NPCs aren't just there as J Random Vendordude.  They have a part in a story.  Their race, location, and even the goods they sell or the things they say help to craft the world the player interacts with.  Regardless of how sandbox you think an MMO is, it still has to have elements of a theme park, or it isn't a game, it's a sim.  And we've all seen recently how well Sim MMOs work out.

  • BigHatLoganBigHatLogan Bellingham, WAPosts: 688Member

    Micky is a wise, wise mouse.  Great post!

    Are you a Pavlovian Fish Biscuit Addict? Get Help Now!
    image
    I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,783Member Uncommon
    The problem with (4) is that if exploration merely means a highly inefficient way to find out what's on the wiki, people won't do it.
  • jedi_nightjedi_night northville, MIPosts: 22Member Common
    Sandboxes do indeed have a story in them. Take EVE Online for example. Like it or hate it, it still has a story. The gorvenments, politics, wars and bad blood between the races are all a part of the story. As a player (character) in said sandbox, you are free to operate as you choose. Wether it is to be a politician in the player government working with CCP, or a wanted thug...or a simple trader, you take part in shaping the story, but there is always a back story to set parameters and early definition in the game.
  • azmundaiazmundai St Louis, MOPosts: 1,417Member

    kinda scary when something along the lines of "Don't make group content an afterthought" isn't listed

    LFD tools are great for cramming people into content, but quality > quantity.
    I am, usually on the sandbox .. more "hardcore" side of things, but I also do just want to have fun. So lighten up already :)

  • AeolynAeolyn Langley, BCPosts: 216Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem with (4) is that if exploration merely means a highly inefficient way to find out what's on the wiki, people won't do it.

    I believe that's where the reward part comes in, wiki doesn't give rewards other than the knowledge to skip most of the game which negates the whole reason for playing said game, right? 

    ie. if a game gives you the choice to do a quest where you could get some piece of equipment that gives you an edge, over just skipping over it and directly into your battle, would you take it?

  • toxicmangotoxicmango San Francisco, CAPosts: 92Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jedi_night
    Sandboxes do indeed have a story in them. Take EVE Online for example. Like it or hate it, it still has a story. The gorvenments, politics, wars and bad blood between the races are all a part of the story. As a player (character) in said sandbox, you are free to operate as you choose. Wether it is to be a politician in the player government working with CCP, or a wanted thug...or a simple trader, you take part in shaping the story, but there is always a back story to set parameters and early definition in the game.

    EVE doesn't have a story and isn't a true sandbox.  It's no secret that CCP developers treat roleplayers and those that care about story with contempt.  It's no sandbox when live events that players participated in with two sides have pre-determined "correct" outcomes (i.e. the developers were forcing one side to lose).  The sandbox is a lie.  They want players to think they have a role but really it's all false with developers playing favorites and then blowing smoke to create the illusion of player choice.

     Have people so soon forgotten that CCP is the same company that was found with its developers blatantly cheating against their own customers in favor of their own buddies?  That is utterly against the very idea of a sandbox if developers are rigging it that if you are on the "wrong" side, whether that is by being the enemy of a developer's corporation or by being on the side rigged to lose in a story event, you are wasting time, effort, and equipment for a cause that you are guaranteed to lose.

  • TithenonTithenon Fountain, COPosts: 109Member

    Ms. Jonte,

     

    I think you may be my new favorite author, here.  Absolutely outstanding article; I hope someone pays attention.  Thank you.

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    #11. Know what you are and what you are not.
  • TheodwulfTheodwulf Brockton, MAPosts: 231Member Uncommon
    Brava hopefully "They" read #1 and #2 , that would be a a good start.
  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,593Member Uncommon

    Nice list, and good points to remember. But much of that becomes victim to the political games that get played in the typical studio.  All too often the lead Dev has a Vision(tm) problem, and the producers lack the people skills (experience) required to manage the creatives, in order to actually get things done, in a timely fashion.

    Mix in suits who are in general clueless about the creative process (that this is very much an art, NOT a science, with all of the inherent implications), and lack any real understanding of games in general, coupled with investors who panic if their hand holders aren't up to the task, and the only wonder is that things don't turn out worse than they usually do.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon

    Great Article.  Just a couple things though.  The link doesn't appear to be working.  Also even if the link did mention it(even though it currently is broken), you should probably mention the original author of those 10 commandments, Marty Sklar.

     

    Also I think you missed the point on #4.  Which is about letting the customer know where they should go next through the use of visual "magnets".  I understand that exploring is nice and should be rewarded in an MMORPG, but that isn't really what the original point is about.  It is more about giving customers visual hints about where they can go to see more about what interests them.(Edit: not just giving hints but using the visual to pull them in that direction)

  • RolanStormRolanStorm SochiPosts: 75Member Uncommon

    Everything is very true, but this one:

    '7. Tell One Story at a Time'

    Oh my God, YES! Exactly. Please, one story at a time. Do something with side quests. Let them integrate into main plot more casual and logical.

    Neverwinter did pretty good job on that, I had very good expression from this weekend beta.

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    There are some good points in the list, but I think you are actualy off point in several important respects. The thing you've got to remember is that NOT all forms of entertainment are the SAME, so the things that work really well for one royaly suck eggs for another. For example seeing a movie is fun but it's a qualitatevely DIFFERENT experience then playing in a Softball game. Doing the things that work well for a Movie (many of which are on Mickey's list) make for a terrible softballl game.

    Mickey's list mostly works well for one type of game... traditional THEMEPARKS..... It doesn't work so well for so well for sandbox MMO's or shooter type MMO's (e.g. Planetside 2) or RTS type MMO's or E-Sports MMO's because players of those games are LOOKING FOR and expecting something entirely different then you'd go to a (real world) Themepark for.

    For Example #3 would suck in most sandboxes, shooters and fps games because strategic movement is an important and engaging part of the gameplay in those games. Priortizing where you go and traveling there with whatever resources your bringing with you is as important and FUN (in those games) as what spell you cast in a fight in another type of game. Whereas in a Themepark traveling from point A to point B is just a mundane chore in between the places where you are engaged and having fun.

    #7 would suck in sandboxes because stories are simply hooks for the players to get involved in the world. You want THOUSANDS of them because part of the fun for the players is to play a CREATIVE role in helping to WRITE the story and SHAPE the world. If they only had one story to choose from and you dictated which one it was, that simply wouldn't work for them. They WANT the opportunity to get involved in as many or as few stories as suits thier taste....and they really don't want the outcome of the story(s) dictated to them.

    .....and so on.

    So your list only works well for one very specific form of entertainment with one very specific set of expectations from your players......but games...including MMO's are diverse enough that they include about 50 differerent forms of entertainment with about 50 different sets of expectations of experience...many of which entirely contradict points on your list. Just like you want the outcome of the movie you are watching to be written ahead of time, but you don't want the outcome of the softball game you are playing to be written ahead of time.

    Sorry Mickey....you make good Themeparks and good movies...but not everything is a themepark or a movie.

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member
    Originally posted by Dracondis
    Originally posted by Yamota

    Sandbox games uses storytelling? Say what?

    Sandbox MMOs are about you, the players, creating the stories, in an online virtual world by interacting with each other and the environment and developers should be as hands of as possible in this. So not sure what you mean with "sandbox game use storytelling".

    I would even go as far as saying that developer created quests should not even be in sandbox MMOs. They could, ofcourse, but that is not the main point of sandbox games.

    This has to be one of the most ignorant comments I've read since the RG hate threads.  If sandbox MMOs are to have no storytelling, then they have no NPCs, no Mobs, no quests, no direction, no cities, no travel system, nothing.  Why?  Because all of those are part of a storytelling system.  NPCs aren't just there as J Random Vendordude.  They have a part in a story.  Their race, location, and even the goods they sell or the things they say help to craft the world the player interacts with.  Regardless of how sandbox you think an MMO is, it still has to have elements of a theme park, or it isn't a game, it's a sim.  And we've all seen recently how well Sim MMOs work out.

    Sandbox's do have Story...but it's NOT just ONE story. In a sandbox, each player wants to engage with the world in a way which interests them and play a meaningfull creative role in helping to shape it and the narratives which occur within it.

    So #7 just doesn't work. You can't dictate/control the player that they are only involved in one story at a time and they must "finnish" it before moving on to the next. Because that doesn't allow the player the freedom to engage the world in ways that are interestinng to them....and it means that you predifine a definate "end" and "beginning" to each story...which takes away the players creativity in working to shape the narrative(s) and the world....and in a world with thousands of others it denies them the ability to play a meaningfull creative role in shaping anything if there is only one.

    What you need for a good sandbox (for those that actualy ENJOY sanbox games to have fun) is something similar to what MUD(s)/MUSH'S do where you have a background history to the environment with thousands upon thousands of story HOOKS and constant events for the players to take and riff off of and create thier own narratives and stories (as many or few as they like) and the ability to meaningfully change the environment..... and then frankly they start creating thier own origional storie(s) and hooks and narritives for others..... and then as Developer you may take those and work them into other new events you introduce.... it's a sort of feedback loop. One in which "Quests" probably don't even make much sense as a mechanism.

    As a Developer your role is to create a world and a background and a toolset for the players to play in.....and then occasionaly introduce "happenings" that are beyond the players abilities to mechanicaly introduce or origionate outside thier sphere of influence to "stir the pot" and add flavor and keep things fresh for the players to riff off of and work with.

Sign In or Register to comment.