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[Column] General: MMO Development Needs Change

245

Comments

  • TuchakaTuchaka san diego, CAPosts: 468Member
    Originally posted by Fendel84M
    Every game should have a long closed beta like Firefall. Granted you paid for access to it.

    True that buying a founders pack got you into beta but they gave out beta invites to every beta tester to invite their friends I invited at least 20 people so a huge amount that got into beta didn't pay a thing.

  • JatarJatar San Dimas, CAPosts: 348Member Uncommon

    Good article.

    As a developer on the MMORPG Citadel of Sorcery, I can say that much of what Mark has stated is true.  However, there are other issues to deal with in his plan for the future.  Mark said,

    “Sticking to what has been successful before may minimize risk, but it is also leading to gamer fatigue in the MMO genre in general as games feel “the same” and keep us entertained for shorter periods before we get bored.”

    We are in complete agreement, and this is one reason we are being as innovative and different as possible.  We are designing our game to be more fun to play, with less grinds.  However, a while ago, when we put it up on Kickstarter and showed what we CLEARLY explained was Pre-Alpha, players threw a fit about the graphics, and we are still dealing with that negative response.  If we let players in to play at Alpha can you imagine the complaints about placeholder graphics we would then get?  The vast majority of players play lip service to better game play, but then blast developers on the graphics, even if they are told they are placeholder or pre-alpha.

    Having said that, and experienced this reaction first hand, we are STILL planning on letting players in at starting at Alpha for the very reasons that Mark has stated.  We want the game to be great, new, and innovative, and because of that there are a lot of new things that need play testing and feedback.  Only time will tell if this strategy will hurt or help us I the long run.  It may help us make better and innovative game play, and yet hurt the perception of the quality of the game when an Alpha is judged as if it was finished art.

  • nquaglianquaglia Charleston, SCPosts: 4Member

    What you are advocating for is something that is working elsewhere in the software industry. However, it sounds like it is not happening in game development. 

    I work as a UX Designer and our whole process is about rapid iteration and learning from our users on day 1 of a project. The trite but true phrase is 'fail early, fail often'. We get ideas in front of customers as sketches that illustrate the concepts we are toying with. It's not just the UX people present either, it's Lead Developers and Product Managers that are along for the process.  

    We explore a multitude of directions to see what is going to resonate with our customers and hear their feedback. Importantly we can do this with sketches on paper. Users don't have to have the software in their hands using it to understand and talk intelligently about ideas.  Of course, the challenge is to hear peoples' feedback but then be able to translate that into what people actually need. 

    The point is, getting things in front of customers early and being able to iterate and improve over time is part of the culture of a lot of software companies. I don't see why this wouldn't be successful in game development. You spend a little more cost and time upfront, but  you save that by avoiding rework down the road when it is more costly. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to convince people that you need to take the long view. 

  • biboct123biboct123 new york, NYPosts: 7Member
    Strongly agree with Mark Kern, if you want to be successed in this industry you must to move steps forward the crowd!
  • ReklawReklaw Am.Posts: 6,474Member Uncommon

    Not sure about this thread. I mean there is Alpha, closed beta. These do work, the problem isn't the developers, it's the actuall players granted to get into Alpha or Beta. I have no idea how company's could select people. Perhpas they need to make it manditory for players in Alpha/CB to make a full report each week, not doing so would expel you from beta and acces stops.

    When open beta hits we all know that most just enter to get a taste of the game, not really testing just complaining because they encounter issue's which are not spoken of in a constructive manner.

    It's a shame to see a developer like OP to not speak about the reall issue instead he's talking the talk just like most forum posters do.

  • BelegStrongbowBelegStrongbow Pasadena, MDPosts: 281Member

    In addition to Marks comments,  Developers in general these days are "not"capturing customer data and working off that data.  One thing Red5 Does often is put out Email surveys and create a lot of forum discussion.  But more importantly they use the data and players actually see the game change based on their comments.

     

    Then you have developers like AV and Darkfall who completely ignore their playerbase,  which is why the game is failing. 

     
     
  • MindTriggerMindTrigger La Quinta, CAPosts: 2,596Member
    Originally posted by BelegStrongbow

    In addition to Kens comments,  Developers in general these days are capturing customer data and working off that data.  One thing Red5 Does often is put out Email surveys and create a lot of forum discussion.  But more importantly they use the data and players actually see the game change based on their comments.

     

    Then you have developers like AV and Darkfall who completely ignore their playerbase,  which is why the game is failing. 

    There may be a few companies doing this, but I've been involved in a ton of MMO betas over the last several years, and I can't think of one that sent me a meaningful survey or otherwise collected much information from me on my gameplay impressions and opinions.  Especially one with enough granular detail involved to be useful. 

    A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  • BelegStrongbowBelegStrongbow Pasadena, MDPosts: 281Member

    Edited,  Meant to say they are not doing those things and they need to start.  Red 5 does a good job at it though.

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 8,063Member
    What I REALLY want to know: How is this cost explosion possible? I mean, don't those companies all hire homeless Taiwanese children to program for 20 cents a day? I mean, seriously, they outsorced almost everything. So how comes they cost such a gazillion`?
     
     
    We all became risk averse. It's a major trend in our culture.
     
    500 years ago people "discovered" America because they were risk takers. I am sure thousands of humans died miserably alone for the making of a complete world map. Without these we would still think the world consists of Europe and North Afrika. I am not saying we should go back to that, but with every new century the Western humanity evolved more into careful, risk-averse people who only step outside their homes now with GPS navigation and all-time cellphone connection. We are mentally unable to take risks, as a culture.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 8,063Member

    We all became risk averse. It's a major trend in our culture.

     

    500 years ago people "discovered" America because they were risk takers. I am sure thousands of humans died miserably alone for the making of a complete world map. Without these we would still think the world consists of Europe and North Afrika. I am not saying we should go back to that, but with every new century the Western humanity evolved more into careful, risk-averse people who only step outside their homes now with GPS navigation and all-time cellphone connection. We are mentally unable to take risks, as a culture.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • gatherisgatheris Charlotte, MIPosts: 995Member Uncommon

    so an open beta where you are taking money from players using your "release" business model is not a released game?

    Seems like a lot of paragraphs making excuses just for that

    Keep it closed then so only the special flowers are paying in not the weeds of the field

     

     

     

     

    image

  • SiphaedSiphaed Everywhere!Posts: 877Member Uncommon

    Screw working together with players.  Basically you're asking advice of people who have no idea what it takes to make a video game, on how to make a video game.  Stupid idea.

     

    Instead the developers should focus on things that THEY want to play and enjoy.  By making a game that they'd enjoy, it also becomes a game that others enjoy too.  CCP does it that way,  A.Net does it that way, and a few others do it that way too.  The rest...well, they're going F2P because their initial economic set up was failed.


  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon
    No offense but I don't see how a developer whose own game is awash with problems can talk critically about other MMOs. FireFall was in beta for how many years? The game was practically empty when I tried it due to all the problems people have had with it...

    Smile

  • thegreatestagainthegreatestagain gump city, ALPosts: 35Member
    I do NOT want gamers to have a voice in game development, educated, trained, experienced, intelligent professionals Only
  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    No offense but I don't see how a developer whose own game is awash with problems can talk critically about other MMOs. FireFall was in beta for how many years? The game was practically empty when I tried it due to all the problems people have had with it...

     2 years of beta, starting a year after we announced, following the same methods outlined here in my article. Also, Firefall is jam packed with players and we've had to increase our servers. I would say you are entitled to your opinion, except for the fact that you fail to extend me the same courtesy.

     
  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member

    OP makes multiple observations (complaints) with no solutions offered other than to include more use of focus groups, an old-school and still effective way to get opinions on your product.

    These game developers need to hire Systems Engineers to lead their projects. Systems Engineers know how to combine a developer's vision with the expectations of the subscriber and how to make different systems within the game work well together.

  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by grummz
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    No offense but I don't see how a developer whose own game is awash with problems can talk critically about other MMOs. FireFall was in beta for how many years? The game was practically empty when I tried it due to all the problems people have had with it...

     2 years of beta, starting a year after we announced, following the same methods outlined here in my article. Also, Firefall is jam packed with players and we've had to increase our servers. I would say you are entitled to your opinion, except for the fact that you fail to extend me the same courtesy.

     

    How have I failed to "extend you the same courtesy?" I haven't even supported or not supported your opinion so I have in no way invalidated you.

    Smile

  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,228Member Uncommon

    Yes, beta testers do need to provide feedback and help developers hone their game. That's what beta has always been for.

    Too many developers have been using beta as an early launch, or as as quick marketing tool.

    Kinda like . . . you guys at Red 5!

    How can you write this while you go into open beta with cash shop online? And paid beta access prior to that?

    On top of that, you release what is one of the buggiest beta's I've seen in a really really long time.

    However, I do have to say, you guys obviously know how to build a smooth as butter game engine. You did it with WoW and you've done it with Firefall. It plays so well, it's like silk. Too bad you barely have a chance to enjoy the game because half the things in it don't work! I want to upgrade a piece of my gear? Re-log 75 times. Nice.

  • bbbb42bbbb42 none, FLPosts: 297Member Uncommon

    That's all good and what not, but you need to have a plan. Do you have a plan? You can have all the nice ideas in the world, but if you don't have a plan your gonna fail and just doing "esports" is not a plan. From what I've seen so far your plan is esports+ innovation except that's not a plan.  Your entire plan revovles around esports, so essentially instead of imitating wow you're imitating Riot. The innovation part is fps instead of arenapvp, but there's one big problem with your plan esports+innovation does not equal mmo.

    Of course its easy for me to judge sitting at home in my chair, good luck to you.

    image
  • ApraxisApraxis RegensburgPosts: 1,515Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hjamnr
    Here you go, Mark; Exactly what you're asking for:  Camelot Unchained

    Yeap. Some Kickstarter like CU, or Star Citizen, or Pathfinder are going this way. BUT, they have a much smaller budget(even with StarCitzizen funded with over 10 million from player and mayber another 10 million from other sources) and are crowd funded in the first place. And it remains to be seen how that work out in the end, and how much the early alpha/beta tester are indeed involved in that process.

    But it is much more difficulty for a usual financed project, and even more, if you got a lot of invested money and a big publisher behind you.

    Although those crowed funded project could work out long term, especially if you do not stop developing, investing, and polishing your game after the more or less official release and more money incoming. To some similarity like CCP with EvE has done it... but then you need really a project with a lot of long term value. And most users are not that forgiving if you undertake large changes to an existing project.

    Nevertheless i am more than curious to see how that three games(and other kickstarter, but especially those 3) turn out in the end.

  • dalewjdalewj woburn, MAPosts: 86Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Jatar

      However, a while ago, when we put it up on Kickstarter and showed what we CLEARLY explained was Pre-Alpha, players threw a fit about the graphics, and we are still dealing with that negative response.  If we let players in to play at Alpha can you imagine the complaints about placeholder graphics we would then get?  The vast majority of players play lip service to better game play, but then blast developers on the graphics, even if they are told they are placeholder or pre-alpha.

    I think makes the point that not everyone is a beta tester.  Some of us can handle bad graphics for the sake of gameplay testing, some can't.   It is something where you have to not be afraid of firing your testers.  Make a rule that tester has to spend X amount of time and give X amount of feedback to progress to the next testing stage.  Also I think good testers can easily be passed from project to project as used to happen in the good old C&C testing days.

    HomePage/Gaming Blog - http://dalewj.com . MMORPGer - Current game: http://AfterWorld.ru .
    Author of Diaries of Afterworld- http://www.jconsult.com/afterworld and the Outside Sci-Fi series- http://www.jconsult.com/outside

  • dalewjdalewj woburn, MAPosts: 86Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Ozivois

    These game developers need to hire Systems Engineers to lead their projects. Systems Engineers know how to combine a developer's vision with the expectations of the subscriber and how to make different systems within the game work well together.

     

    Really?  I have been a software and gaming tester for nearly 25 years and I have only seen a hand full of such enlightened people.  System Engineers think they know what's right, but they need people to test their knowledge and tell them what it looks like from the other side (Note Windows 8.0)

    HomePage/Gaming Blog - http://dalewj.com . MMORPGer - Current game: http://AfterWorld.ru .
    Author of Diaries of Afterworld- http://www.jconsult.com/afterworld and the Outside Sci-Fi series- http://www.jconsult.com/outside

  • MoiraeMoirae New Orleans, LAPosts: 2,746Member Uncommon

    The first thing I want to say to this is that its the game developers that are obsessed with graphics, not the players. What YOU are spending money on are things that players aren't asking for. You make games as absolutely casual as you possibly can making leveling and accomplishments mean nothing. In most MMO's, you can reach top level in less than a week (sometimes only a few days) making the accomplishment mean nothing at all. 

     

    The second thing is that, in what world is the features becoming more? You people have cut back the features offerings, not added. The only things you care about are pvp and linear story progression pve. We no longer have actual game worlds, real housing has gone totally poof, even the search functions in the brokers are so primitive it's disgusting.

     

    Even puzzles in games are almost non-existent. In most MMO's we can't go under water or in to the sky. Most MMO's have invisible walls in spite of the promise that we'd be able to go anywhere that we've been receiving for decades from devs.

     

    Whole world games, where we can do and be anything we want, don't exist.

     

    And you overbalance all classes so that they are almost carbon copies of each other with different graphics and maybe a few skills so you can try to claim that one is a healer and one is a warrior yet both are capable of almost exactly the same thing making the distinction totally moot. 

     

    You don't need to create such things bonus xp for grouping, if you actually made it so that the classes were still different. 

     

    You game devs don't listen to the players at all. 

     

    So more features? Only in your itty bitty heads. You stopped listening to the gamers many years ago. 

     

    You bet the MMO is in trouble. And you devs are the reason. Here's an idea... how about you actually listen to the things players want from the games instead of ignore us for the sake of your pocket books? 

     
    An MMO should feel like a great thrill ride, but you devs managed to kill it. 
  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    The market will take care of itself.  When the industry stagnates, Minecraft happens.

  • ShocktorShocktor Towson, MDPosts: 2Member
    [mod edit]

    You are the exact user he is calling out in the article.  Beta means beta.  Unfinished.  It is in development and has reached beta stage.  Also, this beta has been ongoing for two years.

    This is no different than some kickstarter asking for money -- they just do it through their starter packs.  Basically asking you to have faith in them giving you a quality product after beta.

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