Continuing my advice for MMO makers if they want to start attracting more players.
2) If I can’t pick up your game and figure out how to play in 5 minutes. I’m not going to do that first bit. I read for 2 reasons, enjoyment and to learn something worthwhile. A 100+ page game manual is neither worthwhile nor enjoyable. So I’m not going to bother with it. Give me the low down in a tutorial, and make it quick and simple enough that I’m not having to constantly refer back to documentation of spam chat for help. I have a college degree, a tested IQ north of 130, an MSCE, scored in the top 5% in the nation on the SATs, and I am a trained and experienced systems analyst. If I can’t figure out your game quickly and easily, you have failed as designers.
2a) I have a full time job, a wife, 2 kids. I also have a nice hobby that occupies me 3 or 4 nights a week. I like to take my family to lunch on Sunday and let the kids spend their allowance, and maybe go to the YMCA a couple times a week. You know what that means? I don’t have time for 8 hour raids and marathon sessions for the off chance at the phat lootz. If I can’t pick up your game and be rewarded with some sense of accomplishment in less than an hour, I’m not going to pick up your game.
2b) Have a free trial or a majorly reduced cost trial, or an unrestricted Open Beta period. If I can’t try before I buy, I’m probably not going to buy. Just because I can afford too, doesn’t mean I am going to drop $50 to just try out your MMO.
3) Don’t do something just because WoW did it. I got news for you, WoW is not a game. WoW is a force of nature that exists outside of any logic or reason. You will not steal players from WoW by being like WoW. And those of us who don’t play WoW? Well, the reason we aren’t playing WoW is because we don’t like WoW, so being like WoW won’t attract us either.
3a) Just because WoW did something, don’t immediately discount it. Despite my personal feelings, WoW did do some interesting things and does have a lot going for it. I know it sounds like I am contradicting myself here. But if you look at WoW, it is easily playable and highly addictive. Two things an MMO wants. My problem with WoW don’t stem from the underlying systems of the game, but that’s a different set of posts.
3b) Don’t promise features you won’t/can’t deliver or won’t support. I don’t want to hear about your super new system that will revolutionize game play if it isn’t going to make it into the final game. Don’t demo the systems to the media and at conventions if it won’t be in the final game. That’s called bait and switch, and in any other industry, that could land you in jail.
Next time, I finish this up.