Monday, August 31, 2009

MMOs for the Common Man, Part 3

I close up with the final pieces of advice.

4) I’m not upgrading or buying a new computer for your game. The days of Killer Apps are gone. The only time a game drives hardware sales are on consoles when the consumer has already determined they will buy one, but not which one, or the fanatics who just have to have it (which seems to be almost exclusively Final Fantasy and Halo fans). I’m already paying $50 for the game, $15 a month for a subscription, don’t then demand that I fork out $150 for a new graphics card and $30 for another stick of RAM. Why don’t you try making your game run on more common hardware?

4a) If you plan on selling a game at a major retailer, like say Walmart, why don’t you also make sure that they sell hardware that will run your game, just in case someone gets the wild idea of buying a computer just to play your game.

4b) If given the choice between 2 new games I am interested in, but one won’t run smoothly on what I have and one will, I’m going to buy the one that runs smoothly. Be aware of the requirements of other software launching around the time you are.

5) I don’t want to buy a game on launch day, then wait until the next day to start playing because you had to rewrite the entire game between the time the discs were pressed and you actually opened the servers. In other words, have your testing done prior to shipping to manufacturers. It’s Ok to have a small patch at launch, but not anything that will take me more than say a half hour to download.

5a) Don’t use the launch period as a third stage of Beta testing. I Beta test games, I like doing it. I get to see things ahead of time, provide some input, and maybe make the game better. I don’t like paying for the privilege of Beta testing.

5b) There are certain things that are not only expected, but should be considered mandatory in an MMO, like working social interfaces and an accurate mapping system. They should be in the game at launch, and when your beta testers are telling you those don’t work, or need to be fixed, you may actually want to listen to them.

6) Don’t make a game based off an existing property if the property brings nothing to the table. There is a World of Darkness MMO coming out sometime around 2011/2012. The problem is, that is will be about a year after 2 similarly themed MMOs (Secret World and Dark World) about the hidden world of magic creatures in the modern age debuts. So what is the property bringing with it? And we aren’t exactly at the height of WoD’s popularity anymore.

6a) If you do base your game off of an existing property, you have to do it justice, not just use the name and abandon everything that attracted people to the property to start with. For an example of doing it right, see Lord of The Rings Online, for examples of doing it wrong, see Dungeons and Dragons Online and Champions Online.

6b) If you feel that doing justice to the property you are basing a game off of would stop you from making the game you want to make, you have 2 questions to ask yourself, Is the game you want to make really that good? Do you really want to use the property? Either way, it is time to rethink the direction you are going.

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