9/13/2008

Vision Over MMORPGs Part 3

In the first article of the series entitled Vision Over MMORPGs Part 2 we talked about what happens when you add tabletop games to the mix . This week is time too see what happens when companies try to please as many types of players as possible .

If we think about how did companies really succeeded in creating good MMORPG's and how others failed miserable , we could say that very often is all about luck , fortune or just Godly intervention . False ! There are people that say : " What is so cool about World Of Warcraft , what does it have and other games don't ? " . If you will ask those that play Wow , you will get many different answers for the same question . The truth is somewhere in the middle . World of Warcraft (WoW) brings nothing special technology wise or gameplay wise . So what is so special about it ? Well , it was designed and built following the basic foundations of Blizzard : bug free and flawless design . In my opinion this is what makes Blizzard the best game company in the world . They never got it wrong , this is the recipe for success .


Miniature Dwarf from World of Warcraft

Ok , so I just presented the motto that each game company in the world should have . Now what should every MMORPG in the world have as gameplay ?

- Persistent and seamless world . ( persistent is what makes the difference between online game and single player game . People hate loading screens , un-natural obstacles and panoramic drawings instead of a real horizon)
- Players love to See and use lots of different attributes , professions , skills , talents , ways to improve ones gear , in fact people love everything that makes them better and different from any other player . This is by far the hardest thing to accomplish in any MMORPG . A simple mistake here could result in a total failure . This part of the gameplay includes almost all the economy , ways to socialise and accomplishment in a game .
- Different opponents (NPC or players) each with their own set of rules , factions or location on the map .
-Guilds , factions and alliances . These are the core of the social life of a game avatar . A player that just received as drop a super-cool-godly item will feel only half of the excitement if he doesn't have other players that feel happy for him or admire him . Plus a well developed guild should be able to do many things in such a game like : pvp wars , sieges , different mini-games (a very important element . Mini-games could be : fishing contest , hunting contest , running , duels , card games , capturing artifacts or sites of great power , kicking chickens- for those that played Fable ) .
- And one of the most important aspects : story and lore . RPG games at their core are based on story so a MMORPG without a story can't exist . I think this is the most important plus that World of Warcraft had .Why did you think Blizzard named the game like this ? Why didn't they named it The World ? Or Alliance versus Horde ? Simple , because the name Warcraft made half of the box sales and a quarter of the monthly subscription base .

Hm ! Then what are the other game companies doing wrong ? There are two types of mistakes : either they launch a game with a real background story , unpolished , with many bugs , and with common gameplay elements or they launch a mediocre game with no consistent background story or lore , a few bugs , probably with good features but some of them are badly implemented and even a high subscription cost for such low expectations . Sure , there are companies that are doing well with the game they launched and all the credits (and money) are under their name .


Indie-developed game : Darkfall Online

Sadly , there is one thing where almost every game company (and here I include Blizzard-Vivendi as well ) does it wrong . They listen to much of what players complain about . Think about it that most players are normal people , without being professional game developers or mathematicians . Those that are , most likely won't complain about the game if it is well designed and most likely you won't find them on the forums . The rule is that every player has an egocentric view over the respective game . If he took a beat or two from another class in the game , he is sure that the game is unbalanced and he demands to nerf that class without trying to understand what impact will have that action on the entire game . The bad part is that most companies fail under the pressure and they take this actions without a careful planning .

As an argument, I present you some wise words taken from a blog held by Radu Privantu , owner of the MMORPG called Eternal Lands :

" Player Feedback
As soon as your game is online and people start playing it, they will start expressing their opinion, whether you ask them for it or not. Somewhat ironic is the fact that those who are smarter and stronger in the game will usually not post on the forums or send e-mails complaining about things or suggesting new features. There are, of course, exceptions from this rule, but if you watch any MMO forums you will notice that most of the suggestions are worthless.
The problem is, when someone complains about some aspect of the game, the complaint will be egocentric, focused on their particular problem, and not on the overall benefit of the game. For example, some players want certain items to be cheaper so that they can afford one, without thinking that making the item cheaper will cause in-game inflation.
My personal experience with asking for feedback from the entire community (such as an open forum post) is bitter. The majority of people will NOT even bother to read your post, they will just read the title then click on the "Reply" button. And even if they do read your post, they will still think about what benefits them, and not the game as a whole."

This concludes the second part of the Vision Over MMORPGs series . For the next part we will talk about how profitable are MMORPGs and will learn how to correctly predict a companies monthly profit .

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