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Thread: Nearly 2011, Time to Evolve.

  1. #1
    Soulwalker
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    Default Nearly 2011, Time to Evolve.

    Nearly 2011, Time to Evolve.

    What I say is my opinion, but it is an informed opinion. The landscape of the MMORPG as a business model is now being put to question. With market saturation, complete with niche games and Free-To-Play MMOs, the terrain in which the money flows and works has changed. Success of MMORPGs are no longer dependent on the survival of just a few subscriptions, and though there is blind lust to try and usurp those currently swimming in success - let us be realistic - the target audience has also changed. Standards and practices that have been developed between 2000 - 2005 are out dated and frankly not wanted.

    Developers of MMO games are now wrapped with a kind of a fear that eats away at the soul. The fear that comes to haunt them in the night, when all the lights are out and all that remains is the darkness. In these moments we are true to our selves, and if anyone is actually human there is surely nightmares on the complete and utter collapse of an MMO shortly after its release. Now that is a bitter reality that many are seeing, because everyone now wants a slice at the pie. The investors have put in the money, and the now the teams are working years on end to put together what could very well be the next big thing - or the next nameless nothing in the waste bin.

    Fear consumes this industry now. Fear of not only failing to achieve the audience and sustain the dream, but also the looming fear of larger companies moving in to quickly buy up the stock and rights to a project that begins to show some sign of success. Fear comes in many places, and leads the developers to often make bad choices - choices they feel they are making for the right and for the better of the whole game. Yet these choices can often lead to the game's inevitable destruction.

    Some say it is not wise to stand on the shoulders of giants to achieve success, and often people have tried to do this very thing and failed to really achieve what they were striving to do. But the real problem is that the developers who head these projects become so confident in their own ideas that all other input becomes completely unneeded. This has been a powerful trend in the past 5 years, so many developers have closed themselves off from their communities and devoted most of their time and money to purely creating their products in a vacuum.

    By vacuum, I do not mean completely ignorant of all other games - this has happened before, yes.. But this mainly stands to say that the developers have forgotten about the key element that makes the game a success: The Community. Since the late 90s, the communities have always been the primary targets of the game and often those games have been made with those people in mind. The great example is Everquest, the first most popular MMO that almost single handed launched the entire genre into the foreground. But Everquest largely was composed of already existing games, like Dragon Realms, which has been around since these early 1990s.

    Dragon Realms was an all Text MMO, which grew larger and had paid subscriptions throughout it's growth. Everquest was merely a graphical clone of the game, and took a successful idea and improved upon it - this was a clear example of evolving the genre. The community pretty much dictated the bulk of the construction of that game, by already having made other games in which Everquest was built from. Now we're nearing 2011, and many MMOs don't have solid foundations in which they are built upon. There are largely just built on what a handful of Game Designers feel is a good, and successful idea and have the confidence to back it up - even if it's blind confidence.

    The market of MMORPGs has become extremely unforgiving, and people who are now the main consumers of the genre will not take mistakes lightly. Even a game's launch, which has often been a target goal by from developers since 2004 to be starting point for the game. Developers just want the game to work, not be complete. They have budgeted their money to work up towards a solid release, only to depend upon the investments of players who purchase boxes and subscriptions to create the rest of the money needed to continue the production of the game and all of its future content.

    While this was accepted before 2005, this is no longer acceptable now. In 2011, people expect a product to be complete and even more complete than the developers may have the man power or budget to produce. This is because the market is full of already current, strong MMOs that have been trucking along - even at a snails pace for several years. The consumer wants a product that is equal, if not greater, than what is currently on the market right now. Many developers find this to be an impossibility, but perhaps it's not - just merely a change of practice, code, and budget is all it will take to tighten the belt and extend the production process.

    MMOs need to focus more on a controlled set of infinite content, this is considered the Sand Box element. Creative Sand Box games offer a limitless amount of content, building upon an established structure that development has made into working tools. These creation of tools can potentially allow for randomly generated maps that players can explore on their own, quest building tools, monster creation tools, and even the ability to create cities as well. While all seems like a large bit to swallow, this is the reality of how games need to endure in the next decade. With so many MMOs on the market now, there needs to be a way for new comers to be able to endure. Like a sapling trying to grow beneath the thick trunks of trees who hog all the light for themselves. The only way to survive is to evolve.

    The community is a vital tool and valued section of input that should be utilized, not seen as a crowd to be exploited and milked of their precious dollar. People are smart, and can sense when they are trying to be fooled or ripped off - and can shy away from curtain projects if they feel their voice truly isn't being heard. Many developers feel their community is largely uninformed and not clear about the times and the market. But time and again, especially since 2005, the community has proven to know far more about the market than the developer. The community is the vital source and life blood to a game; it's easy to ignore them when you're sitting on investor's millions but when it comes time to tap the community's wallet they may not be so willing to fork over their money.

    The developers can utilize a community and listen to their input, as long as they trust the community to make the kind of choices - vital choices, that will decide the future of the game. I do not mean by reading and asking for community ideas, I mean the developers can list various ideas of their own and talk about them in rich depth and detail. Then in the form of a poll, let the community decide what direction the game should take. For instance: Does this game need to have Creative Sand Box content? A game developer and designer currently in the project may think "No" because it is much too costly and will delay production and break up the budget - ruining the projected release time and development plans.

    But this is purely looking at things by the numbers, and may be smart on paper - but it still puts the community on the back seat and makes them unimportant the game's development. Which is a massive contradiction, because the game is ultimately made for the public. By not taking in community input, or even giving them a chance for express it - you are risking the danger of alienating the public in a time you need them most: Release. The only way to truly solve the problem is to make a choice early on to make the community a part of the production team, which it should be. So the way you'd make the choice of whether the game should have Creative Sand Box content would be to provide a poll to the community. Such a poll would list various directions the game could take, and the developers would list why they feel the game would succeed one way over the other.

    In the end the community will discuss it in their own forums and make a vote - and that vote will reflect what the community wants - what the costumers want - and will determine an increase in subscriptions by that fact alone. The practice seems to make so much sense, it's a wonder why developers chose to leave it behind in the dust. Forgotten and largely ignored, the community is only appreciated as an exploitable avenue of free marketing. Often done through various contests and promotions, but milking the community as a form of cheap labor isn't going to cut it anymore. Time can be better spent elsewhere, so trying to exploit them and not use their input to shape the game is only going to hurt the game in the long run.

    By utilizing the public and evolving to steps that other MMOs take only when their game is starting to fizzle and die, you give the MMO a chance to survive these rough waters. By holding to failed practices and gripping the budget in fear of failure, the game will likely end up like all the other failures before it. Remember, even the big name developers are failing these days. What makes your MMO so special that it's immune to reality and going to survive on an out dated business model?

    - Orlean Knight
    October 11th 2010
    Last edited by OrleanKnight; 10-11-2010 at 08:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Soulwalker
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    Default About the Author

    About the Author

    Since 1995, I've taken part if games which began to be played over the internet. At the time, it was an amazing change of pace and lifestyle and it was the kind of life changing moment that many people take for granted today. Throughout the years the most notable form of online gaming I've invested more time into is All-Text forms of roleplay and adventure questing. These games are timeless purely because they can never be outdated by computer requires or graphics; they are always the same and shall only grow better with time.

    I've seen the face of the MMO genre grow and boom, now I see it enter its decline. These times are bad for the market because of over saturation from competitors, China, and Korea. With Free-To-Play taking in large numbers over the subscription based game, those which try to work off the older models of pay-to-play games have a rough time. I've grown up with them, and I've been in many communities and I see the similarities of games then, to games now. I also strongly feel that the developers of these games are stuck in the past, and are not fully capable of seeing the reality of the market as a whole. Often they are blinded by developers like Blizzard, and see only the mountain of money at the end but forget the steep mountain climb in the beginning.

    I've come here, ignorant of this game. But I've worked in the gaming industry and I know how it is on the inside, so ultimately my views can be reflected on any game. I mainly provide my attention to one game at a time, in hopes that someone will actually take notice and listen. But more times than I can count, my voice has consistently gone unheard. But no matter, I try and try. Now being a professional writer and author, it makes it much easier to translate my thoughts into words. So here I offer segments of my manifesto, and a thought provoking view on the journey ahead.

  3. #3
    Rift Disciple forestwhitakereye's Avatar
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    Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  4. #4
    Soulwalker
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestwhitakereye View Post
    Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
    Comments like this fail to make an impact on me or the document in question. Simply because there is no argument involved, all that is being said 'I dismiss all of this as unreadable rubbish' which is equal to a person plugging their ears and shouting 'LA LA LA LA' as someone tries to talk rational sense in ear shot.

  5. #5
    Rift Disciple forestwhitakereye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrleanKnight View Post
    Comments like this fail to make an impact on me or the document in question. Simply because there is no argument involved, all that is being said 'I dismiss all of this as unreadable rubbish' which is equal to a person plugging their ears and shouting 'LA LA LA LA' as someone tries to talk rational sense in ear shot.
    I didn't think your post deserved any response. You have nothing to say in particular about Rift, you say so yourself. To cut and paste some essay in here and then to follow it up with an about the author is completely out of place. Your blog is over there. You should go back to it. What's the matter, is it not getting enough hits?

  6. #6
    Ascendant Mira's Avatar
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    That seemed like a long plea for polls.

    I would have liked for you to have been more specific in suggesting what exactly would be more evolved than the genre is now. What community involvement are you looking for other than polls? What do you see as the next step?

  7. #7
    Soulwalker
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestwhitakereye View Post
    I didn't think your post deserved any response. You have nothing to say in particular about Rift, you say so yourself. To cut and paste some essay in here and then to follow it up with an about the author is completely out of place. Your blog is over there. You should go back to it. What's the matter, is it not getting enough hits?
    I created this with the development of Rift in mind. My ignorance of the game doesn't suggest that I'm trying to promote myself where ever I go.. I keep to that ignorance because I want to look upon the game completely without influence. I could easily spend hours researching the game, but it will not change the argument at all. The points remain the same, and while what I write may appear 'bloggish' - I try to focus my attention on games that need support.

    There is nothing cut and paste about this segment, and it is fact an extension of another statement began in the "And the Name Your Chose is..." thread. Clearly the subject matter I was expressing was off topic, so I created a new thread for discussion of that new topic. If you don't wish to respond, or just respond in a fashion that you feel is justified on how 'pointless' my statements are - then it's best you just not post in the thread and let it slowly vanish off the forum's face.

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    Plane Touched Noiriju's Avatar
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    So you're saying is that the developers should bend over to the community? From a lot of the communities I've seen, that would be a good way to drive your game into the ground. Most complaints on forums are players whining because they lost I fight against class X. I post a lot of suggestions, but there's no way I would expect the developers to implement every single one. It sounds like you're wanting an ultimate player-driven sandbox mmo where the developers are more there to facilitate than develop. Something like spore or multiplayer minecraft would be good examples. I would love an mmo like that, but Rift is not that kind of game.

    Also, I'm not one to normally post tl;dr, but your post is much much lengthier than what the average forum goer wants to read. For future reference, the about the author post makes you look arrogant, not intellectual.

  9. #9
    Soulwalker
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mira View Post
    What do you see as the next step?
    Creative Sand Box content.

  10. #10
    Rift Disciple Valdur's Avatar
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    The MMO industry is having the same problem that the Movie and music industry has "no real creativity and no innovation" just copy /paste what has been successful in the past,repackaged to fit today's demand...and all that today's audience/crowd looks for is a quick fix.People don't even have time to date,they need to have speed dating

    To have a community you must build on something but the more MMO get released the less tool they build to promote community
    Last edited by Valdur; 10-11-2010 at 07:25 PM.

  11. #11
    Sword of Telara Hrimnir's Avatar
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    I realllllly want to do a point by point reply to his post, but im fairly certain its just expertly veiled trolling.

    That being said, one thing i will say. The "community" has no idea what it wants. The worst thing a developer can do is listen to its community blindly. He falsely used EQ as an example to support his argument, but what he obviously doesnt remember (which makes me wonder if he even played the game), was how we all used to joke about "The Vision". Because Verant did whatever the hell they wanted with no regard for the "community" complaining/whining. Guess what, EQ was better for it.

    Getting an MMO community to agree on anything is like trying to get all the different flavors of christianity to agree to one view on their faith. I'm sure the calvinists and baptists would get along just fine, or the protestants and catholics, etc. I know religion's a touchy subject, but i feel its a very accurate example of how strong people's beliefs are regarding MMO's and how they should operate/work.

  12. #12
    RIFT Fan Site Operator Delith's Avatar
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    Going to pretty much ditto what Noiriju said on this one.

  13. #13
    Soulwalker
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noiriju View Post
    So you're saying is that the developers should bend over to the community? From a lot of the communities I've seen, that would be a good way to drive your game into the ground. Most complaints on forums are players whining because they lost I fight against class X. I post a lot of suggestions, but there's no way I would expect the developers to implement every single one. It sounds like you're wanting an ultimate player-driven sandbox mmo where the developers are more there to facilitate than develop. Something like spore or multiplayer minecraft would be good examples. I would love an mmo like that, but Rift is not that kind of game.

    Also, I'm not one to normally post tl;dr, but your post is much much lengthier than what the average forum goer wants to read. For future reference, the about the author post makes you look arrogant, not intellectual.
    No, community feedback can be controlled in the forum of polling. Pooling the developer's ideas, not the communities. The community can discuss the developer's ideas, yes - but mainly the restriction is that the boundaries are still the developer's ideas. The community to helps to choose which is the best direction. They are not the ships captain, nor are they the crew - but they are passengers.

    The passengers may not know the sea as well as the captain, but they can at least express their opinion whether or not they want to ride through a storm for a shorter route - or take a longer smoothly route instead.

  14. #14
    Ascendant Aurelie's Avatar
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    I try not to take MMO projects too serious when I know nothing about the company.

    I do wish developers actually participated on the forums, good lord, there are posts with 100+ pages with 0 input from Trion, surely a few people from Trion had an opinion on this. Telling your staff they can't communicate is not a good idea, SoE learned that the hard way with SWG.

  15. #15
    Telaran Texx's Avatar
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    tldr

    Wall of text crit me for 10k and i died of boredom

    anyone have cliff-notes?
    Don't try to save yourself, the circle is complete.

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