Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Second Genesis

Things are pretty quiet around here and that just reflects that things are pretty quiet in New Eden right now. Other than BNI and their new allies deploying to Sendaya on the Curse border, there isn't a lot to talk about. Only about a third of the articles on TMC's front page are EVE-related at all and about half the articles on the front page of EN24 as I write this are CSM candidate interviews or opinion pieces. So I'm not the only one feeling the pinch.

This has, however, given me some time to get fairly philosophical. In particular, the topic of gamer entitlement has been on my mind lately.

Let's play a hypothetical little game. A new space-related MMO is coming out. The graphics are quite pretty, but it's very content thin, very wonky, and somewhat buggy. The developers want you to both buy the client software and then pay a monthly subscription as well. There are about 40 ships available but not that many players, only about 20000 or so. The tutorial is horrid, the manual is worse, and the skill system makes no sense. For these and other reasons, the reviews haven't been that good: it's averaging 6 out of 10.

Do you buy the game? Or do you skip it? Perhaps you even bad-mouth it?

Well, you've probably guessed by now -- or maybe you haven't -- but I'm describing the first release of EVE Online: The Second Genesis in May 2003. Here's a review from that time. This review is actually pretty good, compared to a lot of them. PC Gamer gave the first release of EVE a 5.5 out of 10. Put into context, that's about the same score they gave Aliens: Colonial Marines last year. Yeah, ouch.

Now of course if I described a game in those terms today -- pretty but empty, buggy, and thin -- I'd be describing, oh, about 70% of the MMOs that have come out in the last few years. The road has been littered with their corpses. Gamers as a rule are becoming more and more demanding of what they expect from a title at launch. Short version, a brand new launch MMO apparently has to have hundreds of thousands of programmer-hours put into it before day one. If this hasn't been done, chances are damn good it won't be given a chance. This is taking "you don't get a second chance to make a first impression" to a pretty dire extreme.

For EVE, a large number of the things you probably think about when you think about EVE were not in that first release: actual workable missions and agents, a working market, war-decs, POSes and sov, player-owned stations, capital ships, T2 ships... all of these came later. Even a semi-decent tutorial wasn't added to the game for two years. In that first version of the game, you could mine, you could build ships, and you could blow up other players with them. And that really was just about it.

If EVE: The Second Genesis were released in 2014 (with graphics updated to today's standards), it would fail... almost immediately. It would be laughed right off the market in the first year. It would be lucky to last as long as Black Prophecy lasted. If it were lucky. Instead, EVE did succeed. But it took time... lots of time to repair bugs, add content, actually build walls around the sandbox, make the game at least possible for normal humans to understand. A compelling argument could be made that it took EVE four years to put together a functional game, build an audience, and break out of its early woes.

Games aren't given time to develop over time, mature, grow a player base, find an audience any more. We don't give the developers time to develop their vision, conquer the launch bugs, and start to actually grow their games. If it's not right, right from launch, gamers are absolutely brutal.

I wonder why that is. When did we become so impatient? With the exception of World of Warcraft which was (maybe ironically?) very well reviewed out of the gate, many of the successful MMOs out there had really bad, poorly-reviewed starts. But more and more often, these poorly-reviewed starts are followed by the announcement that the game is going into limited development or closing outright.

This begs an interesting question: what's it going to take to launch a successful MMO in 2014? Are any of the games being released this year going to get anything like the amount of time EVE got to prove itself?


  1. A large part of it, I think, is that we compare new experiences against the ones we've had before.

    If you release a fantasy MMO today you get compared against a WoW a game that has a decade (give or take) of development on it already. Your brand new day 1 release is going to get judged against something with 10 years of developer polishing already done on it. Same if you made a space MMO today you will get compared against EVE.

    Same goes for the amount of content, I remember getting Star Trek Online and literally doing *all* the release content including the one 'raid' in about weeks by just playing it nightly with 3 friends. And STO was a fine game as far as new releases go with a healthy amount of content. But I've never gone back because well I was 'done' and then other games came along. The established MMO's like WoW have insane amounts of contents already due to their age and are therefore probably more likely to keep around long enough to become invested in them.
    And then I have a job, I know many younger gamers literally blow through thousands of hours of on release devtime in a new mmo in the first week after release... (and then go on reddit to tell everybody that wants to hear it, how shit the game is and that they're *already done* failing to mention they played for 18 hours strait for 7 days).

    I suspect developers are catching on to the content problem and that it is one of the reasons sandbox concepts suddenly seem so popular, they can get around this problem somewhat.

  2. The thing about World of Warcraft is that it WAS pretty damn good at release. It wouldn't have exploded the way it did if it wasn't; they could spend post-relaease time on improving the game instead of fixing problems and it paid off in spades.

    As for the entitlement and impatience - I blame mobile gaming (instant access to no-substance timewasters), overt reliance on digital distribution, especially if it comes to patches (why care about proper QA when you can patch away gamebreaking bugs as they pop out?) and general mailaise coming from gaming industry falling into the mainstream.

    We have a whole new generation of players that grew up on games that coddled them and held their hands all along the way, instead of presenting a challenge to be overcome. We have older generation that threw away dreams of victory to gorge themself on laughably easy "Achievements" (Tutorial Complete Achievement. Really? I mean, REALLY?).

    And it's not like EVE players are free from these issues, no matter how much they protest against it, they are just differently flavored.

  3. I don't see how I'm impatient for picking the MMO that will offer me the most enjoyment in its current state.

    I see two things that have changed. The first is that the quality of the competitors of any new MMO is higher than the quality of the competitors that Eve or WoW had when they launched because new MMOs have to compete against MMOs which have had years of polish.

    The second is the rise of MMOs which are cheaper to play than the standard subscription model.

    Why should I give any leeway to a buggy released MMO just because it's new ?

    I don't give any other product or service leeway just because it's new. For example. if a restaurant turns out terrible food, I'm going to go get my food in a restaurant that doesn't, unless the terrible one is significantly cheaper.
    Why should games be treated any differently ?

  4. http://cheezburger.com/8090922752

  5. Look at the market now though Jester. When Eve released there were a handful of MMOs on the market. In 2003 there were only 3 MMOs of any note released(StarWars Galaxies, Planetside, and Eve), and a couple expansions to older MMOs. Fast forward 11 years, there are more MMOs being released in 2014 than the sum total of all MMOs released up till 2003. You have to be good out of the gate because the market for new MMOs is; A, oversaturated and B, the offspring of Everquest.

    The MMOs that make it are the Eve's of the world. Ones that developed to a very exclusive niche audience. You can't go mass market now days without those hundreds of thousands of hours, you're simply competing in too big of a pool; both new games that come out and all the games before.

    CCP just got very lucky. They had a game and it was bringing in money, but just enough to keep the lights on and everyone employed. If Eve had gone a bit more in either direction Eve wouldn't be what it is. CCP would probably have folded as a company under it's debts, or they'd have immediately started development on Eve 2.

    1. A couple of people have said this, and I'm not sure I 100% buy it. Were there THAT many MMOs released in 2003? I'm honestly asking because I don't know; I wasn't following MMOs then.

    2. Earth & Beyond.

      That makes two popular ones that folded around then...i'm sure there were lots more in the sci-fi genre.

  6. In my opinion the Most successful way to launch a game nowdays is allowing people to buy in "Early Access." this way the gamer's expect there to be bugs, for content to be thin. The reviews are glowing, "because its an alpha and it can already do x."

  7. I know you're mainly talking about MMOs, but I couldn't help thinking about a couple non-mmos while reading: Elemental: War of Magic and X: Rebirth.

    It can be one of the biggest tragedies when a game sucks that should have been great. Now, Elemental has been rehashed and remade and now, 4 years later, it's a pretty good game. But Stardock squandered a lot of the good will they had stored up from the amazing success of GalCiv2. I'm not sure they'll ever recover as a developer.

    I HOPE X: Rebirth is playable one day, but the problems are so manifold and compounded that I kind of doubt it. And that's very sad.

    How much slack should we give developers when they deliver a bad game after years of work? I think EVE was able to get away with it for a couple reasons.

    1. Nobody knew who CCP was, and thus had no inherent hopes to be dashed
    2. Even at the beginning, it offered things that are simply unavailable elsewhere, and held the promise of so much more.

    I think, though, that I disagree with this statement:
    "Games aren't given time to develop over time, mature, grow a player base, find an audience any more. We don't give the developers time to develop their vision, conquer the launch bugs, and start to actually grow their games. If it's not right, right from launch, gamers are absolutely brutal."

    Gamers can be brutal, and again, perhaps you're only talking about MMOs. But if you check the subreddit for X: Rebirth, for example, you'll see that good old X fanbase working hard to give real feedback to the devs, and you'll see the devs working hard right back. The pattern of some of these smaller games, especially from Europe, is very much the patience that you're lamenting the lack of. EVE is really a part of that European tradition more than what we've become used to in West of West, with AAA titles and loot-porn.

    I think it's primarily because those are the players it's directly catering to that it has survived. Even though we're not all European, many of us have been and continue to be fans of those kinds of games, and can be much more forgiving. We are willing to stick with it because we can see or feel what it could be, and we would like to be there when it happens.

    1. CCP had help in the form of Iceland's billionaire, and connections to russians. So go figure.

  8. Do I take it that you have concerns about TESO? Now that it's no longer :NDA:, would be interested in what you think about its prospects based on the beta so far. Any thoughts on how higher-level balance will pan out, given the (relative) freedom in character building?

    On your question though - define "a successful MMO". That's likely to mean something profoundly different to a studio exec than to you or me.

    1. Not concerns, as such. I'm still enjoying that one. But will it get anything like the chances that EVE got, or will it be declared a failure if it doesn't have millions of subscribers before year-end?

    2. How much of that is due to ESO launching with a subscription model ?
      The subscription model means that ESO doesn't just have to match the quality of F2P titles. Or even just match B2P titles like Guild Wars 2. No, because of the subscription model, ESO needs to be significantly better than the F2P and B2P titles to justify the subscription fee. Or it could try being different like Eve has.

      How much better ?
      Here's a site that used to track MMO subscription numbers: http://mmodata.blogspot.co.nz/2013/12/version-41-thoughts-and-comments.html
      As of December, Eve Online was "the only growing subscription based MMORPG left". Every other subscription MMO that site could get numbers for was in decline.
      My guess is that the decline is because of F2P games. People are willing to accept a slightly lesser product if it's cheap enough.

  9. "Gamers as a rule are becoming more and more demanding of what they expect from a title at launch." I don't know how widely accurate this is. Some games are being released that are simply unplayable, both in terms of content and performance (Rome total war comes to mind), and presumably it isn't overly entitled for customers to expect the game to at least be playable (much less live up to the blatantly false advertising which preceded the release in this particular case). On the other hand, many gamers have been quite happy with well-running but "alpha" type games--think of starbound or Rust. Even KSP at first launch was thin in content but it was still a better designed game than many major titles. I think what you are seeing is not a sense of entitlement but a growing range of options for gamers.

  10. EVE was launched as "one of n" MMOs in 2003, whereas any MMO today is launched as "one of n x10 current MMOS + n x50 past MMOS".

    That's all.

    We are not young anymore. We are not inexperienced any more. And we don'f have that much free time to waste on a game that doesn't cuts to our acquired tastes... not when there's another one coming next month.

    1. Does that also go for gamers currently in their teens?

    2. Smart phones happened. Access to anything or anyone anywhere they go immediatly. Good luck making this teen crowd wait on something.

    3. Teens have limited money. Which means any MMO has to really stand out from F2P titles if it wants to attract them.

    4. He's correct. Yah gotta take into account that the 'internet' really only took off during the turn of the century. Remember "you got mail (1998)", Dot-com bubble (2000), & napster (2001)? Facebook wasn't even around until 2004, right around when ICQ became commercialized, and the instant messaging craze started for some, plus WoW launched.

      So, really, MMOGs of the modern era only just started up around the time Eve-online:TheSecondGenesis appeared.

      So, yeah, gamers expect advancement in the field but THEY ALSO expect developers not to have to invent the frickin wheel all over again.

  11. The problem with the current generation of all games (not just MMOs) is they are released before they are ready. Its the yearly release cycle thats killing it. Gamers expect a better version of the same game year after year.

    Most games that come to the market are "finished" and the dev are already working on the next sequel. In 2003, I don't remember there being this sort of "momentum". I like CCP because even if they release a bad game, I know they will continue to FIX IT. As opposed to other developers who end up just releasing bad, broken content to start with and don't even bother with fixing it. Instead releasing "DLC" which should have been included in the original game.

  12. Potential Players: We're not going to pay 20 bucks a month because your game is buggy and there's no content.

    Game Developer: But we are going to add many more features and fix all of the bugs. Honest.

    Potential Players: OK, we'll give it a try when you come good on your promise. Meanwhile, we'll play other games that aren't buggy and have content.

    Game Developer: Oh dear, our budget has run out and we need paying customers to pay for further content development & bug fixes.

    Potential Players: GAME OVER

    Basically, games developers want low budget, big cash cows. So they throw a "low cost" MMO out there to see if it has legs. Unfortunately low cost = low content & many bugs. So to answer your question as to what will it take in 2014...

    Lots of money & commitment from a games developer.

    These days the first happens via kickstarter (or similar). The latter happens once a game has shown it has the ability to become a cash cow. Chicken & egg.

    1. Lots of money and commitment isn't even a winning combination anymore. SWTOR had a huge developer behind it and they spent a ton of money to bring the game to market. I played both WoW and SWTOR at launch and I have to say the SWTOR was the more polished of the two. The problem is every new game seems to be a clone of something else that has been done previously. That's why SWTOR died. It was just a WoW clone and why play a WoW clone if you can just play WoW.

      Eve and games like it survive because they give the player a new experience. That's what gamers are looking for today, something new and different. Day Z is building followers right now becuase it offers a mechanic (permadeath) that you really can't get anywhere else. For developers to be successful in the MMO market in the future, they are going to have to shrug off old models and take a risk with something new.

    2. >Eve and games like it survive because they give the player a new experience.

      Did WoW take off like it did because it offered something none of the other MMOs of the time offered ?

    3. Anon 10:18 AM,
      You almost got it correct with your last sentence of:

      "For developers to be successful in the MMO market in the future, they are going to have to ... take a risk"

      It's not the developers who take the risk. It's the investors (usually VCs) who will be taking a lot of the risk.

      It's the investors who are looking at proposals for new MMOs and considering them to be either too risky or requiring too much capital.

      Whether your proposal includes a fantastic USP (essentially what you were describing as being the missing ingredient for success) is almost irrelevant. By definition it's unknown if your USP will prove to be a hit, regardless of how much market research you do.

      Hence, very few companies, investors or VCs are going to invest heavily.

      That's why initial MMO releases are often low budget and subsequently low on content and often bug ridden.

      And that's why players are going to spend their money elsewhere and wait until more investment & development has made it into a "good" game.

      And that is why I said the missing factors atm are:

      Lots of money & commitment.

      Everyone has fantastic ideas about what will make an amazing game. But they are unproven ideas. If investors were still happy to throw money at MMO developers who have a good track record of creating "unique" MMOs, you'd expect WoD to have more than 6 devs working on it & a release date of early this year.

      Does lots of money + commitment guarantee success? Of course not. But in the current land of MMO's, they are now a necessity taht are in short supply.

      This is partly the reason why crowd funding is becoming more prominent in the investor role and also has a few implications on the commitment aspect too. But that's a whole thesis in itself.

  13. without going into too much detail:

    I'm sick of theme parks. I'm not even giving ESO or Wildstar the time of even an initial impression. When there is another sandbox coming out that at all has the level of freedom that EVE or Galaxies gave the player, I'll pay attention.

    Until then, no fucks are being given. I don't have the time, or energy for it. Luckily, that seems to be what Star Citizen's persistent universe wants to do. Probably. We'll see. It'll be fun anyway, and a decent way to pass the time doing something besides EVE.

    1. I still thik SC is a GIANT scam

  14. I think this is true about software in general. Would Windows 3.1 succeed today if it was made pretty? What about Word 1.0? Perhaps a better analogy would the next version of Photoshop succeed if it had fewer features and was buggy or would people refuse to upgrade?

    The other thing that has happened is user expectation with respect to cost. Users now feel like they are paying a LOT of money for PC/Console titles because they've become used to paying $1 for an "app" on their mobile device. In general, if you are paying a lot of money for something you expect better quality.

  15. MMO's do come out with good review(Aion, Guildwars2 both got 80+ reviews at launch), not sure where that misconception is coming from. There are many that don't get good reviews, and that is simply because their competition just did that much better. You can say that about most, if not all genres, seven out of ten racing games are crap compared to the topdog racing game, seven out of ten FPS are crap compared to the topdog FPS, seven out of ten single player RPG's are crap compared to the topdog RPG. In reality MMOs get a lot of slack when it comes to unfinished products compared to other genres.

    As far as your interesting question, I think there will be very few successful MMO in 2014..... is that really surprising to you? How many successful strategy games will come out in 2014?, twenty plus will be release, and perhaps two, or three will be considered good/great. This isn't a MMO thing, or even a gaming thing, it's a free market thing. Game developers are making a product, and selling their product at whatever price they can charge, there are of course other game developers making similar products that they will undoubtable be reviewed and compared to one another, meanwhile we as consumers are free to buy whatever products we want.

  16. > This is taking "you don't get a second chance to make a first impression" to a pretty dire extreme.

    Well, you know, when I (and I think you, too) grew up, that was the way it was. There was no "online" way to patch what you fucked up. A released game on floppy disks had to work. And very few games I remember had game breaking bugs. So it *can* be done.

    As another commenter said, it's a disease of the online world to rely on patches to make a delivered product work at all. It's okay to skip features, but not on quality. And that's were every MMO I tried after WoW failed.

    But it seems you didn't make the distinction and meant content and features only. Yes, those are compared to the existing MMOs, and while it's may not be fair, why should a customer care. But that's probably a MMO-specific problem, because these games usually are meant for long time consumption. Therefore the early starters have an advantage (mainly regarding new players).

    For me, it's simply that after many years of WoW I am tired of the game type. Couldn't even enjoy Skyrim. Same as I can't enjoy strategy games like Starcraft or, when I go back, I somewhen was tired of jump and run games. I am currently waiting for the next unconventional game, like Lemmings was.

  17. EVE did not take $200 million to develop. CCP was working with the rather smalltime publisher Simon & Schuster, who weren't necessarily expecting massive returns on the project.

    Compare this to TESO which may very well be the greatest MMO disaster since TOR.

  18. Like the chicken and the egg, neither developers nor gamers came first. They co-evolved. They each made their best moves at the time for the right reasons. Evolution isn't what's right; it's what's left.

  19. Frankly, you're label of "entitlement" is a disservice to the truth of the matter. It's based on the assumption that somehow gamers are responsible for funding incomplete games that still require significant development. The fact of the matter is that gamers are not investors; they are consumers. It is not a consumer's responsibility to prop up a potentially successful company until it can refine its product enough to become profitable. Instead, a wise/informed consumer will be cautious about selecting the product that offers the best cost opportunity'; that is the product which offers the most of what the consumer is looking for relative to the cost (i.e., the most "bang for your buck").

    As a consumer, gamers have good reason to be cautious about investing in MMOs. The financial cost alone can be more than most games. I can buy whatever offline game is out there, and barring future software or hardware compatability issues, play it in perpetuity. But to keep playing an MMO, you have to keep paying for it (strictly speaking of subscription based games, of course; for the purposes of this discussion I'll avoid the issue of the F2P model). Then there is the undeniable fact that MMOs are a huge time sink; by there nature they have to be in order to justify a continued subscription. In terms of both time and money, MMOs require a significant investment, and as such any good consumer is going to be selective about what MMOs he chooses to play.

    And nowadays, there are a lot of MMOs out there to choose from; many, many, more than there were in 2003 when EVE launched. Unlike other games, the persistant nature of MMOs dictates that any new MMO is not only competing against other MMOs released that year, but rather against all MMOs currently online. With the MMO market flooded, it only makes sense that those with limited funds (many gamers) and time (everyone who ever lived) are careful about selecting games that are likely to be worth their investment. When a new game comes along and is buggy and is not quite complete at launch, there is almost certainly another option out there that can offer a similar experience with better quality at a comparable price.

    (continued below due to character count restrictions)

  20. (continued from above)

    So the nature of the market today is that an unfinished MMO has little chance of gaining attention in a sea of products which already includes many more polished choices. Again, this has nothing to do with "entitlement," it's just basic economics; if there's a better option out there for the same price, why would you buy the lesser product?

    There are of course things a game can do that help to overcome this. The first is to do something unique. A lot of stuff has already been done, but a good portion of the MMOs available bear a significant number of similarities to each other. Offering something innovative and different from the norm can help a game to stand out, and many gamers will be more willing to take a risk if the game promises a new experience. Free trials are another good way to get people into your game, since it eliminates part of the investment normally required to try a game and thereby lowers the risk. Personally, I've been through so many MMOs that won't buy any others unless I can try it free first. There are just so many games out there, it's not worth it for me to plunk down $40-$60 just to see if I'll like it.

    Of course, offering a free trial still means that you have to have enough of your game together to show people. It may not need to be the most polished game out there, but it will need to have enough content to catch people's attention, and few enough bugs that it doesn't put them off completely. If you can manage that minimum while giving a different experience, you just might get enough people to subscribe that your game can survive long enough be further improved.

    The bottom line is that MMOs are massive projects typically involving significantly more development resources than other games. The simple fact is that a modern company just starting out in making computer games that tries to tackle an MMO as its first project is not very likely to have the backing to succeed amidst the current competition. Blaming such failures on gamers' sense of entitlement is nonsense. It's got nothing to do with gamers being impatient; it's just a matter of there being better options. In the past, options were limited, and we weren't any more or less impatient with a game's problems when starting out, we simply lacked alternatives. So while we complained about bug after bug, we put up with it because nothing else offered the same experience. This is part of the reason why EVE continues to be a success in its niche, despite its many flaws: for those looking for an experience like the one EVE offers, there is very little else out there to choose from. If another game wants to launch while being as unpolished as EVE was at the start, and expects to have any hope of being given time to improve, then it is going to have to find a similar niche.

  21. I feel like this could do with a parallel story (ironically also from the spaceship genre) in single-player games.

    There's a strategy game called Sword of the Stars. It has a small development team that, actually, has a lot of pedigree: these guys worked on Homeworld and stuff. Anyway, they released an interesting game, but it was buggy, it didn't have a lot of content, it had strange mechanics, and the tech tree made it sometimes look like the factions were mostly mixing and matching from the same parts. The reviews were ... mixed. Metacritic averaged 68, and some of the amateur reviews were downright brutal. Three expansions later, it's considered a pretty good game, if still kinda niche, and still with some weird mechanics.

    After they finished with that, the studio started working on Sword of the Stars II. For various reasons, it was not only delayed, but the publisher eventually forced it to be released only mostly finished. I'm not sure it was actually much worse than the stat of the original SotS when it was released, based on some of the reviews, but everyone had the original, with its four expansions to go back to... so that's basically what people did. More than a year after release, SotS2 is *still* a buggy mess, because publisher funding dried up. Kerberos Productions, the development studio, is desperately trying to make ends meet with other, different-genre games set in the same universe, and if they can get some spare funding maybe it will work out some day. If this wasn't a bunch of idealists who really wanted to make *that* game, much like CCP, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure SotS2 would have been cut completely loos by now.

    If we apply this back to MMOs, though, the problem is, essentially, that people can just go back to what they were playing before, and you probably don't have the capital to survive the lean times when the game is selling on "potential" instead of "features". If Kerberos Productions did a single MMO, like CCP does, I'm sure they'd have closed their doors by now.

  22. I think it's a marketing problem. If you roll something out as finished! bang! then it will get compared to other finished, mature games and it will look ridiculous.

    But if you decided to announce the Kerbal Space Program of MMOs, or the Dwarf Fortress of MMOs? If you pitched the game as unfinished, but promising? Maybe that would work.

    TESO is basically sort-of-kind-of doing that with their prolonged beta test. A smaller shop would just do it for a longer period of time. As long as you're up front about it, and the basic core of your game has some cool emergent play, I think it's possible.

  23. This is not specific to games. This is a pretty straight-forward maturing market situation. When a market is young and there are few entrants, then the minimum customer expectations are low. Competition raises the minimum bar of entry. You no longer have to just release a product into the market, you have to release a product that is better than the current competitors. Think about what it takes to launch an automobile into the US or Western European markets today. Think about what it would take to launch a new smartphone today compared to five years ago.

    1. This guy said what I was trying (and failing) to say.

  24. I feel a successful new MMO would need a technological edge to ride. Maybe exploit mid range mobile devices and tablets and glide in with the touch generation. The story is the same, it's down to the way that you tell it. The trick is capturing the imagination and a sense of potential in the next generation.

    GGoggles will finally arrive when there is user mass to support an MMO on that platform.

    Personally I get a kick out of old school point and clicks so I'll be cursing until the next Broken Sword is released. Meantime, thanks for reminding me that I'm getting old.

  25. I'd like to think the flip side of "gamers have become more demanding" is "developers have gotten much more lazy". It seems like more games are getting released in utterly shoddy states (Rome 2, Rebirth, etc) and customers are essentially paying to be beta testers or "Early Access" where again, customers are paying to be beta testers with a little more heads up that "this is an alpha and things are improving".

    Games are expected to have bugs, but game breaking bugs that should've been caught and fixed in QA? Come on. Nevermind questionable design decisions (one of the first mods for Rebirth was to remove WiS as it was so poorly implemented).

    Nevermind on disc DLC or day 1 DLC (which I can kind I understand, but there's a thin line between "stuff for day 1 DLC that's somewhat potentially important to the plot/etc" and "purely cosmetic that doesn't impact gameplay at all").

  26. Continued because blogspot hates iPhones:

    On MMOs: I took a look at Eve after the infamous GHSC heist a and decided at the time I couldn't get past the interface and "harsh" universe. Fast forward four years later and burnt out from WoW, Eve looked a lot better and I was willing to give it a go. At this point I doubt I'll ever give another theme park MMO anything more than a glance and "been there, done that".

    By definition I'm already a niche gamer. I don't have options besides Eve at this point. Yes, it's a diamond, an incredibly flawed diamond, but a diamond amongst coal. The choice is obvious.

  27. I have limited entertainment dollars and limited play time. Why spend those on an unfinished game with "promise " when there are many alternatives available that meet my needs instead?

    I think Guild Wars 2 had one of the best strategies for release. Buy the game, don't pay for a subscription. Then you can play when you want, like when new content comes out. Apparently their cash shop, although not p2w, is enough to generate the profits they need.

    As far as "themepark" mmos go, I'm happy to pay and play them for awhile. Ride the rides a few times until its boring. If no new rides are added, then I'll unsub and play something else. I don't get why that's a bad thing.

  28. I expected to post a comment that was original. Many beat me to the punch.

    The better question to ask is: why do developers keep releasing bug-laden, half-assed, incomplete games in the first place?

  29. It is not a new phenomenon; back when I was running MUDs I had players that would yell at me to instantly teleport them to their destination or openly complain how my MUD didn't have as many features as another.
    and it is not just games; device manufacturers, especially cell phones, are subject to the re-roll locust mentality. Even before the newest designs are shipping, gadget geeks have already pronounced it over and done and have moved on to the next device.

  30. Did anyone else actually read that review by Gamers Temple that Jester linked. Just as apt today as it was all those years ago.

  31. I feel this is a direct result of the removal of the mid game from mmos call it bad design even if its near I.possible.to max out a toon when a game is launched players wont be able to male it to end game to bitch about content thats not developed yet. A strong mid game buys a dev time to make a proper and game imo. Last mmo with a mid game I played was lineage 2.

  32. maybe it is all because of wrong business calculations/ wrong prioritys?

    lets take warhammer online for an example (because i played daoc 5 years - the game those guys developed befor and because i was in the beta from the first day for almost a year).
    to me it looked like they have baught an awesome license and had some pretty cool ideas about things that would be fun.
    they build a game around those fun to play ideas but as soon as they let beta testers in, a simple question came up: "how is this supposed to work? how can you have 2 sides fighting each other without any way to balance the numbers?

    aside from other weakpoints the game had, i think the main problem was that they have build a game without a real core game concept befor theystarted. exactly the same issue wow had with its open game pvp attempts.
    btw the same guy is now producing camelot unchained. i realy loved daoc and i would probably test a daoc 2 which camelot unchained seems to be. but while everything they write on their home page about the game it sound again like the stuff they said in the warhammer beta. they have so many good ideas, the whole idea about the game sounds so good. but if you start thinking about it, you realize some core problems within that idea which propably cant be solved. just like in warhammer.

    i think most of those large mmo had the same problems. they build a game around nice eye candy and some good ideas which is fun to play and feels good, but they spent like 35% of the budget for eye candy, 30% for coding and 30% for marketing and like 5% of the money went in to some serios game design.

    tbh to me it looks like that vampire mmo, that ccp is no longer realy producing, would have shared the same fate. everything you could find about it was around perfect style/feeling and nothing about game mechanics. some dudes are already designing the citys, some dudes seem to have the game enginge running already, nice trailer were produced, but the game mechanics are still either not written down anywhere or people realized that there are problems with their game mechanics they cant solve.

    why dont have devs first a completly ready thought through core game mechanic befor they start makinga game? why are there games in beta and the devs cant answer pretty important gamemechanic questions because it is not decided yet?

    it may be a realy bad example because they actually just steal everything they do, but what about those perpetuum guys? i dont know how many subscribers they have, like 1000? it doesnt seem to me that they have any problems with paying their bills while warhammer online is shut down with maybe 100k subscribers?
    there seems to be problem with the price - income calculations.

    or what about this wave of pixel art games everywhere. minecraft, dont starve, andwhatever. most oft those games have a grafic like those old c64 /atari games had. no marketing at all. all they have is usually a gamedesign or a game mechanic that is unusal and well thought out.

    how about creating a game design first. think everything completly to the end and then start to produce a working code, take a very basic way to visualize it and bring it online as fast as possible

    1. Though one needs to prototype earlier rather than later, you're totally right in that the cost of art assets eventually chains up the design if one does too many of them at first.

  33. I fly Minmatar, but the new Minmatar skins are for ships I don't fly. Furthermore, the maelstrom and Rifter skins are nearly indistinguishable from those of the standard hulls. Swing and a miss here, CCP--though admittedly, the Rifter is very popular and possibly *the* iconic EVE ship.

    Looks like the primary ways to buy the new skins directly involve converting a whole PLEX to aurum or lengthy mission grinding. These are things I will not do in EVE. The alternative is buying from a manufacturing player on the open market. That might happen, but again, not until a nice Min or Machariel skin comes along.

    CCP, your pilot project is not going to measure my considerable interest. Roll out some more skins, and let me buy a paint job directly with ISK, and I will be there.

  34. Counter-question for Jester. What if EVE Online had not been released as a full priced MMO at the time, but instead moved into the open-beta model we see used more often today. Kind of like War Thunder, it would have had features missing, but would also have the promise of a much larger game at its core than what was delivered.

    Yes, gamers are much less forgiving for "triple A" titles that make bold promises then fail to deliver, but at the same time welcome with open arms the new development models pioneered by indie developers like Notch with Minecraft.
    I suspect that if EVE was to be released into todays market under your described scenario then it would have needed to launch as an early access model. If it had done this, I have faith that it would still succeed. At its core, EVE is the last of its kind, and fulfils an important niche that no other game presently provides. That being the open world sand-box.


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