MMO Development Lesson #27

Make it easy to come back. If someone has quit your game (See: Lesson #26), make it so easy to come back they can’t believe they quit in the first place. I’ll apologize right now for not making this lesson short and sweet like I usually do, but this one’s worth elaborating on. I’ll start with what you shouldn’t do, then I’ll give a few ideas for what you could do to make coming back easier than ever. Continue Reading »

MMO Development Lesson #26

Make cancellation easy. Seriously, don’t make it difficult in the least. The worst thing you can possibly do is make someone call to cancel their subscription. It may yield you an extra month of their subscription money since people are generally lazy, but it will leave such a horrible taste in their mouth that they will NEVER come back. Ever. Feel free to ask for brief (key word #1), voluntary (key word #2) feedback, maybe a series of check boxes that they can select for why they quit. But, make it a simple, easy to understand, quick, painless process. If you do, the player will be infinitely more likely to come back if and when they get the itch.

MMO Development Lesson #22

Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to implement it. Sometimes a good idea isn’t completely cohesive with the core focus of the game. Sometimes a good idea is very difficult and time-consuming to implement, and that time would be better spent on other things. Sometimes a good idea is cohesive and may not necessarily take forever to implement on its own, but preexisting systems would not mesh very well with it. Whatever the case may be, just because someone has a good idea does not mean it should be or even can be implemented. Remember, when someone who can make calls does not include your good idea in a game, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or that they simply don’t like it; there are usually other reasons that it doesn’t get implemented.

MMO Development Lesson #21

A good idea stands on its own. It doesn’t matter where a good idea comes from, it’s still a good idea. Let go of your ego and learn to identify a good idea no matter where it comes from, even it’s from a non-designer, player, or even your mortal enemy. I’ve had a few good ideas in my life (I like to think, anyway), but the total number of good ideas I’ve heard from other people dwarfs the number of good ideas I’ve ever had myself. Learn to get over yourself and recognize good ideas when you see them.

Are Microtransactions the Future? Or, “OMG RMT!”

If I were smart, I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole. Luckily for you, I’m not smart, or I’m at least foolish enough to talk about microtransactions. RMT, or Real Money Transfer (or Trading), is the catalyst for some of the most heated debates in MMO development. Is it wrong? Is it right? Is it even a question of wrong or right? Is it the model for the future? Regardless of the answer, almost all of us have a strong opinion about RMT. Continue Reading »

AGDC: SOE Austin Talks MMOs

A couple more talks and subsequent write-ups worth noting. My old SOE (and VR1) friends John Blakely and Chris Cao talked at the conference. Cao and Jens Andersen discussed cross-platform MMO possibilities and the important considerations you must make when attempting such a feat. Blakely, Mark Jacobs, Raph Koster, and Eric Bethke talked about the biggest online gaming opportunities, covering microtransactions, user-generated content, and Xbox Live Arcade (a little more comprehensive write-up here). Both are good reads. If anyone talks to Blakely or Cao anytime soon, tell ’em Shwayder says “hi.”

AGDC: BioWare’s Gordon Walton on WoW Lessons

A great summary from what looks to have been a great talk: BioWare’s Gordon Walton Gives 12 Lessons from WoW. I agree with most of it, except this: “…He didn’t think it was relevant that WoW doesn’t delete inactive characters — the ‘namespace’ freed by deleting characters makes them worth deleting.” Never delete a character that someone cares about, no matter how long ago they played it. If you have to delete characters, only remove low level characters that haven’t been played in a long time. If you must go further, remove the names of long-unplayed characters, but leave the characters intact and let the returning player rename them. Continue Reading »

MMO Development Lesson #20

It’s better to start with a great shell than a jumbled mass of crap. Okay, that wasn’t articulated well, but the point is this: If you are outlining a system or some content or whatever it is, don’t mash a bunch of random ideas together and hope they will work out. Instead, create a notes document in which you jot down all of your random ideas for whatever you are creating, then write a structured and cohesive document as the document. You will thank yourself later, because trying to revise a jumbled mess is even harder than writing something completely new (I tend to just wipe things clean and start over if I don’t have the notes doc).

MMO Development Lesson #19

Make decisions. Sometimes it’s better just to make a decision on something you’ve been thinking about for a long period of time and go with it. You’ll discover pretty quickly if that decision was the wrong one, and you can, in fact, change your mind on decisions you made before. It is not a crime to delete what you wrote down for System X and start it over–in the end, your game is better for it, because you know WHY the original System X isn’t as good as the new one. Note: Don’t go live with said decision until you know it is the right one.

Genre Reset

What on Earth is genre reset? Quite simply, it is technology (or something else) resetting a genre to the point that it has to be partially reconstructed or even rebuilt from scratch. Oftentimes, this means that it becomes much more difficult to do what was considered normal in the genre previously with the new technology. I’m going to take a look at the traditional fantasy gaming realm rather briefly, starting from the present and diving toward the past. Continue Reading »