MMO Rant #9: “Better” Character Creation

I love making my character look unique. If you can identify me as “Blackguard” or “Luckbad” or any of the other characters I play immediately because you’re a friend of mine in a game, I am happy. Many games have professed to have better character creation than every else. Interestingly enough, ignorant people have agreed with them even though they are completely wrong. I will go on record today and say that I. Hate. Sliders. Continue Reading »

MMO Rant #6: Why Learn from Others’ Mistakes…

… When I can make them myself?! Um, because you don’t deserve to be making games unless you learn from the mistakes of others. I’m tired of seeing mistakes repeatedly repeated. How many games have you played that had the same idiotic mistake that could have been avoided by looking at roughly any other game out there? Probably a few. Probably a bunch. Continue Reading »

MMO Development Lesson #18

Quality Assurance is not a four letter word. Test is, but that is beside the point. The point is, QA is vital to the success of your MMO. These games are simply too big for you to catch everything on the first pass. Never underestimate the power and passion of QA testers–and don’t treat them like crap just because they aren’t “on the dev team.” I prefer to consider anyone who makes a game better part of the dev team. Utilize and respect your QA team, and do the very same for those dedicated Testers who are part of your community.

MMO Development Lesson #17

Every feature demands a sacrifice. Anything you put in the game will almost invariably require you to sacrifice another potential feature or idea. Be willing to make the appropriate sacrifice. What feature belongs in your game more? Does it adhere to the game’s vision? Will it benefit the game more overall than whatever it is you have to sacrifice? This is one of the most difficult aspects of game design, in my opinion, because you really have to determine the impact of everything you do before you do it.

The Inside Voice of Every Community Manager…

… Became the outside voice for Tseric. I’m not sure whether he is “the” community manager or one of the reps for World of Warcraft, but it doesn’t really matter–he’s an official voice of Blizzard. If you don’t know what happened, he basically snapped at players for a dozen or so posts stating things that have gone through the mind of every community relations person ever (and any developer who has ever visited forums regularly). I mostly agree with what he is saying, even though he probably shouldn’t have said it out loud to his community. There is a lot of noise to the signal on forums, and negativity can really run rampant if not monitored and controlled. Links to his posts and a little more commentary beyond the fold… Continue Reading »

MMO Development Lesson #13

Don’t half-ass anything. If you’re going to add a feature to your game, go all the way with it, or don’t put it in at all. This is doubly true for new features, because new features tend to be major selling points for a game. If you boast that your game has the most versatile character creation system ever and fail to deliver, you’re dumb. If you put in a feature just because you feel like it’s now the norm for the genre, and you half-ass the implementation, that, also, is dumb. This leads to next week’s wonderful lesson about features in general.

Dialog Presentation in MMOs

New traditional dialog presentation appears to be driven by WoW’s super simple and functional method of showing dialog and the Accept/Decline confirmation for quests in a single window. The EQII method is to show dialog in the world with a chat bubble, and to give players responses that they choose to advance conversation. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but which one is better, and is there a way to do it better than both? Continue Reading »

MMO Development Lesson #11

Technological accessibility means making your game work well for a broad range of system requirements. Making your game simply work on a broad range of machines isn’t good enough; you need to ensure that the game works well and looks good even at the minimum requirements. Players won’t stand for a horrible looking game even if it runs on their low end system. You’re essentially creating a variable experience for the game and you’re actually facilitating negative impressions by making the game look like crap on low end systems. It should look good at the minimum spec, great at the recommended spec, and even better as a computer’s specs get higher.

MMO Development Lesson #10

Be careful when “planning ahead” technologically. It’s no secret that epic MMOs take a long time to make–longer than all other genres, on average. So, be extremely careful when you decide to base your system requirements on your predictions of technology’s future. The reality is, technology changes at a variable pace. For example, determining that a 4.5GHz PC with 2GB of RAM and a GeForce 9 series card will be the standard in 3 years is, at best, a potential misjudgment and, at worst, completely ignorant and erroneous. If you want your game to be accessible to the widest range of people, you need the broadest range of system requirements, which leads to the lesson for next week. 😉

Dance Emotes Are Awesome

Dance emotes are important. It’s important not to limit yourself to just one /dance emote as well. The more the merrier, and the more hilarious, the better. This isn’t just important for in-game fun, but it’s tremendously important for out-of-game fun, not to mention it’s a wonderful marketing tool you can empower your players with. It’s the root of some of the best grassroots marketing I’ve ever seen related to massively multiplayer games. Continue Reading »