Today, I just wanted to talk a little bit about the Comp Killer MMOG issue. I define a Comp Killer MMOG as a game that has such amazing graphical capabilities that it will kill or effectively bring, what you thought was a high end computer to its knees (i.e. lag, stutter or crash!). More and more developers are producing games like this.
While I can appreciate why they do it.. I mean look at some of the games coming out soon. Oh my gosh, they are beautiful, truly amazing works of art. There are a lot of good things about making games this way. For example, being on the cutting edge of graphic technology means you’re going to get that realism never seen before. This adds a lot to the immersion factor.
Also another reason Devs do this is for game longevity. Meaning it’s probably going to still look pretty 5 years down the road. So yeah, I can see the appeal to using cutting edge technology.
But, and that’s a very large but mind you.. What good is it, if your computer can’t handle it? All that technology and Dev effort potentially wasted simply because they made a game so far ahead of its time, they we (I would expect 75% of gamers, possibly more..) don’t have bleeding edge computer hardware. I said “potentially wasted” because for those of us with fat wallets will have no problems with the game. However those of us that might be on a budget, will either see the recommended system specs on the box, then set it right back on the shelf, or not check the min spec (which I think a lot of us do this), get home, load it up and it run like total crap even at the lowest graphical setting. Now you’re out 50 bucks and cursing obscenities at the game box.
I mentioned “lowest graphical setting” back there. This is the key point of why I’m writing this blog. It’s something that seems to be over looked in some of the newer games with amazing graphics. So they have minimum specifications on the side of the box for running the game, but what does that really mean? Lets say you meet the min spec’s on the box.. For a bleeding edge game, does that mean your client won’t crash when you start up it up? Maybe it will run, but you have to use all of the lowest settings and turn off all the special effects, so when you run around the game you're just a blob of grey color fighting other featureless blobs? Or it disconnect you out of the game every 10 minutes or so? In most cases that’s all you really get.
One thing that came to mind when writing this, a rumor I read a while back, which I sincerely hope isn’t true. Allegedly one reason they make games with such high end graphics is because they make deals with video card companies. Want that high end game? Shell out the cash for new hardware! Cha-ching for both parties! A really evil scheme if you ask me.
In spite of the above rumor, it’s my wish that Game Devs would take “min spec” a little more seriously when creating their worlds. I would like to think that it’s not too hard for them to devote a little time to making the game look nice and run smooth for those that want to enjoy their game, but are forced to use low graphic setting. I’m also willing to bet that the general gaming community would greatly appreciate it too! Customer satisfaction should be looked at from all perspectives when making a MMOG (or any game for that matter!).
Maybe it’s the low end of the graphic settings, but tight budget gamers are not the low end of the market.