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News & Features Discussion  » General: Legendary Failures of Legend, Part Two

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100 posts found
  martaug

Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/09
Posts: 31

2/04/10 8:00:49 AM#61

Please tell me you never worked in the budget dept?

you have to ship with 500 complete zones, each with a unique experience and story for the players. This is an insane scope. Here's why: Assuming - just for purposes of discussion - each zone takes just one worldbuilder and just one artist a month of time to bring from concept to completion (which is wildly optimistic/unrealistic), and assuming you have 25 worldbuilders and 25 artists, you've just committed yourself to over 3 years of nothing but cranking out zones.

25 worldbuilders & 25 artists @ 1 zone/month = 25 zones/month

25 zones/month * 20 months = 500 zones

20 months = 1 & 2/3 years NOT 3 years.

Sorry but math mistakes(especially simple ones) just bug the crap out of me, otherwise very nice article.

  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6788

2/04/10 8:18:48 AM#62

Nice article Scott.

I suggest you bone up on Agile Development methods, it works well in any programming environment.  It will bring all those grandiose ideas to earth.  The problem with many development staffs in MMO's as you pointed out is they try to do too much with the resources available to them. 

The key to any software development is to maintain your focus and plan, plan, plan....

  User Deleted
2/04/10 9:03:37 AM#63
Originally posted by bamdorf
Originally posted by Mellow44

MMOs fail for the same reasons that movies fail at the cinema, it's not something thats clouded in mystery.


 

OK, time for  a virtual reality check.

Just about everything said in the article is correct and is worth payinig attention to.   But.    Generalities are only rough guidelines, not the details that actually make or break a creative enterprise.   I can also say, it's good for the Fed to balance the budget, because if it doesn't we all suffer eventually.   Doh.    How does saying that help?   I will try desperately to just make two points and avoid forum scope creep.

1.  I can see why Mellow44 might say that.  But it is about 99% wrong.   Watch a detailed "making of" segment for a hit movie.  I might mention Star Wars or LOTR trilogy.   I think it can be argued they were decent movies.   They made lotta money.   But the people who made the movies, incuding the actors, struggle mightily and constantly with time, money, and scope, and just before release were quite unsure what the result would be.   Yes, you need to work hard and not be totally stupid yada yada yada but the creative enterprise, especially the making of something memorable, IS SOMETHING CLOUDED IN MYSTERY.

Why is SW 4-5-6 so much better than 1-2-3, even though the tech was much better, the people were much more experienced.   Was Lucas just trying to be stupid and intentionally avoiding making great movies because he had gotten bored with it?   It always seems so obvious...in retrospect.

2.  If we just follow the rules we will be successful, if we don't we will fail miserably.    Of course we can all agree on that, right?   Sounds so warm and fuzzy.     I am NOT saying it is smart to ignore the points made in the article, but for example....   one of the cosmic failures listed was the epic quests in Everquest.    So many things wrong with that game.    Read about the making of EQ, it was  a mess.   But it was IMO the key game that launched the industry.    Probably Blizzard doesn't bother with the well made but thoroughly derivative WOW unless EQ is a totally unanticipated hit.       Let's look at the monumentally stupid epic quests in particular.    Yep, sure looks dumber than hell.   Err....but with this as a big feature in the game, EQ still hit 400k subs, people played it for years, and it is still viable 10 years later (though admittedly a different game now.)     Maybe people liked the idea of "epic" items actually requiring epic efforts in time, grouping, etc.     So does anything done in WOW actually provide anything like an "epic" feel?   Let me give the MASTER RULE:  its is easier to predict the weather a month in advance than to predict a successful creative endeavor.   

I remember one evening I popped into Halas for the bank, and somehow a number of guildmates found themselves there also. And someone bought booze and a local bar and we plopped down outside the bank, and started telling jokes, worked on our Alcohol Tolerance, and....told stories about adventures we had had in EQ.    We laughed, drank and babbled into the night.

Ok, people, when is the last time you were in an MMO and people more or less spontaneously got to together and "told the tales"?       

Summary:  IT IS magical.    And forgetting that is the worst mistake one can make.

 

 

 

You don't have a clue do you?

Why was EQ successful?

Why are the first three Star Wars movies considered better than the second three?

Why does boring, content-less and buggy MMOs fail?

Why, why, why?

The information is out there...   on the internet.

  LumTheMad

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/09
Posts: 29

2/04/10 11:27:47 AM#64
Originally posted by grimfall

Let's actually compare the two articles and see if they match up.

 

1. Ultima Online. Reason for failure -  release of better games.

Cause A. Scope creep? No

Cause B. Technology? No, unless you count no 3D as technology

Cause C. Service? No, though it wasn't good

Cause D. Design? Personally, yes, but since there are thousands of people clamoring for the same design, that's a no.

So 0 for 1.

2. Everquest.  Reason for failure - too much questing

Cause A. Scope creep? No

Cause B. Technology? No

Cause C. Service? No, in fact, changing the quest is customer service

Cause D. Design?  Well, the game gained 500K subscribers after the quest was implemented, no.

0 for 2

I am not going to go on.  The articles don't match up.  Saying that these games failed is like saying Baldurs Gate failed, because no one is playing it anymore.

 

Actually in both the games you mentioned, the issue was a combination of design and service - refusal to adapt design based on customer feedback until well after much damage had already been done. In both UO and EQ, there was huge "churn" - players buying the game, playing it for a while, then quitting. Both games were financially successful in spite of that churn (largely because the concept of MMOs itself was new and different) but could easily have been more so.

  LumTheMad

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/09
Posts: 29

2/04/10 11:31:42 AM#65
Originally posted by martaug

Please tell me you never worked in the budget dept?

you have to ship with 500 complete zones, each with a unique experience and story for the players. This is an insane scope. Here's why: Assuming - just for purposes of discussion - each zone takes just one worldbuilder and just one artist a month of time to bring from concept to completion (which is wildly optimistic/unrealistic), and assuming you have 25 worldbuilders and 25 artists, you've just committed yourself to over 3 years of nothing but cranking out zones.

25 worldbuilders & 25 artists @ 1 zone/month = 25 zones/month

25 zones/month * 20 months = 500 zones

20 months = 1 & 2/3 years NOT 3 years.

Sorry but math mistakes(especially simple ones) just bug the crap out of me, otherwise very nice article.

 

Whoops! You got me. :) It was supposed to be 1000 zones (3 1/3 years) and got dropped in an edit. Woo hoo, we can ship with 500 zones!

  LumTheMad

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/09
Posts: 29

2/04/10 11:32:47 AM#66
Originally posted by Ozmodan

Nice article Scott.

I suggest you bone up on Agile Development methods, it works well in any programming environment.  It will bring all those grandiose ideas to earth.  The problem with many development staffs in MMO's as you pointed out is they try to do too much with the resources available to them. 

The key to any software development is to maintain your focus and plan, plan, plan....

 

Pretty much every MMO team these days uses agile/SCRUM development, which helps in the down-in-the-trenches milestone planning but doesn't help too much if the end goals are wildly unrealistic.

  Coldren

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/19/08
Posts: 426

2/04/10 11:40:24 AM#67
Originally posted by Comnitus
Originally posted by Coldren
Originally posted by CastorHoS

Hmmmm this thing could have been written to slap Mythic and Warhammer upside the head. Oh wait a minute, that is where Jennings sold out to.

 

The article is spot on but coming from a sell out, well, it makes it just a little funny. 

 

Yeah.. Sell-out... I mean, he could have been working for EA, which is EVERY MMO developer's dream, considering their long and illustrious track record with MMO's.

You say Sell-out, I say one of the few people at Mythic with a brain. 

Matt Frior was another one - He left to work for  Zennimax (Possibly Elder Scrolls MMO), then there's Walter "Copper" Yarbrough (Turbine). Can you imagine if Sanya Weathers had to be the community rep for WAR, towing the EA party line?

Get real. EA is where MMO's (and their developers) go to die. More like Mark Jacobs sold out Mythic for Warhammer.. Might have made sense at the time, but look how it ended.. Even Mark got fired.

One of the smartest things Scott ever did was leave. How you can see it as otherwise is baffling.

 

Absolutely. TOR is destined to fail because BioWare is part of EA.

Perfectly logical to me!

 

It is not destined to fail simply because BioWare is part of EA. I personally don't like the design of the TOR to begin with, but the Star Wars IP alone might be more than enough to keep make it a success... But that's a separate discussion.

However, I suggest you look at the history of MMO's after acquisition or developed by EA.

UO - EA acquires Origin Systems. I do believe everyone who ever worked for Origin was Fired.
WAR - EA acquires Mythic. Most of everyone who worked for Mythic gone, even Mark Jacobs is Fired.
DAoC - See WAR. Playerbase is now consolidated to 1 server cluster, Yawain (Or something like that).
SIMS Online - EA Developed. Gone.
Motorcity Online - EA Developed. Didn't launch.
UO2/UOX - EA Devleoped. Didn't even launch.
They also had some kind of detective MMO.. Can't remember the name, but pretty sure that's gone.

BioWare might be the first one to break the mold, but I'd ask that you name one MMO (Bioware excluded, this is their first MMO with EA) that has improved in any way, shape, or form since EA took the reigns from their creators, or spawned themselves. Or for that matter, before BioWare, name one company where even a substantial number of the employees still work for EA after being aquired by it.

Opinion of why these games went down hill or failed outright, or why the majority of the original staff of whatever company they acquire gets axed is speculative, but the fact of the matter is, if you're an MMO company, or you make an MMO for EA, your job isn't the safest bet in the industry, no matter what your previous successes are. Either that, or the culture shock that EA inevitably introduces is bound to make you want to leave anyway.

When it comes to your career or lively-hood, most people bet conservatively. EA, for MMO's, is not a safe bet by any means.


EDIT:

Just to make certain this point is absolutely crystal clear, I'm referring to MMO'S AND MMO's ONLY. The single player games companies that are acquired by EA make is an ENTIRELY different issue (DAO, Mass Effect, etc.). Although, the Ultima single player games and Wing Commander are a sore spot......

  trojan99

Novice Member

Joined: 7/25/09
Posts: 50

2/04/10 1:08:39 PM#68

i ,like one of the first replies, wanted more detail after the setup of the first part of this article. most of your points are known by people who have been playing games for a while.

however, taken in context as a general overview of fail, it was an enjoyable read.

i would hope that the people who make games read this with as much interest as those of us who play. and i would hope that we, the gamer community, start making wise financial decisions and stop supporting pre order and cash shops and reward those who listen to their customers and bring new , good, content on a regular basis.

 

  Hedeon

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/05
Posts: 925

2/04/10 1:30:33 PM#69
Originally posted by gulthaw
Originally posted by AKASlaphappy

I am sorry that we all cannot be as sophisticated as you and the other god like beings that hate EA. I am also sorry that by me liking Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect 2 is dooming the gaming industry that you love so much. After all I am just a weak minded mortal, from now I will ask you and the other God like beings that hate EA what I should like and play before I spend money. \sarcasm off

Dude get over yourself, I like Dragon Age as much as I liked Ice winddale and Baldur’s Gate 2, as you said Bioware from 10 years ago. Just because you hate something does not mean everyone is going to see it the same as you. So saying that your opinion of Bioware and EA is a fact and we all are hurting the gaming industry is pretty low. To me it is the people that is blinded by their opinions and will not even consider anything else, that are hurting and destroying this industry; both the haters and the fanboys are to blame for this. But that is still just my opinion not fact!
 


 

Well,

I'm just a player who's been gaming online since Legend of Mir 2 (Wait.. that was 9-10 years ago! :S ) and I kind of agree completely with your points.

As a RPG fan I love Bioware games (and I put my trust in them, believing SW:TOR will be the next Great Game) and as a MMO gamer I loved the article.

I don't know why that much hate towards EA, seriously, is not like SOE (game it touches game it kills, take PoxNora as a good example or SWG and Vanguard... still hurting here); but I wanted to add something else to the discussion.

The Endgame: Games are supposed to be fun, not a job (things like "damn! I didn't do the daily quests" or "oops! i'm gonna be late to the event that occurs every 12h and gives coins-tokens to get the omfgiwanna items").

I still have to play a game where the endgame is as fun as leveling and that imho is as important as every other aspect of the game.

Why play when I know that, in the end, i'm gonna need a bunch of people swollen with good items in order to get better items? I still hope to see a game where player skill is much important than equip but i'm going offtopic here ^_^

Imho, developers not only should have fun and take everything wrote in the article in consideration but should sit on a table and ask themselves "after months or years of playing, when they reach the cap level/end-game, what would they want to do? how are we going to motivate them to keep on playing without being forced to create a new char in order to enjoy the game again?"

Here is where every single MMO i've played fails (again, that's my oppinion as a casual-hardcore player) but that's ok if they wanna do like Blizzard - play, be bored, we don't care cause you will leave but lots gonna come in, and we don't care about anything at all as long as there is people coming and paying - or like SOE - play and pay, we're going to screw you and change the whole game after 2 years and everything you did will be meaningless.

Argh, i ended whining >< sorry, but hope you get my point ;)

 

as you say yourself....end up whinning, and to bash SOE is just as bad as say you dont get why ppl bash EA.  to ME SOE never did any wrong, even if I may not agree the way they take EQ2 at the moment. but I may very well be in minority of this opinion.

on topic liked the article alot, always fun to see abit "behind the scenes" comments

  astoria

Novice Member

Joined: 11/26/08
Posts: 1685

2/04/10 1:38:12 PM#70
Originally posted by luvboox

I don't care what anyone says about his background, this is an excellent post, and should be required reading for anyone who wants to get into making games.


 

Should be required reading for getting a MMORPG.com account.

"Never met a pack of humans that were any different. Look at the idiots that get elected every couple of years. You really consider those guys more mature than us? The only difference between us and them is, when they gank some noobs and take their stuff, the noobs actually die." - Madimorga

  Nipashnaka

Novice Member

Joined: 9/01/09
Posts: 170

2/04/10 3:15:22 PM#71
Originally posted by LumTheMad

Actually in both the games you mentioned, the issue was a combination of design and service - refusal to adapt design based on customer feedback until well after much damage had already been done. In both UO and EQ, there was huge "churn" - players buying the game, playing it for a while, then quitting. Both games were financially successful in spite of that churn (largely because the concept of MMOs itself was new and different) but could easily have been more so.


I think this is easy to say in retrospect. But honestly, adapting design based on customer feedback only works if the feedback is the right thing to do. The fundamental issue with "listening to player feedback" as a general principle is that the feedback is more often than not quite conflicting. Even if players are in general agreement that a particular feature is disliked, the proposed remedies will pretty much run the gamut of opposites. Part of a designer's job is to make sure the right thing happens design-wise (and there are hundreds of factors here). Being in touch with the player is key - no arguments. But then we are back to designers picking the correct course of action out of list of infinite hypotheticals, and this us puts on square 1 in terms of adapting design based on customer feedback.

Designers make games to be played, after all. But producers make games to be purchased, which is slightly different . As you say "both games were financially successful" ... and I ask, who is higher on the food-chain in a studio: designers, or producers?

 

 
 
  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2347

2/04/10 3:32:42 PM#72
Originally posted by astoria
Originally posted by luvboox

I don't care what anyone says about his background, this is an excellent post, and should be required reading for anyone who wants to get into making games.


 

Should be required reading for getting a MMORPG.com account.

 

lol astoria

 

As someone that is has studied game design, I found this article to be quite good even though it feels like it came from a book I read. Scott Jennings has now become my favorite columnist.

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

"blocked nariusseldon since forever"

  Zayne3145

Novice Member

Joined: 6/28/07
Posts: 1461

May contain nuts.

2/04/10 6:48:42 PM#73
Originally posted by SnarlingWolf

Basically I just don't see what all these people need CS for, I could of been fine if none of those issues were resolved by CS. What is it people are doing that they are all up in arms about needing more CS? A bugged quest? Ok do something else until they fix it. A lost item? Get a new one. Someone bothering you in chat? Squelch them. There are really only a couple issues CS really needs to be there for, like having a character stuck in the world and no auto tool to get you out of it. As time goes on programmers have worked in more and more little tools for players to help themselves.

 

These are the same people that ring up the emergency services because they don't know how to turn the oven on or they locked themselved out of their house. Unfortunately the world is full of some very stupid people who are unable to think for themselves.

Excellent article, though. I sometimes think people forget just what is involved with producing an MMO on even a small scale. People need to be realistic but so do the companies; If they propogate hype and are unable to deliver, they only have themselves to blame.

  oregonnerd

Novice Member

Joined: 7/23/09
Posts: 5

Having not known myself I cannot know others.

2/04/10 6:52:48 PM#74

A bit off topic...maybe.  The other side of being unable to follow the vision is just what RoM is doing...making patches and even new servers, and admitting during the process they're not quite sure what they're doing.  Then again, go to the main German site and lo and behold they're advertising Aion--pay-to-play.  Divergence from the initial vision (and from the envisioned ability to carry it through) has many faces).

Lack of judgment (particularly when to call it quits) maybe at the basis of them all.

oregon...various

blorg Xfire Miniprofile
  Dnomsed

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 261

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." -Albert Einstein

2/05/10 1:30:05 AM#75

 Excellent article!  Nothing revolutionary here just good, solid, meat-and-potatoes common sense that should be mass emailed to every MMO game dev currently working on an unreleased project.

Warhammer fanatic since '85.

  daeandor

Novice Member

Joined: 7/02/04
Posts: 3009

2/05/10 9:33:13 AM#76

Wholeheartedly agree.  Please pass on to your friends out there making our next group of games.

  Hedeon

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/05
Posts: 925

2/05/10 12:16:25 PM#77
Originally posted by Nipashnaka
Originally posted by LumTheMad

Actually in both the games you mentioned, the issue was a combination of design and service - refusal to adapt design based on customer feedback until well after much damage had already been done. In both UO and EQ, there was huge "churn" - players buying the game, playing it for a while, then quitting. Both games were financially successful in spite of that churn (largely because the concept of MMOs itself was new and different) but could easily have been more so.


I think this is easy to say in retrospect. But honestly, adapting design based on customer feedback only works if the feedback is the right thing to do. The fundamental issue with "listening to player feedback" as a general principle is that the feedback is more often than not quite conflicting. Even if players are in general agreement that a particular feature is disliked, the proposed remedies will pretty much run the gamut of opposites. Part of a designer's job is to make sure the right thing happens design-wise (and there are hundreds of factors here). Being in touch with the player is key - no arguments. But then we are back to designers picking the correct course of action out of list of infinite hypotheticals, and this us puts on square 1 in terms of adapting design based on customer feedback.

Designers make games to be played, after all. But producers make games to be purchased, which is slightly different . As you say "both games were financially successful" ... and I ask, who is higher on the food-chain in a studio: designers, or producers?

 

 
 

 

fully agree its easy to see on the discussions they have about battlegrounds in EQ2 at the moment, there is atleastt 10 diffrent views on how it should be done, and those can be  splitted up in 3....ppl that wish it never got implemented, ppl that think its ok as long it doesnt affect PvE progression in ANY way and the 3rd that wish to just do the "PvP" to get their gear.

so its already been changed afew times how it works. and well in end SOE need to take THEIR decision, but they do waste alot of time on this project - because they listen to player feedback...

  Angelworks

Novice Member

Joined: 6/02/09
Posts: 10

2/05/10 1:34:52 PM#78

I've never worked on an MMO, but I have worked on several big productivity packages (little known accounting app called Glasspac, and a well known program called Adobe Reader/Acrobat) and much of what can be said about making a MMO successful can be said for making any program successful - doubly so as many of these apps have online services now (like acrobat.com).

Well done article ;).

  Angelworks

Novice Member

Joined: 6/02/09
Posts: 10

2/05/10 1:50:03 PM#79



TL;DR version, we brought it upon ourselves and they're feeding us what they think we want. If you want to break the trend, stop buying it and they'll stop making it. Numbers and $ speak louder than words.

One trend that is disturbing too - only hand out beta's to people who pre-ordered the game, or people who signed up for fileplanet on a certain day. In other words - MMO companies are literally selling the beta.

I have no clue, but I suspect only the most hardcore devoted players take this route - those people will buy the game and a good majority of them will stick it out no matter the problem.

I think if most games did a much more formal beta process at least initially (applications, reviewing applicants etc etc) you might get a clearer picture of how your game will stack up to the general public.

After all - if the general public can't play your beta (or don't want to) you might have big problems ahead.

  Miner-2049er

Novice Member

Joined: 8/13/07
Posts: 436

2/05/10 6:29:58 PM#80

QFT.

This is a great article and bang on the money.

The initial discussion of scope should be the first chapter of a 'how to write an MMO' guide for anyone in the industry to read.

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