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News & Features Discussion  » Dominus: Why Don’t They...

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24 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15942

OP  4/19/12 7:36:17 PM#1

There’s a line in Robert Heinlein’s last novel that reads “Any question that starts out ‘why don’t they—‘ the answer is always ‘Money.’” And so begins our latest Developer Perspectives column from Dominus' Sanya Weathers. Intriguing, isn't it? Keep reading!

A hammer that does more damage changes the value of armor. In some games, more damage wears the armor out faster. Melee damage usually makes a difference on the frequency of out-of-action effects such as stun. Also, at the lower levels, even the handwavers and the backstabbers end up finishing fights with melee, so any melee change will have an impact on how quickly people are moving through content and leveling up. The faster the kills, the faster loot and gold pour into the economy.

Read more of Sanya Weathers' Developer Perspectives: Why Don’t They....

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 10/30/05
Posts: 248

4/20/12 10:21:49 AM#2

The problem mostly stands with the fact that the suits in these companies shelling out the dough don't actually play these games. Any day a gamer has the money or persuasion to create, is a day the genre moves forward. Baby steps.

I'm a unique and beautiful snowflake.



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14568

4/20/12 11:02:06 AM#3

I'm not buying that play balance is a money problem.  It's not like typical games have five employees whose job is to tweak play balance, and that's not enough, and if they hired five more, play balance would be a lot better.  Otherwise, how do you explain how Infantry had pretty good play balance with only two paid employees working on the game?  And that was even with a bunch of different zones that had to be balanced independently.

The reasons for play balance problems vary wildly from game to game.  Sometimes it's new stuff that just got introduced and takes some time to balance properly.

I think that the most common reason for major long-term imbalances in MMORPGs is that the company intentionally wants the game to be unbalanced in the name of progression.

Sometimes there are trade-offs between complexity and play balance.  Make a game incredibly complicated and the play balance necessarily suffers.  There are degrees of this, of course, but very few MMORPGs are complex enough to justify major long-term imbalances.

And sometimes it's just players being idiots, and doing what particular players want would make the game a lot less balanced than before.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/21/04
Posts: 8060

Logic be damned!

4/20/12 11:04:04 AM#4

Making a change in a MMO is like a Butterfly Effect / Chaos theory reaction.

All systems/features are interelated.

The smallest change can fan out to cause massive, unforseen complications.

I've probably been lurking for way, way too long.



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14568

4/20/12 11:18:00 AM#5

But only some small changes have far-reaching effects, and it's largely predictable which changes those will be.  If you're tinkering in the basic AI code that all mobs use to determine how they fight, then yes, a small tweak will likely have many, many effects that you didn't expect.  Increasing the HP of one particular mob by 5% won't.

Sometimes a tweak that made one particular farming area 2% better than another when it was formerly 2% worse may cause a large swing in player behavior.  But that's not a major change in game balance, nor even a problem in game balance.  That's either a problem that the game fundamentally requires too much farming, or that players are idiots.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive.


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/07/05
Posts: 230

Really Uncle Bugs?

Spirit of Fair Play is slain by Online Community!

4/20/12 11:59:15 AM#6

"All I’m saying is that the only time to step on a butterfly is before launch."

Yep, and that's why it can get so infuriating when a developer decides the butterflies are safe well before launch.  They'll essentially tell the players that the game as-is is going to launch as-is, come hell or high water.  The players tell the developers that a tidal wave is assured if you launch, and voila, the game is hit by the wave after launch.

Launch and fail has been the better option (it appears) than not launch and correct the mistakes.  I just wonder how much it has been No Choice, the Investors will Pull the Plug vs. Developer Ego's thinking "We're better than other companies, we'll be fine."

Post-launch changes can be done well, but it takes real changes and real work to implement them.  The players are well past being deceived by developer hand-waving that "things are better" and openly resent it when it's tried on them now.



Avatars are people too


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1835

4/20/12 12:25:32 PM#7

Hi,  welcome to being an SaaS provider (MMO's are basicaly that).  Yes, small changes in a design can have very serious unintended consequences... and yes they need to be properly scoped,  architected, QA'd and implimented. That's why Tech companies hire us Tech Guys rather shoe salesmen.

However,  all I say if it's too expensive/burdensome to modify and retro-fit designs in response to valid user input  (as opposed to plain onl whine-ing) then you've got a poorly designed architecture and you need to fire your Tech staff and hire competant ones.

I work for an SaaS provider in the Business Services vertical, we're alot smaller then most MMO companies....yet we manage to do the things you are talking about on a REGULAR basis. Yes there are costs involved, those are an EXPECTED part of doing business as an SaaS provider. It's why we get to charge customers money for our services. If an MMO can't handle doing that post-launch....they're in the wrong industry...might I suggest starting up a doughnut company instead.



Advanced Member

Joined: 8/06/08
Posts: 2370

4/20/12 12:29:45 PM#8

I dunno. I watched my little niece clap a butterfly to death mid-flight once.

"Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/30/05
Posts: 27

4/20/12 4:03:53 PM#9

Although I understand the general message behind this article, fundamental factors explaining the difficulties of change are dismissed. It is true that in a system aiming to be coherent like a MMOG, everything is linked in a way. A change somewhere might and will most likely have repercussions elsewhere. The consequences of these repercussions, however, are not necessarilly drastic or difficult to correct.

They are dependant to the technical architecture in place, like GrumpyMel2 wrote, and to the design planification of the product or game in this case. In the design process, possibilities need to be explored and a certain leeway needs to be implemented in the development to be prepared for any required changes. These situations have to be planned, have to be documented. It is at the design process that barriers are erected. Change doesn't require more money. It requires good preemptive vision.

It is, still, not possible for human beings to plan for every possible situation and some changes are really requiring a change of paradigm to see them in effect. However, by not discussing the origin of the difficulties, your article resonates more like an excuse for incapacity than a statement of the facts.


Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/03
Posts: 1127

4/20/12 5:01:07 PM#10

I understand that a game has to be pushed out in a certain time frame.

Therefore, Devs/Execs should increase the budget to ensure the job gets done, right. A project that doesn't meet its deadline is far more expensive than increasing the budget.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/07
Posts: 923

4/20/12 5:25:23 PM#11

Truth be told.

Pardon any spelling errors
Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
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As if it could exist, without being payed for.
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Novice Member

Joined: 4/17/12
Posts: 339

4/21/12 6:59:04 AM#12

Sounds like a lazy excuse to me.


Just one example: Shaman-Healing was very weak in Cataclysm, and I remember that it had been clear in beta already! Then Blizzard needed more than one year to acknowledge and change that. They have enough money! The funniest moment was, when one of the leading raiding guilds of the world showed some numbers proofing the bad healing output and told everybody, that they only pick shamans for their mana-totem, but Blizzard just turned everything down, like it was just numbers and a matter of opinion. Oh, by the way, they nerfed the totem and made shaman completely useless.


To me it is just pure arrogance. The author of this article does not understand the problem. This is one mayor reason, why playing an mmo is so frustrating for so many players: the companies just don't care about their complains.


Furthermore, the question "why don't they..." points to another problem, too. The last 10 years there were some annoying features almost every new MMO had, and players rightfully asked: "Why don't they get rid of that?"

Examples: the holy trinity, grinding for gear, a static world, boring quests, no story, etc.

And add features some MMOs had, and others don't: housing, meaningfull crafting, balanced PvP, a big world, etc.


Oh, and I know all the answers:

MMOs always have been like that and always will be.

There is not enough money.

It is too risky.

You ask for too much.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

4/21/12 10:48:27 AM#13
No I don't agree. The answer to "Why didn't they..." is too often, "Because they didn't think it through properly."

For example, in SWTOR, the Republic and Empire players paths never cross - so there is no world PvP even on a PvP server.

It's got nothing to do with money, and everything to do with stupidity.

Elite Member

Joined: 6/13/07
Posts: 1337

4/21/12 11:31:44 AM#14

Interesting,  an article about how deeply complicated game changes are. 

And it really can be that complex.   I play a game where the Devs are pretty open and communicative.  They will flat out tell you, 'We could fix X.  It would take this many man hours of work.  Is it worth doing that, or doing this other thing?'   These are the project management questions that come up on any sort of decision.  


In some instances you have code that was written by people who are no longer at the company, code that was added to by programmers who are also gone, code which was then adapted and added to by people who aren't there now, and which is presently being worked on by new hires.   There are sections of the game where no one understands how it really works, under the hood.   Because of things like deadline pressure, crunch mode, bad programming habits, etc, the documentation is probably not all there.   Version control issues, monetary issues, competing game vision, all have an effect.


There was once a whole series of changes in the game that were predicated on developer testing, testing done on their own internal QA server, a server that had (due to misplaced decimal points) differences ten times more powerful than the regular servers. 


Wise MMO management is very conservative.  You don't just make changes at the drop of a hat.  Things that appear simple are usually not.  Even if they are, you should be suspicious.   Very suspicious.


If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/28/10
Posts: 13

4/21/12 3:44:09 PM#15

Pisses me off when people end sentanc.....................................

In there fuc...... tit.................



Novice Member

Joined: 4/28/10
Posts: 13

4/21/12 3:44:47 PM#16

Rise of the planet of the apes got c...................................

I'll tell you later but not in the title.



Elite Member

Joined: 12/24/04
Posts: 5260

4/22/12 7:34:03 AM#17
Originally posted by Mors.Magne
No I don't agree. The answer to "Why didn't they..." is too often, "Because they didn't think it through properly."

For example, in SWTOR, the Republic and Empire players paths never cross - so there is no world PvP even on a PvP server.

It's got nothing to do with money, and everything to do with stupidity.

 They did it intentionally to discourage players from interfering with each other while leveling. You may not like it but it's not stupidity it's designed that way. It would also be very expensive to change it.

"Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo


Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/25/03
Posts: 693

4/22/12 7:57:46 PM#18
Just because you can't see it, Harry, doesn't mean it isn't there.

professional web programming and design.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/05
Posts: 21

4/23/12 8:53:14 PM#19

I guess that means I'm not going to see TOA for Dominus then? /wink /wink


It not all about the money, it's about putting a team together who have GOOD ideas and actually know HOW to implement them.

Mythic was a nobody company until they made DAOC, and they made that on a fraction of the money MMO's have for development today. SWTOR is a prime example of throwing money into a black hole and still creating a garbage game. 

To me it's all about innovating. To many studio's try to copy/paste... it's a smart short term money making investment, but in the long run it hurts your brand and your company.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/09/06
Posts: 695

4/24/12 1:28:13 PM#20

LOL, look at SWTOR.  It's a massive failure with a huge investment loss.  All because they didn't want to spend money to innovate.  Maybe they should have thought "about the money" a bit more.

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I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

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