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All Posts by LumTheMad

All Posts by LumTheMad

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29 posts found
Precasting? (Y/N)

Couple of comments:

"Who paid you guys to say that stuff" - why is it that whenever someone writes something that could be construed as remotely negative towards one's favorite game/developer that they're on the payroll of some EvilCompany? It's almost as insulting as the implication that saying something remotely *positive* implies some sort of payoff. Regardless I have been writing about MMOs for over 10 years now, since the first mass-market MMO (UO) was released, everything I've written is available online for review, and I have said *many* times, including here, that huge budgets are detrimental to creativity and risk-taking. This is not new.

"You forgot box sales" - box sales have so many slices taken out of them (retailers, distributors, publishers, manufacturing costs) that it's difficult to say what impact they have on a bottom line. It's not insignificant (especially in the case of a game that intends to move millions of boxes) but not nearly as profitable as recurring subscriptions, 100% of which go towards the developer (except for games like TOR which have licensing agreements, something else which I didn't cover simply because the terms EA and Lucasarts have worked out are unknown).

In any event, all of my numbers in the column are suspect. Of course. It's a "back of the envelope" estimate, which is all anyone not privy to EA's budgeting/production meetings can come up with. However the key number is not one which originated with me - the fact that EA has said that they require 1 million subscribers to begin to make a profit. Given that there has only been one MMO (WoW) that has posted those numbers, and a great many which have not, it's a fairly breathtaking prospect.

Originally posted by Raph
Originally posted by Lidane
The success of UO and EQ brought more developers into the MMO genre, including Blizzard. World of Warcraft's success in turn brought everyone else in for their own piece of the pie.

WoW's success did not bring anyone else in for their own piece of the pie. Since WoW launched, no MMOs have done any better than any of the MMOs pre-WoW. And there have been less of them per year. WoW didn't expand the market except for WoW. (More copies sold, but in terms of subs, WoW just recaptures everyone).


Even if you discount F2P games, LOTRO and Aion have both done better than pre-WoW MMOs in terms of subscription numbers.

 


Originally posted by SnarlingWolf

Have to wonder how accurate this information is and how much spin is on it as well.
 First off all reports that have come out from Activision/Blizzard have listed a profit, and one of the few gaming companies to do so through the terrible economy of last year. These are from actual number sheets released since they are a traded company.


Not sure why but there was a link to the "not able to make a profit" line that was lost in my article:

http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2010/02/11/2010-02-11_call_of_duty_modern_warfare_2_sells_12m_copies_but_activision_makes_no_profit.html

Originally posted by UnSub

This special message OP was brought to you by an NCsoft employee.

None of my columns here are cleared with my current employer, nor are endorsed by them. I list my employment status so that you can be aware of possible conflicts of interest, but do not speak as a company representative here.

Thanks for reading!

 A couple of notes on comments so far:

* I paid fairly close attention last night and indeed, space loot isn't awarded on ground and vice versa. So my bad there - working from memory.

* I notice that everyone commenting that there is in fact a good deal of episodic content tends to be in the upper 20s or better for level range. I have heard that the problem with running out of steam content-wise tends to disappear at that point - not sure if that's due to levelling speed or more content, though.

* I indeed did not hit on energy management being a part of space gameplay, nor did I talk about the expose/exploit system in ground combat - I didn't feel it necessary to go into that level of specifics for what was already a fairly detailed overview. I had seen some writeups on how damage varied for some weapons based on range, but given that I usually play escorts and spend my time more worrying about angle of attack then range, it's hard to tell. 

* As for my knowledge of the IP, I daresay I would put my knowledge of ST lore against anyone, including many of the more recent series writers :)  I do appreciate how the content is very much in chronological order, and cackled for pretty much a solid five minutes during the Guardian of Forever mission arc when one of the characters commented on how painful a headache time travel missions were. 

* I didn't notice a good deal of difference between Patrol and Exploration missions, I'll have to check them out in more detail (especially since I'm out of episodic content again!)

* Again, I'm sorry if some of you thought the snarky link at the end was inappropriate. The two games are in fact very similar, and they both have strengths that the other lacks. Much as STO could benefit from Eve's sense of persistence and player ownership, Eve could very much benefit from STO's more visceral and active space combat.

Originally posted by Masoniclight

 The Miranda is supposed to teach you tactics and ship mobility, mixing and matching of skills and getting a hold of how to play the game.. so I'm not sure why the complaint Scott.. did you want to have the Sovereign as a your first ship?

Not particularly. It's just that the Miranda doesn't particularly have *any* strong point; the difference between that and the specialty ships is dramatic. Perhaps making it more maneuverable would have helped.

And I'm sorry if you thought my somewhat snarky reference to a related game was out of bounds. As can be seen from my sig file I have been playing an Internet spaceships game this past week and it isn't the one I am supposedly shilling. It is common to treat discussion of MMOs as zero-sum games, but really, saying that one game does something well does not automatically follow as an attack on every other title in the genre.

Originally posted by cerebrix

i was looking for feedback from scott on this directly.  hence why i directly addressed and quoted him.
Originally posted by cerebrix

Scott, scott, scott, scott, scott......

its glaringly obvious, you arent a writer.....

im actually embarassed for you.


Awfully passive aggressive way of going about your task.

 

 

 

Originally posted by cerebrix 

now while it might have seemed like a good idea to contrast a sensationalist pun to color your article.  how could you not realize the journalistic ramifications of a large percentage of your readers, who are passionate about the mmorpg genre, seeing that link and immediately dismissing your entire article based on what appears to be obvious journalistic bias toward a site advertiser?

Considering that I actually work for an MMO company that runs neither STO nor Eve Online, I find the accusation that I'm shilling for a particular competitor somewhat amusing.

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.

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!

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.

Although games with established subscription bases have an income to keep them afloat, new company startups (which would ordinarily be thick as flies thanks to all the talented people looking for work) have been almost completely shut down thanks to difficulty in getting funding. 

It's very difficult to argue that the gaming industry suffered record layoffs (and they did - EA's 1,500 alone is a huge, industry-shattering number in an industry of 50,000 people, and estimates are that the total carnage last year is around 8,000) in 2009, not because of economic conditions, but because all the games released in 2008 and 2009 were just really bad.

On the one hand, all the games released *weren't* really bad (EA for example released Dragon Age, which is one of the best CRPGs in recent memory). On the other hand, game releases haven't slowed in terms of sales (see: Modern Warfare 2's record-breaking release). And on the gripping hand, you essentially are arguing that not only were games in the past year so bad that they caused layoffs, but they were uniquely bad as opposed to years prior. Which just doesn't make sense.

Originally posted by Redemp

 I honestly get tired of the " Its the Recession" waggle.... I stil have a hard time believing MMO gaming was hit at all. The only company I can really see people pointing to, to solidify the claim is EA/Mythic and I honestly think that was not a recession based layoff.

I have many out-of-work friends, acquaintances, and former co-workers who were laid off from companies not named EA or Mythic who would beg to disagree.

Originally posted by duggie

hey scott...you really oughta remove turbine from that list of devs forced to layoff due to the recession.

the reason being that those folks let go last year around the release of MoM were all long term temps hired specifically for the duration of the Mines of Moria expansion and for the most part were all QA related jobs.

so i for one would not categorize folks let go at the end of their contract as recession forced layoffs.


This isn't true. Turbine had opened a satellite studio in California which was believed to have been focused on console development. I had heard that the entire CA studio was shut down as part of those layoffs (although it looks like they've been staffing it back up a bit based on job postings, but more for associated LOTRO development then console work.)

In any event, uh, laying off QA still counts. Especially, you know, if you're in QA.

Originally posted by Gyrus
Next week - how about something on the progress of the GSU and Aion?

 

Can't talk about that, sorry.

 


Originally posted by wootin

But for god's sake, I wish reporters like you would check into the facts before spouting off about the "astounding success" of Eve Online "omgspacegamesandboxwith300ksubstheymustRULE!!!11!!!!1". They are not a 300k subscriber game. In my guesstimation (calculated completely in my butt from the number of players I've known and the number of alts they had), they've got around 1/4 of those numbers of long-term players


While this may be (in fact I'm fairly sure it's not) the answer you like, it is the correct one: the measure of a success for an MMO is financial. Whether a game has 300,000 subscribers or 30 very dedicated multiboxers, the income for the developer is the same. You may of course not want to play such a game, and if many agree with you, their subscriber numbers will reflect that.

Originally posted by theguru22

I also take issue with him saying that "every game has a class-system". Darkfall and Eve clearly don't. How can I take this guy seriously when he doesn't even know what a class-system is?

As I noted in the blog article I linked to from the (intentionally argumentative) assertion, skill-based systems tend towards player-created classes instead of developer-created classes, have the same balancing issues of class-based systems along with higher complexity and ease of players to make non-optimal/non-functional skill builds.

 


Originally posted by Einstein-DF

 

 Well it trully is hard to get something from an article made by a veritable carebear who gives opinions for games he should never even write about.


 

Oh, look, this is where I get to list all the PvP-focused games I've played and enjoyed through the years, from Ultima Online to Modern Warfare (not to mention the ones I've, you know, worked on), only to be told that because I haven't spent years in the poster's favorite game/guild/8v8 group that I'm some easily dismissed scrub!

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