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All Posts by dsmart

All Posts by dsmart

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169 posts found
Originally posted by rhinok

Thanks for the replies, Derek.  Please note, I wasn't insinuating that you were lying.

~Ripper

I know. And my comment was not directed at you at all. Sorry if it came across that way. I was speaking in terms of the other comments from people who are seemingly implying that I'm making stuff up.

Originally posted by bigsmiff

I created an account yesterday after receiving a free mount code in PCgamer mag and I must say the game is good. But...I ran into 2 other people the entire time I played last night. Is there a server that you could recommend that I could actually play with others? I created my toon on the first PVE server I saw...it started with an "A". Is the other PVE server population any better?

 

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

It all depends on the time of day and the server that you choose. Our server pop spikes at the oddest times and that is due in part by the fact that we only have US servers and lag is a huge problem for some (depending on where you are connecting from) - but I'm working on that as we expand the game globally.

Check here for more info.

Originally posted by kingtommyboy
Originally posted by Outis
Originally posted by terroni

How does one come to the near 100,000 number?

Actively played in X amount of time? Played to X level?

A MMO is nothing without an active community.

100% agree look at Vanguard grt game no player base to keep the servers pop at 25% or higher

I think you can't compare alganon and vanguard like that. Alganon is actually growing. They get updates, got advertised ect. While vanguard seems more to be on life support. When was the last time vanguard had a huge update? An I also can't remember when I saw the last vanguard ad. Active communities don't have to be huge to be good. Check wow's community, it is huge, but is in no way better then the lotro community for example. lotro's community is by far the best and most mature I ever came across in an mmo. Both vanguard and alganon have an active community, it's small but it's there otherwise these games would have been shutdown a long time ago. And how they calculate these numbers? no idea, ask Mr Smart, he is wandering around these boards.

Well said.

In my previous post (two posts above), I also explained how the numbers are calculated.

Calculating the numbers of  "active" accounts is not rocket science; so I for one am a bit puzzled by some of the comments related to that. It is one thing to say "...whoa! you're lying", which I'm not; and another to say "..no way, how are you calculating that when I only see 10 people online at any one time?"; which I've already addressed I think.

For us an ACTIVE account follows this path:

1. Sign-up (web page)

2. Activated (from email sent from step 1)

3. Logged in (from step 2)

4. Played (from step 3) by character creation etc etc

So when I say that we're approaching 100K active accounts, that is exactly what it means.

Whether or not 100K or even 15K people decide to play on the same day is irrelevant. I for one hope they don't because considering the current state of our server code (one of the major upgrades we are pondering after localization) if that were to happen, the server CPU would probably up and leave the server rack.

Even with niche games like Eve which have about 300K active accounts, you'd be hard pressed to see anywhere near those numbers online at any one time. As I type this, there are only 35K users logged into the servers. Regardless of how you look at it, no matter how large an MMO community is, the usage spikes up, low and everywhere in between over time.

Originally posted by rhinok

The comments regarding ARPPU seem perfectly reasonable to me. After all, people that are willing to spend money on the game will probably spend a decent amount.  I, too, did a double-take on the 100k numbers.  It's so contradictory  to what I've experienced in game (I last played in October), that it seems unbelievable.  I'm really curious as to what specific metrics define an active player for the sake of calculating ARPU.  Is it simply that a character on an account has been played at some point during the month?  Is there a time limit on how much time must have been played for a player account to be considered active?  Is my account, unplayed since October, considered "active"., etc...

Regardless, none of it really matters as long as those who pay the bills are satisfied with the state of the game and it's direction as it relates to return of their initial investment and hopefully future profitability. 

As I said in my initial post, regardless of what I or others think about "Derek Smart", the "game" is generally moving in a positive direction.  The team is fixing bugs, adding content, advertising the game, etc... That's all good.

~Ripper

One thing to remember is that back in Oct 2009, the game was a subscription game, a buggy mess of a game and with a $40 barrier of entry to boot. Now it is a very good game, improved beyond recognition, is F2P - and now has a marketing campaign behind it.

As you know, my first order of business was to refund everyone their subscription and such. Of course giving away money is not something that investors want to hear, but I felt strongly enough about it to push  it through and make it happen.

Plus, no matter how you look at it, when people look at the people running a game, there is some sense of trust there. I don't believe that anyone buys Activisions games because of Bobby Kotick. Yet, they make billions. Even the fools who proclaim their disdain, create fake boycotts, while buying and playing the games etc are all part of the gag. It is easy to say in public "Oh, I'm not playing or buying that game because of so and so". They are just words and usually flat out lies. At the end of the day, anyone can say anything while doing something completely different. That's the internet. WIth so many boycotts of Activision and EA games, you'd think that they would be out of business by now. Go figure. So that crap doesn't even register on my radar because if some angry internet person thinks that I go through my day worrying about whether or not he is playing my game, then he clearly has issues that are beyond comprehension.

I don't believe that people buy and play Alganon because of me. But all things considered when you look at the track record of the person who is supposed to be leading the effort to finish and fix the game, it is hard to discount said record. After all, I have been here before in my own career and with a game that had a less than stellar release. So where we are today at QOL is only surprising to people who have no clue who I am, what I've done etc.

I think I can answer some of your questions without breaching the NDA in my contract by revealing company info.

First, Raph has an excellent example of what ARPU and ARPPU are, how they are calculated etc. Start there.

We have very detailed metrics which can be as complex as we want them to be. Though they can be run at any time, each week we (incl. the investors who own the company) get three reports directly from the database. Each report is targeted at specific types of metrics as follows:

1) Alganon accounts: created and activated per week, month, totals etc. So e.g. if 1000 people created accounts, but only 800 activated (via the email you are sent) them, then we know that something (missed email, tech glitch etc) happened to 200 accounts. We can track an account from creation, to activation to login, character creation and beyond.

2) Gameplay stats: very detailed, but the key metrics in this report are account logins (per day, week etc), how many players entered the world etc

3) Tribute (game currency) purchases: another detailed one which tells us who spent what, the total spent (day, week, month etc), how much revenue the game made per day, week, month etc

All the above go beyond just normal ARPU and ARPPU calculations but all in all they give us a very detailed and accurate picture of how many people are playing (active accounts) our game, what they are spending, how many people are actually spending money etc. All the standard metrics that I'm sure all other MMO games have.

Simply, I don't care about how much time someone spends playing the game - though we do have access to those metrics since we have access to login times, characters created per a/c etc. So, I don't care if someone plays the game 24/7, for 7 days a week. The only metrics that I care about are how many active accounts we have and how many of those active accounts are spending money.

So even with 100K active accounts, we can have spikes where a few thousand collectively login and play that month and only some of them actually buy/spend any Tribute. You could also end up with scenarios where 15K people play in a month with spikes from week to week, but you make less money during that month than in a month where only 5K of the big spenders were actually on and thus spend money.

This is all normal and it is no different from other MMO and social games where you can have millions of active accounts, but only thousands spending money. It is the law of averages and that is how F2P works, thus the ARPU and ARPPU metrics which determine revenue metrics.

And since we started the marketing campaign in late Nov, our numbers have spiked as expected because, lets face it, it is a pretty good game now. I get emails, PMs and even forum posts by people who left the game while in the Beta or prior to the official April launch of the 2.0 gen when I came onboard and as you indicated, they are pretty surprised at the current results. We've had interested and potential third-party licensees play the game and give it high marks and praise as to where it is now. In fact, we don't even like to talk about the game pre- the April 2.0 launch because that would be like comparing Apples to Oranges just because they happen to live in the same fruit basket.

We have collectively done an exceptional amount of work on this game in an effort to save it. The investors could simply have shut down the company and taken the loses on their taxes. But they opted not to do that - and simply because they wanted me to give it a shot as a last ditch effort. As I said in my recent dev blog, once the PvP phase is complete and we get localization done (by the end of Q1/11) thus concluding this 2.0 generation's schedule, I then have to sit back and figure out what I want to do with the game going forward.

None of this means that we're out of the woods because with the millions spent on Alganon before I got to QOL, plus the money already spent, we still have quite a way to go in order to be profitable; but thats the nature of the beast. A lot of startups and even well funded ones, end up operating in the Red for many years, despite having a solid business plan, exceptional talent and a good product. Once you start talking about investments in the millions, unless you're a salesman selling snake oil and lies to investors, there really is no get-rich-quick premise when you're running a business, let alone an MMO.

Originally posted by MugHug


Now, I am honestly having doubts as to the future of Alganon and I suspect a lot of that has to do with your attitude to others in public. To think that your behavior cannot have an effect on Alganon, is in its self arrogant and short sighted.

Well that's just nonsense isn't it? Anyone who followed Alganon knows what state it was in, the state it was released in etc before I even got involved. Then you look at where it is today. None of that has anything to do with longevity, my attitude or anything of the sort - but rather everything to do with the game and the install base. History has shown that you can throw millions and the best talent at a game - and company - and still fail. So I fail to see your point. I am doing my best and will continue to do so because that's what I do. At the end of the day, it is up to the people who own the company to determine what happens to it - and Alganon - in the long run. That has nothng to do with me since it is not my call. I own my own company as I have done for more than twenty years and through the debacle of my first game (Battlecruiser 3000AD) and amidst the same crap that you and your ilk are currently posting about QOL and Alganon. I'm still here doing exactly what I want, how I want etc. Nothing you say about me changes a thing because reality is far more plausible than  fiction, conjecture and the general nonsense that forum denizens tend to engage in.

Call me arrogant all you want, I don't care. Name calling and personal attacks are always the sign of weakness; especially when someone doesn't have anything tangible to say about a topic.  It is always easy to perch on a wall and throw stones. But when the target chunks a boulder, it's time to cry foul.

People like you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about - but taking jabs at others is just par for the course even though it is inconsequental at best. So, if it makes you feel like a big man, have at it. Just remember the forum rules, post about the game and such and not about me or another person.

A long time ago I learned that responding to crap like this is just a waste of my time, effort and energy - and is exactly the reason why devs don't even bother communicating with gamers anymore. Oh well, I'm not perfect.

Originally posted by WSIMike

My issue with Derek Smart's approach is that there's too much "me" in his responses, and not enough "we". You'd think sometimes that he's done everything entirely himself (programming, graphics, design, etc) the way he gives himself credit. Would be nice to see him give props a bit more often to the people doing the work too... the designers, artists, writers, programmers, etc..

You're very wrong there. Which clearly means that you either haven't read any of my interviews, blogs (as recently as this extensive one) or posts. If you had, you'd immediately see just how wrong you are.

I have no need to take credit for stuff that has nothing to do with me. Nevertheless, I am no different than any corporate head who speaks to their leadership and with no reason to drum up the obvious. When was the last time you saw a studio or publisher lead go on and on about their team, people etc?

When leaders speak, they speak from that position and it has absolutely nothing to do with it being "me" or "we" disposition. A lot of us actually went to seminars for stuff like that.

The last time I checked (and I just did again), I haven't done a single interview or written a single thing [about Alganon] where I didn't point out the obvious. So there is no need to make claims that are patently false and which have absolutely no merit whatsoever. Whether you have a problem with me or not is largely irrelevant and has nothing to do with that.  It has to do with saying things that are just not true at all and thats the sort of thing that, unchallenged, tends to just end up being propagated as fact when it clearly isn't.

As to the rest of unfounded and derogatory stuff that is written in this thread, I'm just going to ignore them and let the posts speak for themselves because nothing that I say will better articulate the ludicrousness of it all. I'm not in a battle with anyone. If someone posts something that is incorrect or which stirs my interest, I will respond -  regardless of whether or not some like my response or not. I'm not some faceless corporate shill or clown; I'm an industry vet - a game developer first and foremost - with over twenty years experience and many games under my belt. I need not defend myself because my track record speaks for itself - loudly.


I don't particularly care what anyone else thinks or believes.

Fact is that there are over 16 people who own this company and have put millions of dollars into it. They have the same metrics that I do.

There are over 28 people who are either still working on or have worked on this game. They have the same metrics that I do.

Since I am a third-party contractor, not a QOL employee, I have no incentive to make stuff up - especially in public - as that will only get me sued down the road if something goes wrong.

Apart from that, throughout my entire history, I am one of the most vocal and honest developers when it comes to stuff like this. My work ethics have never been a point of contention nor question because, as my involvement with Alganon has once again proven, I know my stuff. And that comes from years of hands on experience. So it is no surprise (at least not to those who know me or have worked with/for me) where Alganon is today under my leadership.

Just because you don't see 250 people running around when you log on, doesn't mean squat. And the method you used to come up with your math metrics is flawed on so many levels, that I'm not even going to bother with that.

There is no conspiracy theory here, there is nothing being made up and certainly no reward or incentive for doing so. So, I stand by my statements as they were originally written. So take it for what it's worth. In fact, I'll just defer to Massively's latest comment in their The Top Indie And Free-To-Play Stories of 2010 article which pretty much sums it up I think.

Alganon returns: Despite much of the controversy of Alganon's obvious initial "WoW-clone" status, the game was taken over and relaunched. No matter what you think of development's resident loudmouth Derek Smart, all it takes is a few sessions in the world of Alganon to see that the game was polished, put on the treadmill, tightened up and made into its own experience. Next, the decision was made to make the game free with some restrictions, opening it up to even more players. According to Smart, the game is "nearing 100,000 active accounts." I can see why.

The media blitz continues; you can read this one over here. :)

Active accounts are players who created an account AND are playing the game. Not dupes, total number of accounts or whatever.

Not sure why I even needed to explain that since it is pretty standard terminology. Plus we also track daily player metrics from which we derive our ARPU and ARPPU metrics.

There is no trial in the game. It is a pure F2P game; so I'm not sure what you're going on about there.

Since you're not playing the game, you need not concern yourself about player retention - that's our problem (much like with every MMO game).

Originally posted by Ramblebrain


"Instead, we all remained focused on “The Plan” that I had constructed. These are people who I gave the voice, ability and authority to shape their game and vision for it."

 

Jesus MkII?

 

Jesus? Seriously? I thought something like that would come from baby-hugging politicians. :)

But no.

Unless you've actually worked in an environment where your input in disregarded, your ideas discarded - yet you are expect to excel at your job and take part of the blame when everything comes crashing down, you won't understand a word of what I said there.

For me, it was a matter of taking a "hands off" approach and letting them do their game. I don't get involved, other than to direct the course, work on schedules, debate what makes sense and what doesn't etc. What I said was the best way that I could articulate it.

At the end of the day, it's not my game. When I say "No" to something, they get to ask "Why?". Then make their case. If it holds up and makes sense, I let them run with it. I don't stand firm on something just because I'm boss. I don't work like that at all - and never have.

So that was the point of that missive. Hopefully it is clear enough now.

Obviously just because we are approaching the 100K active accounts mark, doesn't mean that they are all online at the same time. You either believe it or not, but yeah we're going to be hitting the number pretty soon.

And these are not numbers of created accounts. We have detailed metrics which track created accounts, activated accounts, accounts that have entered and played the game, accounts that have bought something, when, how etc.

I didn't want to, but I specifically revealed those numbers to make a point. The game is growing because of all the work that we've done on it, the marketing effort being put behind it and the fact that it is a good game. It's not for everyone and we don't profess that to be the case, but there it is.

Dissenting opinions are all well and good, but it is pointless to voice dissent just for the hell of it and because you don't like the game. We get it, you don't like it, you want thousands of people online at the same time. Whatever.

Yep, I finally got around to doing one. And as expected, it is quite massive. :)

You can read it over here. Enjoy!

You don't need to buy the Super Pak in order to play the game. That pak contains $30 worth of items for $19.95.

As the interview states, if you want to level past 30 and up to 50, you only need to buy a level pack. So a mere $5 takes you all the way to level 50 in the form of two level packs @ $2.50 each.

 

 

Thanks. We''re working very hard and I believe that 2011 will be an even better year for QOL and Alganon.

As I promised a few weeks back, now that the whole legal farce is behind us, I have put a lot of marketing into Alganon. Some of those campaigns (game magazines, Facebook, Google etc) are already starting while others are on track to start in January and will run through most of next year.

If you have a PC Gamer sub, you probably already saw this two page spread in the Jan 2011 issue. We're running these ads for the next few months as we continue to improve the game, build on the install base etc.

Yes, we've very committed to Alganon and a LOT exciting stuff are in the works. All will be revealed early next year. Promise.

Now that all that legal mumbo jumbo is behind us, I have done a batch of interviews in the past week and which are now starting to appear. The first one is up at Lorehound.

Enjoy!

Originally posted by rhinok

Nightvision's response to questions in "PvP Phase 1 is released" thread.

All-in-all, it's an interesting read.  Here are some highlights:

  • They're trying to attract players who won't play a game with no PvP
  • They're designing the system to be fun and engaging, but not mandatory
  • They're sensitive to PvE vs. PVP balance changes and take that into consideration when balancing abilities
  • PvP is not a bolt-on - it's going to be fully integrated into every major game system
Conspicuously absent, however, was any acknowledgement of my pay-to-win factor concerns.  I've posted them twice on the official boards and several times here, and haven't ever seen an official response.
 
~Ripper

Well, just because we didn't respond doesn't mean that we're not reading and listening. I read all those posts and discuss options with the team on a regular basis. We just can't ack every single forum post as that would be time consuming. Rest assured, we're listening.

hmmm, I'm not sure if you're talking about Battlecruiser (1996) or Universal Combat (2004), because the later came with a 69 (SIXTY NINE) page tutorial!

In fact, the free version of that UC game, has the same 69 page tutorial. You can download the free game over here. Give it another look when you get the chance.

Of course since that original 2004 game, there have been five more games in the series, followed by the lighter fare Galactic Command. Then we took a break from space games and did the AAW/AOA games.

The last game in the UC series was the Collector's Edition v2.0 released last year. The goal with GCO is to cater to our pre-existing fan base, but at the same time cater to a new audience. It is not going to be for casual gamers, but is not even close to the complexity of Eve. The Jumpgate Evolution and Black Prophecy games, imo, are not competitors because they cater to a different crowd. STO, on the other hand, is just rubbish.

Originally posted by geldonyetich

Last I heard, Derek Smart (3000AD Inc is pretty much his baby) was working on Alganon right now, so I'm betting this product is on the back burner right now.

Derek Smart has a reputation of putting out massively ambitious games that are unfortunately hobbled by somewhat obtuse interfaces and bugs.  People who can get over a massive learning curve and learn to cope with the technical glitches find the games quite impressive, although that kind of thick skin for gaming is far outside that of a typical audience.

Galactic Command Online is a very cool concept, basically a 3000AD Inc game with persistant state and massively multiplayer.  However, I can see it as being very difficult to pull off, what with massively multiplayer overhead being what it is.

Actually I'm NOT working on Alganon. My involvement is purely related to running the company, directing the team as well as plotting the course forward for Alganon. I don't do any programming or development work on it at all. The current QOL team that developed Alganon, under my guidance, direction and support, is doing a very find job of that indeed.

As for 3000AD, Inc. we're still very much working on GCO as well as an un-announced game for the iPad and another unannounced MMO project (a F2P fps shooter). So, all three of my teams are fully engaged on these games.

3000AD released two games (All Aspect Warfare & Angle Of Attack) in Summer 2009 and they have both done quite well. Couple that with the games in our long running space/planetary combat series (Universal Combat), our next game is on the way and more news will be available soon.

For more info, please go to the official Alpha site for GCO over at www.galactic-command.com

Thanks for your interest in the game; but we're working on it. It is going to be epic. :)

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