In a response to a recent Staff Blog post by MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood titled "Crushing the Dream of Live Content," former Matrix Online Live Events Team member Rachel Thompson shares her views on why MxO Live Content worked.
There are a number of obstacles to creating successful live events in massively multiplayer games. This does not mean that live events are impossible. I was a member of the Live Events team that ran large scale live events in The Matrix Online. We ran one-off side events as well as grand efforts that moved the overall story of the game forward. I will admit that the setting and format of The Matrix Online made it particularly well suited to a regular schedule of live events, as it was designed to have an ongoing storyline. However, I think that our team's methods would work in any game. Had The Matrix Online enjoyed the commercial success Monolith and Warner Brothers had hoped for I might very well still be there, entertaining people.
To pull off a large scale event that entertains more than a handful of people, you need to do some serious planning. The MxO Live Events Team (commonly referred to as the LET) had a regular development cycle: a planning stage where we roughed out the idea for the next event and assigned tasks, completion of those tasks, executing the event, followed by a debriefing to review what worked and what didn't so we could avoid any obvious mistakes in the next cycle. It did not take "ungodly amounts of time to design, plan, and execute" live events. It usually took somewhere in the realm of three to six weeks, depending on the scale of the event in question.