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Craig Morrison: What's on the Menu?

Posted by Michael Bitton on Jul 27, 2009  | Comments

Craig Morrison: What's on the Menu?  - Age of Conan: Unchained -

Craig Morrison, Game Director on Age of Conan, makes use of restaurant metaphors to illuminate what he feels are some of the challenging aspects of MMOG development in this latest entry to his personal blog.

The entry, entitled "What's on the Menu?" mainly covers the fears that tend to direct the focus of MMOG development, and even the transparency of developers communicating to their customers once a game has gone live. Mr. Morrison hones in on the common practice for many developers to chase the mythical broad audience and please as many people as possible, as opposed to focusing on doing a few things exceptionally well.

According to Mr. Morrison, most games tend to simply do many things adequately, and this doesn't really end up exciting many people in the end. The reasoning behind this pursuit of a broad audience is the desire to not basically turn anyone off to their game before the game even launches.

This is where the restaurant metaphor comes into play: Mr. Morrison asserts that no one would go into a Chinese restaurant expecting Italian food on the menu, and so why should a MMOG need to have everything and appeal to everyone? What's wrong with targeting an audience and executing a great game that fulfills that audiences desires? 

This fear of displeasing customers or potential customers extends into live development as well, with developers being afraid to communicate development priorities to their players because some things are mutually exclusive and so pleasing one group may require completely neglecting another for a certain period of time. What happens if you basically tell a subset of your community that their desires don't fit into the current development priority? Especially when it's a live game and they are essentially paying your bills. They may quit for awhile if you tell them they won't expect attention to X area of the game for another 6 months or so, but if you lead them on and their expectations don't materialize they may quit for good.

Mr. Morrison delves much deeper into this and more, so check out the full entry over at his blog.

Michael Bitton / Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB