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Khayotix's Soap Box

A place where I will explore the redeeming qualities or inadequacies of Past & Present MMO Ideas and Community Aspects. Education is Key.

Author: Khayotix

Preventing an MMO Sunset!

Posted by Khayotix Friday September 14 2012 at 10:12AM
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In the lifespan of MMOs, we have seen quite a number of them! A "Sunset" as they call it. The Sunset of an MMO is never a joyous time, as there are always devout players whom have vested interest....nay deep love for said MMO.  People develop deep connections with others, friends, comrades, lovers. They get provided a world where they can feel happy and alive, outside the every day drudgeries of real life. But when someone decides it is time to pull the plug, is this really something that should be happening? In my blog today I will cover the cycle of how MMOs get Sunset in my opinion, and how to prevent it.

Everquest Classic

First off the cycle looks like this:

X MMO Ages ---> X MMO becomes less relevant as a result ---> New blood does not flow in ---> Player population declines ---> Less revenue for Developer ---> ultimately leading to Sunset.

Age plays a HUGE factor into a game. When a game launches more often than not, it is presented in a state of the art engine, has beautiful looks, and some pretty awesome systems as well. Systems don't age quite as badly as engines do, but acquiring new systems as well as updating old ones is important. To keep a game feeling fresh, it also has to look fresh. The fresh look and feel keeps it relevant, allowing new players to enter the game because it keeps interest up.

Before I continue, This next part is very important for the players of said game. Keeping the look fresh is is a two way street. If you don't want your game to eventually die, you need to accept that the Developers will have to upgrade the engine, which means new renders for races, environments, textures etc. A lot of players cry about possible changes due to it not being true to the original flavor of the game. This is where it is up to the Developers to make sure the engine upgrade and assets for said game are recreated to match the original, but in a newer fresher additional polygon type of way.

Since games especially MMOs are subject to technology changing as fast as I can do a load of laundry, they tend to age in dog years. A five year old MMO is over the hill as far as looks are concerned. To combat the aging, the engine and system upgrades should be done every 4 years, and the acquiring new systems should be ongoing like with most expansions.

EQ- Shadows of Luclin Upgrade

SOE had the right Idea with Everquest. Shadows of Luclin marked an engine/assets upgrade that came with smoother character models and textures, they also upgraded alot of NPCs and Mobs however this seems to have fallen by the wayside in lieu of other games rushing out the door in the genre.

Everquest 2

Ask yourself this though. What if Everquest 2 never existed? Instead Everquest got its graphics updated to the engine used for EQ2, and SOE added the newer systems from EQ2 into EQ. You would have a game evolving over time and staying fresh and relevant, and now was being upgraded again into the Forgelight engine being used for Planetside 2 and EQ Next.

Everquest Next

Evolution instead of death.

What about Asheron's Call? If AC had gotten an engine upgrade to AC2, It could have been HUGE for that game as well. Instead all these games are aging and not handling the problem.

While I don't know for certain that it would be cost effective, I believe converting an existing game to a new engine is probably cheaper than a completely new development. Logically it would stand to reason that half the work is already done as well as paid for.

The new cycle would look like this:

X game ages ---> X game gets an engine and systems upgrade ---> X game stays relevant ---> New players continue to try the game ---> population remains steady or grows ---> Profit margins remain steady or grow ---> Cycle restarts.

Thus effectively preventing the sunset of said MMO.

Thanks for reading,

please leave your comments below.

The MMO Genre's Two BIGGEST "Bugs"

Posted by Khayotix Monday September 3 2012 at 8:00PM
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Disclaimer: Fanboy and Normal Fans are not the same thing, a Normal Fan would enjoy/like/love said game, but be open to well founded criticism as they want their game to continue to improve.

Two of the most detrimental "BUGS" plaguing MMO's are the Artificial Hype Machine and Fanboys. I know, I know, No one has ever referred to them as bugs before, but if you think about it, their detrimental effects are far deeper than any raid resetting bug, or falling through the world bug, on other players experiences.

First I will cover the Fanboys.

They directly affect the Hype in a very horrible way. They take the normal, expected Hype that Developers create by explaining their features and directions with an MMO, and explode into the atmosphere with all these ideas that the Devs never even mentioned. Fanboys build artificial Hype, unfounded on any actual information, or founded on a small tidbit of info given by the Devs, then snowballed through the hundreds of levels of their psychosis to become the awesomest thing since sliced bread, which they then proceed to spread around poisoning the pools wherever they go. Fanboys raise everyone's hype levels beyond normal expectations, and force more people onto the hype train. Fanboys also cannot be reasoned with, the made up game in their mind is sacred and if you say one critical thing about it, no matter how well documented in reality it is, they will explode on you with the "OMFGWT F do you mean you are frustrated about "X" feature being broken, it isn't broken, you are a F***ing Noob."

This is unhealthy for the hype of a game and for its community. It will ultimately prevent more and more people from even playing the game, because they dont want to deal with a community of irrational psychotic people. When in all actuality the community of "X" game could be very nice and pleasant, however they will never know because the few(or many) and the extremely loud Fanboys are all they ever hear. I don't know about you, but that is an instant turn off to me. The community of a game is just as important to me as the game itself.

Fanboys also affect the game during BETA and after launch, by trying to convince people everything is Honky Dory, and turning a blind eye to broken features and bugs, they keep these problems in game longer and ultimately bring down the enjoyable experiences of others.

Which brings me to the second "Bug" Artificial Hype.

Normal Hype is excitement about a game that is based in the reality of information given and cemented by Developers. This Information should be considered baseline truth, anything exceeding it should be quoted from the Devs, if not, it should be considered fake as to not join the Artificial Hype train. Feel free to get excited about a game that you are educated about.

Artificial Hype is the irrational and unfounded excitement that the Fanboys create(it has been created by dishonest Developers as well, but by and large, that is far less common). It is the product of their imaginations run rampant, creating from factual information about an MMO, a very flimsy foundation of false expectations that will damage the success and longevity of a game. Artificial Hype creates expectations where the sky is the limit, even if reality attempts to explain that things aren't being done or cannot be done. I as well as many other MMO gamers have been lured before by the luster and mystique of Artificial Hype. I am not proud of it, as I am sure you all are not either.These false expectations create the largest sense of disappointment when the game finally launches and it doesn't live up to the hype we jumped on board with, which we find out was artificially inflated by the Fanboys. This leads to initial bursts in sales for said game, or concurrent users, and then a steady or sudden bleed out of playerbase. MMO gamers as a whole, we are not typically forgiving, so this could spell doom and gloom for said game. All because false expectations were set up by Artificial Hype that was created by Psychotic Fanboys.

So in closing, please help us combat these two bugs that need squashing, by becoming educated about the game that you are patiently(or impatiently awaiting). Do not let these Fanboys drag you into their pace, stay firm and resolute to be as sure as you can be about the features of "X" game, and feel free to hope, and dream, but do not let those dreams over shadow the reality of the game.

Let me know what your thoughts are on the issues at hand, leave your comments below.