Downfall of APB – is is still good idea to produce your MMO?

•17/09/2010 • 1 Comment

APBIs it still viable to produce high profile MMOs? The mountain of money and time needed to finish one is enormous. Your chance of success is, at best slim. Here we have another example of project that went on for years, moved its release date again and again to finally fall to the ground only few months after publication date.

I’ve never played APB. To be honest none of my friends played it. We’ve all considered trying the game, but no one really did it. APB is one of those games. It’s hyped beyond imagination, developers are almost promising golden mountains to anyone who tries their product and in the end all of that becomes rubble because of simple things. You need too high-end machine to play it comfortably. Game is full of bugs. Features are half-implemented and uninteresting. No one is really compelled to play your product.

We are in funny times now. If you try to produce AAA MMO you will probably fail. Even if you wont go bankrupt it’s highly unlikely to get your money back in any predictable frame of time. There is other way, that was popular few years ago. You start with small product and then try to expand it (this is story of EVE-Online). It proved to be good strategy, but I don’t believe it’s viable anymore. If your game is small and has only handful of features everyone will look at it and (correctly) think that they’ve seen it all already and your game is not interesting enough.

I don’t really have any final thoughts in the APB case. They made mistakes and now they are paying. I’m not business guru – there are wiser people than me who will talk about it for months. The only thing I have to say facing another project closing its doors is: If you want to create your MMO think twice. It’s not a project any company can handle.


I hate crafting (usually)

•09/09/2010 • Leave a Comment

This days Twitter topic is Crafting in MMO games. Jack Emmert from Cryptic said that “not all online multiplayer games need to have…crafting”. I cannot agree more with that statement. Pretty much every MMO game needs to have crafting this days and in 90% of them this feature is mainly time and money sink.

Every article about MMO needs to take World of Warcraft as one example, so let’s take it as first. The system is painfully simple. You get few materials, you get the recipe from vendor and smash Create button. There is nothing more in it, the only challenge here is gathering the materials and obtaining the rare recipes. Some of the items that you can create during leveling are useful, but in most cases there are a lot better items available as drops in dungeons. At maximum level situation changes a little. There are few items made by crafters that are essential for raiding and other activities. The rest stays the same. You gather reagents and obtain recipe. Most of useful recipes are obtained as drops from dungeons/raids or are rewards from reputation factions (another time sink here).

I’ve never had patience for crafting in WoW. I knew that even if I struggled through leveling I would not have patience or luck to get right recipes. For me it’s more fun to just get the materials and then buy it from some guy who endured the process. He is happy because he got some coin. I’m lucky because I haven’t lost time. Everybody wins.

There are also games with very complicated crafting systems. EVE-Online immediately comes to mind. Almost everything in this game is created by players. From ships and ship modules to space stations. System is intricate and involving, and market is very competitive. I can fully understand people who play EVE for few years and haven’t learned any skills related to combat. There’s just so much to do in production department. The problem here is, as with everything in EVE, that if you want to be any good at crafting you need to be perfect. That puts many players (me included) in position where they don’t care to dabble in it, because they know how much time and work they should put into it to be competitive.

The thing I’m still searching for is middle ground. System that’s meaningful for gameplay, comprehensible and actually FUN to play with. I hate time sinks. I hate virtual obstacles. If you really have to do the crafting system in your game make it meaningful (like in EVE, SWG). Even if it won’t be fun, people will have some incentive to use it. I really don’t want to see another wow-crafting clones.

Dust 514 – great marketing, but are we happy?

•18/08/2009 • 1 Comment

This is response to EveWarrior’s post located here
First of all I’d like to point out that I pretty much agree with most of what evewarrior said. At least my first impression at Dust 514 makes me feel that way. Thre are few things that I’d like to expand on.

First one is if Dust will have big impact on sovereignty in EVE there will be no options for alliances other than play the game and defend their territory. Who’s going to relay on some random console players when Your Space is at stake. You want to do it good – do it yourself. It also brings one big problem. What if this game is vital to sovereignity in EVE and also completely sucks? It means that only EVE players will play it out of necessity. There are hundreds of 0.0 systems in EVE. If Dust really is important in sovereignty mechanics it will have to get huge player base to make the conflict meaningful. Do we want to have systems claimed by single guy from some strange time zone? If Dust is actually important we will have no other way. We will have to play it. Brilliant move CCP.

The other side of the coin. Game is ok – nothing wrong with it – but the impact on actual eve universe that it creates is minimal or simply annoying. Dust simply blocks expansion of EVE client into planetary interactions. As far as I understand it we’ve just got locked in space for ever. The only way to see some planets is buying another game. If planetary actions are not meaningful, should we be happy that it’s not destroying “our eve” or sad because it killed one of the most interesting ways EVE coud develop some day? I’d love to have full planetary exploration/fighting/lore built into eve at some point. Now it looks like it will never happen.

I’m quite sure that CCP has most of those things figured out and we will get a nice game. We have way to few bits of data to say anything constructive. That’s why we are spending all day on twitter and our blogs writing this stuff. At the moment I’m considering buying a console to play Dust 514. It’s exciting, it’s beautiful and I love futuristic combat in all forms. Lets see what will we get to see at fanfest.

Butterfly effect – new short video from CCP

•29/07/2009 • Leave a Comment

I think that I’m bound to post about new movie from CCP. It’s called Butterfly Effect.

They surely know how to advertise their product. When I wasn’t subscribing for extended periods of time I was constantly bombarded with gorgeous animated ads. I knew that it’s not exactly how EVE looks, but you know how it works. After good beer advertisement you are thirsty. Damn I was thirsty.

Carebear’s best friend.

•01/07/2009 • Leave a Comment
Drake in w-space gas cloud

Drake in a gas cloud

If I had to choose my favorite ship from EVE-Online, I would probably choose Drake. Not because of the amazing tank or other characteristics. Drake has allowed me to stop using battleships in the majority of my current tasks and I am grateful for that.

Drake’s biggest strength is his passive tank. Even without a very expensive faction or officer modules you can get near battleship-like resilience . His DPS is of course lower, but we cannot have everything at once. I think that 210dps with t1 ammo and not counting drones is just enough if we remember that drake can live very long under fire and it can effectively shoot at 70km with full force. And all this with complete independence from the capacitor. A small drone bay can store 5 small drones that add another  ~90dps or other abilities from EW drones.

Continue reading ‘Carebear’s best friend.’

Well, it’s about time

•01/07/2009 • 2 Comments

Welcome to the reactivated mmoLog. Previously, it was a blog describing the latest developments and news related to MMO games. But it’s time for change. It will contain descriptions of my adventures in the virtual worlds, and general comments about the games and their mechanics and the culture surrounding them. It’s also my first venture into publicizing in Engish.