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Reader Comments (65)

Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:12AM Floop the Squirrel said

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Absolutely.

And frankly, I expect that if you create a game where there's enough emergent, player driven or dynamic content, you could go by with under 30 mil.

Big budgets are most needed for themepark games. I'd suspect that a sandbox with some themepark elements could be created for a fraction of the cost.

Look at Wurm or even Minecraft. .. Now imagine what one could do with 30 million and good ideas.

The problem with our AAA MMO industry is that it's funded mostly by large corporations who shy away from anything even mildly original. A private investor who has the guts and the money, could fill a great niche in a market dominated by the same model of game - the WoW model.

Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 10:34AM fallwind said

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@Floop the Squirrel "A private investor who has the guts and the money"

one who has the former rarely hangs onto the latter for long. If player driven, sandbox MMOs were making investors money hand over fist then they would be the ones getting made.

Risky ventures are, by their very name, risky. You could lose it all, and losing a few tens of thousands of dollars on Minecraft is a completely different kettle of fish than losing $30 mill. The larger the pricetag, the less risk will be allowed by investors.

As much as it sucks having investors determine game content, it is their money, and if the studio wants their money they need to make the game that will be able to pay them back. It sucks, but that's life.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 11:11AM Floop the Squirrel said

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@fallwind

True enough, and I fully understand what you mean.

I think, tho, the trick is to start small and then build up over time. Many MMOs make the mistake of trying to create "the game that can compete with WoW" not only by copying the exact mechanics from wow but also by trying to attract millions of players in the first month. What if you create a small niche product, focus on a small player demographic and periodically add more content as time goes on. Sure, you won't have blizzard's revenue.. but you won't need to simply because your product didn't cost as much and you don't have greedy investors to satisfy. Let's be honest.. what percentage of the players' subs goes back into the game and how much goes into the investor's pockets?

But again, something like this can only work in a player driven game like a sandbox, not in a heavily scripted and costly game like today's AAA themeparks.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 11:28AM fallwind said

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@Floop the Squirrel

now that, I agree with :)

I think that sandboxes would be more popular if we moved away from the "sandbox = ffa pvp" mentality. That works in Eve, but that's because player death is the only driving factor in their economy. Hopefully Minecraft has shown that minimal/no pvp is attractive to sandbox players as well :)
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 11:58AM Daverator said

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@Floop the Squirrel

I think this is pretty much correct. You can have a fun game without having all the trappings that a modern mmo expects. Whats the point of scripting a million quests when players will not care about 98% of them other than to click where they are told to click.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 12:23PM Floop the Squirrel said

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@Daverator

The problem with modern MMO themeparks is that they mask chores as "quests". The "Quests" in WoW and Rift and so on are not real "quests".

"Go kill 10 rats" ain't a quest, it's a friggin chore, maybe a "mission" if the rats are 6 feet tall and armed.

A quest should be a long-winding adventure... there should be only a handful of "quests" at first. And a bunch of chores - simple, *optional* missions - to create some income and give a reason to kill. - Think of the notice boards in the Witcher, where you got killing, skinning, collection quests. That was a great way of introducing such things as it didn't feel like they force them down your throat like modern MMOs do.

To take Rift's lore as example: "Oh, mighty ascended, you who have been chosen by the Gods to save us of the evil planes, who have defeated many of the dragons, scourge of defiants, go bring me 10 zombie scrotums"
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 2:26PM AlienFanatic said

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@fallwind

"one who has the former rarely hangs onto the latter for long. If player driven, sandbox MMOs were making investors money hand over fist then they would be the ones getting made."

I think that you are focusing too much on the genre and too little on the execution. I think Minecraft and Wurm are demonstrating that concept and execution are key to success, and that a game need not be a high-cost theme park to develop a strong following.

What the MMO industry needs now, desperately, is innovation. The theme park model is extremely mature and players like me are sick of it. For example, I don't see Star Wars: TOR ever hitting WOW's numbers because it's neither new nor fresh. It's not GROWING the market, but rather cannibalizing subscribers from other games.

Sandbox MMOs may not be the future, either. I really think the next level will be when a developer can meld player-created content with an ever-changing world and wrapping it in a container that's easy and intuitive to use. That's an easy thing to say, but an inCREDIBLY difficult thing to actually accomplish. But to say that developers need to stay within their comfort zone, following a well-worn path, ignores the need for significant innovation to keep the MMO industry growing.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 2:45PM fallwind said

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@AlienFanatic

yes, but MC and Wurm didn't cost $30 mill to make, that was exactly my point. As soon as you start passing into the big leagues you need investors, and investors don't get rich by taking too many risks. If they give you $30mill they want to see $100mill back. But if they only give you $50k they won't care if it goes tits up.

If you owe the bank $50k you have a problem, if you owe the bank $50mill the bank has a problem.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:13AM Deadalon said

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I think I could. My idea of a MMO that is needed in the genre is a space/planet mmo with a topdown 2D spacefights and 2.5D land missions. The space part of the game would be simualre to EVE in terms of Empire and space control - the land part would be mission and gathering based.

There would ofc be quite a few ailen races - friendly or hostile based on your action.

To explain the planet part abit better. You would go down with either a team of 3 -5 (crew). Part of the job is to gather information about the planet (epxloration so combat would not be the main focus. It would not be a total combat sim. On unhabitable planets you would use rovers to go down and gather minerals and gases. The rover could aslo be used on habitable planets to gather minerals - fauna and wildlife animals that would then be sold on stations and other planets.

So in terms of RPG - the progression would be skill based (over time) - Ship based (better equippments) - crew based (better handeling of the ship and planet missions including comunitcation, navigation, medic, combat, enginerring. And the Rover would also have a progression based on equippment.

This would not be a 30 million dollar project - but I think it would make for a very intresting game.

Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 10:29AM Vic Fontaine said

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@Deadalon
So you'd more or less be ripping off Star Trek online, only you wouldn't have the license so it'd be a lot less interesting.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 10:31AM Vic Fontaine said

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@Deadalon
So you'd more or less be ripping off Star Trek online, only you wouldn't have the ST license so it would be a lot less interesting?
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 10:40AM Deadalon said

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@Vic Fontaine

Nope far from ripping of ST since the game would have 2D space combat and 2.5D planet simualre to Anno2070 graphics. Its nothing like Star Trek. That was a destruction of a great IP with too much focus on combat that should always be last resort.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 10:52AM Deadalon said

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@Vic Fontaine

So here is example of the space part

http://www.desura.com/games/space-pirates-and-zombies-spaz

Planet focus in terms of graphics would be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q5u7NBcNPQ

No strategy building tho.

In terms of controlling characters it would be more like

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMkfoUmpNUI

But every single crew member would have diffrent task.

THis would OFC be a game that takes certtain elemetns from other games. BUt its not ST clone in any way.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 1:29PM Seffrid said

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@Deadalon

I do hope you'd release it on time and with all the promised features.

;)
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Posted: Feb 3rd 2012 10:31PM (Unverified) said

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@Deadalon

it is a good idea, it's just in need of MMO padding.

i had a similar kernel of an idea like this, but the emphasis was on a slower RTS build, rather than the space game.

essentially Gal Civ 2 + EVE Online + recettear + whatever would make people come back to play it.

like Ogame, and ikariam, and AoE, etc. pretty much my idea was a slow build RTS, with EVE's build/economics and corp funding / independents, alongside factions that contribute missions/goals for gear rewards, open ranks, in return for security and taxes on transportation/sales.

basically a mercenary v frontier model that's been used on a lot of other games, but with a trickle up economy and resource model for an MMO audience, with tedious resource collection and farming to prevent early players having staggering advantages over new players, and to prevent alliances from decimating competition if people multibox for advantages, unlike Ogame or travian, ikariam or others.

the Anno 2070 model is pretty, but the problem with isometric RTS gameplay is the idea of Tiles, comes substitution, which you have to accept as a design format. and in an MMO with 50k or 100k subs, the average OCD person could tile an entire planet's resources i.e. 4 million virtual km, in perhaps a day. or a week.

and then proceed to hack the game's mechanics mercilessly as robber baron, now cashed up and ready to exploit the mechanics against new fish in a small pond. like every country/empire building game there is, people, nee soldiers become a farmable resource, and then used as collateral for production.

so you have to ration resource generation and energy consumption/metals/silicates, so it becomes the rts + crafting minigame along with a empire builder like Civ 5 and EVE, rather than farming the largest army the game engine will allow and sending it to decimate , then crust your fresh 2 day old players to fund that army.

and then you need to make the empire, feel powerful, and add conflict, in either large or small doses. but, do you want the player who's saved 500 million credits in the 3rd month of being a new subscriber, to be player killed within 20 minutes of buying their ship ? or do you want random stuff to happen to invisible ships, like the gal civ model.

i had 3 problems with the idea.
1. ultimately, without combat, it's boring. with combat, it's boring.
2. profit seems unlikely, and so does competition
3. what makes you return to play if there's nobody to screw over/with.
4. rewards seems useless, could be useless
5. i personally would get tired of this game without a hook to return for some intrinsic reason beyond creation. much like real life gardening.

because, there's two things that any $30 million investor wants to know,

will it expand and become popular,
will those people stay around for more than a year
and will they spend money on the game with actual currency
and will they tell other people to play as well

EVE online has the sort of right idea with player driven empires for content creation and economic striation, players will buy or sell items of use, but the items still have to be created, or copied from somewhere, etc. and the money usually extends to independent operators having to craft items alongside corps with access to BPC's.

but it has terrible retention and a woeful new player experience to draw in paying customers
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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Hell yes. Where do i pick it up?

Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:35AM Deliverator said

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From what I learned here, the thing to do is design a shallow but pretty game and then just sit around reskinning clothes for the item shop. If I want to take a spaceflight, I'll just crank the mob difficulty and put health potions on sale. If I need Christmas money, I'll gimp material drops and sell armor in the store.

Can't blame me! It's the future - it's where the money is. The market has spoken and I've been instructed to move on! I just have to make sure it's solo friendly with a trinity, color coded items and make sure characters can't be injured if they do something dumb. Cha-Ching!

Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:51AM Deliverator said

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@Deliverator
Just kidding. I'd make a full loot open world PvP game with bounty hunting and prison. Player reputation would matter so the ganking douches would filter themselves out. TES combat mechanics, no auto-target, housing, player run economy and 3 faction RvR. Collision detection = on.

The mob AI would go about it's day - whether it's a bear needing to drink 3 times a day or a person going to and from work. Things would be found where it makes sense they be - the bears would not drop chainmail, only bear skin.

I'd buy the IP call it GURPS Online and set it in a multi-dimensional universe where you could portal between Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Post Apocolyptic and Present day.

The world would be focused on being a world first. It would be a virtual space to live and I'd open the API so that people could expose their game world from their own site or Facebook or whatever they use. There'd be movie theaters that showed/ synced peoples' own Hulu and Netflix so they could watch their favorite stuff together. I'd also install a collaboration platform and make it easy for people to get work done while in-game.
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 2:10PM Spacegrass said

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@Deliverator

I don't know why you'd need the GURPS IP, and the multi-dimensional universe would take forever to create, but I think you have some solid ideas there. I'm especially intrigued by the mobs going about their business, instead of pacing back and forth while waiting for an adventurer to kill them. You should also make fewer mobs, balanced by being more difficult - I've often wondered how an ecosystem with more predators than prey could sustain itself,
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Posted: Feb 2nd 2012 9:36AM (Unverified) said

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Sandbox territory-control MMO with consequences. I have no intention of appealing to themepark demographics. I only want to appeal to people like me, people who grew up playing games with consequences. I hate the fact that modern games have little or no negative consequences, even when you fail and die, you still are rewarded.

You should not succeed through mere attrition. Earn your nerd points or perish.

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