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Comment: Re:Probably the future of online RPGs (Score 4, Interesting) 33

by Draconi (#48414719) Attached to: Player-Run MMORPG By Former Ultima Online Devs Finding Kickstarter Success

Exactly, which is why we went indie and have remained that way with Shards Online.

Big companies would never run this kind of game - we all came from working for the larger publishers, and many of us from working on Ultima Online.

The whole idea is to build a full MMO and then turn it over to the players. Will we run our own servers? Sure! We can do events, live patches, and add new content regularly. But the most important thing is to have a highly polished end product that community servers don't just treat like middleware: it's a full game to customize how they see fit!

Comment: Re:Games are getting to be like TV shows (Score 4, Informative) 33

by Draconi (#48414715) Attached to: Player-Run MMORPG By Former Ultima Online Devs Finding Kickstarter Success

We should mention that this is actually Round #2 with Kickstarter.

When we didn't reach our first goal, we continued development with our own money (as we had been doing from the inception of the game). As former leads on Ultima Online, we have a solid vision for what we want to bring forward to the gaming world, as well as the sandbox and production experience to make it happen.

Kickstarter is all about accelerating and enhancing development of our core tech. One nice thing that differentiates us from most Kickstarters that have a bunch of concept art and a pitch is that we have a working game already built. Now it's all about fleshing it out into a full MMO so we're not just recreating a middleware market.

Shards Online is all about building an amazing sandbox game, and then giving the full content over to players.

Comment: Toxilogical Info (Score 5, Informative) 94

by Draconi (#38999779) Attached to: Skin Cancer Drug Reverses Alzheimer's Symptoms In Mice

RTECS No: not available
Acute toxicity: oral toxicity (LD50): >1500 mg/kg (rat); >720 mg/kg (dog)
Dermal NOEL: 0.01% (rat)
Primary irritant effect:
On the skin: not known; may be an irritant; exposure may exacerbate the deleterious effects of sunlight
On the eye: not known; may be an irritant
Ingestion: may cause effects similar to hypervitaminosis A including headache, nausea, vomiting, lip inflammation, mucous membrane dryness, joint pain, scaly skin, and hyperlipidemia

---

Yeah. I'd still take it.

Comment: EA had every opportunity (Score 2, Insightful) 344

by Draconi (#34048866) Attached to: FarmVille Now Worth More Than EA

I've always felt that one of EA's greatest challenges has been recognizing disruptive technology and capitalizing on it.

This played out numerous times with the PS3 vs. Wii, PSP vs. DS, and especially regarding micro-transactions. There is a producer at EA who, since at least 2005, was not only aware of how important MTX was in Asia, but that we couldn't keep believing that cultural barriers wouldn't keep games on the pay-per-month subscription model forever here in the U.S. I remember going to his brown-bag lunches and saying "Wow, here's a guy who gets it!" But no one took social gaming or micro-transactions seriously back then: it was Sims, Warhammer, Madden, and Pogo. Speaking of, imagine if EA had immediately recognized how powerful a platform Facebook was, and flooded the early app/games scene with MTX versions of Pogo games?

Now we're seeing the advent of Social Gaming 1.0 mixed with these micro-transactions, and already it's been so disruptive that a completely new company with low budget games has surpassed an industry giant that spends tens of millions per title. Why? Because the market has been broadened yet again, far beyond the bounds of the comfort zones most larger companies have established for themselves. EA hasn't ignored this, of course, but they reacted late and with the time-honored response of buying a company that specializes in the area, hoping to get into the market immediately.

Admittedly, the current state of games on Facebook is... I don't know, someone said it was like the Atari days before the big crash. Yet imagine what Social Gaming 2.0 will look like as more high-quality games and free-to-play 3D MMOs start hitting the browsers.

Comment: Well, here are some actual reasons (Score 5, Informative) 235

by Draconi (#33891754) Attached to: Why <em>Warhammer Online</em> Failed &mdash; an Insider Story

Full disclosure: I was one of the UO design leads during Warhammer's later development years, and everything I'm about to say is tinted by a) not working directly on the product, b) my professional opinion having played it, c) and that I have a contract similar to Sanya Weathers' (who is quoted in the EA Louse comments several times) and will not engage in disparagement.

EA Louse completely ignores actual game design reasons that the product failed, instead focusing on company culture and his/her managers' failings. I won't comment on that, but I will point out the following things that went rather horribly wrong with Warhammer:
* Incomplete content: past level 20 most zones were barely there, let alone fully populated with content.
* Broken systems: the economy, craftinig, Tier 4, and the actual zoning and load balancing code couldn't keep up
* Unbalanced classes: they tried to make equivalents for each faction, and over-powered the Bright Wizards, Warriors Priests, and Witch Hunters. Excellent write up about that here, especially about Crowd Control: http://www.brighthub.com/video-games/mmo/articles/44427.aspx?p=3
* Not moving fast enough on PvP imbalance complaints: The common response would be "We ran the numbers! On average, 50% are Order, 50% are Chaos! It's perfectly even!" and in the real world of course it was usually a massive mis-match between sides in individual fights
* The mandate to produce new content instead of fix old broken content. I'll never understand that one, and I tread on dangerous ground going too much into it, but it was a horribly bad idea.
* Public quests: I have always, truly believed that public quests were a good idea gone horribly wrong. This is probably just me being naive from my days on UO, where if we had a fun system idea we could implement it directly ourselves and things like "automatically adjusting difficulty, loot, time constraints and quest goals" were well within reach for the designer. Public quests in WAR stopped being fun the moment population surges in a zone dropped -- soon becoming impossible to complete. How awesome would it have been to at least have them dynamically adjust to lower/higher levels of difficulty based on how many people were in the zone and their relative strengths? How much better if the same *kind* of PQs weren't spread like filler throughout all the zones and they were a little more creative?

Hopefully other games will learn from this: you have to finish and polish the game until it shines! Only in the emerging F2P market can you get away without doing so, and even that will change over the coming years.

"Is it really you, Fuzz, or is it Memorex, or is it radiation sickness?" -- Sonic Disruptors comics

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