I Wish Making An MMORPG Was That Simple

I saw an announcement for MMORPG Tycoon 2 and it got my thinking. MMORPG Tycoon 2 is about making and running your own MMORPG. Well the idea once again popped into my head about wishing I could simply make a MMORPG — a real one.

I can’t code. I have the artistic skills of … something with no artistic skills at all. Those barriers to entry are impassable.  I do have one talent: I know what makes MMORPGs fun, and I’m great at seeing the big picture and bringing projects together. If I had a set of tools that basically did all of the coding and art for me, and allowed me to simply create my world, enter in all of my mechanics, develop my own features, and essentially put it all together with a user-friendly interface, then I could easily make my own MMORPG.

Imagine if it was that simple. Imagine if like you see in that MMO Tycoon video you can simply drop your zones next to each other, plop in some art assets, code the orcs to behave a certain way and use X defined abilities, and piece it all together. I feel like I have the millions of ideas for executing an awesome world all up in my head and on the hundreds of pages of design documents I’ve already drafted over the years. Imagine if the tools were $15/month or $100 one time or something cheap rather than thousands of dollars in licenses.

Someone should develop an engine that handles all of this, makes it all super user friendly, and basically lets us launch our own MMORPGs, and charge a monthly fee per user. If I want to form a dev team then I just pay for more monthly licenses. It can’t be that hard (for those people with talent) to develop a program where people can collaborate online and build a world. Just take something like MMORPG Tycoon or Project Spark and make it better and a real MMORPG tool. Dangit, I want to get started now!

Assassin’s Creed Movie Trailer

The Assassin’s Creed movie trailer debuted yesterday on Kimmel of all places. Let’s take a look.

My first thought (and Graev’s) is that it doesn’t look nearly as bad as I thought it would. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting much at all. This piques my interest significantly more than I initially expected. The Kanye track was ridiculous though, and whoever forced that noise into the trailer for a game’s franchise with such a rich musical legacy should be ashamed.

The movie is taking quite a bit of liberty with the story. The “real world” part of Assassin’s Creed has always been polarizing; You either love it or you hate it, and I happen to find it fascinating. AC games have always been confusing to the point of needing a Wiki to truly understand wtf is going on, but it’s gloriously complex. I hope it’s just the trailer conveying an odd Templar/Animus interpretation and that they stayed true to the story.

I can at least look forward to seeing it now.

Disney Exits Gaming Industry

Disney stop making video games

Disney announced today that it is officially leaving the gaming industry and closing its internal game studios (Avalanche) in favor of pursuing strictly licensed deals. This means that Disney Infinity has officially been discontinued, although they did announce Through the Looking Glass and Finding Dory expansions will still be released.

“After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model. This shift in strategy means we will cease production of Disney Infinity, where the lack of growth in the toys-to-life market, coupled with high development costs, has created a challenging business model.  This means that we will be shutting down Avalanche, our internal studio that developed the game.  This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly given the quality of Disney Infinity and its many passionate fans.”

For someone like myself who not only enjoys these types of games but also follows the industry closely, I find the most interesting and poignant statements to be those made around the growth of the toys-to-life market. Disney Infinity was enormously popular and made tons of money. It beat out Skylanders and Lego Dimensions last year (thanks to Star Wars) and it wasn’t even close. I’m a little shocked to see isn’t growing. Disney Infinity itself is responsible for immense growth, but perhaps they aren’t happy being the trailblazers. I imagine Activision enjoyed increased sales as a result of the increased awareness for toys-to-life games. Last I checked, Skylanders, Amiibo, and Lego were doing quite well.

While disappointing, a small part of me is relieved. Disney Infinity was expensive. I mean really, really expensive. Way fun, but coming in at $12+ a figure, $30+ a playset, and a $60 game was rough. I bought it all on my own (no review copies, thanks Disney) and enjoyed it, but simply couldn’t keep up. I had to let Lego Dimensions go until I received it as a gift, and Skylanders I only bought a few pieces.

You can get a lot of the sets and figures pretty cheap on Amazon now, and I imagine they’ll continue to drop in price. Now’s the time to even grab Disney Infinity 2.0 for the really good Guardians of the Galaxy stuff. They’re all worth playing.

KH3

Thankfully, lots of studios utilize Disney’s IPs successfully. Sadly, Marvel has all but gone mobile, though, and Star Wars is currently stuck in EA’s clutches (Battlefront 2 is launching next year. Like really? We need another one?). Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming soon, though!

I wish they had that feature back when I played!

Have you ever played a game (mostly MMORPGs), quit for a while, then later found out a few feature was added that you wish was there all along? I experience this all the time. I’ll see someone announce that “guilds can now build cities!” or “X feature that totally sucked is gone and this new Y feature has taken its place and things are amazing now!” The catch is I’ve already quit.

It’s that “Ugh, why wasn’t it perfect when it launched?!” feeling. Games change over time — hopefully for their betterment. I’m okay with that. I always wish they’d change before they launch, or while I’m still playing, though.

That segues nicely into a little discussion about development. I subscribe to the “launch your game when it is ready/finished” philosophy. Don’t rush the game out the door; I don’t want to play it that badly that I’m willing to have a subpar initial experience and find out six months later you’ve fixed the game after everyone already moved on.

Although we often hear the (legitimate) sob stories about running out of money and launching now or never, from my perspective you end up in the same place either way. Your game is either good enough and ready, or it’s not. If it’s not, that will kill you prior to launch or after launch.

I’d like to do away with the “we’ll implement that after launch” mentality completely. Implement it now. If it’s a feature you know people want, put it in before you launch. If guilds building cities is something crucial to your game feeling ‘complete’ or ‘fun’ or ‘ready’ and you launch without it, you’re making a huge mistake.

So there’s really two sides to this discussion:

  1. Developers knowingly didn’t finish the game before they launched leaving a huge feature out and had to try and get it in later
  2. Developers realized X feature is something players really want(ed) or their game really needs and release it after launch

Both are leading causes of MMORPG failure.

Thoughts? Are you okay waiting for big features to be implemented later? Are you like me and often feel that it’s too late to go back and play the game now that it’s fixed or better because that ship has sailed? Personally, I’ll go back and play great games all the time. I’ll resub to MMORPGs decades after their release… if they were fun before. If the game was womp womp and I quit, chances are I won’t be going back.

Battlefield 1

I’m really happy to see the Battlefield series returning to its roots. Modern shooters don’t do it for me anymore, and future shooters have fizzled out for me too. I’ve been wanting a shooter to return back to that era where guns can’t see around corners, auto-aim, or transform into robots.

Battlefield 1 is set in the WW1 era. If you haven’t seen the trailer, let’s watch.

I’ve read and heard a completely mixed bag on this one. Everything from “OMG this looks amazing! Hype! Hype! Tears of joy!” all the way down to “Looks completely stupid. CoD is better. So dumb.”

As I have already alluded to, I like the setting. I think the concept of horses, melee, older tech, and a modernized spin on the era will be very enjoyable. I’m not worried about the setting at all. Graev and I used to have so much fun riding on the wings of planes and doing all sorts of zany stuff on BF1942. I hope to relive that.

What I’m most worried about is execution. Battlefield 4 was sorely lacking on so many fronts. The maps sucked, the vehicles sucked, the weapons were just ‘okay’.  BF Hardline was a bit of a joke. And if you consider it a BF game, and I sorta do, Battlefront was only just ‘okay’ for the hype.

I want to see better character customization, or none at all. I’d rather have Overwatch’s cosmetic progression over BF4’s implementation. I’d like the BF series to focus more on the gameplay and less on the tech and tools.

BF1 is on my list. Fingers crossed.