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Do Licensed MMOs Inherit A Disadvantage? 70

Thanks to Stratics for its editorial discussing the problems faced by the licensed massively multiplayer game. The author points out: "Star Wars, The Matrix, Middle Earth - these are just some of the pre-existing worlds that are making the MMOG leap", and goes on to lament: "One of the problems is that you have to create an entire believable, explorable world. This is hard enough as it is, but then you have to cater to pre-existing notions of that world. Fans are your main target group here, and they have that world all locked up tight in their heads. Prepare for Foaming-at-the-Forum disease, my illustrious developers, prepare well." We've previously covered other aspects of this dilemma, but do licenses bring excessive expectations to a persistent world where everyone wants to be the hero?
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Do Licensed MMOs Inherit A Disadvantage?

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  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:18AM (#8567170) Homepage
    The big licened MMORPG are the things to come after SWG. Here you can release an extremly poor MMORPG with extermly stupid design(thanks raph) yet sell 300,000 because of the name attached. Then you can expect to keep less then 1/3 but while you are being paid to develop the game after which you try to get people to sign up.
    As for how to do it, you have to set up a world that feels like the movies or books and allows them to interact with areas mentioned in the book.
    Middle Earth looks like it is taking a good view of it, they have said that the areas from the movies will be in the game but after the ring bearer or whoever the important person/event passed through/happened so that you cannot modify the even of the story, and no climbing over the characters.
    • by Dragoon412 ( 648209 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:00AM (#8567631)
      The problem with the idea of just selling boxes for an MMOG is the cost inherent in developing the game.

      I don't have any hard numbers to support it, but it seems to be that with development times on MMOGs taking so much longer than other games, selling them at the same price point, which is the current practice* as other games would mean less profit, or possibly even taking a loss per unit sold.

      And I know, more box sales will ultimately lead to more subscriptions, but at this point, the MMOG market is largely cannibalizing itself. The market for MMOG games with non-skill based combat systems that require hundreds upon hundreds of hours of tedious monster-slaying, with game engines that handle like a 14th-hand rip off of Chainmail is completely saturated. To that end, I think the idea of pulling off what SWG did is only going to work for huge titles. Middle Earth Online may be able to do it too, but aside from WoW, I really can't think of another title that's even been announced that'll have enough clout to pull that off.

      The future of MMOG design is going to change drastically. There's an absolutely massive untapped audience of more casual gamers that want more action-based games and don't have thousands of hours to invest in a game, and don't want to be alienated from their friends because they went to bed early one night, missed an awesome experience grind group, and now they can't group anymore because there's a 3-level difference.

      Planetside, conceptually, was a great stab at that market. Unfortunately, the fuckups at SoE mismanaged it into the ground. They ruin everything they touch...

      Anyways, without getting into a rant about what's wrong with MMOGs, just watch: the first person to make a more skill-based MMOG (be it FPS-style, or more sim-ish) that appeals to casual gamers (i.e. no systems like "levels" that only fragment the player base, or absurd time requirements to advance) will be a very, very wealthy individual.

      While I was unemployed, I actually wrote up some design documents for such a game... got a 'real' job before I had the chance to pitch it, though, and I haven't had time to work on it since.

      *At least until they realize they're about to tank and start offering free downloads of the client online.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        And perhaps... because of Planetside's fuckups... no publisher is all that keen to go close to another MMOG that tries to appeal to the casual gamer.

        It's a cut-throat business, and nobody wants to back a loser, and it's easy enough to site Planetside as being a reason *not* to invest!
        • So the action-based MMOG genre is zero for one. What's the boring non-action market?

          See, I can understand why Planetside's comparitive failure is off-putting for some (stupid) investors, but what's the success rate of EQ-styled games? For every one successful game, a handful of others tank. The only ones that've enjoyed any real commercial success at this point are Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Dark Age of Camelot. That success can be mainly attributed (at least it would seem) to being the first MMOG to th
          • Asheron's Call 2 (Score:3, Informative)

            by cgenman ( 325138 )
            I have it on good authority that Asheron's Call 2, while not a tremendous success, did break even. The company who created it, Turbine, had enough free cash to buy back the rights to Asheron's Call 1 from Microsoft, which should be considered a very successful MMPORPG (still going strong after all of these years, first MMPORPG with larger, ever-changing story archs). They've even announced an Asheron's Call 1 expansion.

            These are now the people working on LotR and DnD. They've learned that a flexible pre
            • Re:Asheron's Call 2 (Score:2, Informative)

              by Mprx ( 82435 )
              Three Ring's Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, not Yahoo's. You're not the first person I've seen who misread the name, maybe they should rename it to just "Puzzle Pirates".
              • And all this time I thought Yahoo! was getting wise.

                Thanks for the correction. It would explain why I haven't been able to find the link on Yahoo! Games. A subtitle would clear things up... Puzzle Pirates: Yohoho!

      • by Mprx ( 82435 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @12:00PM (#8568687)
        Such a game already exists. Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates [] is completely skill based, with no real levels (levels exist but have extremely minor gameplay effect), and does not require any great time commitment. This is an ideal game for casual players, and still has enough in-depth content (eg. player run economy) for the hardcore players. It's also written in Java so it's crossplatform, and it doesn't require great hardware or internet connection. You can try it for free and subscription isn't too expensive.
        • I'm thinking of something more along the lines of like a RIFTS or Robotech MMOG. Maybe something like an MMO Armored Core meets Savage.

          No doubt Puzzle Pirates is a good game; I've heard many, many good things about it. But it's a puzzle game. That's not the same sort of skill as, say, an FPS, or any other real action game. Besides, it's too cutesy. Not that it has to be dark and bloody, but the game looks like ass, and based off my initial impressions, it feels a lot more like one of those budget Asian MMO
      • the first person to make a more skill-based MMOG (be it FPS-style, or more sim-ish) that appeals to casual gamers (i.e. no systems like "levels" that only fragment the player base, or absurd time requirements to advance) will be a very, very wealthy individual.

        Playing devils advocate:

        This of course assumes that casual gamers of a persistent world exist.

        How do we know there is demand for persistent games that can be played a few hours a week?

        Where are these gamers who don't play any persistent world now
        • How do we know there is demand for persistent games that can be played a few hours a week?

          Where are these gamers who don't play any persistent world now, but would like to?

          What do they play now, and how would a persistent game appeal to them?

          I think there's fairly strong evidence of a player base for one main reason: the box sales of MMOGs relative to their subscription numbers. Even the most successful games, such as EverQuest, tend to have dismally low suscriptions to sales numbers.

          Additionally, ta

          • the box sales of MMOGs relative to their subscription numbers

            This is the main support I keep coming back to. EQ is a multi-million selling box, but never got much past 400k subscribers. But perhaps the people who left were merely powergamers of a different flavor? Perhaps those who tried EQ and quit went on to be non-casual gamers in AC, DAoC, or SW:G.

            Box sales vs subscriptions is strong evidence, but it's not quite conclusive. At this point, I think only the non-subscription rate for players who tri
            • DAoC has grown not by taking active players from EQ/UO/AC, but by catching the attention of players who had already left those games.

              That's sort of the same effect I was speaking of. I've never necessarily seen a population drop off because of a new game's launch. But in the same vein, I've also seen populations drop ostensibly because there are so many new games out, and most people don't seem to keep subscriptions to multiple MMOGs. So I guess it's not so much cannibalizing as it's sort of a swingers c

              • there's a pretty static population that's sort of just shuffled around.

                For the most part I'd agree - though I contend that when hardcore gamers find the game design that truly speaks to them, they stay. The guys who are playing EQ right now don't honestly consider playing other games, and are even iffy on EQ2. They've been playing EQ for 5 years and never left.

                Similarly with the other games -- when persistent world players put down roots in these games, they don't leave lightly. Many of them have yet
                • They've been playing EQ for 5 years and never left.

                  As I understand it, though, EQ's tone, so to speak, is entirely different from just a couple years ago. Granted, it's 3rd-hand knowledge; I certainly won't touch the game, again, but a friend plays, and says that the days of whiney uber-guilds that dominate entire servers are largely past. The players seem older, more mature, and more laid-back. That definitely wasn't the case when I last played, shortly after Luclin launched.

                  It'd seem to indicate that

                  • EQ's tone, so to speak, is entirely different from just a couple years ago

                    That may well be. Like you, I am on the outside looking in, with the added distance that comes with never having had a character over level 25.

                    AlThough my weekly-movie crowd contains several EQ players, and their discussions about current guild 'politics' indicate that many of the 'dynamics' which I consider core problems, still exist. But we're well off-topic here :)

                    every game is fundamentally the same experience with some new,
      • I don't have any hard numbers to support it, but it seems to be that with development times on MMOGs taking so much longer than other games, selling them at the same price point, which is the current practice* as other games would mean less profit, or possibly even taking a loss per unit sold

        MMORPGs don't inherently take longer to develop than other games, nor take more development resources. DAoC, for example, took 18 months, with a total budget of $1.5 million, which is quite similar to single-player g

        • I'll have to check those out...

          Although, in all fairness, DAoC was very small, game-wise. The land masses were small, animations and art very simplistic, there are very few abilities, and there just plain wasn't much content. Even class design was very simplistic, with each class being a slight variant on the other realms' analog. Even with both it's expansions, it still pales compared EverQuest at release (once again, in terms of content).

          Not to bash DAoC, but there really doesn't seem like there was all
          • Yeah, and I believe that DAoC used a canned engine and middleware server code while most other games wrote thier graphics engine and server protocols from the ground up (which isn't neccesarily a good thing!).

            That could be why the development cycle was so short. ;-)
      • Actually skill based games tend to discourage casual players. It takes about the same amount of time to learn tricks, techniques and skills to become a better player in skill based games as it takes to "level up" in RPG type games.
        RPG style MMORPGs are very popular with casual players because you can take breaks do other things, relax, watch tv, cook and still "level up"
      • Anyways, without getting into a rant about what's wrong with MMOGs, just watch: the first person to make a more skill-based MMOG (be it FPS-style, or more sim-ish) that appeals to casual gamers (i.e. no systems like "levels" that only fragment the player base, or absurd time requirements to advance) will be a very, very wealthy individual.

        See Second Life. The name is kinda corny, but it is exactly what you describe. There are no skills other than your actual RL skills at creativity. On top of that, the
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:35AM (#8567204)
    I'd like to add that very often developers don't have a choice with what they can do with a licence.

    As an example, look at the licenced properties in racecar games. Until recently, licenced car brands weren't even allowed to *take damage* in a race. The car companies thought it was bad that the representations of their products might get broken when the player ran into a wall at 150mph. The car companies have now started to lighten up as they get used to working with developers - but it's a similar thing with MMORPGs - or any other game that uses licenced intellectual property.

    The owner of that property doesn't want it acting in any way that would be contradictory to their valuable image. This inherently hurts any game that you try to build using the licence. You can't do anything unpredictable, and certainly can't kill off a well-known non-player character for the sake of furthering an original plot. For example, say you were adapting the Lord Of The Rings to a videogame. Here's my take on it:

    Act 1, Level 1, prelude cutscene: Sam dies and nobody cares.

    I think it would make a much better *game* to eliminate the whiny characters to build dramatic tension (or comedic relief), but the licencing rules would probably say that Sam must make it through to the end of the game because the story has to follow that of the book and movies. And in a MMO game, it gets worse. Because:

    (1) There was only one Han Solo - duplicate characters are kind of stupid. If there were thirty people walking around all claiming to be Darth Vader it would just be silly.

    (2) Even if I could play Han Solo, I'd want to hunt Ewoks - but this goes totally against character. As such, George Lucas would not want to allow me the choice of doing this because it will tarnish Han Solo and just look wrong to the eyes of the other players.

    So if you cut out the major characters, this leaves you with playing the background characters that nobody really cared about in the movie. You've got the world - environments, cultures and the physics of how that world works - but that's pretty much it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There is a relevent anecdote about a Lucasfilm Indiana Jones License dictating that Indy was not allowed to die at /any/ point in the game.

      Good luck with that.
    • by notamac ( 750472 ) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:19AM (#8567730) Homepage
      I think the best example of getting around this kind of stuff is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

      Whilst not an MMO at all, it was still a decent RPG in its own right, and it was interesting because it placed you as a major character in the Star Wars universe... just not at the same time as the trilogy (and its lacklustre prequil trilogy) occured: instead it placed you 4000 years before hand.

      In doing so, it gave the game designers great freedom in how the developed characters, whilst still holding true to everything that is Star Wars (the force, light side, dark side, sand people, jawa, etc...)

      Methinks this is the way that future MMO's should go in adapting licenses to games.
  • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @09:29AM (#8567441)
    do licenses bring excessive expectations to a persistent world where everyone wants to be the hero?

    Yes and beyond that. Technology today is allowing people to do things in games better than we could've imagined. Nowadays simple press releases have to be carefully worded since the simple mention of an "online world" could mean MMO, or "mature theme" could mean a survival horror type game. Its not just video game licenses that can be tagged with huge unattainable expectations, a company could also generate the same (or more in some cases) amount of hype which ultimately leads to a bad game or bad reviews.

    • by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:13AM (#8567697) Journal
      It's a different kind of problem, though. This isn't just about expectations in gameplay and quality that hype builds up - this is expectations in the game design and content that years of reading books, watching movies or TV shows, and following an immense existing body of "knowledge" on how Middle Earth or the Star Wars universe or the Matrix works.

      When we first heard about, say, the Elderscrolls games, or everquest, we had no preconcieved notions of how the world behind the games functions, because it's new to us.

      With non-MMO games based on licenses, there's a step up. Fans of the previous works already have some knowledge of the game world, but a single player game is easily constrained in ways to make it work.

      Now, the step up to a licensed MMO game. First, you can't constrain them, since the game world has to be functional. Second, you have to have a LOT more content in the game, and it still has to fit the existing concept of what the world is like. Star Wars is probably the worst of them, since the book series has set forth a storyline from before Episode I until several decades after Episode VI.

      Plus, in these game worlds, the fans have always known them through the eyes of the Great Hero. That works good in a single player game, because it's ok if you have 50,000 players out there all playing as Legolas or Luke Skywalker in that case.

      But an MMO game takes place through the eyes of a slightly above-average person for the most part. Who the fuck is this Wookie named Sheyan, and why is he dancing? Everybody wants to be the hero, they all want to be Jedi, but that's not the way MMORPGs work.
  • Licensing can suck (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Licenses also work against games that I'd otherwise play, but hate the license.

    I was looking for a good RPG to play a few months ago, right around when KOTOR came out. I absolutely despise Star Wars, so I didn't pick it up until just recently. And, barring all the Star Wars crap, it's pretty good.
    • I feel the same way. I always assume a licensed title is just some game engine that has the license "worked in." This is especially with newer movies, since the games come out simultaneously--they couldn't possibly be done in the timeframe of shooting the movie unless very buggy or very generic.
  • World Design (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xanderwilson ( 662093 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:19AM (#8567736) Homepage
    There's an great old AD&D book, called "World Building" or something like that, and it helped me immensely as I was doing stuff like this for fiction. It talked, I believe, about the difference between top-down world creation vs. "create as you go" creation. It's easier to create exciting and new landscapes and situations when you use the latter, but you might run into problems. You eliminate those problems by creating, say, the ecosystems and weather and geography first, and then the politics and histories, etc. But that might lead to less exciting stuff at first and it might be a lot of work in vain if you never get a chance to use more than a small patch of grass before you realize nobody's interested.

  • Resident Evil (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ronfar ( 52216 )
    Resident Evil was an unlicensed video game adaptation of Zombie which, I believe, is the overseas name for Dawn of the Dead (the 1970's version). The creator acknowledges he was inspired by Zombie but of course the idea of zombies are in the public domain and he didn't have to have any kind of IP license from the people who own Dawn of the Dead. (Who would have had less chance of prevailing in court than Universal did when they took Nintendo to court for the similarities between King Kong and Donkey Kong.
    • While there are plenty of similarities between Resident Evil and the Night of the Living Dead series, I really don't see how it's even an indirect adaptation of anything.

      Zombies are a universal monster and just because you use that for a story doesn't make it connected in anyway to the most popular version of that character.

      But if you've got a cite I'd love to read it.
  • licences (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    remember all the hype for star wars? the frothing fans? how much do you hear about it now?

    in many cases a licence is a development roadblock. look at the numerous movie to game conversions. take that already difficult senario and add thousands of players, and economy, government, social system, and hundereds of items and you have a train wreck waiting to happen. add to that the players preconceived notions, and it turns into a snowballs chance in hell situation. i'm amazed they have done what they have, b
  • Villainy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1WingedAngel ( 575467 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:43AM (#8567938) Homepage
    "[D]o licenses bring excessive expectations to a persistent world where everyone wants to be the hero?"

    Actually, from what I've seen, the difficulty would lie in the number of people who want to be the villain. It is a very popular role, but, unfortunately, one that the game developers never really flesh out. Villains, by nature, do dastardly, nasty, things that game developers (and the companies holding the license) don't want to give the characters freedom to do.
    • Re:Villainy (Score:2, Funny)

      by UrgleHoth ( 50415 )
      Existing MMORPGs DO have villians, and plenty of them. They are called griefers.
      • Villains, by nature, do dastardly, nasty, things that game developers (and the companies holding the license) don't want to give the characters freedom to do.

        Existing MMORPGs DO have villians, and plenty of them. They are called griefers.

        Again, that's part of the problem. Not only do the designers/license-holders not like people to play the real villains, it seems that neither do the other players.

        But how do you deal, otherwise, if you're trying to play an evil character. And/or if rather than tr

        • I made a terse comment which was interpreted as funny, but I was actually serious.
          I mostly agree with what you say.
          As we've seen, ignoring bad behavior has not worked, therefore MMO game designers have a tough choice, either insulate players from "villians" or incorporate villainous behavior into the game mechanics, allowing players to act maliciously at will, but with consequences. I see it as an example of the "freedom to" vs "freedom from" dichotomy. It's not totally mutually exclusive, but close enough
  • by LNO ( 180595 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @10:59AM (#8568081)
    It sounds so simple, doesn't it?

    I currently play SW:G with two good friends. We group together occasionally, and they're steadily grinding through professions to unlock their force-sensitive slot (that is, to have the ability to make a Jedi character). Being a Jedi holds absolutely no interest for me.

    I can't be Han Solo, and I knew that going in. Instead, I'm Jawbone Mandible, owner and proprietor of McJawbone's Golden Mandibles, fast food to the galaxy. I can't even kill a crippled Ewok, but I can whip up some bio-engineered food that's in high demand. Want to take absolutely no damage from the next five attacks? Drink some Flameout; I'll sell you a glass of 6 drinks for only a couple hundred credits.

    There are many players who desperately want to become the hero, have their lightsaber, pretend to be Darth Maul that they spend hours grinding boring professions to do it. There are those who want millions of credits so they can buy their way through some professions, and so they try to sell food at inflated prices.

    I'm able to undersell them (fun for me!) and get a pile of money (more fun still!), and since I have absolutely nothing to do with it .. I've hit a wall.

    If I wanted to be a Jedi, I'd burn through those tens of millions in a heartbeat. Since my friends want to be a Jedi, and they gave me some seed money to start when I created Jawbone, I give them a couple million credits apiece each week as 'investment dividends'. With the rest of it ...

    Well, want 100,000cr to jump into the Sarlacc pit and take a screenshot? Here ya go.

    1,000cr for each second you can spend alive within melee range of a Krayt dragon?

    500,000cr to the first player to race from Mos Espa on Tatooine to Jaxian Bay on Naboo, get an item from my friend acting as the relay point, and get back to me?

    The list goes on. Basically, if you want to rewrite the saga, it ain't gonna happen. Everyone's gonna want to rewrite the saga. Barring a player lottery in which one lucky person gets to be Main Character Foo, you're relegated to a background character. Make the most of it, or play a different game.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dude - that sounds as boring as hell. Why don't you just work at McDonalds doing the exact same thing and make actual real-life human dollars?
    • >Make the most of it, or play a different game.

      Deal! Truly, that has to be best description of why I'll never, ever play SW:G.
    • by b0r0din ( 304712 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @12:24PM (#8568920)
      Being a Jedi holds absolutely no interest for me.

      I'm glad you feel that way, but unfortunately you're in the minority.

      If you ask me, there are two inherent problems with any MMORPG: the heroism dilemna and the villain dilemna.

      How do you create a game in which each individual desires to be a hero? And how do you create a game in which villains are more rare?

      Now as far as the heroism dilemna goes, it's very simple. You've got thousands of people on one server, the competition to be #1 or even legendary is very fierce. In a FPS, there's maybe 4-8 people in competition with each other, and it's more even a battle. In an MMORPG, you've got maybe 50-100 people all vying for top dog, all wanting to be the hero of legend, in some cases taking names like SirLanceslot or something similar. People want to be noticed, to be famous.

      Well it's just not possible. Most (and not all, as in your example) don't want to be a simple security guard. They have those jobs out of game, it's called working in a cubicle farm or Walmart. They want to wield the sword of destiny or be part of a moving plotline.

      Personally, I don't think MMORPGs will ever solve this dilemna. They can't devote enough time to be personal to each individual player and remain profitable. Possibly in the future, someone will come up with a ruleset that solves this problem, or maybe AI will become so good as to solve it. But I'm fairly doubtful. Smaller non-masive MORPGS would be ok, but we've yet to see a really good implementation. (I don't really consider NWN that although it's close, the graphics and worlds need to be better and less Lineage-like.)

      The other dilemna is the villain dilemna. This one isn't so much a problem, it can be reasonably handled. But it applies to griefers. How do you prevent people from being complete jerks, stealing kills, killing other players in a PK environment, etc?

      The answer is pretty simple: a self-policing society. But how do you self-police a society when everyone wants to be a hero and not a security guard? Maybe a few people would want to be the griefer-slayer, but not many.

      Now, you could do a couple of things for both of these.

      The problem with most people is wanting to be the hero without doing anything heroic. There's nothing heroic about slaying foo 20hrs/day like every other MMORPG that rewards the person who spends more time on the game. What is heroism, anyway? In the chivalrous sense, it's putting your life in danger for another. You have to risk something to be a hero. In a lot of examples, you have to die or be horribly maimed. Well, how to apply that to an MMORPG? Realism wouldn't hurt - or would it? Maybe people lose limbs, are horribly disfigured, or die regularly. Permadeath. Maybe that's what the society needs. That's skill-based, it forces players to be strategic and careful in combat. But it's not popular.

      Now, let's use this in a society, let's just say medieval-fantasy since that is overdone right now. You are a local blacksmith. You don't fight, you just make really nice swords. You are rewarded for your swordmaking with lots of money from players who rely on your ability. You don't die so your skill level increases. Every once in a while, you make a masterpiece. Maybe only once or twice in the game, sort of by accident. This sword is so special that you can only give it to the right person. Maybe you're fitting into a bigger game plot that you aren't aware of. You're a part of that world's history at that point. You fit a niche. And you aren't dying.

      Now, the other people who want to be heroes can go ahead and fight for fame and so on. But they die and permadeath takes hold and they don't retain their hero status. The real heroes would be revealed in this sort of society because of their skill. Maybe instead of level, there are certain incarnations of heroes. You may die a lot, but if you are smart and become a hero through certain deeds and then die, you retain some of what you had even though you are dea
      • Some ideas:

        I have been playing the Knight Online beta for a few weeks now and am to a point where I have nothing new to do. There may be new areas to explore, but I wouldn't know or care. I've already reached the point of boredom...sure I can kill bigger monsters, but those monsters are just like the ones that I was just killing...stupid hamster wheel.

        Anyway I got to thinking about what would make it better. The first thing I thought of was to get rid of the teleporting in the game. Town portal spells
        • I've been working on designing a persistant world for Neverwinter Nights, and I have been considering many of the points that you brought up.
          The first thing I thought of was to get rid of the teleporting in the game. Town portal spells are ok, but general transit just takes away from the locales. Teleporting is definitely a double edged sword, I think the best way to handle this, and what I have been working on is to allow players to travel to specific locations they have already visited. Essentially the
          • What about the idea of assigning people to particular things? maybe another player(newb trainer, battalion commander) who would act as a semi-uniuqe home base...maybe have one leader per 10-20 players, or separated by class. this way they could be "auto paired" to get interaction going in different instances. this would also allow players to be assigned tasks by the characters or people near his base(creating more unique quests). make it so that a player who is one of these trainers could have a feeling
            • One of the things I want to accomplish with the branching storyline is to having unique roles for players in the story. Instead of having players told "you will be playing the part of x in the group y" I want the many levels of branches from each of the stories to create those niches so that the player feels like they are choosing that predefined role.
              Doing this is one of the biggest tricks in game design, crafting the flow of the game in such a way as the player chooses to follow one of the only few ava
    • I'm able to undersell them (fun for me!) and get a pile of money (more fun still!), and since I have absolutely nothing to do with it .. I've hit a wall.

      That's exactly why I quit SWG.

  • that's true of any licensed game - unless it's medium is so far removed from myth/fictional world that nobody can object. I don't think even the biggest LucasGeek looks to be jedi if they're playing "Attack of the Clones Tetris", but they're expecting more from "Jedi Knights VS Capcom" - but even then not as much as anything with RPG or FPS in the title.

    Add in a persistent world and 1000 other geeks, and surely you have raised the bar of expectation.
  • This sounds like a lame excuse for MMOG developers.

    Can't think outside the Everquest clone box? Blame the license and the fans.
  • The MMO is a good format for a game, but it is not always the BEST way to get large numbers of people playing together at one time. MMOs are best-suited to worlds where there is little or no prexisting fiction, where players themselves create the epic battles--like the recent Everquest adventure when players banded together to kill an unkillable monster.

    Part of the problem with games like SWG is that everybody wanted to play as Boba Fett, or Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo. Nobody wanted to play as Stormtroope
    • This is how I feel. There were two things that made me never even concider SW:G.

      1. The official site required you to make an account and log in just to look at the RESULTS of the poll on their front page. I can understand logging in to vote, or to post on the forums, or even READ the forums in extreme cases....but to log in just to look at the results of a poll was insane. I wrote to the webmaster saying that I would never go back to his site again. (And only broke that twice that I know of.)
      • Sure, I know what you mean. I hung out on the SWG boards for a year or more, I beta tested, I signed up for a year and played the game pretty hardcore for awhile.

        But in the end, the problem for me was that all the really exciting parts of Star Wars had to do with either grand battles or being a hero, and you have trouble doing that in an MMO.

        Frankly, I get far more enjoyment playing Unreal Tournament and pretending to be part of an army fighting to capture power nodes than I did in weeks upon weeks of rol
  • Personally I feel that a lisenced game with a preexisting world, like middle earth, can add alot more to the game. With such a well developed world, game designers already have story, detail, and world outlines to follow, making it easier for the producers to design a game, and allow gamers to feel a greater connection to the world, from other sources of media.
  • by freeBill ( 3843 ) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:12PM (#8570068) Homepage
    ...all the people who said this same kind of thing about "The Lord of the Rings."

    Even Tolkien himself suggested that all the fans had their own visions of the trilogy in their heads and any attempt to put it on film was going to fail to meet those expectations.

    Then along came a guy named Peter Jackson.
  • In theory, the games with licenses should be easier. Let's say you're a blank slate. Now you're to write a game of commercial quality. How about you have a theme already picked out like Star Wars. Not you suddenly know all of your main characters, your fictional science, your real science, your subplot, your main plots (if you're allowed to use them). Can't use the main plots? Change the characters and settings.

    So they should be easier! However, the micromanagement of the license holders and the busi
    • This is what I personally liked about Enter the Matrix.
      It certainly wasn't the greatest game ever made. It wasn't even that ground-breaking, gameplay-wise. But it took what must have been a pretty risky step. Rather than focusing on the main characters, you played a couple of otherwise minor characters. But, they were certainly involved in the plot.

      Yes, the game could have been better. But if they'd gone the standard route of You Play The Main Characters And Follow The Movie Plot As Closely As We Can the

  • by NedR ( 701006 )
    Whether or not a license would be more difficult to turn into a MMOG seems like it would sort of depend on the license. For example, take two different Sci-Fi licenses that are being turned into MMOGs; The Matrix and Dune. On the one hand, you have The Matrix, which is relatively easy to recognize, because it's based for the most part on the world we live in right now, with a few changes. Also, part of the beauty of The Matrix is that it's all about breaking the rules, and as a result, many of the smaller i
    • Good post. I disagree completely, but I don't think your opinions are invalid.

      The problem with a Matrix game is that it is based on a movie with, essentially, one real hero and a few sidekicks. Although it would be interesting to try to be another great hero, the license is one that will attract people who want to be Neo. This parallels with SWG, where one might decide to be a Jabba type smuggler baron, but instead everyone wants to be jedis. It's not that the license is one where there is only one pa
      • I hadn't heard there was a Dune MMORPG in development, but I always thought it could work.

        Dune is almost designed for an RPG incarnation, even. I've only read the first two books, but I can think of a dozen character classes you didn't mention (Mentat, Bene Tleilaxu, Sardukar, Guild steersman, whatever it was they called the imperial conditioning Yueh had), all with clearly defined skills and roles. How well they would translate into an MMORPG, I don't know, but the system certainly deserves a more compreh
  • The problem with these games is that you end up finishing them.

    Anybody remember Federation? It was (is?) a text based online game that was on Genie then AOL then the net proper. The coolest thing about it was that after you gained a certain status in the game, you got to create your own planet in the game. Complete with it's own economy (sorta, each player was like a corporation).

    If you advanced far enough past that, you got your own fiefdom of planets to control (the players in your system had to pay tax o

  • The big problem with games based on things like Star Wars is that the movies focus on a small number of heroic figures who make a major difference to the world. You come to the game, that's what you want to play. As I put it in a long post on usenet [], you want to play Han Solo, not Han Solo's hair stylist or Han Solo's pistol maker.

    The MMORPGs that have really worked have either used totally made up worlds based on generic fantasy (Everquest, for example), generic science-fiction (Anarchy Online...yes,

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.