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Role Playing (Games) Businesses

The Quest To Build a Better Warcraft 196

Red Herring tackles the rush into virtual space, talking about the MMOG goldrush and the business consequences World of Warcraft has had on the games industry as a whole. Though sometimes it doesn't seem to fully understand the difference between a single player game and a Massive one, the article still touches on a number of important points. Lots of folks are looking to cash in on WoW's success, and they're importing or licensing every Massive game they can find to get on the bandwagon. "The problem is that no one knows what the next WoW killer will look like. Creating a hit video game, which combines strong characters, a compelling story, and top-notch production values, is part art and part inexact science. Making a hit game can be much more difficult than producing an Oscar-winning movie. After all, the hit video game must be compelling enough to keep players coming back for more." Even if a lot of their conclusions are odd, and they call Puzzle Pirates silly, it's worth a look. What do you think it's going to take to crack Blizzard's deathlock on the Massive genre?
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The Quest To Build a Better Warcraft

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  • Game engine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wilsonthecat ( 1043880 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @03:38AM (#18021120)
    The content is all that amazing in World of Warcraft, but the game engine is second to none. Make a game engine as good as WoW's, with the character animation, UI and scripting support and you've got a WoW-killer. Until then they are just bad immitations.
  • Second Life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @03:45AM (#18021144) Homepage Journal

    I don't play games at all, but I had a look at Second Life recently and I think that it (and the systems which will come after it) will appeal to a much broader market than games like Warcraft.

  • by IndieKid ( 1061106 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:14AM (#18021470) Journal
    Anyone looking to make the next WoW killer would be well advised to look at the way Blizzard went about it. A MMORPG is not something that can be turned out in a couple of years with a standard development team to make use of some film licence; it takes significant investment, in terms of time, manpower and cash. Of course, that's not to say that using existing fictitious worlds as a starting point is a bad idea - MMOs need a lot of content to sustain them and getting the appropriate intellectual property owners on board could make sense. I think a lot of the obvious licences have already been used for MMOs though (Star Wars, the Matrix and Lord of the Rings spring to mind). End-user involvement is critical to the success of a MMO game. Any MMO game that is developed behind closed doors and then unleashed on the world is doomed to failure in my opinion. Extensive alpha and beta programmes open to anyone willing to participate are something the industry are going to have to get used to. If your game is any good chances are that the guys you had playing in beta will spread the word and you'll have a ready made subscriber-base when you go live.
  • World of Starcraft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan B. ( 20610 ) <.ua.moc.rayrb. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:53AM (#18021672)
    What do you think it's going to take to crack Blizzard's deathlock on the Massive genre?

    As per the subject line, World of Starcraft.

    Well, not exactly that, but it would be good. The only thing I see breaking the MMO market now is something that gamers love (FPS), rolled in to the same detailed and compelling game we return to day after day (MMORPG). What I see is an FPS come RPG title based in a world that thrives on people banding together to achieve goals, but leaves the door open for PvP combat a-la the WoW style PvP servers.

    The key factor would of course be the ability of the developer to work out some sort of faction / race / class based system with the familiar leveling / gearing requirment, and rolling in an FPS front end. Three way battles like those in Starcraft would be awesome, as the current Horde vs. Alliance system in WoW is getting a bit tired.

    I still play WoW nearly 20 hours a week, down from over 40 to sometimes 60 a week last year, but would jump straight in to World of Starcraft if it were to miraculously appear in the above stated incarnation.
  • Re:Game engine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:53AM (#18022108) Homepage
    Who cares?

    Seriously, it's a total non-issue to me, and I think that's why they're succeeding. What sold WoW three accounts in my household was that their client was playable on an old G4 iBook.
  • by MaXimillion ( 856525 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:22AM (#18022192)
    Pokemon MMORPG.
    I'm being serious here. It's one of the most popular game franchises, and well-known to non-gamers as well. The consept and playstyle lend themselves well to MMORPG gameplay. All that's needed is to take the good stuff from popular MMO's, mix them together with the Pokemon brand, and you'll have a game that'll get ten times the amount of players WoW has.
  • Well, WoW works (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:35AM (#18022258) Journal

    Is it perfect? No. Could you make a game that simply improves on its mistakes? Possibly.

    But what are its mistakes, and are they really mistakes or are they fundemental parts of the nature of MMO gaming.

    It would be easy to think that you simply visit the WoW forums, note down the complaints of gamers and ex-gamers and then fix these in your game.

    But wich to follow? Do you cater to the PvP haters or lovers?

    WoW currently caters to both PvP and PvE but that also means neither side gets exactly the dedication they want. So they complain. BUT would a game without one be that successfull? Just how big is the subscriber base that is satisfied with the current combo? People who are satisfied tend not to post on forums. They are to busy having a good time in the game.

    Same with the crafting/loot system. Again WoW has sought the middle ground, essentially both systems of getting your equipment are competing with each other. This means that pure crafters have a reduced market while at the same time those who are looting get lots of useless materials they need to sell.

    And again, would a game that focusses on one exclusively (SWG had a pure crafting system) be that succesfull?

    You could create a MMORPG were levelling up isn't everything. Were grinding to X isn't the primary goal. That would make the RPG crowd perhaps happier but might loose you all the grinding monkeys who no longer have an epenis to wave around.

    WoW in many areas seeks the middle road. It works. 8+million people think the bits they like are better then the bits they don't like.

    If you are going to change anything in that design you need to realize that you are going to please some but most likely upset a hell of a lot of other players.

    Go pure PvP and you MIGHT appease those PvPers who left but you are going to loose for sure every single PvE player. PLUS a significant part of the players who like a bit of both.

    Just read every comment here that suggests an obvious improvement and then ask youreselve what the total effect would be.

    Then again, until WoW entered the market, people said that the MMORPG market had been saturated and that any new game could only poach from other games.

    So is WoW the final MMORPG or is it just a more succesfull EQ waiting to be dethroned by the next comany.

  • by Shrubber ( 552857 ) <`pmallett' `at' `'> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @10:22AM (#18023010) Homepage
    I think part of WoW's success (part, not the biggest reason) is its built in framework for allowing users to customize the UI and create addons. It was a brilliant move to simply base a lot of the UI around previously existing script technology (Lua) and allow users to customize that. They have had to make some changes along the way to lock specific things down, but it is far better than any other MMOGs before, if I were forced to I wouldn't play with the default UI anymore.

    That is why Second Life is so important, it will probably never amount to much on its own but the idea of allowing that next level of user created content will be integrated into other games. Second Life will influence games in the future as people borrow those ideas.

    I think World of Warcraft has at least another two years of dominance before anyone else even has a remote chance of pulling away some of its player base, but I also think that any game that does will need to have a modifiable UI and robust scripting system in order to do it.
  • Re:Vanguard? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by garylian ( 870843 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @10:30AM (#18023144)
    V:SoH is still in beta. It's a paid beta, since you have to pay to play a game that isn't that close to finished, but it's not done.

    And I'm not sold on the older crowd thing. The game is more designed for the more hardcore "I want things to be difficult, with a lot of raid content and lots of more difficult tradeskills" crowd.

    Blizzard did a brilliant job of making WoW very casual gamer friendly, while still being able to keep a lot of those that desire a faster gameplay style happy. That's why so many people play it. V:SoH is not very casual gamer friendly, imo.

    The lack of instanced dungeons is eventually going to catch up to them, I think. Instanced content means that casual gamers can pick a date with other casual playing friends, and group/raid a target without worrying if it's "up". The total lack of instances means that the big guilds will start to lock down the better targets.

    That was one of EQ1's biggest drawbacks, imo. So many times on our server (Xegony), the big raid guilds would take down the mobs necessary to gain higher planer access. Sure, it had pretty nice loot on it, but they also knew that if they kept other guilds away from Time, they had less competition for it.

    The whole "We've got to kill X mob to gain access to Y zone" thing bites when that X mob will only once a week for EVERYONE on that server. That roadblock became a tool for those uber raiding guilds to hold others back.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson