|Ryan Dancey CEO, Goblinworks|
Everyone who begins play during Early Enrollment will have to accept terms of service that anticipate many rollbacks, changes, fixes, and adjustments. It's the nature of the Early Enrollment concept that problems will be defined, and fixed, as the players and developers Crowdforge. Of course such actions will be implemented in ways that affect the fewest number of players and when there's an extraordinary circumstance some XP compensation may be offered.
We're not dumb enough to suggest we can launch, lock in, and just be perfect. That flies in the face of 20 years of MUD/MMO history.
Names will have a real-world value (someone will snag a desirable name and then seek to sell the account that name is on; we can't stop it). Because of that we have to be careful to not let someone or some group namefarm the game. That means we have to have some systems in place to control the rate and proliferation of names before we start letting people claim them.
It is more important to the long-term health of the game and to Goblinworks that problems related to exploits be addressed immediately. Of course, everything has to be handled on a case by case basis, but in general, my inclination will be to remove excess currency from the economy and compensate with accelerated XP.
In general, that will likely be our solution to many problems - fix the problem, and compensate with XP. Since XP == game time, giving players extra XP is equivalent to giving them store credit but it is a non-cash expense.
Each Add-On tells you how it can be used.
And about how long is the Alpha testing, and Beta testing?
As long as necessary to reach the project objectives.
The question was "have Theme Park games run their course". My answer is "yes".
Making a AAA Theme Park MMO costs between $75 and $150 million. It requires 5-7 years to make one. Usually the team size is over 300 people in the middle part of the development (may swell considerably near the end as producers throw bodies at the content pipeline).
These are impossible teams to hide. The industry is too small. So most insiders know where those teams are and roughly what they are working on.
After Elder Scrolls Online is released there are no AAA Theme Park games in development except maybe a game at Blizzard (although I've convinced myself such a project, if it exists, will never see the light of day).
The business model has proven to be a failure(*) for everyone who came after Warcraft. The list of games that tried this and failed includes (but is not limited to)
Conservatively, you're looking at more than two billion dollars invested for zero return. As a result, nobody is going to invest the next $75-$100 million unless its a vanity project. Without a budget of that size, you cannot make a AAA Theme Park MMO. Therefore, the category is effectively "dead". Until and unless someone comes up with a way to make Theme Park content at a fraction of the price, with a sliver of the development team, there won't be new Theme Park games in production.
(*) Many of these games may continue to be operated and may be cashflow positive. They are "failures" in the sense that the up-front development cost + marketing will never be recouped. They were funded on the expectation that they would generate multiples of that up-front cost in profits. After their initial surge and then collapse, they operate with stripped teams who can't develop the kind of massive content extensions needed to keep acquiring new customers at a rate high enough to sustain growth.
I think you can log in to the Fulfillment system once you get your Buddy invite and do your own add-Ons. Not 100% sure but high confidence.
What you can't do is buy an Add-On and then send the Add-On to another person. That will be something we'll manage outside the Fulfillment system.
All economies with fiat money (like MMOs in general) have an inflation risk. And all fiat money economies have the ability to be manipulated to reduce inflation. In the real world those measures are hard because they mean a loss of savings and employment. In an MMO it's much easier to squash inflation because the methods mean (usually) a small number of obscenely rich players become slightly less obscenely rich; but in general the community is happier with inflation managed than when it goes haywire.
@Tuoweit - you can't break up a Reward, and you can't give a Reward to a different person. Add-Ons are different you can give them (with some restrictions like the Salute) to others. We'll figure out how to manage the Print Pack Add-On but I suspect we won't let you gift that.
Things that you want to give to another player will be handled later.
The various "packs" are all benefits in addition to what you start with without a "pack".
I honestly don't have an answer to the question about stacking regional packs. Might be harmless. If so, you'll be able to do it.
The fulfillment tool had the wrong pledge level for me (I checked the pledge shown on the Kickstarter site to make sure I hadn't messed it up myself somehow).
If the Reward the system thought you had selected was Pioneer or higher, no worries. If it was something lower, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Realistically you'll be able to go to a website and read some fan's breakdown of the whole cycle. There won't be much mystery. It seems more important to me that we make the whole escalation experience reasonably fun through gameplay rather than through storytelling.
Monster Hexes are a part of the geography of the game space. People will make decisions about where to fight for territory to build Settlements based on the kinds of monster hexes in the area. So I think that it becomes a problem if they arbitrarily change.
On the other hand, it is a part of the design that the world should react to the actions of the players. So that implies that the actions of the players should have an impact on the Monster Hexes. Maybe that means that over time, they slowly morph from one kind of monster to another.
That will be a delicate balancing act to avoid screwing people especially if they build an economic engine off the material drops from that Monster Hex....
If left unchecked an Escalation should result in a very dangerous area developing. It may be so dangerous that the nearby Settlements are unable to deal with it on their own and that will tend to degrade them. In a very advanced state, an Escalation might make an area essentially uninhabitable.
I think that's fun. It gives advanced characters something interesting to do with their power besides fight over territory.
I suspect "yes". At least for characters following tabletop archetype objectives. But don't quote me.
There will likely be convenience items in the cash shop that have analogs that can be crafted by players like potions of healing. They won't be materially better than what you can craft yourself, and the point of making them available for sale is just to reduce player frustration not force people to buy stuff.
The game mechanics in the game right now are really basic "lets make a system test" things, not real game mechanics. They exist just to map out the pathway. We need UI, we need an animation. We need some interaction between attacker and target. We need to show results of combat. The game currently does this.
With that level of system in place now the designers can start building a real game mechanic, and the artists can think about real UI, etc.
How would you propose to handle the hardware exponential problem where the lookup table for which guid is broadcast scales with the product of the number of identities and the number of players
Its worse than this because you have all sorts of reputation and alignment things to manage too.
These issues have caused CCP endless problems with Factional Warfare, and that's in a system where there's no disguise. The database load is explosive.
You see 100 players forming up outside your settlement. You see them rolling up seige engines. You can't do anything about it until they attack or you're the attacker and probably get the murderer flag.
Let's assume that silly example isn't real (because it isn't). The game system won't be that transparently stupid. While we haven't written much about territorial control, the systems will be rich, deep, strategic, and not about rolling up siege engines to a hostile Settlement without risk of death.
I think they want PvP removed because they want a game that plays JUST LIKE the game they're playing, without the PvP. They don't think the game has any lack of value. They just don't understand the extrinsic and intrinsic motivators that make the part of the game they like work.
A >>>> LOT <<<< of people who play MMOs with PvP would prefer that there be no PvP. They THINK that the game would be great of they just didn't have to worry about the PvP anymore.
When those requests are catered to, there is a virtual certainty that the result is catastrophe. The resulting PvP-less game loses the vital driving forces that made everything NOT PvP interesting. The economy collapses. The reasons to log in and interact vanish. The game population crashes, and nobody tries it for the first time. Soon all that are left are people basically using the game as a chat channel and a social space, and a hard core of True Believers who can't understand how STUPID the Developers are, and if they'd only try whatever ideas the True Believers have, the glory days would return and all would be well.
The truth is that taking the PvP out made a lot of people happy for a short period of time and killed the game. The fact that this pattern repeats every time it is tried does not seem to impact the logic of those who ask for it to be done again.
I don't know if I agree.
If you throw a hand grenade, you accept liability for the results regardless of your knowledge beforehand of who or what you might hurt.
Using AoE effects means you're taking risks. Don't want the risks? Don't fire off an AoE.
The most successful F2P games (in the west) do not require players to spend money to be good at the games. When you look at what Riot and Wargaming do to monetize thier players you see that it's mostly carrot and very little stick.
When you look at a theme park MMO you probably see a lot more stick because they figure out pretty quickly that the Life Time Value (LTV) of a player has to be captured in 30-90 days or its lost forever. So they can't have the patience that League of Legends or World of Tanks has to let people "figure it out" over time.
We should monetize much more like LoL or WoT than the theme park MMO experience.
The biggest on-line game on earth is F2P: League of Legends. The most successful massively multiplayer on-line game on earth is F2P: World of Tanks. All the Asian MMOS are F2P and eventually one of them will be a breakout hit in the West.
Runescape is F2P and its the 2nd largest Western fantasy MMO. Club Penguin is F2P and it is bigger in the west than World of Warcraft.
F2P is the way games are going to be monetized in most cases going forward. This is such an ingrained assumption on the part of the industry that I get more questions about having a subscription OPTION more than any other topic when talking to industry insiders.
In a couple of years, these anti-F2P rants are going to look as out of step as the people who write "MUDs are better than MMOs" rants now.
F2P is just a mechanically better option than subscriptions. It's simply a better alternative. And it will win.
CCP has good data that says its growth is limited by the fact that many people simply can't get the sense of immersion they need without being able to visualize themselves as human avatars. I believe that data to be accurate.
CCP has an aesthetic design mandate to push boundaries on graphic technology. They are not content to simply be good, they need to be "great" when it comes to graphics - especially in EVE.
They spent a massive amount of time and effort making a world-class avatar system. It was so world class that it didn't run on most of the computers used by its customers. And it required so much work to make assets for it that the company was having problems financing the team making things like clothing in addition to everything else it was producing.
After pounding away on this problem for 5 years they have finally decided to cut their losses. They shipped the least amount of their avatar system they could, and enabled players to turn it off if their systems couldn't run even that. And then they stopped most work on it and redeployed that staff back to the "flying in space" part of EVE.
Someday they may have the ability to deploy a full "walking in stations" avatar mode of game play into EVE, and that will be a big help to them in terms of growth. But it may never offset the loss in momentum they suffered while they tried to build technology too early.
It was a very good example of making a data-driven decision that is internally logical and failing because they didn't have the engineering or management required to succeed. It was really their first real "failure" as a company and it was quite a shock to the whole system.
The certificate system was needed because the character development system in EVE was allowed to go haywire. Over time different designers added their own twists to basic systems and added new basic systems without an overall mandate to remain harmonious, and so the game became virtually impenetrable. This was considered a FEATURE by quite a few players (and not a few CCP employes). It was a barrier to mastery, which meant that if you bothered to untangle all the threads you could gain substantial advantages vs. your opponents.
But from the perspective of new player acquisition it was a nightmare. Far too many people failed to engage with the game because they just couldn't figure out what skills to train to do the things they wanted to do, or couldn't figure out how to get the right synergies between various skills to be competitive. So they quit.
The certificate system essentially gives you a roadmap so you can skip the mastery part and just train the skills someone else has decided make the most sense.
I would not say certificates "turned around" EVE. They were introduced just before EVE went into a huge slump. EVE grew at a very good rate through 2010, when it flatlined because the development of the game was sidetracked in pursuit of bringing avatar based gameplay to the game, and in pursuit of a variety of non-core, specialist interests which happened to be the interests of the leadership on the development team.
CCP has replaced that leadership, and the new team is focused on making the "flying in space" game as awesome as it can, fixing many longstanding bugs, making things work better and more harmoniously, and continuing to expand the systems' capacity for large multiplayer fleet combat. As a result, acquisitions have again begun to grow. It was not any one thing, but a collection of focused effort across a broad front that could be defined as "getting their s~*+ together".
The huge increase in console gamers over the last half a dozen years also takes away from the MMO population base. Agreed that we will never see another WoW.
Your logic is flawed.
MMO player numbers have steadily increased every year.
Subscriptions flattened in 2011. But Free To Play is growing rapidly and now accounts for more than half of the total market.
There will be another WoW. Actually, there are already 3 other WoWs. The biggest MMO in the world is a game called Giant Online, and it has 40 million players, almost all Chinese. There are two other games bigger than WoW in China as well.
When I worked at Wizards of the Coast, the conventional wisdom in the gaming industry was that "there would never be another Magic: The Gathering". Of course lots of people tried, but by the late '90s most people had conceded that there was no chance of making a game bigger than Magic.
Then Pokemon happened (about 4-5x Magic). People though "well, that was a one-off". Then Yu-Gi-Oh! happened (about 10-20x Magic). So now, nobody thinks that anymore. They think it's a very high bar, and there's a lot of theories about what is required, and many of those theories involve "a miracle occurs", but there's nobody who would seriously entertain the idea that it cannot be done.
There will be a western MMO bigger than WoW. It won't be a WoW-clone. It will be something that comes at the genre from an unexpected direction, and it will be something that engages with a huge latent audience of people who the WoW phenomenon just missed, or just doesn't target.
A lot of people inside CCP want EVE to be free to play. However they're faced with the Innovator's Dilemma. As they have two really big irons in the fire (DUST 514 and World of Darkness) the risk/reward ratio for making fundamental changes to EVE's business model is really poor. If they tank EVE while experimenting, it will kill the company.
So they're not experimenting.
There are all sorts of problems with sandbox games due to their unstructured nature that are not a factor of "complexity". They're a factor of "what am I supposed to be doing". Theme park games have evolved a very simple system for dealing with this issue - you go to the guy with the "!" mark, you get a quest, you look on the map and figure out where to go to do the quest. If you want variety, talk to a number of "!"s.
Sandbox games overwhelm players. They could craft. Or harvest. Or explore. Or fight. Or socialize. But none of those things are automatically prioritized by the game over the others. And it is often not clear that the way you become good at the game is by being useful to someone else first - so being a harvester allows you to make the connections you need to gain access to exploration, etc.
Finding ways to clue in players as to how to accomplish long-term goals from the start is a challenge most sandbox games struggle with and we'll have our share of struggles.
@Hobbun - You can have as many characters gaining XP as you are willing to pay for.
This is not something really in our control.
If we said "one character gains XP at a time, period", all that would do is cause a lot of people to have more than one account. (This is that EVE has done, and it is why the average number of accounts controlled by EVE players is something like 2.5).
I think that's dumb. We get the same amount of money, but you get the hassle of managing two logins, two passwords, two payments etc.
So we'll let you get for as much parallel XP gain as you want to pay for, and avoid saddling you with the hassle.
I assume that weapons and armor will always be threaded because that's the stuff you'll need if you want to do a corpse run and try to recover the rest of your inventory. Realistically most people will not want to enter the world without defense or offense. So realistically most people will thread their arms & armor.
It's not really an issue of supply; there will be plenty of supply. Crafters gonna craft - that's what they get joy from. The demand will be the problem; it will be low. When demand is low and supply is high, prices are low, so crafting arms & armor won't be very lucrative.
There will be alts. There will be alts. There will be alts.
Ergo there will be people playing a crafter making stuff for their fighter. It is inevitable.
Destiny's Twin is kind of a half-alt. Depending on the rules we write for it, it might behave just like a regular alt or it may have limitations. We haven't decided yet. Even if we let Destiny's Twin characters behave exactly like an alt, there's no benefit the Twin has that you can't get by just paying for a 2nd training character on your account.
Since we expect a lot of people to play alts, we are unlikely to extend Destiny's Twin as a promotion for any substantial amount of time, and if we extend it at all it will be mostly just to streamline some processes in the immediate post-KS fulfillment window.