Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Niche game vs WoW clone

We always here the terms "niche game" and "WoW clone", without understanding what do they mean. They are often cursewords or badges of honor, instead of descriptions. So let's see first what WoW is: "WoW is an interactive media that the subscriber can fully consume regardless of his input (besides open trolling)". WoW is like movies: if you pay the movie ticket, you are entitled to fully watch the movie, unless you make a scandal inside the theater. Both WoW and a movie exist without the input of the consumer. The movie is the same, even if no one watches it and an individual consumer gets the same experience regardless the existence of other consumers. Same for WoW, Deathwing is dead in a server where no player killed him.

Unlike the movie, WoW retains some illusion of interaction between the consumer and the World, but its results are limited to the avatar of the consumer. If you never killed Deathwing, you don't have the achievement or other rewards from it, if you killed him multiple times, you may have all the rewards. But you (or anyone else) killing Deathwing has no effect on Deathwing. Similarly, if you never engaged in Battleground PvP, you don't have the achievements or rewards. If you did, you have. However while you claim (and have rewards to prove) that you were victorious over other players, so do they claim and point to the very same proofs. The characters of both of you have improved and have the same rewards to show off your illusionary victory. So in WoW the consumer is not a player as his experience is uncorrelated with his input (besides extreme inputs).

Niche games are different from WoW because they are games. The outcome can be favorable (winning) or unfavorable (losing) depending on the input of the player and the inputs of teammates and opponents. The "niche" is defined by the ruleset. EVE is different from Counterstrike, each harboring different type of players who enjoy different kind of challenges.

WoW is an enjoyable one-time consumption for everyone (besides extremes). WoW clones wish to emulate its success, but fail, because they lack the funding to do so. Since - unlike movies - consuming such product takes lot of time, it's unlikely for a customer to consume more than one in the same time. They are also competing for the total consumer base. Therefore they are in direct competition and only the best-made can survive and it's currently WoW. WoW-clones cannot succeed, except for the yet-to-be-seen WoW-killer, that will take its place. Also, constant content updates are needed to upkeep with the consumers, in absence of these, they would leave. If WoW would receive no more content, it would die in a year.

Niche games only need to compete with games within the same niche. So EVE is competing with Darkfall, but not with Counterstrike, Heartstone or Starcraft. A successful niche game can (and often do) survive without further content. Counterstrike is being played without serious new content in the last decade.

PS: daily evil propaganda bashing. The head of evil is busy spreading lies. Not by mistake the punchline of his recent one is the usual "nerf supers because I have less". His article blames supers for being the reason for the two-block cold war nullsec. He is 90% right: the only counter of the "apex force" of supercarrier blob is a larger another supercarrier blob, forcing everyone to join blocks to be part of the "larger supercarrier blob". What he doesn't mention is the "apex force" logic doesn't need supercarriers. Something will always be the apex force (a fleet that can only be defeated by a larger version of itself), so groups will always be motivated to join a block. He doesn't want to nerf the apex-projection (which probably can't be done anyway), he just wants to keep nerfing the actual apex until the new apex is his own. When Drakes were the apex force, he didn't complain.

Power projection can be nerfed by ... nerfing it: greatly decreasing the jump range of all jump methods and/or putting timer on re-jumping. But the real solution to the power projection problem is what I'm proposing: asymmetric warfare. Small, mobile groups terrorizing the backyard of the undefeatable block until it is forced to negotiate peace or weakened to the point where the other bloc can safely go war with it.

PS2: how can someone be this stupid?


Chris K. said...

You seem to think that gameplay without long-term and lasting consequences is not gameplay, which is just wrong.

Losing or winning a BG or an Arena is, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant, I'll grant you that. However within that limited timeframe of the game duration, the experience of that player will indeed be correlated with his input, deciding his performance during the match - and ultimately if he wins or not.

World of Tanks, League of Legends and Dota are also glorified pvp arenas and function in a lot of ways similarly to themepark BGs, so by your definition, obviously these are not games as well.

I don't get it.

Gevlon said...

In League of Legends your rating is a lasting result which depends on your input, so it's a game.

WoT has a cheating matchmaking to give you 50% winrate with no reward for skill, so it's indeed not a game. I don't know about Dota.

Lucas Kell said...

I think you misunderstand niche. Counter-strike for example isn't a niche game.
All games are games, they are designed to be played for entertainment. A mainstream game (like wow, counterstrike or CoD) is designed to be enjoyed by the majority of people. They are generally quite forgiving so they don't put people off, quickly reward playser for playing and often allow you to win when you lose. Now those aren't just qualities of a mainsteam game, they are just fairly common. The only quality a mainstream game needs is to have a target audience of "most people".

A niche game is a game targeted to a specific group of people, with no interest including people outside of that group. Like EVE which caters to spaceship loving nerds. Disgaea is a tactical RPG which is a pretty targeted market too.

The term "niche game" isn't something that the community just says as well, it's an actual term used in the game development business. When developing a game you decide fairly early on which markets you are going to aim for with your game, and one of those choices is to decide to aim for a very specific market or go for mass market appeal (or somewhere in-between)

Lucas Kell said...

Oh and nerf bridges? Yes please.
We can fly around between our main deployment areas in interceptors, and I don't think there's any of our space that I don't have ships in. If they nerfed jump ranges and time between jumps though, it would mean groups like BL wouldn't be able to leap straight into the middle of our space to assist groups like MoA, they'd have to gate through hostile space to get there.

Chris K. said...

Don't Arenas and Rated BGs in WoW also come with a rating attached? What makes them different from LoL, in that regard?

Also, isn't hardcore raiding progression monitored (albeit by 3rd party sites) as well? There is guild ranking for each realm/region/world.

These systems seem very game-y to me.

Gevlon said...

There are about a billion people with internet access and a decent computer. 6M plays WoW. 0.6% doesn't seem to be "enjoyed by majority of the people", looks like a small niche too me.

Also "forgiving and giving wins more often than losses" is the opposite of "game". A game - by definition - gives 50% wins and not at all forgiving, because that removes the connection between input and result.

@Chris: rated BGs and arenas are games. Top raiding was indeed turned into a game by the community using third-party tools, but without the intention or support of the developers. Similarly you can have a "who knows more Pulp Fiction quoutes" contest, but it doesn't mean that the movie is a game.

Fidtz said...

I agree with the thrust of the post but EvE is actually a counter example as there is no way to compare yourself to others, even to the extent of WoW Arenas.

That is because the win condition for EvE is self defined so "fully pimped out Navy Raven", "1B ISK per month profit", "largest Sov area of any alliance" are end game victory conditions if you want them to be as is "played for 3 months and cancelled account".

You can try and define your own win conditions for Counterstrike but it comes up on the screen at the end of each round and game whether you won or lost and that will be the only conditions accepted by anyone else.

Gevlon said...

@Fidtz: but you can fail your own win condition if you play bad. Your Navy Raven can be ganked before fully pimped for example.

Fidtz said...

@Gevlon - true except in a "proper game" people will want comparable failure and win conditions, hence ELO type rankings rather than "number of wins against people I happen to know" as a standard in board games.

How can I compare "haul x tons of ore in 24hrs" to "get y npc kills in 24hrs". Is failing or achieving either the same level? Is one so pointless as to not count for some values of x and y?

Eve certainly has a niche but I can't see it as any more a "game" by your definition than WoW. There are more things to do that are affected by others than WoW, but ultimately the model is the same.

Anonymous said...

Looks like your theory is becoming true,

Anonymous said...

I think this is why many "balanced" games have a Rock-Paper-Scissors power circle. Each class is always weak in a detrimental way to something else, and also is OP against something else. A fair fight exists only against oneself. The only way to win against the class's defined enemy is with superior numbers, and this can often be offset by defeat buffs, where the class becomes stronger for a short time as they defeat their foe. Ever played the old games Fire Emblem? Imagine what would happen to a game like Eve if that ever became reality.

Maybe sandbox (really freedom to give myself an advantage over someone)and balance cannot exist together.


Anonymous said...

It is the goal of any competitive gaming circuit to match opponents of equal skill against one another. This means that, ideally, you end up with 50% w/l after you find your level.

To walk you through the steps:

-Person joins a league. They are unranked/default rank. This varies depending on the league.
-Person plays. They begin to win/lose and gain/lose ranking. In a few systems, like League or Starcraft, they expediate this by using random matchmaking "placing matches" to get you in the general area.
-The person's rating normalizes, and they play in "50/50" matches against opponents of equal skill
-If they get better, they drift up to their new "50/50" matching pool.

50% win rate is ideal. It ensures that you are being matched with the correct people.

Of course, this naturally drifts up for games with a relative churn. In games with stable player bases, 50/50 is guaranteed. But more players added creates more instability in the player rankings, as new players' movement through the system causes rankings to reorder until they are in the right spot.

Anonymous said...

TIL EVE, a friendly football match, a family board game, rock scissors paper, chess, connect 4, checkers and many more aren't actually games! Thanks Gevlon for enlightening me.

Anonymous said...

Every boardgame doesn't track score or rating. maybe rated national- or world-championships. But the odd chess game with my uncle is a game. At times very engaging and hard. But without a lifetime score, therefore by what you are saying no game at all.

Anonymous said...

EvE at its heart is a WoW Clone straight and simple.

The only way to change it is to admit it.

And then get lots of people to admit it.

And then force CCP to change it.

Somehow this quote from Gandhi comes to mind (off-tangent relevant):

First they ignore you
Then they laugh at at you
Then they fight you
Then you win

GO figure

(still the same guy posting)

mugg said...

Release date: NA May 6, 2003

Release date: AUS / NA November 23, 2004