Greedy Goblin

Monday, May 8, 2017

Way to NOT design a game

Wilhelm pointed me towards Ashes of Creation. I've seen many bad, rigged or failed games. But when you can see that a game is going to be horrible just from its promotional video, that's a rare gem. These guys are either kickstarter scammers, or have absolutely no clue what they're doing.

So they plan to design a game where actions of players make the local nodes respond and "that's what differentiates our game from the others, it reacts to what players do". Except, World of Warcraft is doing it for years, it's called phasing. Progress in questline and one set of monsters is replaced by other set, fires are replaced by lush forests and so on.

OK, maybe they mean the reaction of the World is permanent and affects other players as the reactions to them affects you. Then they announce multiple servers. There are two and exactly two stable solution of World count: one and "one for every player/group". There is simply no point to collect 100 randomly selected people and expect them to act as a community, instead of just moving to next server. So you either keep everyone separate and allow only consensual friends in (Diablo) or you put everyone in and force them to interact if they want to play. Sure, there can be technical reasons to run servers, that's what WoW does, probably it would be too expensive to have a different WoW instance for every player, but they go long way to make us feel like we're there: they phase out players, there is no mob tagging anymore, mobs scale to everyone separately. Similarly it's understandable if the server is localized for language or low ping. But designing a new game with multiple Worlds is just malpractice.

Then they continue with "because players want something other players don't want, it makes them butt heads". No silly, it makes them move to the next server. Why would anyone fight for a node in a game with lots of nodes on lots of servers?! There is no limited resource, neither bragging rights (I never heard anyone caring for BDO nodes either, and those are in limited numbers). To make it worse, there will be unique (= dev decided) events, like dragon coming out of the mountain. Then players can decide to "take down this monster because this is their home". What makes it their home? Picking that server on the selection screen when they did not know better as newbs?!

The whole game is completely directionless. It's like they have all those cool ideas and pour them all in and expect anything coherent coming out. There won't, even if they can develop it. First a developer must choose the main theme of the game. It's like "players fight in arena battles with equal rating players and their rating changes as they win or lose". This is the recipe of Chess and League of Legends. Or "players experience story from the hero's perspective while performing laid-back tasks": this is WoW. Or "players create large social structures to fight for social domination over competing structures": EVE Online. Sure, after you have a basic design, you have to fill it with "have fun in the next minute" activities and visuals. Have to design how actually combat is performed and have to balance the classes. You have to look out for corrupted devs and players trying to monetize your game. You have to put in your own monetization to support the company without corrupting the game. Awful lot of tasks and each can be done wrong and doom the game. But jumping in without even having a direction where you're going, that's recipe for disaster.


Anonymous said...

I take it you did not Google much about AoC? Probably wise.

Some salient points:

creator got his later wealth from real estate, but his initial money was from a MLM (multi-level marketing) company

AoC pays you 15% if you get others to spend. He said that this is not a pyramid scheme since you only get one level of payments, not multi-level.

He said that if the product does not launch, the backers will get their money back. If the product does not launch, I question where the money for the refunds will be coming from.

In a interview, he said he thought it will be larger than Crowfall and will take $30M to complete. The Kickstarter was for one-fortieth of that, $0.75M.

Naturally, with all these red flags, the Kickstarter is very overfunded and well into stretch goals.

Smokeman said...

Wow. So, if you don't keep chucking virgins into the volcano (Or whatever.)it will blow and destroy your city? Whelp... I hope you weren't too invested in a shop there!

I hope they have the status of the server on the select screen so you can choose between "Player run crafting utopia" and "Post apocalyptic nightmare." Wait... sorry, I meant choose between "Randomly destroyed landscape" and "Directionless slum towns." Because those are the choices you are going to get.

Anonymous said...

Would have to go back and read again about this game, but did they not also say that though there might be like fro example lets say 10 channels on a server, you can only interact with a battle on 1 of them or something like that.
As in you might be able to see the Castle on 1 channel/server but you have to go to the one where the Battle is at to interact with it?

Anonymous said...

Today's AoC news is over 8,000 backers, over 100,000 accounts and closing in on 200% of KS.


Smokeman said...

So, I finally got around to watching the video on their kickstarter.

I don't think these guys are scamming. Rather, they actually think that entire servers full of people will coalesce into positive minded groups that would defend their "homes" instead of simply fleeing to another area / quitting. Or... doing the obvious... forming anarchy groups and actively destroying the world. "He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing" Paul Muad'Dib, Dune.

I expect the reality is the management team (That one guy.) believes that, and all the industry veterans are just happy to be employed for a while. They're not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

One thing is for sure, IF this ever launches? You can expect the economy system to be OWNED by traders. That's a goodly "IF", though.

Jason said...

Mind you, that US$ 30 million is money they don't expect to pull out of the Kickstarter. It's money they already have (or at least, that's the claims, I've not seen the guys tax returns... wait... that was someone else).

For Kickstarters, it's a very well run marketing scheme. There's videos available, there are interviews on various MMO sites, there's a subreddit with the devs on it, there is a website. Google it, and you will find mentions of the game on lots of gaming sites (looks like a well-aimed marketing blast) in various languages (I noted Russian and French sites in a quick search).

It might still be a scam or a lot of hot air, and it might all blow up spectacularly, but it's at least run by people that "get" marketing and Kickstarter.

Now just to wait if they "get" making and running an MMO...