Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Letting Go?

Green Armadillo has a good post on Scott "Lum the Mad" Jennings' talk about the lifecycle of the MMO player.

I think I'm with Green Armadillo in not really understanding what Jennings is trying to get at. Yes, people will get tired of your game and move on. But I'm not sure what advice he is offering the developers. Is it just emotional advice? Don't take it to heart when a player quits after several years? Assume your MMO will die after 4-5 years and plan accordingly?

The only other interpretation I can make is that Jennings is telling devs to avoid doing excessive work, or avoid trying for "Jesus features", which you think will keep people playing.

Maybe he is trying to say that an MMO developer should concentrate on their core gameplay. For example, if your game is about PvE group content like dungeons and raids, maybe you should stick to dungeons and raids, even if you know that people will eventually tire of it and move on. Maybe he's saying that you should not spend time and effort developing new gameplay modes like Pet Battles or Galactic Starfighter to reignite a player interest.

I don't know if that is what Scott Jennings is saying. I don't know if avoiding new gameplay modes is a good idea or not. Or if Jennings is trying to get at something completely different.

If I could give gamers, programmers, and developers one piece of advice when it comes to talks and posts, it is to be blunt and obvious. Assume that we the audience are stupid and hit us over the head with your thesis. Don't allude to it or try to be clever.

1 comment:

  1. 1) Slide shows are terrible when read. You always miss a lot of context since you lose the stories and discussion of the presentation. This one is nicely annotated with his notes, but still not an easy 'read'.

    2) That said, I feel that Mr Jennings' presentation is relatively clear. Though it does meander a bit.
    a) There is a lifecycle to an MMO player's experience with the game
    b) That natural lifecycle can be extended due to the player finding other 'fun' things that exist around your game: eg guild relations. As a game developer, you have no control over this, nor do you have any control on when that extension runs out.
    c) Players who've reached the end of the lifecycle but have not exited the game tend to exhibit destructive behavior in the game and in the game's ecosystem (forums, etc).
    d) Perhaps MMO games would be well served by finding a way to allow players to exit gracefully when they've reached the end of the lifecycle. Present them with a "You win! Game Over" screen or some such.
    e) He doesn't know how to do "d". He's just trying to sew the germ of the idea.

    As I said, he does meander a bit, discussing an overemphasis on retention numbers and a few other things... but the goal of his presentation, which is summed in (d) and (e), is very clear at the end of his slides.

    Maybe you should read it again? And maybe you shouldn't tread a slide deck posted as a reference as an essay.