Apologies, for I have been away. In my defense – I’ve been away on research! In short, I’ve been playing MMORPGs like there’s no tomorrow. If the Mayans are right, at least I can die at level 30.
My last and final point is culminated across a vast number of games – but chiefly from Allods Online. Allods, at one time, had the potential to halt WoW in it’s tracks (who knows? a +10 luck roll, perhaps). An $12-million dollar budget; superb but easily understandable gameplay;
The soundtrack of Allods Online was created by Vladislav Isaev, (Mark Morgan, the composer for the first two parts of the Fallout series and Planescape: Torment), Michael «Lind Erebros» Kostyleva, and recorded by the Central Symphony Orchestra of Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Bolshoi Choir.
That’s enough namepower to topple a small army of games.
We all know this sad story. The patches came, “fixing” what wasn’t broken, removing features that players loved, adding stuff that wasn’t worth a damn.
Players protested, and were ignored. More patches. The item shop screwed the game into the bargain, giving the richest players the sharpest edge.
And viola: wasteland. A totally awesome game gone to ruin.
The final lesson? Damn simple. LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE. Listen to your players. If one man calls you a horse, you call him an idiot. If two men call you a horse, you hit them on the mouth. If three men call you a horse – maybe it’s time to go shopping for a saddle.
Never ignore the players, because these are the people who’ll be playing your game. Often most of them have been in MMORPGs before. They’re playing your game because they want something better. They know what works and what doesn’t – sometimes far better than you.
The developer perspective is never that of the player: never forget that. Players don’t know, or care how many hour you spent on that awesome pet summon: what they do know is that it imbalances the whole of your PvP. Pay attention. If they scream, fix it. Fast. If isn’t enough to make a good game and launch it: an MMORPG is a non-stop process of constant iteration and upgrades.
WoW lives because Blizzard listens to its playerbase; they didn’t piss players off until the Cataclysm upgrade, and even that was a minor issue about rare items. Everything else was seamless and added a ton of new things to do, all of it tuned to player expectations. Learn from Blizzard: listen to your players.
And that’s all, folks.