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Jun 21, 2005

Comments

101.

/picks up popcorn

Yay!

Best. TN Thread. Ever.

I gotta say, maybe you aren't an arrogant elitist, but ya' sure *sound* like one.

I know zippo about designing games, but I know quite a bit about both the practice and business of law, so my personal favorite excerpt from the calvacade of nonsense throughout this thread was the line "it reminds me exactly of the way lawyers perpetuate their own utility. They ensure that laws written for things that could easily be simple (like real estate transactions or wills) are instead very complex and filled with terms of art."

Classically dismissive, arrogant, simplistic and smacking of someone trying to leverage a little bit of knowledge into a position of authority. Which is what you are generally accused of by, oh, everybody else in this thread. So yeah, pretty easy to pick which side we amused spectators fall on.

Could be just your writing style though, right?

More! More! More!

102.

Jimpy, first off, be careful with your use of a handle. Mikey doesn't likey.

Second, the lawyer analogy was apt for me since I was a lawyer about a decade ago. I noticed from your email that you work at a law firm. If my comment struck a nerve or offended you, I apologize. I hope you won't feel compelled to lash out at me because of my negative comment about lawyers.

Thirdly, there is no "everybody" accusing me of leveraging "a little bit of knowledge into a position of authority." There is just Mr. Sellers. I have never claimed a position of authority of any kind, so right there you've already made an error. I have shared my opinions and analysis and in this thread made a comparison of text and graphical MMO evolution.

Fourthly, I'm not certain if you were calling me elitist or not. If you were, I'm don't see how, since I'm the one saying people SHOULDN'T have to prove their credentials just to share opinions here. It is very obvious that I am taking the non-elitist position here.

Although I do have a lot of experience in the creation of commercial virtual worlds, I have never used that as de facto proof that anything I say is correct (unlike Mr. Sellers). I have stated my views and tried to defend them on the merits. When someone disagrees with me, I try to address their points. I do not try to argue that they should not even be discussing the issue at all, which is what Mr. Sellers has done repeatedly here.

Unfortunately, your 100% personal attack has derailed the topic, so I am going to repost a portion of my above post:

==================================================
For the sake of perspective in this snippet of post, it was directed in reply to Mike Sellers. So any use of "you" is most likely referring to him.
==================================================

There are many people here with no experience making virtual worlds, and others who might but I would never know who they are. I read their posts just as thoughtfully, as they could very well have an excellent point to make.

For example, Edward Castranova has made ZERO online games (graphical or otherwise). Is he not allowed to share his opinions and analysis now? You wouldn't dare say that, although implicitly that is what you have already said.

Let us also not forget that the actual issue I raised involved a COMPARISON between text and graphical online game evolution. Do you really think the only people who can draw parallels between text and graphical MMO evolution are people who make graphical games?

When the subject is comparing two things, is it only people with experience in the latter who should comment? People with expertise in the former should not?

Imagine two classics professors- one specializing in Latin literature and the other specializing in Greek literature. If they were discussing and comparing Ovid and Homer, would only the Latin professor be allowed to speak? After all, Latin came later. In a nutshell, that is what you've been arguing and it is totally absurd.

103.

Aryoch:

When someone says something that doesn’t mesh with my own conventional wisdom, I either want to see some facts laid out in defense of the idea, or I want to know what their background is so I have some frame of reference. That was my reason for inquiring about your experience.

I think that you have some good points to make, but you undermine yourself in the delivery when you dismiss, ignore, or gloss over other people’s valid points in favor of driving home your own conclusions. You seem more intent on winning the argument then fostering a good discussion. That’s why some of us (not just Mike) are frustrated with your posts.

104.

Not to interrupt the recent debate, but MMORPG.com has a preview of Kaneva... a toolset that lets anyone make a MMORPG. I believe it was mentioned someplace above...

http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm?loadFeature=149&fp=1024,768,745752140,20050630205842

105.

Note the use of Rapid Reality's (also located in Atlanta) use of this technology to bootstrap themselves into a mmo powerhouse this Christmas season with 5 MMOs.

With enough MMO conceptual worlds in the same "Walled Garden", even bad MMOs in the garden can at least grow their novelty value with a bit of gardener care whereas it will quickly die outside of the garden.

The larger companies are also trying to find "synergies" by leveraging their internal platforms, tools, etc.

The Chinese and Korean developers have made a lot of progress on this on their in-house productions to rapidly develop cheap games with slight potential to be hits, but stil rely on licensing for the more refined externally developed games.

NCSoft, for example, is still a primary publisher of MMOs, but the are making in-roads in internal development of their casual games.

Anyway, rambled long enough.

106.

Aryoch -

Don't worry - I'm hard to offend. :-)

Trust me, I'm not actually attacking you as a person. I have no idea if you are elitist, etc. I'm attacking your ability to convey and idea without *sounding* arrogant, elitist or of questionable credibility. With a legal background, surely you understand the power of words.

Your comment on lawyers wasn't offensive, it was just silly. It's like hearing the old folks on the porch talk about those "fat cat polticians with their high falutin' ideas." Its catchy, but you would never call it political science. That sort of thing just undermines your credibility and distracts from the points you are making. I only picked it because I *know* it is silly, whereas I really have no grounds to address your MMORPG points.

Since you are anonymous, we casual readers have nothing to judge you on but your postings. There are plenty of other examples for even casual readers like myself to pick up on, ranging from claiming WoW patches take 1-2 days to download (huh?) to the real estate devoted to martyrdom (how many times do we have to hear you've been stalked? or read the phrase "100% personal attack" applied to any criticism levied against you?). The actual industry people here seem to have even more issues. And if you think Mike is the only one who disagreed with you, let's just say as a casual reader, I see many posts that take issue with your stances and few that support you.

All of things factors combine to detract and distract from your substantive writing. Your posts become subjects of entertainment rather than education, which isn't a good thing - especially since you often have worthwhile things to say hidden admist the dreck.

Speaking for myself, I got nothing against you personally. Zero. Don't even know you. But I'll sign on to Karnov's analysis: your writing style stinks and gets in the way of the points you are trying to make. And with the high-level at which other people are writing (which makes this such a lovely board), it really stands out.

107.

Jimpy, can you please stop pulling this thread totally off topic to deal with purely personal issues? You keep derailing the thread and people keep trying to drag it back to the actual topic. For the sake of the entire blog, please stop. I'm really not interested in what you think of me, and I doubt anyone else is either. In fact, your criticisms become very hypocritical considering how badly you are ruining an otherwise interesting thread.

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Back on Topic:
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> Mike Rozak wrote:
>
> Not to interrupt the recent debate, but MMORPG.com
> has a preview of Kaneva... a toolset that lets anyone
> make a MMORPG. I believe it was mentioned someplace above...

and

> magicback wrote:
>
> Note the use of Rapid Reality's (also located in Atlanta)
> use of this technology to bootstrap themselves into a mmo
> powerhouse this Christmas season with 5 MMOs.

This Rapid Reality uses this Kaneva toolset?

That's very interesting. I'll have to read up on that.

> magicback wrote:
>
> The Chinese and Korean developers have made a lot of
> progress on this on their in-house productions to
> rapidly develop cheap games with slight potential to
> be hits, but stil rely on licensing for the more
> refined externally developed games.

That is an excellent point. I can think of one game my wife and an employee of mine played for a few months. The game was called Fairyland. It was not very advanced in terms of graphics or multimedia, but it had some very interesting desgin concepts that made the game enjoyable for them for quite some time.

It was made by a small company and managed to get a very sizeable userbase despite being a good 5-10 years behind current MMO graphics quality.

As I have said before, betting against technology is a loser's bet. I have no doubt that tools and engines WILL be available eventually that make it a lot easier for a smaller company to make a good quality graphical MMO.

Once this happens, a lot of niche genres/markets/design concepts will be addressed that the huge companies are not interested in.

That will be a boon for developers AND gamers.


108.

I should have noted that the connection between Fairyland and magicback's post was that Fairyland was made by a Korean company (if I recall correctly).

109.

Hmm - before the thread flames out completely, I also have to question the idea that you'd have much more than 1 GM per 2600 players*.

Assuming nobody's getting any bulk discount & they're at $15/month (the high-end of the mass industry price point as far as I can tell), 2600 players bring in $40k/month. Since people have free accounts, long-term discounts, etc, the actual is presumably lower.

If you pay your customer service $30k/year, the burdened costs per month come out over $4k. (25% for benefits, 35% for overhead - office space, computer, bandwidth, electricity, administrative support, manager/HR salaries - depends on setting, but I'd expect it to be higher).

A botique MMO might be able to afford more than that, but I'd be surprised if the mass MMOs would want to spend a whole lot more than 10% of gross on customer service (and I'm overestimating income & underestimating costs, so it's probably higher than 10%). Does anybody from the industry have solid statistics?

* the first set of numbers were 1.2 * 2200, which is 2600 and change; somebody later introduced 3600, but I didn't see justification for it.

110.

the first set of numbers were 1.2 * 2200, which is 2600 and change; somebody later introduced 3600, but I didn't see justification for it.

Just for reference, the 1 GM per 3600 players came from me originally I believe, and I arrived at that number by dividing the recently announced 2 million players (linked at the top of the thread) by 550 GMs worldwide (announced here). I believe those are both pre-China launch numbers, but taken at face value, that's 2,000,000 / 550 = 3636.36, or one GM to roughly every 3600 players. Anyhow, that's how I arrived at that number.

111.

(And in the case of Samantha's number, it's more like 7% of gross, which I could believe would make more CS reps affordadable.)

Two more thoughts that were keeping me awake last night:

* Interworld portals were implemented in MUD codebases in the 91-93 timeframe; maybe earlier. If the patent predates that it'll expire by the "5-10 year" point people are talking about.

* Looking at Neverwinter Nights is probably a must for anybody who's interested in the likely effects of a toolkit for building MMOGs. There were hundreds of servers for these graphical MOGs out there last I checked. It fails the criteria mentioned above on only two grounds, as far as I can tell: (1) noncommercial license, (2) max 64 concurrent users per server, although again there are multi-server worlds set up (with portals, cross-server who, but I *think* not cross-server chat).

The professionals would probably see lots more than this academic. My quick thoughts are:

(1) even with *all art* supplied and the core mechanics/ruleset fixed, developing a nonderivative world takes multiple manyears. See poster above for how much art is necessary.
(2) even with core mechanics and ruleset fixed, the community does manage to create a reasonable range of variety.

NWN1 used predrawn modular tiles for building. It'll be interesting to see how well NWN2 does, which has been announced to drop the modular approach for more custom geometry. (I haven't been following closely enough to know if they're going to something more like the Morrowind construction kit, or totally hand-drawn.)

112.

Tom Hudson>Interworld portals were implemented in MUD codebases in the 91-93 timeframe; maybe earlier.

Definitely earlier. I implemented movement across virtual worlds with MUD1, where you could go from "The Land" (ie. MUD1) to VALLEY (a smaller area) and back. Other people who used the MUD1 engine also used this facility, so your character could eg. leave the Fraggle Rock world and arrive in MUD1.

Richard

113.

Samantha wrote:

--
the first set of numbers were 1.2 * 2200, which is 2600 and change; somebody later introduced 3600, but I didn't see justification for it.

Just for reference, the 1 GM per 3600 players came from me originally I believe, and I arrived at that number by dividing the recently announced 2 million players (linked at the top of the thread) by 550 GMs worldwide (announced here). I believe those are both pre-China launch numbers, but taken at face value, that's 2,000,000 / 550 = 3636.36, or one GM to roughly every 3600 players. Anyhow, that's how I arrived at that number.
--

Bear in mind that there is a cultural aspect to consider, as well. Asian players, on the average, request help from GMs far less than Western players, around 10% of the total calls from Western players.

Sorry I can't use sources here; NDAs still in effect prevent me from doing so. Take it as anecdotal for now. If you accept it for the sake of the discussion, it does mean that, combined with the lower personnel costs, it is generally less costly to provide GM service for Asian games in terms of butts in seats.

Having toured a couple call centers in China, the reality is that they actually came closer to the 1 per 2000 mark than Western games. They are structured differently, however. About half are used as in-game GMs to solve problems, a quarter to one-third as follow-up GMs on the in-game GMs and the rest to call on as many players as possible and make sure they were satisified with the result of the call. You almost never see step 3 in Western games and rarely see step 2.

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