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Dec 16, 2006



Prediction: The only new input that WW can bring to an MMO will be roleplayers, people wanting to RP within a specific background. CCP will muff it and create a standard MMO full of grinding etc which will not satisfy RPers. There will be much vampire-related angst regarding the topic across the internet.


Your title made me wince.

Also, while it's understandable from some perspectives, I still cannot figure out how this will help either party in the longer term compared to a cross-liscencing agreement.


I'm curious about "The creators of the single largest persistent online role-playing world." Do they mean largest in terms of server capacity? Or something else?


They mean that they have had over 33,000 characters online in a single graphical virtual world time. Weekend peaktime, anyway.



Because concurrent peak is important. *sighs*


"Some examples that come to mind are buying out WizKids to produce a Battletech or Shadowrun MMO."

That's a bad example because WizKids doesn't own those rights. The interactive rights to those properties are owned by FASA Interactive, and thus Microsoft.

Anyway, it's an interesting point, but it doesn't really matter, does it? It's not like it makes a great viable business plan unless you have a lot of excess cash in the corporate coffers (or stock valuation). Licenses aren't going to go away any time soon and I'm certain that there are many online game companies that don't want and don't need to manage an offline publishing engine in addition to their online works.


Personally I am more worried about WW's property then I am of CCP's coded versions of ‎it.‎
CCP isn't a grind-maker, they don't pop out repetitive content by the dozen; they are ‎mainly sandbox designers, they give the community the capability to become each other's ‎content via economical competition and politics surrounding PvP - which feels drastically ‎more meaningful from most PvP games for one reason: they allow for great losses to take ‎place. Even forces people to role-play by designing an immersive world which places the ‎player in the same situation as the character would be, so even if people don't role-play ‎communicatively, they are role-playing by their actions.‎
If they use the same philosophy on their licensed property that has worked for them in ‎eve, then I trust them to be capable of designing a roleplaying sandbox out of the world ‎of darkness property, even in a media such as online environments, at which roleplaying ‎is a lot less common then it is in pen & paper games.‎
I also think the movement CCP are making towards "human avatars" interaction (on ‎stations for now, and possibly extending it in further directions) is in itself a preparation ‎for world of darkness online: Aren't they using the eve as a platform to design the basic ‎tools needed for an environment which takes place mostly on planetary surfaces?‎

Now, I should mention I haven't really gotten into the world of darkness property for a ‎couple of years, and from what I read, it has being changed completely, unrelated to ‎anything they've released in the past, therefore I can not really say I am familiar with ‎their current property, which in itself worries me: I can't make a sound statement of the ‎viability of their current property for a persistent world.‎
on a side note: I do however remember that in their old property, their entire "magic system" was based ‎on a subjective-world theory, which when translated into a persistent world, would make ‎both for a great challenge for designers and an hilarious irony. ‎



Actually, FASA sold the rights to Battletech and Shadowrun in 2001. Currently, WizKids owns the IP to Battletech. From Fanpro's website:

"Who owns Classic BattleTech?
WizKids LLC (www.wizkidsgames.com), the makers of Mage Knight, own the BattleTech intellectual properties. They have licensed Classic BattleTech to Fantasy Productions GmbH (www.fanpro.com). Fantasy Productions is one of the premier German game companies-they publish Das Schwarze Auge (considered by some to be the "D&D of Germany") and used to translate most of FASA's products (BattleTech, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, etc.) into German.

Fantasy Productions has established an office in the U.S. (FanPro LLC) to publish Classic BattleTech (and also Shadowrun and Dark Eye) products in English."

Andrew: The benefit is that CCP now has in-house content developers for their new liscenses, without having to train new employees in the fiction. In addition, they have access to all the previously printed fiction for the World of Darkness.


Gabriel: I said the "interactive" rights. They sold the traditional board game/rpg rights but I'm pretty certain that any MMO rights are certainly still held by FASA/Microsoft, just as FASA/Microsoft continue to make "traditional video games" under the Battletech, Crimson Skies, and Shadowrun properties.


Michael Chui:

Because concurrent peak is important. *sighs*"

Sure "single largest persistent online role-playing world" is a nice marketable claim they can make because of the game's structure, but it's also a significant fact. Measuring only raw subscriber numbers (most common metric for western MMOs) is hardly the be-all, end-all indicator of success, either. It's suitable for games with certain business plan and huge mass market goals. Whether intended or not, EVE is a niche game. (A successful one, with a steady subscriber growth.) Second Life, on the other hand, has the mass market appeal (or they try to make it so) but abnormal business plan, hence more than paying subscribers is important for observing the game - although the "accounts created ever" numbers that they report are market crap.

A single large persistent world is important technologically. That's probably pretty much given.

A single large persistent world is important for game design because it allows the players to impact the world in meaningful ways. Branching story lines or worlds where players otherwise make persistent changes on 40+ servers/shards would soon lead to a state where developers are trying to support and create content for multiple different worlds. EVE and Second Life feel a lot more worldly thanks to having everybody in the same virtual space.

A single large persistent world is important socially. These benefits can be seen in above games, but also clearly in Guild Wars, where the game is less world-y due to instancing, but the whole player base is still potentially playing in the same world. If someone you meet plays the game, there's a way for you to play together. Fan sites are all about the same world and its events. PvP world wide tournaments have a lot more meaning, which I view as both good and bad. EVE has tournaments too, although mostly the pvp (and all player interaction) is more "real" and "worldy" and less structured.

For the record, I've never been an EVE Online subscriber (= paying one) although I've tried it out.


Max: Thanks for the clarification. I'd assumed that when WizKids said they owned the intellectual property rights, that assumed game rights as well. If that's not true, then that could certainly throw a wrench in any company that wanted to build a Battletech MMO :). Though, since I haven't heard anything about a new Mechwarrior game in several years, I wonder if Microsoft would be willing to part with those rights.


Andrew Crystall wrote:

They mean that they have had over 33,000 characters online in a single graphical virtual world time. Weekend peaktime, anyway.

I question this claim. I think Runescape has them beat. Runescape has different servers, it's true, but then, so does Eve. They're just hidden from you in Eve, and there's no barrier to moving between servers.

Similarly, if I'm on one Runescape server, there is no barrier to just moving to another Runescape server at any time. I can hear objections about how you can't actually "walk" there but there are places in Achaea, for instance, that you have to get to via effectively teleporting (going to a different plane for instance) and I don't think anyone would make the claim that "walking" is a requirement of a virtual world any more than anyone is going to make the claim that humanoid avatars are a requirement of virtual worlds.

The only real difference I see is that the content on Runescape server #1 is very similar to (but not exactly the same as) the content on server #2. But then, I'd also say that there's a heck of a lot of similarity in Eve's large spaces as well.



PekkaR, of the four reasons you say it's significant, only one of them really is, and it's the one that matters least.

Marketability is only significant if it's significant in other ways, but you know that. Technologically, it is significant, so I agree with you there. But the technology is irrelevant.

But you're flat-out wrong about the design aspect, because you're stacking on an extra and unnecessary assumption: interchangeability between servers. 40 different servers? Seed them with a different set of thousand players, let everyone loose, you get 40 different worlds. Is that a bad thing? Only if you're not expecting it.

Similarly, the social aspect only arises when you let the players assume they're the same world across servers. They're different worlds anyways, but these differences are small because you're not allowed to have bigger ones: i.e., the differences are all social. Fancy that.

There is a fifth aspect that you didn't mention that is valid. The economic one. I don't mean for the company; I mean for people inside the world. There's a number of critical mass thresholds that have to be passed before any kind of business is sustainable inside a world. When demand is zero, profit is negative.

But concurrent peak isn't what's important for that. Concurrent minimum is more like it. How many virtual worlds would dare to publish that?


Michael - You appear to confusing the ability to have a meaningful social interaction with someone or effect upon someone, with being on the same physical machine. The ways in which your character on one shard in most MMOs can interact with a character on another are fairly close to 0, this is not true for characters in different solar systems in Eve.

If the number of people accessible to form social connections with in a virtual world was irrelevant, shouldn't Terranovans be lavishing more attention on single player games, or non-massively multiplayer games? There's an unstated assumption on this site that the number of people who interact in a virtual world IS significant - you can't turn around and pretend that there is nothing of interest in it.

Persistence also means that the actions of 1 person affect more people. If you put up an Outpost (a permanent station in space) in Eve, that action affects all ~150k subscribers, similar to the effects of the Mara-Passari gate camp. The ASCN Titan is destroyed by BoB, and there's threads about it on the forums, not 39/40ths of the player base wondering why they'd care about what's going on on another server. The fact that you cannot move to another server to avoid the effects upon the world of a group of players is in itself significant, especially with regards to designing the game.

You could easily look at the Eve server graph on the main page of the website to work out the minimum concurrent users (or log it, like a number of sites do). However, this is not what's important for economic interaction, since the economic interactions in Eve can happen asynchronously, and do not require two players to be online at the same time. This is an artifact of increased player persistence, compared to other games where you log out and almost cease to have an impact upon the world.

Back upon the topic raised by Dan Hunter, it's not very frequently possible for the creators of an MMO to buy out the owners of an established license. It's commonly acknowledged as darn hard to get funding to make a game in the first place, never mind to acquire another company that has a significant brand or intellectual property. You could argue that some powerhouses like SOE might have the financial muscle to accomplish this, but you then have to consider that from the point of view of their liability, they're exposing themselves to increased risk before the success or failure of a project is determined. In the numbers game, a lot of people are going to want to play it safe and say that giving away 10% of profits is a much better option than risking all of a huge initial investment.

The CCP / White Wolf deal makes sense where others might not because both companies stand to strengthen themselves from it. It's been the bane of many computer games that they haven't taken advantage of merchandising and brand development in the same ways that films have, and there's certainly an attraction to the owner of a significant IP to be integrally involved in it, rather than a 3rd party between the developer and publisher (especially because CCP does it own publishing for Eve).



I was being abstract, not talking about EVE in particular. Sorry for the murkiness. I was addressing the social aspect that PekkaR brought up: a higher concurrent peak means that offline communication can more likely result in online sociability. It's a nice thought, and it has some traction, but I don't think it's true.


Michael, good answers. Interesting mention about the economy.

Admittedly my point about design and server differentiation was meant to contrast it against current game-y EQ/WoW model. I'd really like to see more exploration of sharded game concepts that nevertheless allow significant changes to the world through player actions. Perhaps any added content for different versions of the game world (differences being of magnitude "race X / city Y was wiped out") could come from the players themselves or made with a partly automated system to dynamically work around/with the differences.

Quote from Michael: "I was addressing the social aspect that PekkaR brought up: a higher concurrent peak means that offline communication can more likely result in online sociability."

Daniel answered about the social aspects in the same spirit I was speaking about it. I was trying to promote single large persistent world concept, not the concurrent user peak. Ok, looking back to my post now, starting out with that as direct answer to you was a bad effort to communicate. I should've started by first saying clearly that I don't agree with Andrew Crystall's interpretation that their frontpage claim of "The world's largest game universe" is about peak concurrent users at all. I just immediately jumped to pointing out why their phrase has some substance and isn't only a market gimmick. ;)


Michael Chui wrote:

But concurrent peak isn't what's important for that. Concurrent minimum is more like it. How many virtual worlds would dare to publish that?

Nobody, but isn't that because it's typically zero and so not worth comment? When WoW goes down for maintenance, for instance, and starts back up, it has 0 online users for some very short period of time.



Well, if you measured the size of the EVE universe in cubic kilometres it probably is a lot bigger than any other MMORPG world. Maybe that's what they meant :)

I was a big fan of the World of Darkness many years ago, and it's a setting made for politics that has a lot of potential around player alliances etc. Whether that will be acheived, time will tell. My feeling is that the relatively abstract nature of the EVE avatar encourages a more strategic approach in the players than the immediate eye-candy of a humanoid puppet centre screen. EVE can add in player models today and it won't impact the mentality of the players too much, because they're settled into the game style. Doing it from scratch, it might end up being more of the same whack-a-rat, because people focus more on the self than the team, having more "self" to identify with on screen. Also EVE grew with the players, I think from what I read, dropping a current version of the universe and game fresh on the chinese players led to a swift sledgehammer metagame approach. You can't just drop a new MMO into the world and have it instantly populated by warring player factions- how they "prime" that without nurturing it one feature-patch at a time, I don't know.


Matt Mihaly, I think Daniel Speed covered it - even what a 2-hour trial player does affects the Eve economy and the other players.


EVE publishes minimum concurrency. It publishes maximum concurrency. It publishes concurrency throughout the day in a graph on its home page, eve-online.com. Looks like average concurrency (probably more important than minimum or maximum) looks to be something in the area of 20,000. And this figure is only important in that it's concurrency in the same non-sharded space.


In an interesting tangent, The Saga of Ryzom is now up for sale. As posted on Slashdot and hosted at http://www.ryzom.org/, the community and a few designers from Nevrax want someone to purchase the Ryzom IP, source code, and artwork to make an open-source MMO. From the website:

"Until now, Nevrax has produced Ryzom, as a typical commercial software company. Nevrax, not the players, decide what direction the virtial world of Ryzom takes. We want to turn this model on it's head and give players control over the virtual world their character's inhabit. We want to purchase the source code, game data, and artwork, so that we can further develop it by placing it under a Free Software license. Once this is accomplished we would reopen the universe of Ryzom to players and have it function and further developed under democratic controlled basis."

An interesting idea for a company: to be the titular holders of the game assets, but to let the community build and improve the game. Apparently the Free Software Foundation has given a pledge of $60,000 to buy the property. It will be interesting to see how the sale goes.


It's all about the collectable card games.

Have you all been drinking or something? CCP launched an EVE CCG and within a month, bought White Wolf.

This is NOT rocket science.

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