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Dec 20, 2014



The MMOs that I've loved the most have been niche games (ATitD and Wurm Online). I can look back at the early versions of Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes and really appreciate what they did and I have a lot of fond memories. But over time they always become degraded and increasingly formulaic.

I even feel like Teppy and Josh capitulated to popular demand in A Tale in the Desert sometimes (introducing teleportation, for instance) and diluted the game's vision in other ways like much later, introducing the terrible level system.

Anyway, I wish there were more games in that niche. I keep hoping that canned solutions will help drive more exciting MMO development, but a lot of what gets made seems really derivative and inbred.


It seems common to use popularity as a signifier for quality. Popular things are obviously good otherwise they wouldn't be popular, the thinking goes. And the whole label of "hipster" for someone who upholds something less popular as being superior is another angle on how popularity is seen as being the ultimate arbiter of quality.

The reality is that niche interests are still interesting as a developer and as a business. The trick is to make sure that serving the niche is done well and is done profitably. But, niches tend to be much more demanding than the mass market.

But, to the point of the post: I agree completely. When I ran my own small, unpopular game I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of running an online game. I also carry a lot of the hard won lessons from that game as I worked on other projects, including my current project on another hard-core PvP-focused MMO.

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