Massively Multiplayer Thoughts

I played Eve-Online for some con­sid­er­able time.  What I’ve real­ized is that online mas­sive­ly mul­ti­play­er games seem to share it’s sim­plis­tic graph­ics require­ments.  I remem­ber there being (at one point) a big stink about the game final­ly drop­ping sup­port for 10 year old graph­ics hard­ware.  This works fair­ly well for Eve.  Even a com­plex bat­tle, the num­ber of poly­gons required to accu­rate­ly ren­der them is small and the uni­verse back­drop is the only pret­ty piece of art.

Eve Online Battle

Eve Online Bat­tle

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the results are less pret­ty for oth­er mas­sive­ly online games — games where you get up close and per­son­al with oth­er play­er char­ac­ters or non-play­er char­ac­ters (NPC).  I talked about this some in my review of Fall­en Earth.  I thought of this because the var­i­ous one of the game news sites I read point­ed out that Aion and Everquest are mak­ing them­selves (now) free to play and the arti­cle was accom­pa­nied by both a piece of con­cept art and a video of actu­al game­play.  For com­par­i­son:

Aion Concept Art

Aion Con­cept Art

Aion Video Capture

Aion Video Cap­ture

Clear­ly and unsur­pris­ing­ly, it’s eas­i­er to make con­cept art than to ren­der things well in-world.  I under­stand the need to include as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, but I’ve come to dis­miss MMO games out­right as I expect the graph­ics to be fair­ly basic … which low­ers the immerse qual­i­ty of the game for me.  In Eve-Online, the games mechan­ics made the graph­ics almost sec­ondary, but in a full blown fan­ta­sy sto­ry, the visu­als become more impor­tant and have a larg­er role in the dis­sat­is­fac­tion of the game.

Now where am I going with this?  It cer­tain­ly isn’t an earth-shat­ter­ing thought so far.  Well… I got a sur­prise yes­ter­day.  My Fall­en Earth Review attract­ed a rather large com­ment.  This guy has obvi­ous­ly made a big­ger effort in his review and for some rea­son he chose to post his review to my blog.  He can’t be expect­ing any com­pen­sa­tion for it.  I don’t even see any sus­pi­cious links that might acci­den­tal­ly ele­vate his own web­site.  Heck, he even talked with the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau to com­plain about Fall­en Earth — with extra points for slag­ging both the BBB and Fall­en Earth!

There seems to be a rush to bring some prop­er­ties to free-to-play.  There are obvi­ous suc­cess­es.  Valve announced that rev­enue for Team Fortress 2 is up many fold since free-to-play start­ed.  It’s worth not­ing that Team Fortress 2 is not an MMO.  Fall­en Earth, in par­tic­u­lar, went free-to-play after fail­ing (going bank­rupt) and being picked up by anoth­er com­pa­ny and re-launched.  It seems by our friend’s post that this did not go smooth­ly.

I sup­pose there’s two ways to sep­a­rate some­one from their mon­ey.  If you make enough noise (often adver­tis­ing) and/or have a cool idea (regard­less of com­pe­tent exe­cu­tion), you’ll fool enough peo­ple for enough time to make a buck (usu­al­ly, if you’re good at that sort of huck­ster­ism).  You could always just make a real­ly good game with a real­ly com­pelling expe­ri­ence… but who’d want to do that.

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One Response to Massively Multiplayer Thoughts

  1. furniture says:

    I read this post com­plete­ly about the com­par­i­son of most up-to-date and pre­vi­ous tech­nolo­gies,
    it’s amaz­ing arti­cle.

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