07 Nov 2014 00:31
As a second generation of PBBG’s slips into a pool of eager gamers, the sea of expectation continues to rise, but have developers learned from the mistakes of MMORPG developers, or are they destined to repeat history?
When Turbine entertainment announced that they were planning a sequel to Asheron’s Call (AC) many AC fans were ready to take the leap. Players were promised a new game engine, better graphics, and new content. At the time, Turbine was still sharing a license with Microsoft and had not yet escaped “The Zone”. Microsoft dictated that the sequel should feature great visual effects and be easy for newer players entering into the Massive genre for the first time. Today AC2 remains a mere memory and has been discontinued. Meanwhile, the content rich original version of AC is still running well.
We are now met with a similar transition that we experienced during the release of second generation MMORPG’s. More PBBG developers are utilizing plugins such as Java and Flash to create a more visually compelling persistent realm experience.
Appealing visualizations attract players, but good content will retain players and improve the profitability of the game.
Games like Runescape with its limited colors and 2D Isometric graphics may be challenged by developers creating games Vovins Fall and Eldevin. Sherwood gives us a clear vision of what’s possible and with more content, Sherwood could be the best PBBG available. Even strategy developers are turning to Flash and Java to enhance the game experience and games like Tribal Wars and Battledawn are already attracting the next generation crowd.
But will these games offer content that extends the longevity that PBBG’s offer or will they merely provide some brief eye-candy? Appealing visualizations attract players, but good content will retain players and improve the profitability of the game.
Gamers as a group are picky. We’ll take a month to decide how to spend $50 on our next game and we’ll save for 6 month to upgrade to a new system just to be able to play an upcoming release. Those that enjoy persistent realms are even pickier and developers have learned that it takes much more than a name and a genre to keep players happy. Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) was perhaps one the most anticipated MMORPG’s of all time. Guilds for SWG (called Player Associations) began appearing a year prior to closed beta and some of the originating guilds like The Jedi Enclave were not only formed a year prior to closed beta, but consisted of a large group of active members too, and this for a game that could not yet even be played. Yet after release, the game was missing content and contained vital flaws in game play that drove away the majority of the early “Fan Boys”. Today, those that remain with SWG represent a far smaller figure than those that eagerly waited for her release.
Eye candy is a fleeting thing, content is forever.
So how does the second generation Indy developer with far less funds and fewer resources at his disposal ensure that he can compete where others have failed? With original and plentiful content. With an accurate description and a few telling screenshots, developers can harvest accounts, but they should not expect to retain those account holders unless some good content is made available and for that, a clear design model should be drawn up. Showing off coding skills is one thing, but pleasing a picky crowd is another thing entirely. Eye candy is a fleeting thing, content is forever.