Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 08, 2010
 
Some short answers

Several of the questions in yesterday's open Sunday thread were too short to write a long essay on, so I'm grouping the questions and my answers to them here:

What do you think the prospects are on a Second Life type game being used as more of a pure social networking tool... ie Facebook Online or something.

I think the big question here is what the users are supposed to be doing all day in that virtual world. If it's just chatting, then a browser-based social networking site like Facebook is probably doing the job just fine. To justify a virtual world, something has to be happening in that world. Raph Koster thought if he'd just put the world there, people would fill it with content, but in reality that content wasn't all that engaging, and Metaplace shut down before it really got started. Just giving everyone a place to decorate isn't enough. What I could imagine is a virtual world that looks a bit like an expanded Farmville. I think you need at least minimal game elements like that to attract people. Pure social networking doesn't require virtual worlds.

Tobold, how many languages are you fluent in and how many could you hold a childlike short conversation in?

Three language fluent: German, English, and French. None others I could hold even a simple conversation in, but I often manage to be able to read the general meaning of related languages, like Dutch.

Hey Tobold, have you tried out Mass Effect 2 yet? If so what do you think? Should companies streamline the RPG aspect of the game (inventory, shops, talent trees etc) and focus on gameplay?

I haven't even started Mass Effect 1 yet. Too many games, too little time. But I would say that for many people the RPG aspects like inventory, shops, or talents trees ARE gameplay. At some point you start people considering a game not a RPG any more if you streamline those elements too much.

Why is it that everybody copy/pastes as much as they can from Blizzards MMO, but when it comes to RMT / MT / cash shops they all think that they know better?

At the end of the day you can only copy certain things from WoW: Gameplay, interface, stuff like that. The content you need to add on your own. And then you realize that you can't realistically have as much content at release as WoW has now. World of Warcraft was big to start with, and is now two expansions and several content patches later. So if you put on the market a game with identical gameplay, but less content, who is going to pay the same money for that? Make it Free2Play, and suddenly "a game nearly like WoW for free" looks like a good deal.

Question: which current MMO do you feel is best suited to RP?

Lord of the Rings Online. At least that was the only game in which *I* joined a RP server and RP guild, and started acting in character. Note however that I do think that RP and RPG are two totally different things, and that RPGs aren't defined by their ability to encourage RP.
Comments:
So if you put on the market a game with identical gameplay, but less content, who is going to pay the same money for that? Make it Free2Play, and suddenly "a game nearly like WoW for free" looks like a good deal.


I have a follow-up question :)
What is the elasticity of the MMO demand in your opinion.

That is, how many people do you think would play a worse MMO because it costs 1€ less than a slightly, but noticeably better one?

If you had to draw a curve for 0€ per month to 100€ per month for the same question, how do you think it might look.

How do you think the same curve looks for significant worse games?

Are there long term/short term effects that change the curves over time?

That's certainly questions some professional reads of your blog are also interested in ;)
 
If you had to draw a curve for 0€ per month to 100€ per month for the same question, how do you think it might look.

I think that curve looks rather strange. For example the number of people willing to pay $0 is huge, and the small step to costing just $1 per month already loses you most of that number. Then the curve rapidly flattens out, and it doesn't really matter much whether your game costs $12 or $15 per month. But try charging $16, and suddenly there is another huge drop.
 
Congratulations Tobold on your extra-ordinary fluency in a non native language. You write better English than most native speakers.

May I ask how much (i) gaming and (ii) blogging has contributed to your fluency in English?
 
I had the same thoughts while playing Mass Effect 2: "is this still an rpg?".

But it does have a talent tree, an inventory and shops. It's just not what the game is about. Item fever? Not really, you just get an upgrade from time to time.

The game does have Biowares strong RPG points. Great character building, tons of different locations and above all a great story.

In the end, it really doesn't matter how you call this game. It's one of the greatest games I've played in years. I do miss the item management though. As it is now it's impossible to tell if weapon A is better then B. Give us some stats!
 
May I ask how much (i) gaming and (ii) blogging has contributed to your fluency in English?

Gaming certainly. I moved from the typical teenager being horribly bored by having to learn a foreign language at school to being a teenager very much interested in learning English by the simple fact that at the time the AD&D rulebook (1st edition) was only available in English.

Blogging, you tell me. Go back in my archive to the first articles and tell me whether my English evolved since then. Obviously writing in English now nearly every day is good practice.
 
@Carra:
I actually enjoyed the fact that Mass Effect 2 had (mostly) no items. The idea of items to make you more powerful has started to bore me lately.

While playing ME2 I started to remember UFO? You remember "UFO - Enemy Unknown" ? :)

It was one of the best games of its time. Tactical combat to defeat an unknown enemy and you would replay it and replay it and replay it ..
It was actually quite hard (or I was too young and stupid :)
---

I was like mad playing ME2 through within 2 days. Then I couldn't get up to replay it. Impossible. Same with Dragon Age.

These modern games are not only games. They are interactive cinema. That's not bad. But isn't there a demand for games that are more .. games and less story on tracks? Like UFO was?

A background story, some lore - but a fun gameplay at the center. This doesn't contradict the 'immersion' - UFO managed to have an extremely good gameplay without having to sacrifice immersion at all - at least that's what I remember.

By the way: Bioware tries sooo hard to make us replay their games. You can start with a higher difficulty, you get start bonuses: 200.000 cash, 50.000 of each mineral and a power of your choice of any of your companions of the last play-through.
Dragon Age has the origins which were assumed to make us replay it.

Perhaps I am alone. But games that depend so heavily on the story .. I cannot bring myself to replay them. Instead I turn towards the (flawed) Fallout 3 to play for the 100th time .. of course I ignore the main story when doing so ...
 
Do youself a favor. Skip Mass Effect 1, get right to ME2.
 
Skipping ME1 is not a good idea if the story actually interests you. All through ME2 it references thr decisions you made and the characters you met. Many ofthosr characters return in small parts for ME2 and the story assumes you remember them and the relationship shepard had with them. Your missing half the game.

Smash through the main ME1 storyline if you like, but don't skip it entirely. Not only will you miss out on a great game, you will degrade your ME2 experience.
 
@ Siaer: 100% agreed. Skipping ME1 is a very bad idea. Even if you (for some strange reason) didn't like the gameplay.
 
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