Tobold's Blog
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Open Sunday Thread

As every Sunday I get a day off from blogging, and you get the opportunity to ask me questions, discuss, or propose subjects for future blog posts.
Console versus PC Faming.

The EVE forums periodically erupt with a "why not DUST 514 for PC" Usually also pointing out that console are old inferior hardware.

I though you were unbiased and kept up with the business issues as opposed to the "religious" nature that these discussions degenerate into.

My understanding was that despite the hard core derision, the Wii has been successful and that the current high growth in gaming, to use a broad term, is Flash/Facebook games and the iPhone.

How do you see gaming platforms and trends? Is there a consensus in the industry?
- There is never a consensus

- Flash/Facebook/iPhone games complement PC/cosole games, they don't replace them

- I see no reason for consoles other than irrational consumers, but I'm willing to learn :)
Is WoW's success based on its player base or its quality? There are other games that are very good, even some excellent, so why is WoW this big?
what if wow equipment mostly enhanced abilities and not stats. would that make a difference better or worse?
What if equipment were just for style and skills/skill-enhancements were invisible from the outside?

Could be runes/tatoos or the good old 'learning', you know, like in RL.

If that were the case I supported Lexicorros idea.
What if Blizzard created a designer armor shop with manikins in the windows of the various new and sheik styles. Beautiful armored gowns hung on hangers to click through.

Just a girl and a dream /sigh
Do you think WoW would benefit from a (modified) version of the CoH architect system? What I'm thinking is something more akin to their plans for SC2 maps; people create things and then they're screened and rewarded based on how popular/well done they are. However, what I'd do is basically put up a limited slot application procedure so that people who actually had a clue could use a tool to design WoW dungeons, thus keeping the content fresh, without the painstaking process of going through millions of created dungeons and only using the best. Obviously, there are issues I've glossed over, but methinks something like this would help the late expansion period.
"Fast-Draw Unupped Pillarless AI3 Grinder"

The above describes a proposed deck in an interesting CCG (flash-based) that I have found: Elements, the game.

This game has some uniqueish attributes:

1) many varied AI opponents (you can play other people as well)

2) Completely free (you start with a deck and can add cards by winning against AI or by buying & selling cards using gold you earn from winning)

The "grinder" term referenced in the above deck is an integral part of the game. You must play many games (grind) to build up gold to purchase other cards (relatively cheap) or upgrade a card (expensive -- 1500 gold).

The "unupped" term above means the deck has no upgraded cards so that it can be built relatively cheaply.

You also have a chance to win one of the cards in the deck you beat.

Overall, this game is very MTG-like coupled with extensive & varied AI to play against (also PVP) and completely free.

PS: They also have a sandbox trainer you can use to build any of the non-upgraded decks you want and play that deck against the AI.
Why consoles?

A) The device is standard. If you design a game for the PS3 every PS3 owner will be able to play it.

B) Less hassle on the consumer. Less anti-piracy restrictions.

C) Cheaper than a good gaming computer (often by over $500).

D) Some games are just not made for PC, and you have to play on a console (this last point can be made moot if the industry ever switches 100% to computers).
Thanks for the input, Pangoria Fallstar.

A) How is that an advantage over PC? If I buy a gaming computer I also am able to play every game meant to be played on that platform...

B) Mmh. Ok. I guess that's a small point for you, but a strange one. The copy protection from console games is just better than the PC copy protections schemes. Therefore console player have less problems with bad copy protection. With internet copy protection this will soon be mood, and actually .. I have yet to encounter an PC game that I cannot get to run, because of the CP. Hacks are very easy to get if it should ever be necessary.

C) A console is only cheaper if you have no computer. Since the vast majority of households have one, a 3D graphics card is usually cheaper than a console. It is also easier to update just the components that need to be updated with a PC.

D) You can connect any control device / gamesticks etc. to your computer should you really want. You can even plug in your TV, if you dislike a PC monitor for some reason.

Actually, I think (C) is where most buyers are irrational. A console seems to be cheaper.
Nils, most people who buy a computer couldn't add ANYTHING to it. Even plugging something into a USB port is a challenge for non-geeks.

I work with a whole load of highly intelligent young and not-so-young adults. They all have degrees, many of them have advanced degrees. They can discuss the French New Wave or 18th century sea warfare or the Socratic dialogues until 4 in the morning, but I don't think there are more than one or two of them who could so much as swap a graphics card in and out.

Yet lots of them do like to frag zombies once in a while and a console is like a toaster. You buy it, you plug it in the wall and you slot cartridges into it like slices of toast. That's why people like them.

So you say they act not irrational, but act stupidly (they may not be stupid, but they act like it).

If I had phrased it like that, I had caused a flame war, and Tobold might have (should have) deleted the comment ;)

Consoles are great. I've had one in my living room for ages, and they provide a completely different experience, gaming-wise.

I love lounging in my couch playing Bayonetta on the tv. Getting my gaming computer hooked up to the tv in a way that would enable both my (ergonomically criminal) regular gaming setup and gaming in front of the tv would be a hassle.

Not to mention that there's a handsome revenue stream there. Lots of money = lots of games. The standard that Pangoria Fallstar mentioned means that it's easier for games makers to gauge the size of their potential audience, and... meh. Consoles work. People aren't idiots just because they think so.
Actually I almost agree, Oscar.

I think there are two things at work:

1) Some people rather spend some hundred euros on a console than to buy a cable and connect the PC to the TV.

2) Since there are consoles now and only they offer this kind of gaming experience, the individual player even acts rationally when he buys one.

It's pure waste to have two or more computers in your house that are cabable of the same thing. But since people have been rich and (quite!) lazy, it's hard now to find the typical console game for the PC.
how about your take on Blizzard's decision to break the AVR mod.

explanation of what it did:
Another issue with consoles and PCs would be the social issue.

Now, PC gamers are social. Hell, a lot of us sit on Vent/TS and talk to dozens of different people in different regions, countries, continents.

Yet, consoles are inherently more social, as they allow at least 2, if not 4 players to play on the same machine.

Say you want to play WoW with a friend. If they don't have a computer, then they have to go out and buy one. Say you want to play a console game with a friend. If they don't have a console, just invite them over to your house.

I think more people have consoles not only because they are "easier" to own and operate, but because most people aren't gamers in the classical sense that those of us reading this blog are.

I think a majority of people who own consoles are casual gamers who play now and again, often only when their friends are playing with them. I have console gaming friends who all make sure they get the same console so they can play online together. Most of them don't play the game solo for hours on end. Even WoW raiders who "only" play 3 hours a night for 3 nights a week play games more per week than some of my console friends.

PC gamers often go online in a multitude of formats (the game itself, internet forums/messageboards, ad nauseum) and make friends with other gamers, because often we have no other choice. If you're into FPS games, you might join a "clan". If you're into MMOs, you might join a "guild". If you're into other types of multiplayer games OR single player games, you might not join a group per se, but maybe you'll join a community that discusses such games/gaming (*wink* *nod*).

Console players on the other hand are a hell of a lot more mainstream (check the sales figures for any game released across all platforms). The systems themselves give incentives for the console owner to play the system with real life friends, and yes, the ease of ownership and use will definitely influence the casual gamer and even non-gamer into buying a console.
PC is an Open architecture as opposed to consoles that are closed. Every console is the same, every PC is different, even if the hardware is the same. Software conflicts are present and we know it. That's why the forums of PC games are filled with people saying "X does not run / crashes / blue screen / lags / etc." and game companies suggest that we play our games in a "clean" installation. Case in point, Supreme commander would not go on-line if a user was using Netlimiter to manage his bandwidth, even if NO rule was present in Netlimiter. The user had to terminate the program.

Furthermore, because every console is the same, developers can push them to the limit to extract every last bit of CPU and GPU power while catering to a playable frame rate.
On the other hand, powerful PC gaming rigs built by knowledgeable gamers outperform all consoles (but how many of the global gamer population fit that description?) and the PC control mechanics can be superior to the console (take for example Dragon Age Origins with it's locked camera or every FPS that lacks the mouse look precision and/or speed or turning). Those are the facts and I doubt anyone can argue them.
Tobold, I often see you post a lot of points stating that you're essentially trying to cobble together "the perfect MMO" (to paraphrase)

Have you taken the challenge to start designing a game of your own? With Microsoft's XNA game studio, Indie game development is at an all time high. If you aren't into programming, I would actually be personally interested in helping you get some ideas into a project. Feel free to contact me to discuss that further.

If you're only putting things down on paper for now as you come up with ideas, even this can be a big part of the development cycle if you eventually match up with a team.
Apparently my Google account fails at contact info. The easiest way to get in touch with me is on AIM as Andrux51.
No question for you this week. I just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying your "Perfect MMO" posts! I hope to see more of them in the future.
I am not rich, stupid, or lazy. OK, I'm lazy. I'll give you that.

I own a console and a computer, as they serve different purposes, even within gaming.

Consoles ARE cheaper than computers.(Side note, I'm an IT Manager)

A graphics card is not all that you need to have the experience that a developer wants you to have. From what I see, for the most part, even people who play games are playing on a relatively outdated computer, and can't necessarily accept an increase in memory, or fit a current graphics card.(Huge) On top of that, in the case of graphics cards, you have AGP, PCI, PCI-E, PCI-E-X4, PCI-E-X8, PCI-E-X16, 256MB-2GB of memory, differing power requirements, etc. You and I know which of those we want for our computer, but your average gamer does not.(Remember that we are on a gaming blog. The people here are generally both computer savvy AND into games)

Compare that to preparing a console to game. Open box, match color coded connectors that are the same as your DVD player(read: even the guy who can't set the VCR can plug it in), pop the disc in(no install), and start playing.

And standard devices do matter. You may be able to overcome the occasional install/driver issue, or figure out that you need to download a patch, or whatever. When I installed EVE to Windows 7, I had to reinstall DirectX. That is not always straightforward. When Crysis came out, very few consumer computers could handle it. There are other pitfalls. Say Microsoft changes the API for DirectX. It doesn't matter why, just the fact they could. All your DirectX games are broken?

Compare this to a console game. Zero compatibility issues. Zero installs. Zero driver updates(for our 'easy' to install GFX cards).

On a console, a developer can program very extensively for that piece of hardware, as opposed to generic use of known common functionality among hardware. This is where the phenonmenon of games constantly increasing in quality right through the death of a console comes from. The programmers can improve the software on THAT hardware. I have a Nvidia 9800, do you have the exact same thing?

I could go on and on about the pros and cons of each, but I love both consoles and computers for gaming, and for different reasons. They serve different purposes, and to suggest that console buyers are stupid for buying them, is well, stupid.

Wow, I just ranted. For the record, yes this is in response to Nils comments, and Nils, I always love what you have to say on here. If this was a business, I'd think Tobold was paying you to help stimulate discussion. :P
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