Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
 
Bartle's Decline of MMOs

Richard Bartle has published a paper on The Decline of MMOs. You should read it. It is not that I agree with everything he says, or the way he says it (all but one of the citations in his paper are to himself, what a narcissist), but this is one of those must-read documents if you want to up to date on the theory of games and gaming. Many points in the analysis of how we got to where we are now are spot on. The solutions he proposes not so much: For example making lots of servers with 250 players each has obvious problems a few months down the road when server populations vary widely and the game company needs to merge servers every month. Still, the paper is well worth reading and many of the ideas are worth considering. Recommended!

Comments:
He didn't play Guild Wars 2?

- rapid development (bi-weekly patch)
- open world 'raids', where hundreds of players can participate.
- no Elder game
- GW2 educate players, gradually teaching them to different game mechanics via new Living Story updates.

 
Go back to roots, no f2p. Go back but in a new way.

Bartle doesn't seem to realize that MUDs and early MMOs were far smaller niche than the industry today.

These discussions remind me of people bitching that the iPhone hasn't reinvented the iPhone, but their suggestions for the innovation amounts to rearranging the chairs.

I would like to see someone with technical expertise talk about how the technological state of computers and internet bandwidth impacts the the design process. Everyone acts like the designers have little to no limitations on this front, but I believe that MMOS look a lot alike for the same reason that as safety and fuel economy regulations increase all the manufacturers end up converging on very similar looking vehicles, not because of lack of creativity but because there's a limited number of ways to meet those regulations while producing a commercially viable vehicle.
 
You can look at FPS and see how they mostly only allow 16vs16 servers with only a few adventuring to 32vs32 servers.

And that is with barely no AI and scripts.

They do have better physics engines than most MMORPGs.
In fact most MMORPGs have no collision detection and the projectiles just don't act as such.

Other genres, like RTS, also face technological hurdles.

There is a great discussion about draw calls and memory management these days.

Search for Mantle, OXIDE starswarm, etc.
 
I think he's just flailing around. Very little of what he says rings true to me.

I hoped at least his proposed fixes would be interesting, but they don't convince me in the slightest.

I think the best hope is that many small cheaply-produced niche games will emerge, and generate interesting types of gameplay for those who like it.
 
I don't think I really agree with some of his Causes. I think he's missing a big part of the gaming culture entirely. He's automatically assuming that every single person if given the opportunity, would play the same game all their life. This is just not true. Part of being legitimized as a gamer is having a broad spectrum of games played. A lot of experience and viewpoints. Sometimes we leave a game just to simply leave the game and try something new, not because an impetus has caused us to leave. Also, he's assuming people are being stolen away by single player games, games which don't give the experience of playing with your friends. Again, not quite accurate.

However, I LOVE some of his ideas on fixing MMOs. Modularization, yes. More immersion, awesome! Greater player impact, great! Specialized servers? Sweet! AI NPCs? Woah.

His ideas on rentention are also spot-on. It's why I play Secret World and gave up on WoW ages ago. In Secret World, I've seen the full storyline. I've played through till the end and have seen everything there is to see. I keep going back to chase that next upgrade or hang out with friends or play some limited-time event or try some new story they throw in.

I've stopped playing WoW entirely because I simply don't have the time to be a part of structured raiding, and so had to resign that I would never see the story hidden in end-game content. I could get 90% there, but not see the final 10%, which is monumentally frustrating for a game you're actively and continuously paying for. Every expansion has been the same exact model. Because of that, I'm NEVER playing WoW again, and screw Blizzard if they think they can get another dime out of me. No Hearthstone, no Diablo, no Starcraft either. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.


 
He's fairly spot-on with the analysis of what's wrong. I particularly like this gem:

"The switch from subscription to free-to-play is bad for
achievers. It doesn’t matter how much you try to persuade them otherwise,
any payment for any gameplay-affecting item or service is pay-to-win.
Anything that improves your chances of getting something gameplay-affecting
is pay-to-win. Only purely cosmetic items are not seen as pay-to-win (and
even some of those are unacceptable if they give the impression you’ve
achieved something you haven’t). Pay-to-win attracts socialisers but puts off
achievers (except cheating achievers). Achievers are the core audience for
MMOs; they’ve long been abandoning them for single-player games. When an
MMO is designed around a revenue model rather than around fun, it doesn’t
have a long-term future."

 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
So much to say bout Dr. Bartle's discussion document. Sadly it's the middle of the working week and I don't have time - might have to come back to it later. The real sticking point for me, though, is his premise.

MMOs are in decline in what way? Overall revenues? Profitability? Number of players? Number of games? Frequency of new releases? Lifespan? It seems to me that the genre is larger by every measurement I can come up with than it would have been in the period to which he seems to be comparing it, although since he doesn't actually specify a timescale for decline even that has to be inferred.

I think he's mainly saying he doesn't like the direction the genre has taken but that isn't evidence of a "declne".
 
If you want to measure the industry as a whole, I'm sure you could argue there is no decline in revenues, subs, etc.

However, if you measure an MMO by the length of time someone plays a single title, I would say that MMOs are in decline.

The point he is making about a fragmented market, etc, are all quite valid and from the perspective of a developer intending to create a new title, the likelihood of your title holding on to long-term subscribers is quite low.

I think if I'm a dev, I see it as a declining market because there is no profit in it.
 
BTW, I think it's more accurate to call it a saturated market than a declining market. But I don't think that detracts much from his premise.
 
So in order to avoid being called a narcissist, which academic papers should I have referenced instead of the ones I referenced that I myself wrote?

Academics are even more suspicious of self-aggrandizing researchers than are bloggers who name their blogs after themselves. If I could have found other papers that made the same point, it would have strengthened my case to use them, but I don't know of such papers. If you do, please let me know.
 
tpavels: No, I didn't play Guild Wars 2. The paper was published in May 2013 and was written a couple of months before then. GW2 came out in September 2012, around the same time as The Secret World. I played TSW instead of GW2, on the grounds that it had a more interesting skill-build system and wasn't trying to nickle-and-dime me for money at every opportunity.

This isn't to say that GW2 doesn't make progress in the directions you mention, and I have indeed heard and seen great things about it (as well as some non-great things, but as part of my argument is that designers should be able to experiment I don't regard that as a criticism).
 
8f559f86-7761-11e3-ac30-000bcdcb8a73: MUDs were 10% of the Internet in 1994. Some were making $5m a year in the late 1980s. Yes, these are small numbers in absolute terms, but "niche" is a relative term. There are lessons to be learned by looking at the past, but of course you do have to make sure that the situation in the present is analogous enough for the lessons to apply. I believe that in this case it is; you don't. Fair enough. Is there a situation you think is more analogous that I should have used instead?

I agree that having tech people explain the programming and operations constraints under which designers operate would be a good contribution. I do know that tech constraints (actually, it's more often innovations) impact on design in certain ways, because I've visited developers where that happens.
 
bloggers who name their blogs after themselves

As the name written in my passport is not actually "Tobold", this group does not include me. My blog is actually named after a virtual avatar, which is quite appropriate given its content matter.

My blog is full of links to other people's blog posts. And I know enough of scientific publications to know that quality scientific publications put in references to the works of others, and not only of the author. Are you telling me that as a professor teaching about MMOs you were unable to find a single publication from another author on MMOs that you could have used in your paper? Even without looking it up in Google or doing a full bibliographic search I could cite Nick Yee's "Alone Together", which is obviously relevant.
 
Bhagpuss: The decline is in what it means to be an MMO.

At the conference I gave this paper at, one of the other attendees compared the situation to sports cars. Back in the 1960s, the best sports cars in the world were the British and Italian ones with high power engines, responsive steering, high ratio gears and so on, that delivered a different kind of driving experience appealing to a certain kind of driver (mainly young men, and older men who wanted to appear to be young men). In order to expand the market, the manufacturers started to add features with wider appeal: more comfortable seats, safety-consciousness, clearer instrumentation, less harsh brakes and so on. This did indeed bring more buyers to sports cars and the market expanded. However, each incremental change made them less of a sports car and more of something else. Eventually, sports cars - although still called sports cars - were practically indistinguishable from other cars. They were in competition with the family cars made by the same manufacturers.

Designers at the Japanese company Mazda noticed this and wanted to go back to the old days of the 1960s. They kept some modern advances (safety features, for example) but went back to basics to try deliver the same thrill and sense of freedom that the original sports cars offered. All those people who wanted this but had been treading water while the concept was diluted bought it and the Mazda MX5 became a roaring success, the best-selling sports car ever.

That's what I mean by decline. We call them MMOs, and they are MMOs, but how long before MMO is just a label that we apply to a particular kind of casual game? And when do we get our MX5?
 
As the name written in my passport is not actually "Tobold",

No, but it's your online identity, as you explained when you tried to get Google to let you register using it.

My blog is full of links to other people's blog posts.

So's mine, but this was a conference paper, not a blog post.

quality scientific publications put in references to the works of others, and not only of the author.

They do tend to, yes, although that's not a mark of quality. In some cases, the more references people put in, the more erudite they're trying to appear, and so the less scholarly the result.

Are you telling me that as a professor teaching about MMOs you were unable to find a single publication from another author on MMOs that you could have used in your paper?

Oh, there are plenty I could have used - I've read thousands of papers and have shelves laden with books. The point of references, though, is that you refer to them. If I make a point or mention a position that is explained elsewhere, then I refer to it; that's what references are for. They're not just lists of vaguely interesting links, they do actually have to support what it's being suggested that they support. Putting in extraneous text in order to make a reference is what people starting out writing papers do (and indeed there was some of that going on in my PhD - the "I've read all this so I'm damned well going to reference it" syndrome). That's not how it's supposed to be, though.

Nick Yee's "Alone Together", which is obviously relevant.

It is relevant, yes, as is much other work. Relevance is not a factor, though - this isn't a literature survey. What statement in my paper that I support with a reference to one of my other papers would have been better served by referencing Yee et al?

I'm an admirer of Nick Yee's work. I received an advance copy of his 2014 book, The Proteus Paradox, and gave it a rave review. That doesn't mean I'm going to force a sentence into my paper in order to refer to his work; if I did, I'd be open to a justified charge of cronyism. I only put in the references things I actually reference.

In this particular paper, OK, I was building on previous arguments I'd made so many of the references were to those previous arguments; others were references to works by me which, whether I like it or not, are foundational. If I'm going to talk about player types, it's hard to do so without referencing Bartle 1996.

I agree that it does look pretty bad to have so many references-to-self, and I was aware of this when I wrote the paper. Nevertheless, I am not happy to be called a narcissist; there was no need for you to do that. Look at my book, look at the vast number of references in there to other people's work: is that the action of a narcissist?
 
I for one agree with almost everything Richard mentions in this paper (the only part I do not wholeheartedly agree on is the 250-player server idea because I think there are better solution to the problem).
Some of the "fixes" are even included in the (modest) game I am working on.

Of course this is not "exhaustive" but I think the paper is clear that it doesn't aim to be.

I hope one day a MMO offering true immersion and sense of achievement can come back to the market. I think advanced NPC AI and/or 3D immersion "Oculus" style may get a much welcome technology boost at some point.

NB: and on the "self reference debate", quoting other people on concepts matters isn't really useful. In a scientific article, one quotes other studies to provide back up, when it's just a debate about concepts, it doesn't really matter if other people agree with you or no. Nevertheless, Richard you are indeed quoting yourself a bit too much :D

 
Look at my book, look at the vast number of references in there to other people's work: is that the action of a narcissist?

I haven't read your book. My comment was not meant to apply to your 36 years of career, but only to that one specific paper I linked to.

The question ultimately is whether you want your paper to be considered to be just like a blog post, a written opinion which is consistent with your earlier work, but otherwise just your opinion. Or as some sort of scientific paper, based on research, and "standing on the shoulders of giants", meaning also consistent with the work of others, and preferably peer reviewed.
 
I have to back Tobold on this one. Even if the paper could stand as it is presented, a paragraph in the references section explaining the rationale behind the six references to your other works would have gone a long way to explaining it.

Honestly, it does sound like you have a lot of credibility here, but in the wilderland of the internet people tend to adopt a "prove it first" stance on such matters since it is far, far easier for no-name yokels to try and misrepresent themselves as relevant than it is for an actual substantiated researcher or author to demonstrate their proven familiarity with a topic.
 
Hmmm...to clarify though I really did like (and agree) with the article.
 
My comment was not meant to apply to your 36 years of career, but only to that one specific paper I linked to.

So extrapolating from that one paper, you declared me to be a narcissist. Why would you do that?

The question ultimately is whether you want your paper to be considered to be just like a blog post ... Or as some sort of scientific paper, based on research

Sigh... You don't know the context. I'd better explain.

So, this was an invited paper at a conference in Hong Kong called "New Directions in the Development of Creative and Media Industries". The conference has a mixed audience, in that they were all researchers but some were senior, some were just starting out, and they had a wide range of backgrounds (games, social sciences, media studies, psychology, sinology - lots of areas).

Now the thing is, with invited papers the speaker is basically being asked to stimulate discussion in the area. As the audience was mixed, I couldn't go into a great deal of detail about MMOs as most of the people there were not primarily concerned with them. I discussed what I should talk about with the conference organiser, and this topic was the result. It had resonances with some of the areas that are of interest to other speakers.

It is, essentially, an opinion piece - but an informed opinion piece. Some of the references are to papers in which I explain the reasoning behind the assertions I blandly made in this paper; some of the references are to foundational work on MMOs, which I happened to have written (and which was why I was invited to the conference).

and "standing on the shoulders of giants", meaning also consistent with the work of others, and preferably peer reviewed.

This was peer reviewed by the conference organiser, but it wasn't done so anonymously. The "review" came in the discussion with the other academics following the paper's presentation: that was the point of it, to stimulate discussion.

Now if this were a journal paper, it would indeed present solid research backed up with experimentation (or, possibly, be just a literature review and advertised as such). It would, as you say, be standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants stuff. It's not a journal paper, though, it's an invited conference paper. It would never get in a journal. It's not that kind of paper.

One of the other senior researchers there did suggest that I write it up as a journal paper for the Journal of Communications. I demurred, though, on the grounds that I didn't know enough of the communications literature to be able to situate the paper in that field. I could probably have written it up as a joint paper with a subject expert, but it would need a lot more work doing to it (and would need me to dig out some hard data to support it).

It's an invited conferene paper, then. If you want to discuss what it says, hey, that's fine, that's the purpose of this kind of paper. It was good of you to point at it so your blog readers can peruse it and come up with better ideas.

It was not good of you to throw a casual accusation of narcissism at me, though. That's not right, not right at all.
 
It was not good of you to throw a casual accusation of narcissism at me, though. That's not right, not right at all.

I agree. Tobold, rather than try to defend calling him a narcissist, why don't you just politely admit that it was an unprovoked personal attack.

How would you feel if you were cited by another blogger and they wrote "(what a dick)" as they linked your blog.
 
MMOs are clearly still growing. Maybe the older ones are dying but more games and people continue to spend money on MMOs
 
You can split hairs on HOW I should have written it, e.g. reformulate "what a narcissist" into "what a narcissist behavior". But I stand to my opinion that excessive self-citing is bad form and signalizes an inflated sense of self-impotance.
 
I stand to my opinion that excessive self-citing is bad form and signalizes an inflated sense of self-impotance.

It is bad form, yes. That doesn't make me a narcissist.

It can signal an inflated sense of self-importance. However, leaping to such a conclusion on the evidence of one paper can also signal an inflated sense of self-importance. Besides, having an inflated sense of self-importance does not define someone to be a narcissist, it defines them to be delusional.

As it happens, in my writings I do quite often refer back to my own papers, because I am frequently asked to deliver this kind of presentation or book chapter. Therefore, if you'd carefully selected examples from my other papers you probably could have constructed a more plausible argument that I was self-aggrandizing or self-publicising, if for some reason that was your aim. You didn't, though: you read that one paper and labelled me a narcissist.

Also, although I may indeed have a naively optimistic view of my relative importance, the fact is that I was invited to give that talk because someone thought I had sufficient stature that my assessment of the state of MMOs was worth listening to. You might not think that - and I'm sure there are plenty of people who agree with you. However, in the context of that talk I was actually relatively important and some people did attend specifically because I was presenting at it (I know, because they told me).

You say that you stand by your opinion that self-citing signals delusions of grandeur, but you still haven't answered my question as to why you felt it necessary to call me a narcissist. You could have left it as "all but one of the citations in his paper are to himself" and that would have made your point perfectly well, but you seem to have felt the need to add "what a narcissist". Why did you do that? Why take a pot shot at me?
 
You can split hairs on HOW I should have written it, e.g. reformulate "what a narcissist" into "what a narcissist behavior". But I stand to my opinion that excessive self-citing is bad form and signalizes an inflated sense of self-impotance.

Look, I don't care much for Bartle but not admitting that it was unprovoked personal attack gives the appearance that you are shallow and only care about being right. I have a higher opinion of you than that, so I'm a little surprised you won't at a minimum at least say...

"perhaps I shouldn't have called him a narcissist but I still stand behind my opinion..."

I don't even think Bartle objects to your standards on self-citing. Rather, he clearly objects to your portrayal of him as a narcissist.

I'm not the blog police, so my apologies for stating my opinion here. I only mention it because I find it diminishes my opinion of you. I never thought of you as someone who won't admit a wrong.
 
I never thought of you as someone who won't admit a wrong.

As I already said, I was wrong is being too short. I should have written "what a narcissist behavior" instead of "what a narcissist". Are you saying that the description "what a narcissist behavior" is wrong?

Why did you do that? Why take a pot shot at me?

When I link to somebody else's opinion, I state what I think is right and wrong about it. I thought that you saying "Hey, look at me, I am Richard Bartle, the only person worth citing on the subject matter of MMOs" was narcissist, so I said so. As far as internet comments go, that is a fairly mild one.

And honestly, the fact that you find it necessary to either Google yourself or otherwise follow the blog links to your own writings, and then come out guns blazing with 3 pages full of comments to try and impress some unimportant blogger that your person is above criticism hasn't exactly changed the impression of you I expressed in my blog post.

 
I honestly thought the narcissist comment was a joke - slightly surprising to see that apparently it wasn't.

In any case, why I 'should' read this over almost any blogpost at some of the better gaming blog sites, is totally beyond me. It is trying to be very general but it doesn't back up any of the sweeping statements it makes. That may be due to the fact that this was more of a discussion starting piece than anything else. Although, given that, I did not expect to find it on Richard Bartle's homepage under the header "these are my full-blown, academic quality papers."
 
I honestly thought the narcissist comment was a joke

Joke? No, I'd rather categorize it as an offhand remark. Which, come to think of it, is true of at least half the comments on the internet.

They only become important when the person on the other end of the comment then strongly reacts to it, which usually starts some sort of flame war, like this one. It is the vehement protest that makes the initial offhand comment stand out. Or as Shakespeare said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".
 
Maybe I've missed some very significant character development between Tobold and Bartle, but I didn't realize they were so combative. I read the narcissism line as being more tongue-in-cheek than as actual criticism. And besides, at least among bloggers, I've never read anyone who is more willing to link to or begin legitimate discussions about Bartle's ideas. I feel like this narcissism thing is a lot of mountain/molehill transmogrification.
 
To speak to the actual paper, I thought a lot of it felt truthful to my (admittedly limited) experience. I wish more focus had been paid to the "business risk" sections, since I think reducing risk is the easiest way to get some forward momentum in the genre. Bartle is right - when you lose $50 million on a roll of 3-6, not a lot of investors want to sign up.

That said, is we can get some modularization or another way to reduce the risk, I think a lot of other stuff should fall into place.
 
They only become important when the person on the other end of the comment then strongly reacts to it, which usually starts some sort of flame war, like this one.

This is a flame war? I guess your definition of "flame" is broader than mind.

Or as Shakespeare said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".

So now you're suggesting that because I took you to task over your characterisation, that means I think it must be right?

I just can't win...
 
This is a flame war? I guess your definition of "flame" is broader than mind.

I'd be quite happy to see you try find a definition of flame war that doesn't include what we are doing here. Of course this is the most polite and mildest version possible. But the general format of splitting hairs over personal remarks in an endless series of back and forth comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter of the original post is certainly there. Notice that we never, for example, discussed that me and some commenters didn't like the 250-man server idea. It is always only about "you shouldn't have said that about be".

So now you're suggesting that because I took you to task over your characterisation, that means I think it must be right?

I'm saying that you are a person with a Wikipedia entry who gets mentioned on the internet every day. You write opinions on the internet, which in consequence get criticized and disagreed with and commented and insulted every day. And of all those comments every day you choose this one to write hundreds of words about in a forgotten corner of the internet. So somehow this one remark hurt you more than all the other comments you get every day. Of course it is a somewhat simple form of psychology to conclude that this is because that comment hit too close to the mark, but that doesn't necessarily make it untrue.

I just can't win...

I the two decades of history of the world wide web nobody has ever won an argument on the internet. Curiously that doesn't stop people from trying.

 
I'd be quite happy to see you try find a definition of flame war that doesn't include what we are doing here.

Well wouldn't it have to involve flames to be a flame war? The casual assertion that I'm a narcissist is a flame, but there are no ad hominem attacks coming back at you.

I'd call this an argument, maybe, except that you're repeatedly being coy about the question I asked about why you decided to make that "offhand remark" in the first place.

we never, for example, discussed that me and some commenters didn't like the 250-man server idea.

Well go ahead, then. It's not as if a comment stream can't have more than one thread in it.

You write opinions on the internet, which in consequence get criticized and disagreed with and commented and insulted every day.

Yes, that's probably true. I haven't had a decent death threat for several years, though.

And of all those comments every day you choose this one to write hundreds of words about in a forgotten corner of the internet.

Yes, well the difference is that I happen to read your blog.

Try looking at it the other way round. All over the Internet, people are routinely having their reputations rubbished, but out of all those millions of people who are so affected, you chose me to insult.

Of course it is a somewhat simple form of psychology to conclude that this is because that comment hit too close to the mark

It's also illogical. See, if I really were a narcissist, then nothing you could say would persuade me that I was one: I'd think I was perfect. Therefore, by trying to insinuate that I'm complaining because I thought your remark was true, you're actually subverting your own point.

nobody has ever won an argument on the internet.

You do get to decide how to lose, though.
 
you're repeatedly being coy about the question I asked about why you decided to make that "offhand remark" in the first place.

Well, I can spell it out for you if you insist. Although I would have thought that the explanation is obvious from the definition of "offhand remark". So the detailed explanation goes like this:

1) I read your paper.
2) I notice all the references to Bartle.
3) I check your reference section showing 6 references to Bartle, no references to another author on the subject, and 1 reference to an interview with Mark Jacobs.
4) The thought of "what a narcissist!" crosses my mind.
5) I consider the rest of the paper to be a valuable addition to the general discussion of the state of MMOs today and decide to make a short blog post linking to that article.
6) Without thinking much about it, I include my earlier thought of "what a narcissist" in my blog post.

I really don't know what kind of explanation you expected here. I don't know if you noticed, but this was NOT a "let's insult Richard Bartle" post. If you analyze the whole article, I use a lot more positive words about you and your paper than I use negative words. I recommend your paper, I call it well worth reading, I call it must-read, and I call your analysis spot on. And I make that one negative remark about your self-citation, because I am a scientist by profession and that bit went against my professional standards.

When I wrote it, I did not even consider "narcissist" to be an insult. At least not in the same league as "idiot", "jerk", "moron", or "asshole". All of which I, and most other people participating in discussion on the internet, have already been called. So I am surprised by your stronger than expected reaction.

I also don't know what you are trying to achieve with your protest. Me deleting the offending word and apologizing? No can do. Pretty much everything I write offends *somebody*, and I need to stick to my guns if I don't want to get swamped by requests to modify my writing. The best I can offer is the already twice stated admission that it would have been better to use "what a narcissist behavior" than the ad hominem form of "what a narcissist".

I do continue to believe that the self-citing is narcissist, and that your paper would have been much better if you had included references to sources from other authors. For example while I share your belief that MMOs are in decline, you can see from the comments that not everybody does, and some data or second opinion on that decline would have been very welcome.

me and some commenters didn't like the 250-man server idea.

Well go ahead, then. It's not as if a comment stream can't have more than one thread in it.


You propose servers of 250 people to create small, tightly knit communities. But as you remark yourself earlier in your analysis, people don't stay for years in MMOs these days. Even if your 250-man server had a "better" community at the start, I consider it extremely unlikely that this will cause every player to remain active (or remain a subscriber if it is a subscription game). Thus 3 months after release you will have a lot of servers with less than 100 active players on them. The negative network effect would tear apart your small, tightly knit communities. And those tightly knit communities will probably not react well to server mergers.

Isn't having smaller servers worse for communities than larger servers if you consider player numbers not being stable over time?
 
The casual assertion that I'm a narcissist is a flame, but there are no ad hominem attacks coming back at you.

Wasn't your remark on "bloggers naming blogs after themselves" just a "you too" reply to my "flame"/"insult"? Thus we are equal in number of flames, although obviously I started it.
 
The thought of "what a narcissist!" crosses my mind.

You didn't have to say it, though ... sigh.

If you analyze the whole article, I use a lot more positive words about you and your paper than I use negative words.

Yes, I know, which is why I found your insertion of a barb perplexing. That's why I asked why you would say that.

I am a scientist by profession and that bit went against my professional standards.

For a journal paper, you'd have been right. No way would that be suitable for a journal paper. It would have been borderline for a book chapter or regular conference paper, too. For an invited conference paper, though, it was OK.

I suppose it's excusable, given that the paper doesn't say on it where it was published.

When I wrote it, I did not even consider "narcissist" to be an insult.

It's not a very pleasant thing to say about anyone.

I am surprised by your stronger than expected reaction.

I was surprised by your use of it.

I also don't know what you are trying to achieve with your protest.

Well I was hoping you'd change your mind, but that doesn't seem to have worked. You're going to think of me as a narcissist from now on.

I need to stick to my guns if I don't want to get swamped by requests to modify my writing.

Even in the light of evidence? That's a general point, not a point about this post, as you restate that you think the self-citing is narcissistic.

I do continue to believe that the self-citing is narcissist, and that your paper would have been much better if you had included references to sources from other authors.

So which other authors? Given what I wanted to say, what other authors could I have cited? Or did you just want some token papers put in there that I only referenced so that people wouldn't think I was a narcissist?

some data or second opinion on that decline would have been very welcome.

It would, but I don't have a research grant, and even if I did I wasn't going to collect survey data to support my assertions in an invited conference paper - I could have got a journal article out of that.

As for a second opinion, well as I said, I don't know of any. Well, I do know second opinions about player types, but they all point back to my original paper on the subject. If I'd listed them, that would have looked even worse.

Wasn't your remark on "bloggers naming blogs after themselves" just a "you too" reply to my "flame"/"insult"?

It was a mild suggestion that you were being hypocritical, which I wouldn't say qualified as an ad hominem attack.

Look we're not going to get anywhere with this. You've said you're going to stick to your guns regardless, so it's pointless arguing further. Anyone who has struggled this far through the exchange can make their own mind up. I'll let you have the last word, it's your blog.

I'll answer the 250 player point separately.
 
You propose servers of 250 people to create small, tightly knit communities.

That would be one of the effects of having them, yes. They also allow for much greater variation between server types.

I consider it extremely unlikely that this will cause every player to remain active

It is unlikely. Think of it more like a guild, though. People come and go, but guilds can last a long time. OK, they can crash and burn too, but so long as you acquire new members at rougly the same rate as old ones leave, you should be fine.

With smaller servers, if the player base needs replacements then new players can be directed towards it. If there aren't enough newbies, then players can leave for other servers.

3 months after release you will have a lot of servers with less than 100 active players on them.

That's not necessarily a problem. There could even be a market for single-player servers, it would all be cloud-based. SW:TOR would have been great single-player! The overheads for keeping a server running aren't great, they're just bits in a database.

I agree that if servers felt too empty for some players then they'd leave, but they'd leave for other servers. If a server became moribund it could be closed down, sure.

We saw this back in the text MUD days. People started new servers all the time, some of which attracted players and some of which didn't. It's a dynamic system. Some MUDs allowed character imports from others ("refugees"), although most didn't. There weren't such things as server merges, as the players left of their own accord.

those tightly knit communities will probably not react well to server mergers.

I wouldn't expect there to be many server mergers. The resources used by MMO servers are proportional to the number of players, and the technology available today means it's not unreasonable to run many copies of the game at once in a cloud. This means that people can stay with their server for as long as they like, it's not a physical server but a virtual one. If they don't think there are enough players, they can leave or try to recruit more. There's no need to merge servers any more than there's a need to merge guilds.

Isn't having smaller servers worse for communities than larger servers if you consider player numbers not being stable over time?

Well there are different levels of community. If it were just an isolated, small community, then yes, that's right, it would wither away as players left over time and weren't replaced. There is, however, the larger community of players, some of whom will switch servers. It's like with guilds: they're small communities, but they're part of a larger (albeit looser) one.

Having said all this, I do actually like EVE-style monolithic servers, too. These are just suggestions, after all.
 
You're going to think of me as a narcissist from now on.

Opinions are rarely permanent. Why do you think I would be unable to read your NEXT paper and think "Hey, the man CAN cite other people in his research", if that is the case?

So which other authors?

Okay, so your paper was a pure opinion peace with zero research into the work of others. I get it. Many of my blog posts are like that. But you know what? I don't put links to myself in those opinion pieces. The absence of references in those blog posts makes it clear that there was no research behind it. Self-links say "I did a bit of research, but only into my own archives".

I wouldn't say qualified as an ad hominem attack.

I would have said the same thing about my remark. But that is the weird thing about communication: The person sending the message out is mostly unable to judge the effect and effectiveness of his communication. Only the recipient can.

It's a dynamic system.

I get the idea of a dynamic system with many different kinds of servers. I'm just not sure that the system is suitable for a mass market. New players randomly end up on some server, which might or might not be the most suitable for their needs. I don't agree that they would then necessarily go server-hopping until they found the right one, in my experience most would conflate the community with the game, say "this sucks", and quit.
 
I thought it to be an interesting article too... and then got sidetracked by a list of comments that have hardly anything to do with the article.

Ten years ago, playing WoW as my first mmo, it was great. I played not much else but it for two years. After that, I tried out some new ones, trying to get back that magical feeling. But I've been unable to play one for longer than two months. It all boils down to levelling, getting more and better skills, getting more and better gear until you hit max level. And then, have an end game with pvp and raids. I've done that for two years, I want something new.

I also agree with Bartles remark that micro payments can piss off achievers. If I spent weeks trying to get the stick of awesomeness and another player can just buy it that diminishes the achievement. It's an easy way to make some money for the developers but it can make you loose your core audience.
 
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