Archive for the ‘A Web-Based MMORPG’ Category

Gotta Revisit Robowars

so.  a year or so ago, i reviewed this passive web game called robowars.  you guys may remember me talking about it.

so, recently, it was discovered by the robowars community.  (you can see all the comments)  in fact, yesterday they made a poll out of it where you can earn “scraps” (in game currency type stuff) for your robot if you take the poll.

heh.

well.  of course, i did.

anyhow, apparently the community is saying that a lot of things have changed and i should check out the new version.  sounds like a plan.

that’s what i love about all of these thin-client online games.  fresh updates constantly — no big, clunky downloads.

you know, i should make something like that someday.

m3mnoch.

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Web-based MMOG Imagineering

i’ve been doing a lot of imagineering (man, i love that word) lately when it comes to web-based mmogs. lots of stuff running the gamut from super-secret ideas i can’t tell anyone about right now to general wonderings and observations.

well. i think i’ll just dump some of them out right here so i have them collected somewhere.

subscription fees are choice inhibiting.
paying those subscription fees certainly add up. i know you can say “well, just pay them for the 3 months you play and then get rid of them.”

no. it doesn’t work like that.

the thing with a subscription fee is that it represents commitment. there’s a high switching cost involved. and, since not very many people can afford to pay subscriptions for, oh, 15 games over the course of two years, you tend not to move on to those newer games. we basically have the wow effect where everyone is really only in a few games.

it really moves buying games into parallel with buying cars. you really like different models and styles, but, you have to make an informed decision about one — and only one — you’ll enjoy and use enough to make its acquisition worth it.

with non-subscription games, they are more like traditional media. more like movies or music. you just pop it in and play it whenever you want. you know that from purchase so there is no “will i use this in the future?” or “will i like this better than everquest?” or “will something better come along?”  the only factor is the “now” factor. how does buying it impact you right now?

non-subscription games are very much more pickup-putdown with no real switching cost. that lets you consume more game media.

web servers are more conducive to a persistent online world.
this one is tricky and i’m not going to try not to get too awful web-geeky on it.

the gist is that, for example, myspace.com has millions of concurrent users — all of whom can be on the exact same page at the exact same time. that is absolutely no different performance-wise than all of those million people being on a million separate pages.

not only performance, but the web is better at information dissemination than a graphical, high-visual client.

for example, if these million players were all in one place on a wow server (assuming of course the server wouldn’t go chernobyl on the situation) you wouldn’t really be able to pick out any one particular player to attack or inspect or what-have-you. with something like the singular, you can just ask them how many users per page you want to see?

i mean, has anyone ever seen how many google results come up for the word “page?”

oh sure, you say, but there’s an immersive, graphical richness that can’t be achieved with this silly text and lightweight graphical environment called the web. to that, i say, use the best-of-breed parts of both. use the data layout of a web page and the graphically rich aspects of flash for your deeper spatial relation needs.

the future of mmogs is going to be about ajax-enabled rest applications.

event-based feedback consumable in sub-5 minute increments.
as you may know, signing on and logging into wow may take you a while. hell, it takes 5 minutes on a good day to get logged into something you can actually “play.”

contrast that with 3 or 4 seconds to get to a play screen with travian. your login credentials are cached so all you really need is a bookmark to your village overview.

now, with that same 5 minutes you’re logging into wow, i can check guild messages, send appropriate reinforcements, build a new building, train some additional troops and send out a spy mission — and still have time left over.

that’s a lot of gameplay compacted into a short amount of time.

and, that’s the kind of stuff you just can’t do in a 3d world.

by the time you wander over to the auction house, i’ve already hit the marketplace, scanned the available trades, accepted a trade, sent merchants and moved on to planning my next action. and that’s only if you happen to be close to the auction house when we start.

now that we’ve decided that gameplay interaction is faster with a web-based mmog, what can we do with it?

well. what makes gameplay addictive? incremental goals and achieving them, right? well. now, we can have more. more incremental goals and they can be closer together. it’s called instant gratification and it’s a goddamn drug.

and, what quality makes a game permeate throughout your life? being able to get in and get out of the world instantly. how easy is it to check your inbox for new messages? how easy is it to check the box score of the game last night? how easy is it to check what google’s stock closed at today? how easy is it to see if your reinforcements got attacked in your alliance?

answer: super-easy. mere seconds even.

that turns playing a game into a “walk-by” experience. busy working around the house? on an excel document? writing an email? tv commercialing?

multi-task gaming. pop-in. pop-out. top of mind.

and, we haven’t even touched the portability aspect.  connected to the same game on your treo 650?  yep, you sure are.

the web is the single most efficient content distribution channel in history.  mmogs, at their core, are just specialized, interactive content distribution in need of a super-efficient channel.

m3mnoch.

Proof of Concept

well.  we should have a proof of concept/early alpha thing of our new game for you guys to play with next week.  heh.  i guess we’re taking the google approach of throwin’ stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

anyway, i think it’s totally rad and kicks all kinds of ass.  i think you guys will too.

so, what kind of game is it?  well — it’s sort of like if you mashed up dark throne and digg all in one site.  weird, eh?

i promise it’s not as hard to explain how to play as our last game.

as i was saying, i will probably let the cat out of the bag late next week.  i want some internal guys to do a bit more bug findin’ first.

talk to you soon.

m3mnoch.

p.s.  wordpress.com blows.  if anyone knows of a good way to transfer all of my posts and comments over to blogger, by all means, please let me know.  i’m so tired of the shitty reliability of wordpress.com.