Mailbag time...

Thought I'd squeeze a quick post in-between watching the World Cup games and playing the games nabbed in Steam's weekend sale (catching up on Bioshock 2 and trying out Trine, which looks gorgeous if nothing else!). Quite a few of the questions of late have been about my own play habits and if developers really play their own games!

Do you play MMOs a lot when you work on them all day? (Question from Hybril)

Yes! To me, you can't really work in the genre, and have an informed opinion if you don't. Personally in addition to time on our own game, I try and have one MMO that I think I play 'as a player' and three or four I am testing out at any given time, in order to keep up with what our competition are up to! So for example right now the desktop on my laptop looks like this:

So what do I mean by playing 'as a player'? That means I treat one game as actual downtime, relaxation and enjoyment. It might not be the game that is 'most interesting' for research, it's just the game I approach as I would if I was just a regular player. It's what I have some escapism with. Right now it's actually split a little between playing some EVE again and a bit of Fallen Earth as both recent had significant updates that I wanted to check out again. Although both will suffer again once the Starcraft 2 beta comes back up!

Do you play your own game? I mean really play, not just muck around or read Global? (CyanSword)

While working on a game certainly does take out a little of the mystery and the appeal of progression (since I have played everything many times internally, any way, with any class, that I like) I do always ensure I play Age of Conan consistently. I have two max level characters, one in the sixties, and even my 'free level 50' knocking around the mid-fifties, on top of a plethora of low level alts. The only thing that is different from when I would play a game for my own enjoyment, is that I avoid being in a guild. It's just for safety, so that there could never, ever, be any hint of allegations if anyone accidentally found out who my character was and used that to accuse a guild of getting favors. It is very important to me personally to be aware of how players are playing and having knowledge from in game and not just external channels like the forums.

I am also having a blast with the beta of Bloodlines Champions, the folks at Stunlock have made a fine game there, and I think people will enjoy it when they get a chance to give it a go!

What is your favorite MMO? Please don't just say it is your own game! (KrimsonTide)

I have played MMOs pretty much since the genre existed, and there are really two that formed the basis of my love for the genre, both in very different ways. Everquest was my first real MMO addiction. I had played, and enjoyed Ultima Online, but Everquest was the first game that I really dived into, played in a serious guild, did the crazy hardcore raiding of the early days (I was max level in the original, and for Kunark and Velious, I quit playing just after Luclin). I was really gripped by what it meant to be part of a guild community, and the teamwork that was required to complete the tasks in that game. I was also a lot younger and had more free time to sink into a game, I am not sure I would be able to justify the time investment I put into that game if it was around now!

Then came Anarchy Online, the game that eventually lead me to work here at Funcom. I will always love Rubi-Ka for a million different reasons. It just grabbed me and refused to let me go. The great backstory, the well pitched factions, the conflict, Leets, Reets, Yuttos (still love them!), Atroxes in thongs, nights at Baboons and then Reets Retreat, running missions out of Home, exploring the Shadowlands, fighting aliens, Gridstream (you guys rock!), an awesome community (everyone rocks!), poking around all the far flung corners of the game and just generally getting lost in a fantastic sci-fi setting that made just about anything possible...I will always have a place in my gaming heart for Anarchy!

I have played MMORPGs since Meridian 59. I think the current crop of games are pandering too much to the casual crowd. Do you think MMORPGs are dead? (Simon P)

Nope, not at all, I think they are evolving though. While there might never be another Everquest or Anarchy Online, there will hundreds of other games that place community, co-operation and a shared experience at the center of their being. That will bring an even wider audience to the genre, and as the audience expands so will what is offered...but I think there will always also be a space for an old-school inspired title or two as well ;) I don't think it is a bad thing that these games have a wider appeal. It does mean not every game will appeal to those of us who might prefer the older games, or a specific game, and that means those games eventually made for more veteran players will be niche titles...but that isn't a bad thing in and of itself...the genre definitely isn't dead...far from it in fact!

I think when a company is going to sink tens of millions of dollars into a 'triple A' MMO then it is only natural that those games will have a pretty casual friendly approach as they want, and need, to retain more customers than a niche product might. Those types of games though introduce far more players to the genre, and those players end up trying other MMO games too...that's never a bad thing for the genre...


Lemmingz said…
I wish you were wrong about MMOs in that last question! I for one wish there was a place (or a game more to the point!!) for all us veterans that want death penalties, lost exp, lost gear, long raids, meaningful PVP, an open world and no damn themepark hand-holding

Yes, yes, yes I know there is EVE but I hate the space stuff and want a good old fashioned fantasy setting (and for it to actually be good before any fanbois mention Darkfall, because if that's all the 'niche' games will be, count me out)
Recoil said…
What is this Bloodline Champions? Haven't heard of that game. Off for some google searchage!!
Kyle said…
You will have fun with Trine, it is a great game!
Justin said…
Nice to hear you do play your own game, and not just read forums. Every commercial MMO I have ever played has forums filled with the sky is falling were all doomed ect ect.

I don't think iv ever seen a mmo forum community that was positive or upbeat.

Also, nice foresight with staying out of Guilds... one of eve online bloopers early on was the whole developers allegedly helping Band Of Brothers alliance, which caused a massive stir in the community, in regards to cheating.
PanzadeBuda said…
I play Age of Conan regularly, every day one hour. I work and I have not much time to play long hours, thus I think I could be more closed to a casual player. I miss Age of Conan don´t think more on us and do more single quests.
Anonymous said…
Conan game, could be very attractive for many players, if it would be interesting reasons for which players would be worth fighting.
I'm not saying that today there is no reason, on the contrary they are.
But all these causes are not interesting enough.

A game which does not have its firm position on how to win the interest of the user is bound to be on the margins of the gaming industry.
Such games are slowly sinking into a swamp own faintness, afraid to move my arm or leg that would not let God not sharply accelerate its plunge.
I am fond of Conan, its unique system of PVP and atmosphere lyricist.
But Conan PVP exists for the sake of PvP .. and this rule shooter, not MMO games.
Accept the criticism of former players playing in Conan .
Anonymous said…
For that would painlessly learn the reaction of subscribers to any change in the game, which can significantly affect the interests of the user to the game, you must have for this powerful tool.
A poll of players is not enough ..

This tool could be a separate server, which could be called experimental.
This server can safely tested various radical changes that may subsequently move to a test server.

For example ..
1) full loot with the player ..- it is very radical and risky change, and not worth it to enter without full confidence in the positive result.
This Cerere can be tested and various options for loot .. from partial to full.
2) Can be tested different versions of wear armor and weapons as well as their failure.
3) Changes in the economy, sharply increase demand for craft and intensifies the struggle for resources.
4) new methods of production and processing resources .. You can do so that resources would not depleted for 5 minutes and revives after 5 minutes again. Instead, use a more realistic production, replacing sharp exhaustion of ore deposits, the chance of production.
5) Various radical changes sieges. On this server can be tested radical ways of reducing the lags in the siege, as well as tested for playability various ambitious proposals from the players to change the rules of siege aimed at something that would bring in more elements of the siege tactics.
6) .. and all of these and other innovations can be safely tested on the server of Experimental, explaining in advance the players, which creates a server.
What would the players not only know that there has a range of bold ideas, but they knew well that this does not mean that all these changes will be accepted.
It should be of interest to the players in this server, that they liked him, and not feared.

Here is a small suggestion ..
Anonymous said…
Hahaha Jeg bor der hvor bakgrunnen din er fra:)
Craig Morrison said…
@Anonymous It's a nice part of the world! Took that picture last Christmas when visiting with a friend there, great spot for pictures!
Anonymous said…
Quote:"I am not sure I would be able to justify the time investment I put into that game if it was around now!"
not trying to be nit picky, but Everquest is 11 years old and still going. It sure isnt the same game as it was back then but i played the same time you did and enjoy it casually now, so its still around and still can suck your life away lol,fan faire is in 2 weeks, see you there :-)

I love playing conan by the way, but i have to agree with loot on mobs, even if it is like the mobs shield or sword that is now broken due to you kicking his butt that then can be encorperated into crafting or smelting it down to get rare metals or just sold to vendors for quick cash.

I am glad to see you play your own game. I worked at SOE and alot of the low level customer service staff didnt play the game they worked on, i was like WTF!!! to understand how people formed their opinions, you needed to atleast experience what they did.