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SirBruce
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on: September 11, 2004, 04:03:56 AM

Well, the day is finally over, and once again it was a great year for the Austin Game Conference.  I'd say it was even better than last year; there were certainly more attendees, and I got to renew some old contacts as well as make some new ones that look to be very productive.  By the end of the second day I was very jazzed about the whole experience.

Wednesday night we (myself, my friend Stacey, and Dr. Cat from Furcadia) first went to a special VIP reception before the conference started.  We spent the time talking with the other conference speakers, drinking the free beer, and trying unsuccessfully to watch the Austin bats fly out from under the highway bridges at night in what is an important annual event in the city.  Oh well; perhaps they will be more cooperative next year.  It was at the party that I was first alerted to the fact that Arcadian del Sol had posted wondering how I keep getting invited to speak at these things.  All I can tell you is that the key to success is sincerity -- once you can fake that, you've got it made.

After the party we spent a good part in the hotel lobby with a half-dozen other convention goers talking with Mark Jacobs (who looks so very different when he's not dressed in one of his tailored dark suits) about the past, present, and future of MMOGs.  It was during this conversation that Mark first alerted us to the following passage in the Austin Game Conference official program (emphasis added):

Thursday 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Building New IP
Richard Garriott, father of the online gaming industry (Ultima Series, Origin Systems, NCSoft), will discuss building new intellectual property.

This was actually the same talk he gave last year, but Mark was particularly perturbed by the annointment of Lord British as the father of the online gaming industry.  Especially when you consider the fact that, you know, it's simply false.  It's not that he didn't do great things, or to say that Ultima Online wasn't a major turning point in the modern MMOG industry, but there were literally thousands of people, many of whom are still largely anonymous to this day, who were toiling away in online gaming long before Richard even pitched the idea of UO.  To call Garriott the father of the online gaming industry is like claiming Al Gore invented the Internet -- yes, he was very important in the evolution and transformation of the thing, but let's not go overboard on the hyperbole.

Thursday was the first official convention day.  The first panel I went to was "The Right Content Mix" with Starr Long, Rich Vogel, and Jason Durrell.  The panel debated what was the right mix of static vs. dynamic content in MMOs, how much was needed, what content best evoked emotion in the player, and so on.  It's an important topic, and there was clear consensus that even in a game focused largely on emergent PvP/siege behavior (ShadowBane), you still need hundreds of hours of static content.

Next up was "PC MMOG Production - Best Practices" with Matt Firor, and Starr Long and Rich Vogel again, and maybe someone else I'm forgetting.  As I had seen this panel the year before and I was pretty tired from the previous late night, I must admit I dozed off part of the way through this panel so I can't fairly judge it.  However, I don't think I missed anything I didn't already know.  In hindsight I would rather have gone to the panel Lum was speaking on, "Database Challenges in MMOGs".  This seems particularly relevant as of late given how much trouble World of Warcraft seems to be having with theirs.

After lunch at an overcrowded and overpriced P.F. Chang's, I was off to "Community Management - Perfecting Communication" with an all-star panel: Raph Koster, Chris Mancil, Jonathan Hanna, Sanya from Mythic, and some others I know I'm forgetting.  It was the usual debate about how to manage your boards, whether or not you should let developers posts, what sort of guidelines you should use, etc.  One thing everyone seemed to be keen on is leveraging MMOG fan and news sites as much as possible to help advertise and market their product.

At this point I finally ran into the other guys from Playnet/CRS, as well as a fifth, now ex-, employee.  I was able to hit up Chris Sherland for some last-minute thoughts on what points I might want to mention on my panel the following day.

The final discussion I went to Thursday was "Designing Within a License" with Rich Vogel of SOE representing Star Wars, Vijay Lakshman of Turbine representing D&D and Middle Earth, Chris McKibbin of Perpetual Entertainement representing the new Star Trek MMO, and Mark Jacobs of Mythic who was taking the anti-license position.  This was a great panel, and everyone was open in discussing the pros and cons of using a licensed product.  I can say I came away from it less enthusiastic about using a license than I used to be, but at the same time I think you're going to have a harder time getting a large number of subscribers without one.  All of the panelists working on a licensed MMO seem to have the benefit of having a key intermediary, whom the licensor trusts, who can work closely with both camps in smoothing out any bumps that happen during the design and production process and who can provide the kind of timely response needed to keep things from stalling while waiting for an official blessing from the lincesor on a particular game feature.

Anyway, the real fireworks came at the end of the panel when Mark Jacobs let his feelings about the Richard Garriott thing known and publically called upon Garriott to explain and/or retract this claim of being the "father of online gaming."  Mark got a lot of applause from the crowd, but so far as I've heard still no satisfactory explanation.  I believe Richard is claiming that those words were written by someone with the AGC and not himself or a marketing person at NCSoft; however, in all fairness, I didn't get a chance to hear him address the issue firsthand so I do not know.

After the sessions were over for the day I finally ran into George Sanger aka The Fat Man, and was rewarded with an autographed copy of his book.  George is a great guy who has contributed more to audio in gaming than most people know, and is a fascinating figure both personally and professionally.  If you want to know more about this great unsung hero in our industry, buy and read The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness.  But skip over the part where George mentions my brother; his ego is big enough already.

Later that night it was off the the official convention party at The Copper Kettle bar, with again free beer and this time, free food as well.  Spent most of the time trying to yell at fellow gamers over the loud music.  It was very crowded and very humid, but I got to talk up various guys from The Themis Group, Daniel James from Three Rings, Serafina from Atriarch (always good for a warm hug), and many others.  Also got to watch the first half of the Colts-Pats game... strangely there were a lot of loud Pats fans in the crowd.  My only regret is not seeing the fantastic ending to this game, but I'll be able to watch my TiVo of it when I get home.

Friday morning we were back early for the final day of the conference.  Edward Castranova gave a fantastic keynote about "Virtual Property in the Age of Wonder."  As an economist, Castronva has made a name for himself analyzing the economy of virtual worlds, but most of the talk was actually focused on the second half of the title, the "Age of Wonder", and whether or not allowing business and market forces into our fantasy worlds was really a good thing.  He made frequent references to Tolkein's own writing on this subject, about the clash between industrial and corporate modernism and the truths of the fantasy worlds.  Nevertheless he encouraged everyone in the audience to keep striving and keep making these worlds, because we were truly on the forefront of something the rest of civilization hadn't quite caught on to yet.

Next up were two panels that touched on complementary themes: "Designing For the Widest Possible Audience" with Sheri Granery Ray, Carly Staehlin, Daniel James, Damion Schubert, and Mikes Sellers, and then "Design Risks We Should Be Taking" with Raph Koster, Patricia Pizer, Matt Firor, and Damion Schubert again.  Both had way more depth than I can cover here, but basically the bottom line is we really aren't doing a good job of reaching the mass market, nor are we making truly innovative chances with our designs.  Market forces seem to be driving us towards particular types of MMOGs and we truly need to innovate more in order to solve either problem.

After lunch at the Ironworks with Raph and several others, it was finally time for the panel I was one, "Building Massively Multiplayer Games on a Budget".  On the panel were myself, Brian Green (Near Death Studios/Meridian 59), Chris Allen (Skotos), Daniel James (Three Rings/Puzzle Pirates), Dr. Cat (Dragon's Eye Productions/Furcadia), and someone from NetDevil whose name I've tragically misplaced.  Anyway, we jumped right into Q&A and I think the panel went really well; the room was nearly full and we had a lot of positive feedback afterwards.  My only regret is the panel was a bit large and so I don't think we got to answer as many questions as we should have; on the other hand, each panelist had a very different background on how they came to operate a small MMOG.  Furcadia and Puzzle Pirates both got some spontaneous applause and I managed to get a couple of laughs, so all-in-all it was a good session.

The last panel of the day was "Diamonds in the Sand: Data-Mining the Social Systems of Massively Multiplayer Games" and boy am I glad I was able to attend it.  Mike Steele and Patricia Pizer gave a great presentation of social network analysis done on real MMO player data (who remained nameless) and demonstrated the power and knowledge one could gain from logging every transaction and statistic in the game and analyzing it.  You could use it to indentify keep figures in social networks that you would want to make sure didn't quit the game.  Or find two unconnected people on a graph that, if connected, would reduce the average path length in your social network dramatically, resulting in a tighter community.  The suggestion was made that you might have automated quests that would identify such people and then bring them together, perhaps to cooperate or to compete, in a way which would hopefully form a bond between them.  Other similar analysis tools could be done on exploiters or griefers to identify the key players in such a network and target them for punishment, much like intelligence agencies are doing today with terrorist networks.  At one point during the talk, Mike actually produced a graph which he said was based on my data, and when I waved my hand when he said my name he said, "There he is." And then after Patricia spontaneously piped in, "Hi Bruce!" Michael said, "Okay, everybody say hi to SirBruce!" and the whole audience said "Hi SirBruce!"  It was great.  My ego is satiated for the time being.

There were so many other people I got to spend time with that I hadn't seen for a while, like Tracy Spaight and Div Devlin and Scott Miller and Jack Emmert.  Had a great time reminiscing about Ultima X: Odyssey with Jonathan Hanna and Mike Hall.  And Lum actually used Stacey's Mac for a while in the Speaker's Longue.  Anyway, I had a great time, and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Bruce

PS - Got some new subscription numbers
AC1 - 37,000 (down from 41,000 earlier this year)
AC2 - 18,000
UO - 165,000 - 170,000
SWG - 250,000 - 300,000
Toontown Online - 35,000 - 50,000 but that is only an estimate
AOFanboi
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Reply #1 on: September 11, 2004, 05:12:03 AM

A few comments:
    [*]If your game becomes popular enough in its own right, no license is required: Witness EQ, which has gone on to spawn singleplayer games in its universe (Champions of Norrath, that RTS thingy etc.). However, EQ might be the only MMOG to have this advantage, though other game franchises might be able to go the other way, e.g. a MMOG taking place in Oddworld.
    [*]Father of MMOGs = Richard Bartle, the best-known co-author of MUD1 back in 1979-1980.
    [*]I predict the AC1 subscription numbers will jump to at least 50k when they release the expansion with the improved textures, and when/if they manage to put in place a non-Microsoft Zone billing/registration system.[/list:u]

    Current: Mario Kart DS, Nintendogs
    SirBruce
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    Reply #2 on: September 11, 2004, 06:48:23 PM

    This is quite true, but I think things were easier when EQ did it.  But EQ2 and WoW are leveraging existing properties to increase their market recognition.  It is a lot harder for a brand new MMOG to generate as much enthusiasm, particularly with all the competition. It will be interesting to see how Tabula Rasa and Face of Mankind do compared to the other big-name IP properties coming down the pipe.

    As for AC1, I'm actually surprised they've fallen so far.  I do expect their expansion to give them a nice bump, but I wonder if it'll really be all that sticky.

    Bruce
    Numtini
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    Reply #3 on: September 11, 2004, 07:48:13 PM

    I find the AC1 and AC2 numbers shocking. The former because it's so low and the latter because it's so high.

    If you can read this, you're on a board populated by misogynist assholes.
    HRose
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    Reply #4 on: September 11, 2004, 07:49:07 PM

    Quote
    The first panel I went to was "The Right Content Mix" with Starr Long, Rich Vogel, and Jason Durrell. The panel debated what was the right mix of static vs. dynamic content in MMOs

    Oh my god. These guys are able to repeat the same theme for every conference?

    They aren't intelligent enough to realize that "the right mix of static vs. dynamic content" is ALREADY a wrong premise that won't bring anywhere?

    My general impression reading the report is that, for each theme, who was speaking was exactly who shouldn't

    And I'm SO happy about the numbers. Ultima Online sinking makes me happy, AC1+2 aren't even enough to go against Eve-Online and SWG is right where it belongs. The most powerful licence and a result right slightly above DAoC.

    So. If everyone is there to teach, who is there to learn? considering the situation the smaller the audience the smaller the damage.

    -HRose / Abalieno
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    Lum
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    Reply #5 on: September 11, 2004, 08:56:07 PM

    Quote from: HRose
    Quote
    The first panel I went to was "The Right Content Mix" with Starr Long, Rich Vogel, and Jason Durrell. The panel debated what was the right mix of static vs. dynamic content in MMOs

    Oh my god. These guys are able to repeat the same theme for every conference?

    They aren't intelligent enough to realize that "the right mix of static vs. dynamic content" is ALREADY a wrong premise that won't bring anywhere?


    Except that, well, the point of the talk was answerning that question. If you don't think that's the right question, don't go.

    Quote
    My general impression reading the report is that, for each theme, who was speaking was exactly who shouldn't


    Thanks!

    Quote
    If everyone is there to teach, who is there to learn?


    Each session was pretty full, actually. It was pretty encouraging that people are still trying to make these beasts.

    AGC has always been the best conference to go to to learn about MMO production, and this year's had 3 complete MMO tracks (design, production and tech). Good stuff all around.
    SirBruce
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    Reply #6 on: September 11, 2004, 09:04:51 PM

    And it is a hell of a lot cheaper than GDC. (Of course, if you're speaking or your company pays for you, that doesn't matter as much!)

    Web page now says there were over 1400 attendees, up from 850 the previous year.

    Bruce
    daveNYC
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    Reply #7 on: September 11, 2004, 10:57:09 PM

    Other than technology and project management issues, I'm not sure that learning from other MMOG developers is a good thing.  I  mean, when what many people consider the pinnacle of the genre was developed back in 1997, perhaps it's time to stop inbreeding your memes.
    geldonyetich
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    Reply #8 on: September 11, 2004, 11:14:16 PM

    Good info, thanks SB.

    I didn't know JRR wrote against eBaying virtual property.  Not directly, of course, but through the terms of his time.   Go Papa Tolkien.

    schild
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    Reply #9 on: September 12, 2004, 03:07:54 AM

    This article was just frontpaged. Moving thread to 'We Distort We Decide.'
    Raph
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    Title delayed while we "find the fun."


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    Reply #10 on: September 12, 2004, 02:21:01 PM

    A few minor notes:

    I hear the website panel description for Richard's talk has changed.

    Mark Jacobs specifically called out "folks by the names of Richard, Roy, Bill, Kelton, and John"  -- that would be Bartle, Trubshaw, Louden, Flinn, and Taylor. As it happens, I was standing next to Bill at the time, and he whispered to me, "Can I just be the mommy of online games instead?"

    Copper Tank, not Kettle. ;)

    The bats come out every night all month. You had lots of chances! The reception spot was a terrible location to see them--down at the T.G.I.Friday's, or on the bridge itself, would be much better locations.

    It was nice to be back in Austin--live music in the hotel lobby, and live music in the Friday's too. :)
    SirBruce
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    Reply #11 on: September 12, 2004, 02:38:26 PM

    We're probably going to go see the bats tonight since this is my last night in Austin.

    The web site still has the same text for Richard's presentation.

    And yes, I meant The Copper Tank!

    Bruce
    HRose
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    Reply #12 on: September 12, 2004, 05:40:59 PM

    Quote from: Lum
    Quote from: HRose
    They aren't intelligent enough to realize that "the right mix of static vs. dynamic content" is ALREADY a wrong premise that won't bring anywhere?

    Except that, well, the point of the talk was answerning that question. If you don't think that's the right question, don't go.

    I find stupid an out-of-context discussion on a topic so big that it could include everything and more. It's like "lets talk about everything and nothing assuming that what we say makes sense".

    I just have the impression that these conferences are groups for self-brag elitists aiming for a moment where they can feel important.

    Quote
    Quote
    My general impression reading the report is that, for each theme, who was speaking was exactly who shouldn't

    Thanks!

    General impression doesn't mean everyone. In particular when SirBruce hasn't even commented yours, since he was somewhere else.

    In fact yours sounds way more specific and less "raving about everything and nothing".

    -HRose / Abalieno
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    Reply #13 on: September 12, 2004, 07:17:28 PM

    Quote
    I just have the impression that these conferences are groups for self-brag elitists aiming for a moment where they can feel important.


    As opposed to making endless postings criticizing everyone who actually tries to work in the field, while claiming to have a perfect design that fixes everything but that you can't implement?

    *ahem*

    Might I suggest to you that it's going to be hard for you to judge these conferences or panels or the value of the discussions there without attending some of them? Just as it is hard to judge designs when you have no sense of the difficulties of execution. All of the panels I attended at AGC were rather interesting and valuable, as were many of the dinners and happy hours where rather complex discussions often took place over food and drinks. There really isn't all that much "feeling important" to be had at these things--if anything, they mostly serve to tell you how little you know. A feeling I recommend to one and all.

    -Raph
    HRose
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    Reply #14 on: September 12, 2004, 07:39:39 PM

    Quote from: Raph
    Quote
    I just have the impression that these conferences are groups for self-brag elitists aiming for a moment where they can feel important.

    As opposed to making endless postings criticizing everyone who actually tries to work in the field, while claiming to have a perfect design that fixes everything but that you can't implement?

    *ahem*

    Where I wrote that I haven't bigger issues than "them"?

    Btw, I never claimed to have perfect design. Just interesting ideas that I feel valuable and I'd like to see. In fact my ideas are quite focused in a precise direction instead of "I will take over the world and make the perfect game for everyone".

    Quote
    Might I suggest to you that it's going to be hard for you to judge these conferences or panels or the value of the discussions there without attending some of them? Just as it is hard to judge designs when you have no sense of the difficulties of execution. All of the panels I attended at AGC were rather interesting and valuable, as were many of the dinners and happy hours where rather complex discussions often took place over food and drinks. There really isn't all that much "feeling important" to be had at these things--if anything, they mostly serve to tell you how little you know. A feeling I recommend to one and all.

    It's obvious that I cannot judge anything. In fact I'm simply commenting an impression from the few lines I read here and in a couple of other places. And my comment is simply a comment under these conditions.

    That feeling isn't new to me. That's why I read way more than write. The only difference is that whatever I learn is useless while it could matter for you.

    Then I simply think that useful knowledge comes from a different source than elitism. Don't put me in that place, I never felt "special".

    -HRose / Abalieno
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    Reply #15 on: September 12, 2004, 07:50:30 PM

    Quote from: Raph
    Quote
    I just have the impression that these conferences are groups for self-brag elitists aiming for a moment where they can feel important.


    As opposed to making endless postings criticizing everyone who actually tries to work in the field, while claiming to have a perfect design that fixes everything but that you can't implement?

    *ahem*

    Might I suggest to you that it's going to be hard for you to judge these conferences or panels or the value of the discussions there without attending some of them? Just as it is hard to judge designs when you have no sense of the difficulties of execution. All of the panels I attended at AGC were rather interesting and valuable, as were many of the dinners and happy hours where rather complex discussions often took place over food and drinks. There really isn't all that much "feeling important" to be had at these things--if anything, they mostly serve to tell you how little you know. A feeling I recommend to one and all.

    -Raph


    Agreed. This was actually my first game conference and I greatly regret not attending more in the past. I was really impressed with the amount of information shared and how open people were to feedback and ideas...even those who have some pretty impressive titles under their belts. I didn't detect any elitism on anyone's part at all.

    Just for the sake of completeness. The other two people on the content panel were Jack Emmert and myself and the other people on the community panel were Den Dragon from Stratics and EM Stock from NCSoft. I thought Jack's comments about content in MMOs were particularly interesting as well as the debate regarding player generated content. I had an opportunity to speak with a few people after that panel about using different kinds of content to create emotional attachments in MMOs which were actually very enlightening to me as well.

    Mostly though I enjoyed meeting other people in the industry, especially my counterparts in Community Relations.  If nothing else, that was more than worth attending.
    SirBruce
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    Reply #16 on: September 12, 2004, 11:00:26 PM

    Raph was on three panels and I saw (and mentioned) two of them.  I'm sorry my comments didn't have more specifics; I wasn't trying to transcribe what everyone said but just give a general impression of how things went.

    I've experienced very little elitism from nearly every developer.  People like Jacobs and Koster and Walton were happy to talk with just about anyone about these issues.  I think a lot of them admit that for the most part, we don't have good answers to a lot of the questions/problems that come with these games.  We have ideas, and we'll talk about the pros and cons of them, but without actual implementation, it's hard to judge how these ideas work.  And furthermore, if that great idea winds up in a game that doesn't do so well or gets cancelled, you have a hard time evaluating whether or not that idea was actually one that would have worked.

    Other times, a game like City of Heroes can come along that seems to violate some of the "rules" we thought we knew.  CoH isn't very deep, but the core gameplay is extremely engaging, the combat is fun, and you get to play a superhero instead of a space jockey or a high fantasy hero.  These elements were enough to get a large number of subscribers, and although some quit after the first couple of months, a large number still remain.  And I think all developers try to learn something from these new games and re-evaluate the importance of others within a business context.  But maybe the real lesson here is that there's not set formula for success.

    Getting back to the static vs. dynamic content debate, Rich Vogel (and I think Starr Long, too) have both stated that 80% static and 20% dynamic was the "best" mix they've hit upon so far.  But I didn't mention this because I've heard that ratio bandied about before, and in any case no one is putting that forward as some new game design law.  Everyone recognizes that different games will need different ratios, especially if the game has strong PvP elements to it.  I think it was more important to simply understand the different kinds of content, how each can be implemented, and the limitations that each have in certain circumstances.  Static content is great for telling story and evoking emotion, but you still need some dynamic content so the person doesn't feel the world is completely predictable.  Dynamic content can provide for very fun surprises for players, but you also need to make sure that the dynamic content is something they have the option to not choose to experience at that time if they don't have time to get involved in some new quest at that time.  And so on.

    Bruce

    PS - Saw the bats tonight, whee!
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    Reply #17 on: September 12, 2004, 11:31:17 PM

    Quote from: SirBruce
    I've experienced very little elitism from nearly every developer.  People like Jacobs and Koster and Walton were happy to talk with just about anyone about these issues.  I think a lot of them admit that for the most part, we don't have good answers to a lot of the questions/problems that come with these games.  We have ideas, and we'll talk about the pros and cons of them, but without actual implementation, it's hard to judge how these ideas work.  And furthermore, if that great idea winds up in a game that doesn't do so well or gets cancelled, you have a hard time evaluating whether or not that idea was actually one that would have worked.

    You don't see my point.

    I'm sure that they all felt pimped and stuff during these conferences. And I'm also sure that they felt the discussions interesting and useful.

    But for me the real and concrete *value* comes from the direct experience with the players and the game itself. "Get your hands dirt". I'm simply stating that talking with the players, even the most stupid ones in a cesspit like B.net, is way more concretely useful than the chatter between "high-profile" elitists with complex theoric studies on the topic.

    I believe that the creativity, the passion and even the innovation comes from *below*. Not from the high level theorization. I still have to see a damn GOOD concrete result coming out from all that fancy stuff because the most interesting and fun games to date, imho, are those that DON'T follow the ideas coming out from those places.

    Peoples like Jakobs, imho, just demonstrate that they are willingly to discuss only inside an highly protected environment where they are on top of the ladder and can choose exactly how much they can be open or not.

    As I said, what they write is all faked. I'm sure that its their true opinion, I'm just stating that they are trying to fool themselves as part of their PR game. It sounded like the G8.

    So, they passed those days discussing in those conferences, while I passed my time reading and discussing in the beta forums of WoW. I'm really wondering who learnt more. And who is really open to learn new things and new approaches.

    -HRose / Abalieno
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    Reply #18 on: September 13, 2004, 01:01:12 AM

    I didn't know it was an either-or thing.  Personally, after 363 days talking to players, working on the game and spending time in it, reading and replying on forums, etc...  I find spending 2 days talking to other people that also make and run online games to be a nice change and to offer some different perspectives and ideas than I got those other 363 days.

    Anyway I just wanted to leave a note to say Dr. Bartle didn't make the first multiplayer online fantasy game either.  Not to belittle his continuing contributions to our industry over a quarter century, but the first online D&D type games I know of were those on the innovative Plato network, such as moria and dnd.  They predate MUD 1 by a few years, and had graphics to boot!  Plato terminals had 512*512 graphics in the mid-70s.  Dnd had a simple 2D overhead view, moria (and later games like oubliette and avatar (which Wizardry was based on)) had 3D wireframe graphics of the dungeons.

    I don't think the general public really cares about the early history of online games, though.  But I do.

       -- Dr. Cat
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    Reply #19 on: September 13, 2004, 01:49:08 AM

    Nice summary Bruce.

    Glad a good time was had by all.

    Tebonas
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    Reply #20 on: September 13, 2004, 03:22:06 AM

    You play MMorpgs since when my friend from across the southern border? Must be all of three weeks or so.

    Haven't we learned time and time again, from experience, from making fun of those poor sods, from hiding on boards like this from them, that the average player can't be trusted with anything regarding a bigger picture than his own immediate advantage?

    The main thing *I* learn from reading the discussions in the beta forums is that there is no hope for humanity if those people decide to taint the gene pool en masse. Mileage may vary.

    Edit: To clarify, I'm sure most of those people have enough feedback from their respective playerbases, they have enough intelligent players they conversed with prior to those conferences. But there is a point where professionals have to talk with each other without players who only see aspects of the whole picture and think they know everything. I know I take customer feedback quite serious in my line of work, but I don't let those customers take part in the strategic planning.
    Arcadian Del Sol
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    Reply #21 on: September 13, 2004, 06:34:53 AM

    comments:

    I'll attend when they finally panel a discussion called "Why are our games less fun than brushing your teeth?"

    Calling Richard Garriott the father of online gaming reminds me of why an autograph is called a "John Hancock" - lots of people signed the Declaration of Independance, but John Hancock made it all about himself, and history has rewarded him for it.

    Mark Jacobs not in a tailored suit means only one thing: Mark Jacobs in a tailored crew shirt. Leave it to him to throw massive millstones in the pond and watch everyone surf the ripples.

    One more thing about Richard Garriott - how about we compromise and call him the father of online games that aren't a clone of EverQuest? I wonder if that would be okay with Mr. Jacobs.

    Bats are vermin. They are undeserving of our love.

    unbannable
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    Reply #22 on: September 13, 2004, 10:39:01 AM

    Quote from: SirBruce
    And it is a hell of a lot cheaper than GDC. (Of course, if you're speaking or your company pays for you, that doesn't matter as much!)

    Web page now says there were over 1400 attendees, up from 850 the previous year.

    Bruce
    I spoke with Chris Sherman at the end of the show, and the final count was around 2500 full. He also said he wants to maintain the smaller base so that more people can network on a personal level. I think I was able to spend about 15 minutes with just about everyone I know if not at a private lunch or dinner.

    Great Seeing ya'll again.
    Bruce check yer PM.
    dusematic
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    Reply #23 on: September 13, 2004, 10:50:51 AM

    Quote
    That feeling isn't new to me. That's why I read way more than write. The only difference is that whatever I learn is useless while it could matter for you.

    Then I simply think that useful knowledge comes from a different source than elitism. Don't put me in that place, I never felt "special".



    What's wrong with feeling special and important?  Christ man, it's just a conference for people to attend interested in the subject matter, where the hell is the debate?
    Fargull
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    Reply #24 on: September 13, 2004, 11:24:21 AM

    Quote from: Arcadian Del Sol

    Bats are vermin. They are undeserving of our love.


    Pigeons are vermin, bats are a huge insect control.

    May you soak in mosquitoes.

    "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." John Steinbeck
    Roac
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    Reply #25 on: September 13, 2004, 12:41:15 PM

    Quote
    ...Mark was particularly perturbed by the annointment of Lord British as the father of the online gaming industry. Especially when you consider the fact that, you know, it's simply false.
    ...
     To call Garriott the father of the online gaming industry is like claiming Al Gore invented the Internet


    Not really.  UO was the first MMOG, and RG led it up.  You had some of the AOL games, but they don't come close, and they were also exclusive to AOL users, not internet users.  Don't forget, there were many other subscription services that had online games as well - AOL is just the best remembered.  You had MUDs, but they didn't either.  The title "The Father of..." doesn't always go to the guy who first came up with the idea, because there's no way to really track that.  It goes to the guy who first did something pretty serious with it.  The title of father of MORPG would really go to Bartle, with MUD 1, for example.  

    There's probably a long list of people who have more innovations to their name in the MMOG industry than Garriott - but they didn't get the marketing behind their name to bring the attention RG did, either.  Sucks for them.

    -Roac
    King of Ravens

    "Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us." -SC
    Div_Devlin
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    Reply #26 on: September 13, 2004, 01:16:27 PM

    Quote from: Roac


    Not really.  UO was the first MMOG, and RG led it up.  You had some of the AOL games, but they don't come close, and they were also exclusive to AOL users, not internet users.


    TEN was the first Games Network Channel which hosted Dark Sun Online, along with severa other games before UO and after AOL's Nwn.
    slog
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    Reply #27 on: September 13, 2004, 01:57:48 PM

    Amazing that someone who's only contributions are 1) providing some investment funds and 2) shameless self promotion can make it on one of these panels.

    "Die of flaming ass cancer you schmuck. No really, die."

    .
    Dark Vengeance
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    Reply #28 on: September 13, 2004, 02:14:52 PM

    I'd like to add that even though he didn't single-handedly win our independence, George Washington is still referred to as the "father" of our country.

    Bartle may have been Christopher Columbus, Mark Jacobs may have been Paul Revere, and Raph could very well be Benjamin Franklin....but in the minds of many Garriott is the George Washington of MMOGs. I'll give Bruce the John Hancock role.....mainly because Johnny's most notable accomplishment was drawing attention to something he wrote (*cough*subscription chart*ahem*).

    Doesn't mean they don't all have a place in history....just that there are enough people involved that you couldn't bestow that "father" label on anyone without pissing some other people off.

    Bring the noise.
    Cheers.............
    SirBruce
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    Reply #29 on: September 13, 2004, 02:20:18 PM

    You forgot:

    3) Maintaing the MMOG Subscription Chart, which, even if you think is totally bogus, is nevertheless a standard reference now.

    4) Actually having experience coding and running MUDs that are in many ways the spiritual predecessor to modern MMOGs.

    5) Paid consulting, providing insight and analysis on both the industry and some MMO designs (no, I won't tell you who (yet)).

    6) Being more intelligent than you.

    In addition, you have to consider that:

    7) Decisions are made by people who show up.  If you attend, and if you network, you can get involved in one capacity or another in this industry.

    8) At the time of the first AGC, the rest of Playnet were too busy to do the panel, and I was the one invited.  This year, we could actually afford to send some people, but the CEO didn't go.  Next year, it might be Jim Mesteller up there instead of me talking about making MMOGs on a budget.

    9) I'm blackmailing Gordon Walton.

    Bruce

    PS - If it makes you feel any better, my proposed talk for GDC this year was turned down.  On the other hand, IDGA did want me to help provide input to their Online Games whitepaper.
    slog
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    Reply #30 on: September 13, 2004, 02:35:21 PM

    Quote from: SirBruce


    3) Maintaing the MMOG Subscription Chart, which, even if you think is totally bogus, is nevertheless a standard reference now.


    Self Promotion

    Quote from: SirBruce


    4) Actually having experience coding and running MUDs that are in many ways the spiritual predecessor to modern MMOGs.


    Self Promotion

    Quote from: SirBruce


    5) Paid consulting, providing insight and analysis on both the industry and some MMO designs (no, I won't tell you who (yet)).



    Lord help them

    Quote from: SirBruce


    6) Being more intelligent than you.



    Keep telling yourself that.

    Quote from: SirBruce


    In addition, you have to consider that:

    7) Decisions are made by people who show up.  If you attend, and if you network, you can get involved in one capacity or another in this industry.


    Self promotion.

    Quote from: SirBruce


    8) At the time of the first AGC, the rest of Playnet were too busy to do the panel, and I was the one invited.  This year, we could actually afford to send some people, but the CEO didn't go.  Next year, it might be Jim Mesteller up there instead of me talking about making MMOGs on a budget.



    sounds like they sent the only person who doesnt do anything.

    "Die of flaming ass cancer you schmuck. No really, die."

    .
    SirBruce
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    Reply #31 on: September 13, 2004, 03:16:46 PM

    I think I've just been SirBruced.

    Bruce
    Xilren's Twin
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    Reply #32 on: September 13, 2004, 04:39:29 PM

    Quote from: SirBruce
    I think I've just been SirBruced.

    Bruce


    Oh lord, please don't make him start referring to himself in the third person...

    Xilren

    "..but I'm by no means normal." - Schild
    Krakrok
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    Reply #33 on: September 13, 2004, 05:26:19 PM

    Quote from: HRose
    But for me the real and concrete *value* comes from the direct experience with the players and the game itself. "Get your hands dirt". I'm simply stating that talking with the players, even the most stupid ones in a cesspit like B.net, is way more concretely useful than the chatter between "high-profile" elitists with complex theoric studies on the topic.


    Until you've had to deal with millions of "customers" (99% of which are raving lunatics) who all believe the world revolves around them, and you owe them, and they'll sue you; you really have no idea what you're talking about in that regard.

    schild
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    Reply #34 on: September 13, 2004, 08:05:38 PM

    Quote from: Xilren's Twin
    Quote from: SirBruce
    I think I've just been SirBruced.

    Bruce


    Oh lord, please don't make him start referring to himself in the third person...


    He isn't. He was just being ironic. It would have been funnier if it said "I think I've just been SirBruced. I feel violated." But he didn't. Meh, who gives a shit. Why am I even respo*(SD*(@# NO CARRIER

    edit: omg, wrong thread.
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