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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  Gaming Conferences and Conventions  |  AGC '06  |  Topic: Raph did our Work for Us 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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Author Topic: Raph did our Work for Us  (Read 9829 times)
ForumBot 0.8 beta
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on: September 06, 2006, 09:34:33 AM

Raph did our Work for Us

Having slept in from a sickness some call a "hangover," I stumbled into the convention center and immediately found another sick guy. His name is Raph, and he "livebrogged" the keynote. Enjoy. We'll have more once we get hold of the notes from this morning's panels.
bhodi
Moderator
Posts: 6817

No lie.


Reply #1 on: September 06, 2006, 09:53:48 AM

Yes, Yes, and YES. There is much wisdom here.
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Quest designers are “the cruise directors of WoW.” Their job is to show you the world. When we first do a zone we talk about POIs, points of interest, how many of each type of quest, and that’s the job of the quest designer.
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The short levelling curve also encourages people to reroll and start over. We had some hardcore testers who would level to 60 in a week. There was much concern within the company. But I owuld tell them that we cannot design to that guy. You have to let him go. He probably won’t unsubscribe, he’s going to hit your endga,e content or he’ll have multiple level 60s. In games with tough levelling curves, it discourages you from starting over.
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Bite-sized content: we try to tune our quests for accomplishment in chunks. We aim for a 30 minute session, lunchtime battlegrounds. We are doing more “winged dungeons” in the expansion, because we kinda stumbled upon it. We split up the dungeon into separate wings that can be done in 1/2 hour to an hour — like Scarlet Monastery.
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But on the teleportation side, you get a lot more social connectivity, which is what MMOs are all about. There’s a barrier there if people have to travel and coordinate. We consciously decided to have that tradeoff. Players do want the convenience.
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Lastly, have fun with the game. Put in the little in-jokes. If developers are having funmaking the gam, chances are the players will have fun with it too.
Something that he didn't really touch on which I think was one of the key success factors is the LUA scripting that really engaged a lot of the community and made it work for them.
Signe
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Muse.


Reply #2 on: September 06, 2006, 11:05:16 AM

Raph takes good notes.  You should give him a blue name.

My Sig Image: hath rid itself of this mortal coil.
Samwise
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Posts: 16515

sentient yeast infection


WWW
Reply #3 on: September 06, 2006, 11:35:29 AM

he "livebrogged" the keynote.

Don't you mean "rivebrog"?

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
Sairon
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Posts: 866


Reply #4 on: September 06, 2006, 11:47:58 AM

I agree with a lot of things, but not everything. Some of the design decisions in WoW even goes against their "Concentrated coolness" philosophy.

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World size vs teleportation is another. WoW vs Diablo. We wanted to the scale of the world to feel epic. But you get players getting frustrated and calling it “World of Walkcraft.” You use flight taxis to maintain integrity and having limited teleportation means you can have remote areas where you consciously do not provide a flight path to it.

During gameplay from 1-60 you're spending almost 50% of your time travelling, basically halving your "Concentrated coolness". I don't believe him when he says travelling is there to make the world feel epic, it was there because there wasn't enough content in there if travelling would've been faster.

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Concentrated coolness. What this means is, rather than make variety and lots of things to do, make fewer thing really cool. The best example in WoW is the class system. Lots of games have more classes, multiclassing, etc. We consciously avoided that in order to make each class as cool and different from the others as possible. This allowed us to have unique spells, abilities and mechanics. No red fireball, white fireball, blue fireball, etc. Even the two pet classes, hunters and warlocks, use their pets completely differently. We consciously avoided sharing mechanics across classes. We recently announced that the paladins and the shamans are switching sides. One of the primary reasons why we undid that rule was that we found ourselves merging them into each other for PvP balance. So we decided that it was less important for each side to have its own class than it was to have concentrated coolness for each class.

Again, he's not speaking 100% truthfully here. Another reason surely is balancing reasons, which is also why there's very little room for diversifying your character, race for example makes very little difference in WoW compared to most other MMORPGs. I agree that it's a smart move to have fewer, but more fleshed out classes than it is to have truckton of generic ones. I do however think that there's to few in WoW atm, and that there should've been at least 1 new class coming up for the expansion.

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Clear concise objectives: try to provide all info in the game, don’t drive players to websites. We try hard through our quests what you need to do, where to go, where the quetsgiveris so you know where to go back to. Every time we bring in a new quest designer, they want to do a ‘mystery quest” that has vague information, but the reality is that the player will just go to Thottbot, and the people who don’t do that are the casual players who are the one syou need to handhold!

I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I think WoW failed in this regard. There's a lot of quests in WoW where you will have problem finding NPCs or mobs. This is one of the reasons why I played WoW windowed, to have thottbot in the background for quest information. I later on remedied this by creating a mod which inserted thottbot comments right into your quest log in game instead  tongue. This should've been solved by marking quest objectives on the map.

Sky
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WWW
Reply #5 on: September 06, 2006, 12:28:32 PM

I also disagree with several things. Some is from my casual...err, dormant...bias. Like thinking you should only look cool if you catass it out in raids or have super-rare gear. Everyone should be able to look cool to a degree. UO was used as a decent example. Limited palette, but you could do so much within it to create your own style, and all the uber gear looked plain-jane (in fact, you'd usually try to hide your uber gear so as not to paint a giant target on yourself!).

And also the travel bit. As a casual player, spending time trudging around a game world just isn't fun. Even with fast travel options, there is entirely too much trudgery. Again, UO was great for travel. You could travel overland if you were just looking for trouble to stir up (at least if you could move through the urban blight), you could hop in a boat and sail around. But building up a set of travel runes (and duplicates!) was cool, imo. You did have to actually travel to all those places at first, but then you could set up good spots to port in, or throw up a gate. Not sure what effect runebooks had, that was after my time. But having to guard your rune stash pretty well made them somewhat limited in usage, not just a port anywhere anytime kinda deal (not to mention needing reagents or scrolls).


Righ
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Teaching the world Google-fu one broken dream at a time.


Reply #6 on: September 06, 2006, 03:17:15 PM

Raph did a great job making notes, and Pardo gave a great talk. Everybody should read it a bunch of times. There is some stuff in there that's a bit dodgy, some stuff that's bordering on historical revision, and some stuff that's just silly, but its got a lot of useful lessons. Super-valuable is:

Quote
The Blizzard polish.

And everything in the following few paragraphs.

The camera adds a thousand barrels. - Steven Colbert
Lt.Dan
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Reply #7 on: September 06, 2006, 07:49:54 PM

Looks like Blizzard's success is more than just polish and brand.  There's a heck of a lot of good development in there too.
Margalis
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Reply #8 on: September 06, 2006, 09:26:57 PM

Yeah, that's how I read it. I'm not sure if their design is anything special, it's really the development process.

Make it fun early, because creating all the content then adding the fun later is impossible.

So many games don't get this. They just cross their fingers and hope it will be fun at the end. People forget the entire point is a fun experience. Before you go create 40 classes or 20 ships or 100 spells or an entire continent make it fun on a small scale, with placeholder content. The game should be fun pre-alpha. Fun with some holes, sure. Fun if you can get past the horrid sound effects, sure. But fun. If you start fun and iterate from there you are certain to reach at least a certain threshold of quality, no matter what your design is.

Their approach to development is solid. The "beware the grand reveal" is another good one. I tell my workers that - do not go off by yourself into a cave and work on something until it is 'finished'!! That just does not work. Test early, test often, get more eyes involved, etc.

Most of the dev stuff he talked about isn't just for games anywhere - just how to develop good software. Which most people don't get.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
El Gallo
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Reply #9 on: September 07, 2006, 01:44:22 PM

How is it that everyone else missed these points when almost all of them seem so obvious?  Sure WoW fall short on some of these goals, but it came remarkably close for a first effort.  The Northshire Valley example is perfect--make sure you have small area that is fun, functional and polished before you go about plopping down vast land masses figuring you can just plop down some fun in them later.

I cannot fucking wait to play Blizzard's second MMO, after they have had the chance to reflect on what worked and what didn't in WoW.
My great-grand children will love it. :-(
« Last Edit: September 07, 2006, 01:48:26 PM by El Gallo »

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
Margalis
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Reply #10 on: September 07, 2006, 03:57:30 PM

How people miss it is easy.

In a lot of games content production takes a lot of time and people want to get started early. So they go design maps and animations and such before the fun is figured out. Or they delude themselves into thinking the game will only be fun when X features is complete, and X is scheduled to be done 3 months before release.

What is really needed is a shift in the way games are made. First, create a prototype that captures the overall gameplay using a small staff. The technology is all placeholder as is the content. Then start the real work once the prototype has proven itself.

Under this system the game will take longer to come out, but the budget doesn't increase because the original team is so small, and while it takes longer the tech doesn't become obsolete either. While you increase the total schedule you actually decrease the time spent with the larger staff.

Many companies do create prototypes but it seems that the prototypes and just for show and don't capture the game at all.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Trippy
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Posts: 20328


Reply #11 on: September 07, 2006, 05:33:46 PM

What is really needed is a shift in the way games are made. First, create a prototype that captures the overall gameplay using a small staff. The technology is all placeholder as is the content. Then start the real work once the prototype has proven itself.

Under this system the game will take longer to come out, but the budget doesn't increase because the original team is so small, and while it takes longer the tech doesn't become obsolete either. While you increase the total schedule you actually decrease the time spent with the larger staff.
Making a prototype does not necessarily mean the game will take longer. The process of developing of prototype will often reveal tricky design problems or other issues that may not have revealed itself until far down the development process. One of the main reasons why software projects often take longer than expected is because unexpected issues come up. By identifying some of these problems early on you have a better chance of designing around them in a way that won't impact the schedule as much. Prototyping also allows for more rapid feedback so you don't end up spending, say, 3 months implementing feature X and then finding out it's not fun or not what the customer was asking for or whatnot.
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