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Author Topic: AGC Rivebrog: The Age of the Dinosaurs  (Read 25811 times)
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on: September 07, 2006, 11:02:27 AM

AGC Rivebrog: The Age of the Dinosaurs

AGC Rivebrog: The Age of the Dinosaurs

Summary: Raph says embrace the niche, bitches.  (Or get out your Wile E. Coyote umbrella.)

The slides can be found on Raph's website here.  Read on for the unedited and somewhat disjointed notes I took during the talk itself.

» Read More
Samwise
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Reply #1 on: September 07, 2006, 11:04:44 AM

This post brought to you by beer -- the breakfast of champions.

"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
Polysorbate80
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Reply #2 on: September 07, 2006, 12:26:44 PM

Lt.Dan
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Reply #3 on: September 07, 2006, 04:06:37 PM

Beer, is there nothing it can't do
Signe
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Reply #4 on: September 07, 2006, 06:29:02 PM

Girls like beer, too!


My Sig Image: hath rid itself of this mortal coil.
shiznitz
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Reply #5 on: September 08, 2006, 09:32:24 AM

Now that is a yeast infection I would go down on!

I have never played WoW.
Fabnusen
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Reply #6 on: September 09, 2006, 10:19:57 AM

I am always interested in Koster has to say. However, I always wind up thinking........"so what". Lots of platitudes, lots of lofty ideas that are fun to think about and perform mental gymnastics over. However, that doesn't mean any of his assertions are correct or even valid.

Is the market space really that convoluted? Does the wheel literally have to be reinvented? Or is it more plausible that good games will always do well, and bad games wont? Many would say this is too simplistic a view. I would counter that Koster's view is way, way to convoluted.

I noticed the notes specifically call out 'social worlds' as being important. To whom? Why create a 'social world' when chat room, irc, etc have been around forever? Are those not social worlds in their own right?

His argument about niche is a good one, I think. I disagree that someone can't out-WoW WoW. WoW - to most consumers - is the best choice in WoW style games. If a better WoW comes out, people will reward that game with subscriptions. If it's mealy equal or 'good', they will not. To many people WoW is simply the best choice for their gaming dollar. It isn't any more complicated than that - mental gymnastics aside.

Let me make a simple analogy. American car companies are hurting because the average consumer feels their cars suck compaired to the competition. It's just that simple. Make better cars, more people will buy them.

Bottom line: make it (good) and they will come. Mental mind-twisting can be fun, but the solutions are much less complicated.
Margalis
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Reply #7 on: September 09, 2006, 11:57:37 AM

Talking is easier than doing.

Like I said in another thread, these panel discussions annoy me. People who screwed up in the past say some good things then go screw up again.

For a bunch of people on F13 to say that SOE keeps releasing crappy games is fine. For SOE employees to say it is just lame, especially when they don't try to correct the problem.

Instead of saying "yeah, we keep releasing unfinished games" just release finished ones. Or just stop talking.

A lot of these guys have had multiple chances to make good games and failed. What they say is no longer relevant, because either their advice sucks or they don't bother to follow it themselves.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Samwise
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Reply #8 on: September 09, 2006, 01:02:34 PM

I noticed the notes specifically call out 'social worlds' as being important. To whom? Why create a 'social world' when chat room, irc, etc have been around forever?

To whom?  Not to you, and not to me, but to all the people who aren't going to embrace text-only interfaces.  The other 75% of the pie, in other words.  Apparently Habbo Hotel has more concurrent users than WoW now, and Habbo is literally a glorified chat room.  The fact that you can make money just by prettying up IRC a little bit seems significant to me.

Quote
His argument about niche is a good one, I think. I disagree that someone can't out-WoW WoW.

To be clear: when Raph said you can't out-WoW WoW, he said specifically that you can't do to WoW what WoW did to EQ.  WoW got what, twenty times the numbers that EQ did?  Something around there?  So to do to WoW what WoW did to EQ, you'd have to put out a MMORPG that got twenty times the numbers that WoW did.  Is the MMORPG market that big?  Will it ever be?

You might be able to put something out that steals away most of WoW's subscribers, and maybe grows the market a little bit more, but nothing is going to bitchslap WoW as hard as WoW bitchslapped EQ.  Also, remember that WoW's genius was essentially just polishing the turd that is EQ/Diku gameplay.  You can only polish a turd so much.

"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
Yoru
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Reply #9 on: September 09, 2006, 03:37:22 PM

What seems to be getting lost is the point behind the Habbo/Gaia comparisons to WoW. It's not that "Habbo is more important than WOW" or "Habbo is a better game than WOW". The point is that there's applications out there that have subsumed some of the major points of functionality that MMO people essentially created (graphical virtual spaces) and they're larger, in terms of user base, than what many of us regard as a Holy Grail number of subscribers. And, further, that we - as technologists, designers, participants, a subculture - are in danger of being re-marginalized both culturally and financially as the popularity, profitability and social importance of these non-game virtual spaces grows.
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Reply #10 on: September 09, 2006, 04:35:14 PM

To be clear: when Raph said you can't out-WoW WoW, he said specifically that you can't do to WoW what WoW did to EQ.  WoW got what, twenty times the numbers that EQ did?  Something around there?  So to do to WoW what WoW did to EQ, you'd have to put out a MMORPG that got twenty times the numbers that WoW did.  Is the MMORPG market that big?  Will it ever be?

You might be able to put something out that steals away most of WoW's subscribers, and maybe grows the market a little bit more, but nothing is going to bitchslap WoW as hard as WoW bitchslapped EQ.  Also, remember that WoW's genius was essentially just polishing the turd that is EQ/Diku gameplay.  You can only polish a turd so much.

I believe that back in the day, we didn't think anybody could bitch-slap EQ the way WoW did. We didn't even think an MMO could do half as well. But it happened. I wouldn't say "never" to that sort of thing happening again.

And by the way, is that avatar a pic of you IRL? cause LOL! funny

"Role playing in an MMO is more like an open orchestra with no conductor, anyone of any skill level can walk in at any time, and everyone brings their own instrument and plays whatever song they want.  Then toss PvP into the mix and things REALLY get ugly!" -Count Nerfedalot
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Reply #11 on: September 09, 2006, 04:50:25 PM

To be clear: when Raph said you can't out-WoW WoW, he said specifically that you can't do to WoW what WoW did to EQ. So to do to WoW what WoW did to EQ, you'd have to put out a MMORPG that got twenty times the numbers that WoW did.  Is the MMORPG market that big?  Will it ever be?

If Myspace/FriendSter/FriendFinder/Facebook impliment a 3D something you could possibly see 10x of WoW. 20x is pretty steep.

Llava
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Reply #12 on: September 09, 2006, 09:41:49 PM

For a bunch of people on F13 to say that SOE keeps releasing crappy games is fine. For SOE employees to say it is just lame, especially when they don't try to correct the problem.

Instead of saying "yeah, we keep releasing unfinished games" just release finished ones. Or just stop talking.

A lot of these guys have had multiple chances to make good games and failed. What they say is no longer relevant, because either their advice sucks or they don't bother to follow it themselves.

Keep in mind, it's frequently not up to the people actually building the game to determine when the game is actually released.  Most of the people doing this talking likely would LOVE to release only finished games.  But, as was said in the MMOG Rant panel, telling your publisher 3 months before release that you need more time is a career altering decision.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Margalis
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Reply #13 on: September 09, 2006, 10:42:33 PM

Then create a realistic schedule and keep to it, or cut features when you are behind.

There is no excuse for things like SWG, where Raph was posting on the boards that the game was ready to release in a couple of weeks when the reality was that it was a year away from being complete.

Publishers do enforce dates but they usually don't move them up halfway through production. If you get to the end of your schedule and the game is not even close to finished that *is* your fault, not the fault of the publisher.

Think about SWG again for a minute. One of the main guys in charge of the game literally had no idea what state it was in. None. You can't blame that on someone else.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Samwise
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Reply #14 on: September 09, 2006, 11:11:33 PM

To be clear: when Raph said you can't out-WoW WoW, he said specifically that you can't do to WoW what WoW did to EQ. So to do to WoW what WoW did to EQ, you'd have to put out a MMORPG that got twenty times the numbers that WoW did.  Is the MMORPG market that big?  Will it ever be?

If Myspace/FriendSter/FriendFinder/Facebook impliment a 3D something you could possibly see 10x of WoW.

Agreed.  At that point you're not really out-WoWing WoW, because you're going after a different market entirely.

"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
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Reply #15 on: September 10, 2006, 10:30:46 AM

What seems to be getting lost is the point behind the Habbo/Gaia comparisons to WoW. It's not that "Habbo is more important than WOW" or "Habbo is a better game than WOW". The point is that there's applications out there that have subsumed some of the major points of functionality that MMO people essentially created (graphical virtual spaces) and they're larger, in terms of user base, than what many of us regard as a Holy Grail number of subscribers. And, further, that we - as technologists, designers, participants, a subculture - are in danger of being re-marginalized both culturally and financially as the popularity, profitability and social importance of these non-game virtual spaces grows.

It's going to happen.  It's the Elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, though, because we - as participants - largely only care about games.   It also doesn't help that the majority see the days as when we WERE marginalized to that degree as 'the golden days.'  When 'stupid shit" didn't get put-into the experiences just to broaden the customer base.

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Reply #16 on: September 10, 2006, 01:52:28 PM

Think about SWG again for a minute. One of the main guys in charge of the game literally had no idea what state it was in. None. You can't blame that on someone else.

I knew where we were... I told people internally we needed another year, and we were not given it (we were given extra time though).
Margalis
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Reply #17 on: September 10, 2006, 05:03:35 PM

Well then, I have two things to say:

1: That isn't what you said on the boards. Obviously there is pressure to mislead there and that's what you did. I'm not going to preach and say how awful of you, that's understandable. But it does make you look pretty foolish for people reading the boards.

2: How did you get a year behind? When you have a date and you are in danger of missing it there are exactly three things you can do:

a: Cut features
b: Push out the date
c: Release at low quality

Usually b isn't an option, and out of the remaining choices a) is usually far preferable.

How do you fall a year behind? People like to blame things on publishers pushing games out before they are ready but from their persepctive it is quite different. They give you deadlines, you meet them. There isn't any excuse for being a full year behind. Everyone makes it sound like the publishers say "hey, you know how we said how you would have 24 months for this project? Well now its 12!"

The reality is "you know how we said you would have 24 months - well this is month 24!"

Inability to make a mutually agreed-upon date is not the fault of the publisher.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
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Reply #18 on: September 10, 2006, 05:04:56 PM

Someone's apparently never heard of feature creep.
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Reply #19 on: September 10, 2006, 06:30:00 PM

Well then, I have two things to say:

1: That isn't what you said on the boards. Obviously there is pressure to mislead there and that's what you did. I'm not going to preach and say how awful of you, that's understandable. But it does make you look pretty foolish for people reading the boards.

2: How did you get a year behind? When you have a date and you are in danger of missing it there are exactly three things you can do:

a: Cut features
b: Push out the date
c: Release at low quality

Usually b isn't an option, and out of the remaining choices a) is usually far preferable.

How do you fall a year behind? People like to blame things on publishers pushing games out before they are ready but from their persepctive it is quite different. They give you deadlines, you meet them. There isn't any excuse for being a full year behind. Everyone makes it sound like the publishers say "hey, you know how we said how you would have 24 months for this project? Well now its 12!"

The reality is "you know how we said you would have 24 months - well this is month 24!"

Inability to make a mutually agreed-upon date is not the fault of the publisher.

If you're still playing SWG stop, you obviously have too much of an emotional stake in the game, one that isn't healthy.

If you have already stopped, I will poorly relay a story I heard once:

Two Monks (Teacher, Student) were walking through a Forest, when the saw a woman who was unable to cross a river.  The Teacher let the woman climb on his back, and he helped her safely cross the river.  5 hours later, the Student asked why he helped the woman, as it was against their religon to have contact with members of the opposite sex.  The Teacher replied, "While I stopped carrying the woman 5 hours ago, you seem to still be carrying her in your mind".

Okay a pretty crappy story, but the point is still there, SWG is a game, move one, you're still alive, and probaly in good health.

Oh and if you bitch about MMOs not being able to be kept on schedule, I would like to ask you what was the last MMO you designed.

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Reply #20 on: September 10, 2006, 07:21:03 PM

This should be fun.

I can't get past the panties - Alluvian
I really like the cocks. - Lantyssa
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Reply #21 on: September 10, 2006, 07:29:17 PM

Nah, I'll nip it in the bud. Ookii, you missed "it." Margalis isn't being an SWG-ninny. He's actually saying the same kind of thing I was saying at the convention. It's as much (if not more) the developers fault as it is the publishers fault when shit gets fucked up.
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Reply #22 on: September 10, 2006, 08:50:42 PM

I work in software. I've shipped products 9+ months late, and also exactly on time.

As far as SWG goes, I'm not bitter over it. I've never even played it. I've just seen other people play it, talked to other people, read boards, etc. I don't have any emotional investment at all. I just think its weak for a publisher to get blamed for "pushing it out the door early" when they are actually pushing it out the door *on time*, according to the schedule. When a game goes over schedule it also goes over budget, and the publisher is typically footing the bill. They are just supposed to give you an entire extra year to pay for your full team? Its a game development houses play - overpromise, under-deliver, then ask for more time and money and bitch when it isn't given to you.

Yeah, schedules slip and features creep. You have to balance those things. If you absolutely have to hit the schedule then you just can't allow feature-creep.

At work right now I'm working on a project with a very aggressive deadline, and people are trying to throw in new features. But I tell them flat out I'm not even going to consider what they are proposing unless they agree to chop out an existing feature, because we aren't willing to move the schedule and that's the only way things are going to get done on time. I'm not going to investigate their proposal or even think seriously about their emails until they come up with something else that I no longer have to spend time on.

Most of the projects I am in charge of get finished on time and of reasonable quality. It really isn't that hard. The most important thing is being honest with yourself about what you can accomplish in a given timeframe. Being a year late on a project is a complete failure of product management and development.

The one thing I worked on that shipped very late was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, because we never really knew what state we were in. We thought we had 2 weeks of work left when we actually had 6 months. That was entirely our fault. (Mostly due to the lack of any organized testing and QA effort) Sometimes I would guess we had a month left, sometimes 3, sometimes 3 weeks, in the end we had to admit we basically had no idea.

That's a situation that anyone with a reasonable degree of experience on development should be able to avoid. In our case the person(s) in charge of development had no real experience, and it showed. These days a major slip for us is two weeks or so.

My point is that when you miss your mark by a huge margin instead of looking for someone else to blame look at your development effort. You either agreed to an unreasonable schedule or agreed to a reasonable one and then blew it.


vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
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Reply #23 on: September 10, 2006, 10:18:51 PM

I don't think we actually had much feature crap. Rather, I think we overdesigned from the get-go. :)
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Reply #24 on: September 10, 2006, 10:31:25 PM

I don't think we actually had much feature crap.
:-D
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Reply #25 on: September 10, 2006, 10:32:44 PM

Best. Freudian. Slip. Ever.
Slyfeind
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Reply #26 on: September 11, 2006, 03:14:03 AM

I work in software. I've shipped products 9+ months late, and also exactly on time.

Of what complexity and team size are your products, compared to video games? Not a bait or a troll; honestly curious here.


"Role playing in an MMO is more like an open orchestra with no conductor, anyone of any skill level can walk in at any time, and everyone brings their own instrument and plays whatever song they want.  Then toss PvP into the mix and things REALLY get ugly!" -Count Nerfedalot
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Reply #27 on: September 11, 2006, 05:50:22 AM

this was very good, but left me confused. In fact so did Ubiq's and maybe every other designer session.  Raph is the only one who seemed to acknowledge the dominance of the non-traditional MMO's.   I have to post my notes to see what it was that left me confused.
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Reply #28 on: September 11, 2006, 08:37:29 AM

I work in software. I've shipped products 9+ months late, and also exactly on time.
Of what complexity and team size are your products, compared to video games? Not a bait or a troll; honestly curious here.

6+ devs, 5+ qa, a couple other random people. (Doc guy, website guy, etc)

The main difference would be we have no real content creation people.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
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Reply #29 on: September 11, 2006, 01:29:41 PM

The slides are now posted on my site.

http://www.raphkoster.com/gaming/ageofdinosaurs.shtml
Samwise
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Reply #30 on: September 11, 2006, 01:42:42 PM

Article updated with link.  Thanks!

"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
Slyfeind
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Reply #31 on: September 11, 2006, 02:22:03 PM

Of what complexity and team size are your products, compared to video games? Not a bait or a troll; honestly curious here.

6+ devs, 5+ qa, a couple other random people. (Doc guy, website guy, etc)

The main difference would be we have no real content creation people.

Hm, most game studios I've seen have about twice that number. So...yeah, no big difference. I dunno what to say, except...if every development company hired Margalis, their products would be PERFECT!

"Role playing in an MMO is more like an open orchestra with no conductor, anyone of any skill level can walk in at any time, and everyone brings their own instrument and plays whatever song they want.  Then toss PvP into the mix and things REALLY get ugly!" -Count Nerfedalot
Margalis
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Reply #32 on: September 11, 2006, 03:57:20 PM

There is only way to find out no?  evil

Now a lot of times people agree to a schedule knowing it isn't realistic, or the people doing the agreeing are not the people with the best grasp of what needs to be done or the people doing the work. When I talk about agreeing to a schedule I mean an organization as a whole - you can be in the situation where your organization agreed to something that you know can't be done.

I understand slippage but a year's worth of slippage is a LOT. What is also scary is that a lot of times people don't seem to realize how far behind they are until very late.

Coming in 10% over schedule I can understand. That's about my limit before I start saying there was some bad project management.

Estimating schedules and then sticking to them is something most people are not good at. I don't know why, but that's just the way it is. Even when people have been wrong 10 times before, they'll be wrong that 11th time.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Slyfeind
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Reply #33 on: September 11, 2006, 07:02:37 PM

Well...maybe. I think something to bear in mind is, just because you can produce a new word processor or operating system doesn't mean you know how to produce an MMO. I used to think that my work in theatre would be useful working in film. Some things were helpful, like...yeah, there's actors. There's music and lights. There's a director. But that's about it.

"Role playing in an MMO is more like an open orchestra with no conductor, anyone of any skill level can walk in at any time, and everyone brings their own instrument and plays whatever song they want.  Then toss PvP into the mix and things REALLY get ugly!" -Count Nerfedalot
stray
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Reply #34 on: September 11, 2006, 07:32:41 PM

I hear ya. It's strange. Film is more an art of the closeup, and silence. While theater more about the body and elocution (of course, that's not a rule or anything, but a general distinction). Many of the things you might employ in one would make you look like a blundering idiot in the other.
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