Devs speak out: “MMOs are for the hardcore.” “Immersion makes people spend more in cash shops.”

For today, a quick look at comments made by developers which caught my eye this week.

Aventurine speak out

Tasos Flambouras, from the Darkfall team, had a Q&A session with Rock Paper Shotgun this week. One of the things he was talking about was the type of players who are attracted to MMOs.

When you play any MMOG, you’re making an investment, these are not casual games and they continuously evolve.

Nothing much to argue about there, you’d think. But commentators have interpreted this as meaning that MMOs are for the hardcore only. They’re right, of course. But it depends how you define hardcore.

Even the most casual MMO player has some kind of ongoing commitment to their favourite game/s and to their character/s. That commitment might go on for months or even years. Even if you just log on once a week to chat to your friends and solo a bit, that’s pretty hardcore compared to most gamers.

But it does go further than that. These are massive, complex games (even if old time players don’t think so). They reward time spent researching or looking up information online. The more time you spend thinking about the game when you aren’t playing it, the better. The more time you put in, the more you get out of the game – that’s been the traditional way things have worked, and it sounds to be the type of game Aventurine are proud of producing. So these are also games which have tended reward players for being more hardcore and challenge them as to who can be the most hardcore guy on the block.

Even if the competitive hardcore aspect was toned down (as is the trend), a casual MMO player would still come across as amazingly hardcore compared with the average gamer.

However, convincing Darkfall players that they’re more hardcore than everyone else has been one of Aventurine’s marketing strategies so it would be surprising if Tasos didn’t mention it several times during the Q&A session. He does forget his hardcore persona and go slightly off-message later in the article when he adds:

Darkfall is not the strictly hardcore game it’s made out to be. We have numerous casual players who enjoy the game as much or even more than the hardcore players. We were also surprised to find a healthy population of role-players during our events.

I’m intrigued as to what a healthy population of role-players is. If you are too, and like full PvP in games, they have a free trial on at the moment.

If a game world is immersive, players will spend more

MMO Crunch post about a report that shows how immersion affects buying habits in virtual worlds. (But they fail at linking to the actual report so I can only comment on their summary – which is that players spend more in immersive worlds.) This sounds plausible to me, although I was sad not to see the report because I’m curious as to how they measured immersion.

But another well known developer also spoke on a similar issue this week. Legendary Nintendo designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, answered questions in a video interview for IGN (partly transcribed by eurogamer.)

And then what happens is as the player begins to understand the world that they’re playing in, then they’re going to begin to think about ways that they can play within that world; they use their own creativity and their own imagination to tell the story or to come up with their own parts of the story, and at the same time they come up with new ways to play in this world that has been created for them.

So in a time when many MMO players have been wondering if devs are giving up on presenting immersive worlds, there are two different angles on why immersiveness might be THE single most important part of a game.

The first argument, straight to the bottom line, is that being involved in an immersive gameworld encourages players to spend more money. And the second, straight to the gameplay, is that players are more encouraged to play in immersive worlds.

So don’t give up hope yet!

Teach your orphan to be a mighty warrior in 10 easy steps

When my little orcish in-game foster child said to Spinks that he wanted to grow up to be a mighty warrior of the Horde, I thought, “Son, you’ve come to the right place.”

Here’s a few rules and inspirational quotes that always worked for me. True, some of these quotes were said by humans but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Feel free to add any suggestions via comments, I’ll add them (with attributions) at the bottom.

1. You might not start every fight, but you will always finish it.

Yes, even if that noob mage at the back pulls with a pyroblast, once the fight is on you pile in and stay until it’s over.

2. “Defence is the stronger form of waging war,” von Clausewitz (On War)

540 defence to be exact.

Dead warriors don’t win wars. They don’t even win consolation ice creams. Whether you are taking the beat-down to the enemy or keeping the crazies away from your friends, remember that you have to stay alive to be any use.

Stay out of the fire. Use the scenery to your advantage. Don’t run away from your support lines. And stick to plate.

3. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” – Attributed to Robert the Bruce

Real warriors don’t wimp out after the first wipe. Or the second. In fact, as long as your allies are willing to stick at it and you’re still  improving, don’t give up.

But also, it can be very demoralising when you are a new warrior and feel the weight of everyone else’s expectation on your shoulders. We’ve all been there. It’s a warrior rite of passage to have some abysmal heroic runs (everyone did it when they were learning the first time).

A  true warrior keeps trying until they can make it work.

4.”Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.”  – Napoleon

As a warrior, you will look death in the face daily. Eventually he’ll run. Don’t be afraid of dying. But never settle for defeat — revenge is always sweetest when served cold. And it isn’t over till it’s over.

5. “An army marches on its stomach.” – Napoleon

Napoleon was a wise man. We don’t actually march on our stomachs but don’t forget to bring food.

6. “Come home with your shield, or on it.” – what Spartan mothers said to their sons, via Plutarch

Whatever you do, don’t lose your shield. You never know when it might be useful.

7. “To fight for the right without question or pause, to be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause…” – Don Quixote, via Man of La Mancha

‘The right’ in this case is whatever your war leaders telll you to do. Even if a quest NPC tells you to do something that is obviously stupid, pointless, or tactically unsound, a true warrior of the horde does not question.

You just bitch about it to the other warriors afterwards.

8. “Put your trust in God but keep your powder dry.” – Oliver Cromwell

You may forget to sleep, you may forget to pick up your daily quest, you may forget your Onyxia key, you may even forget your name or where you left the cat but do NOT forget to repair your armour and keep stocked up on arrows or bullets.

9. Taunt with feeling.

Taunts work better when you yell at the screen in real life too. True story.

10. Mock paladins.

You can’t be a true warrior unless you do this regularly, but try to avoid mocking the healy ones. You may need them later.

10a Obligatory quote from If (Kipling)

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

Don’t forget to use your cooldowns when you need them, even the dps ones when you are tanking or the tanking ones when you are dps.

11. To win is to overcome your own side. To win, your own side must overcome itself.Tsunetomo Yamamoto (via Melmoth)

Yamamoto was a survivor of many Naxx pick-up groups. As a tank in particular, you often feel as though you are fighting your group as much as the enemy.

12. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. - Sun Tzu (via Melmoth)

Sun Tzu was pretty hardcore, clearly. When someone looks as though they are fighting with ease (such as Ciderhelm on the tankspot videos), it’s because they worked very hard at not making mistakes.

One day, people will also say to you, “How do you make it look so easy?” or, “This is so much easier when you are here.”

13. Fortune favours the bold – SAS motto (via Bo)

If you’re not sure how things are going to pan out, grit your teeth and charge in anyways.

14. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tsu in the Tao Te Ching (via Tarsus)

Don’t forget to check the armoury of the guy who is inviting you before you agree to that Emalon PUG, but also remember you can use the armoury to check on talents and gear for other warriors you admire or who are in top guilds. If you have to steal (ideas), steal from the best!

Tarsus notes:  that last part is a reminder to do your daily quests so you can afford your repair bills.

15. If it’s a stupid plan and it works, it’s not a stupid plan. (via Ardua)

Don’t be afraid to try something really off the wall. What’s the worst that can happen? OK, what’s the second worst? If people are still discussing strategy after 5 minutes, you can always just pretend you hit the charge button by accident.

Ardua also has a great inspirational picture for badass warriors everywhere.

16.“No plan survives the first fifteen seconds of combat.” (via Sean)

Smart warriors are flexible. When things go wrong, don’t panic. React, judge, and take control of the situation. The rest of the party counts on you.