Thursday, July 15, 2010

Player-eating spiders, and why collecting real data is important.

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of co-workers at lunch today. We were reminiscing about fond memories from older MMOs, and a number of examples were brought up. A newbie zone in WoW which was directly adjacent to a very high level zone, leading one co-worker to be very swiftly eaten by a very horrible spider. Another co-worker in WoW who tried jumping into the Ironforge, thinking that surely the game wouldn't let you do that, and then discovered that (a) yes, in fact, the game would let you do that and (b) the corpse was now unrecoverable. Zone sweeper mobs in EverQuest that would come out of nowhere and stomp you flat. Terrifying zones like Kithicor Forest that would guarantee your horrible death if you entered at night, but which were directly adjacent to starting zones full of clueless newbies. And so on.

One co-worker was quite certain that it was these hair-raising experiences and the abrupt deaths that actually made the games so memorable. Of all her early memories in these games, those moments now stood out the most strongly. And certainly all of us had similar strong memories we could refer to, and now thought fondly of, even though at the time they were most certainly frustrating or terrifying or both.

Coincidentally, I noticed that Laralyn posted a few similar thoughts on Twitter today:
The question we raised at lunch though was, for those "eaten by a spider" "lost my corpse" "dead in Kithicor" moments in MMOs, for every person who gets past that point and turns it into a fond memory, how many other people never get past that point and quit the game because of it?  For every person fondly remembering "ha ha, I lost my corpse in Ironforge", how many just left the game in disgust because they lost their corpse in Deep Forge?  How does a game designer create an "almost failed" moment when one person's fail point is another person's easy mode?

We who are in the first group are the ones who love games and who are resilient enough to get past these setbacks, and even turn them (eventually) into fond memories.  We are the ones who, because we love games, end up being the ones who go into game development and make more games.  But have we ever stopped to try and measure the hard numbers?  Is there any way we can get actual data that would give us an idea of how many people just quit the game at that point, compared to how many stick it out and end up with a fond memory?  I've never seen any information of this type, although to be fair I haven't gone looking extensively.  

We tend to assume that everyone is like us and will be able to handle, and even enjoy, the same types of challenges.  But what if that assumption isn't true?  (It probably isn't.)

If we don't have a way to measure this kind of data, will we ever know?

And if we keep assuming everyone is like us, will we ever bother finding ways to measure this kind of data?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

G.I.R.L. blog Q&As

Over the past month or two I've been doing some little Q&A sessions with women who work in the computer game industry.  I've been lucky to talk to some very interesting and smart ladies, who took the time to answer questions about themselves, their jobs, and their opinions about women in gaming!  The goal of these little Q&A blogs is to demonstrate that there ARE plenty of women working in gaming, and highlight the many different roles that they can play within the industry.

Brenda Brathwaite - it's also well worth checking out her talk from GDC 2010

Sylvia Liu (our latest G.I.R.L. scholarship winner!)

Laralyn McWilliams

Terry Redfield

Also, the G.I.R.L. blog is now posting as a subcategory of the general SOE blog, instead of having a separate address of its own (all the SOE blogs have been consolidated at the one address for ease of finding them).  So, to find G.I.R.L. category posts at the new address, you can check here:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

What do players want?

A selection of some /feedback from players:


Text: Astonishing graphics. Unique MMO, perhaps the greatest MMO ever to exist.


Text: there sould be something that makes you jump really high like i was sittin here thinking this is a game of endless possiblitys why not be able to become lycan or vamperic not fully but u should understand where i am coming from


Text: A goblin race, like a short troll :)


Text: Getting a quest out of Kallon Ebbtide on the docks of Sinking Sands is like playing a pornographic flash game written in Japanese with blocks where the words should be. I've been through his text for five minutes, and not a quest yet.


Text: I think on the creature conjuror that you can place in your guild hall. It would be cool if people could summon epic monsters


Text: Surface water walking boots would be a cool LON item


Text: Nice face on the highland stalker kitten. haha


Text: Please add a way to diable all bonus xp for accounts.
Levelling up is the part of the game I enjoy most.
I do not appreciate having that fun reduced by bonus xp weekends
The normal rate of levelling is too fast for my tastes anyway


Text: Wheres the cows? Can get mounts/plushes of all types, but no cows.


Text: battlegrounds unfair fix fix fix
going to keep sending feedbacks every time till you do something


Text: How come you have never added Camels as a mount to the game?


Text: I'd love nothing more then to see a marketplace item that is a Nurse's hat. The traditional white hat with red cross on the front.


Text: there should be station cash house item-dice. When you roll them, you get a random fabled item, once a week.