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Author Topic: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy  (Read 5810 times)

Offline Valamyr

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2013, 08:21:38 PM »
Its fairly clear theyre designing WOD to be F2P from the ground up.

However subscriptions aren't entirely dead. RIFT kept its subscription for awhile and did alright; I think any game launching with a sub model aims at keeping it for about 2 years; FF14 and ESO have/are launching with sub models that I believe could last past a year; FF14 has a pretty large playerbase paying their dues, and ESO will likely trump it.

Given I hate cash shops with a passion, I'm okay with subscriptions, I like games that give them a try. But there has to be a limit to greed. EVE is subs+selling ISK through PLEX+outright aurum cash shop. That's unparallelled in the industry, and while I'm convinced WOD will be F2P, I have reasonable fears that, like we saw in Fearless, they'll be counting on cashing in by making it essentially P2W with 'items of power' on auction.

As for the old themepark vs sandbox, I continue to believe they need to stick to multiple spheres of play. My interest in a pure sandbox is minimal, and if they go that route, they damn well better execute it masterfully and innovatively. "EVE but with Vampires" isn't the game I want per se, never has been. Add a fair mix of PvE content and accessibility layers, though, and you can have a kickass title that grows well beyond EVE's niche. (While still allowing people to focus solely on sandbox elements).

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2013, 01:47:21 AM »
They are a multinational company with over 500 employees across three continents.
Fifteen (15) fewer employees now, and if they keep chalking up bad prioritizing and bad decision-making, they're only going to get smaller. They'll HAVE to go subscription just to cover the expense, if the player population of EVE is a good indicator.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 01:49:16 AM by Rick Gentle »
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Offline Cahalith

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2013, 10:34:26 AM »
EVE is subs+selling ISK through PLEX+outright aurum cash shop. That's unparallelled in the industry, and while I'm convinced WOD will be F2P, I have reasonable fears that, like we saw in Fearless, they'll be counting on cashing in by making it essentially P2W with 'items of power' on auction.
It's not so much greed as trying new business models. I think PLEXes have been a major success that really addresses the fact that if people are going to buy ISKs from bot-farming companies anyway, why not allow them to do so "legally" from the MMO developer itself? And then making PLEXes and in-game item that can be traded or stolen? Genius. I really hope we'll have something similar in WoD.

Regarding Aurum... they really screwed the pooch there (and if some comments by CCP Dr.EyjoG are to be considered, they are fully aware of that and pretty disappointed with how things are going with Aurum). I still think CCP's biggest mistake was to not step out and say "look, you guys are supposed to buy the damn monocle by using ISKs to buy PLEXes and then cashing those PLEXes into Aurum!". If I'm not mistaken there'll be finishing the revamp of their Aurum shop in a few months so we'll see if they learned their lessons or not.

As I've commented several times around here over the years: there is nothing intrinsically bad about offering "items of power" in your RMT store as long as they are also available in-game, giving your players the choice on whether to grind a week for a certain item or just forking over $5 to get it right away. That's not P2W, it's offering a commodity service.

And remember WoD will be built on three pillars: the Sandbox, the Themepark and the Coffeeshop.

Fifteen (15) fewer employees now, and if they keep chalking up bad prioritizing and bad decision-making, they're only going to get smaller. They'll HAVE to go subscription just to cover the expense, if the player population of EVE is a good indicator.
Again, it's almost 2014, we're not having this discussion. If there is a subscription fee in WoD it'll be an optional thing that not many people will use and definitely won't cover every single item from the Cash Shop because they want you to use the Cash Shop and after you buy your first item the chances of you buying another one raise by a serious porcentage.
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Offline Valamyr

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2013, 04:26:44 PM »
Quote
And remember WoD will be built on three pillars: the Sandbox, the Themepark and the Coffeeshop.

Yeah, if that's still true. We know things have changed alot and they wont confirm what shifted exactly.

But if its still accurate, I'm still in. I always wanted that.

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2013, 07:55:39 PM »
You say I'm not keeping up with the times here, Cahalith, but you're quoting the earliest information they released to us about the WODMMO, and don't seem to be keeping up with MMOs in general or the WODMMO specifically.
A subscription model is still valid - sure, a lot of them are "optional" nowadays, but in quite a few cases a cash shop is still supplementary to the subscription (in fact, a lot of subscriptions include access to lots of shop items, services, or currencies as part of the larger deal). We can't possibly ignore EVE Online's model, which continues to be based on subscription (which should be a BIG INDICATOR *red flashing lights*, because if there's anything you should realize by now, it's now much CCP loves their baby). I am fairly certain (not having played EVE in a few years) that you can't even use the cash shop or PLEX until you're a subscriber. The nice thing about EVE, though, is that you can eventually pay for the subscription with in-game money, without having to go through the cash shop, PLEX, or Aurum (like all the old-guard players did before they even had a cash shop). There are optional buy-in systems for games like Dungeons and Dragons Online, RIFT, Star Trek Online, and APB Reloaded. And let's not forget the biggest mother of them all, which asks for subscriptions but still counts its playerbase in the millions, World of WarCraft.

In other words, success doesn't seem to be dependent on being a free-to-play game with only a cash shop. We still don't know for certain which CLANS are making it into the WODMMO, much less how they're going to charge us for playing. The primary difference between many "free"-to-play games with cash shops and regular subscription MMOs is that the "free"-to-play games have different names for their [optional] subscribers.
(You guys really think you're fooling anybody by calling them "patrons"?
*sigh*
Well, actually, you probably are...)

What I am saying is that a subscription model is not dead, and if CCP chooses to use one for the WODMMO, I'm willing to pay a reasonable one.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 08:05:57 PM by Rick Gentle »
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2013, 09:31:42 PM »
Its fairly clear theyre designing WOD to be F2P from the ground up.

However subscriptions aren't entirely dead. RIFT kept its subscription for awhile and did alright; I think any game launching with a sub model aims at keeping it for about 2 years; FF14 and ESO have/are launching with sub models that I believe could last past a year; FF14 has a pretty large playerbase paying their dues, and ESO will likely trump it.

Given I hate cash shops with a passion, I'm okay with subscriptions, I like games that give them a try. But there has to be a limit to greed. EVE is subs+selling ISK through PLEX+outright aurum cash shop. That's unparallelled in the industry, and while I'm convinced WOD will be F2P, I have reasonable fears that, like we saw in Fearless, they'll be counting on cashing in by making it essentially P2W with 'items of power' on auction.

As for the old themepark vs sandbox, I continue to believe they need to stick to multiple spheres of play. My interest in a pure sandbox is minimal, and if they go that route, they damn well better execute it masterfully and innovatively. "EVE but with Vampires" isn't the game I want per se, never has been. Add a fair mix of PvE content and accessibility layers, though, and you can have a kickass title that grows well beyond EVE's niche. (While still allowing people to focus solely on sandbox elements).

I disagree with this assessment, its all about what is fun and even the lead designer on the project admits that the grinding associated with the common f2P model is no fun for most people (you are one of the few exceptions I've ever met).

EVE is not F2P and yet it succeeds.

Lets take a look at games like Star Trek Online, most of us know Star Trek so its easy to tell when the F2P model drives the developers into a corner where they constantly need to release things more powerful than last to scale the demand with new players, the problem with that approach is that the way the power scales the content eventually becomes so absurdly overpowered that its not interesting anymore. (and you can probably guess what the roleplaying in these games looks like)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 09:39:25 PM by Radical21 »

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2013, 02:43:07 AM »
But what could be more powerful than the phaser??   :haw:
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2013, 04:06:09 AM »
I'm glad you asked Rick because this is just an example of what I was talking about:

They added Poleron (added in DS9) as another damage type, then added Antiproton(voyager) and well afterwards they decided to add Thaleron weapons and so on(I'm guessing they will add a few more in the future when they run out of stuff to add), Phaser is the most common and thus most armors and shields protect against it.

I check up on STO every few months, they just keep adding items and ships that are more overpowered then last, if you bought an uber ship in the cash-shop a month ago you can be sure that in one month there will be a new ship in the Cash shop superior to yours... that is how cheesy it is in most F2P games anyway

Offline Cahalith

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2013, 10:25:10 AM »
A subscription model is still valid - sure, a lot of them are "optional" nowadays, but in quite a few cases a cash shop is still supplementary to the subscription (in fact, a lot of subscriptions include access to lots of shop items, services, or currencies as part of the larger deal).
Eve Online and World of Warcraft were released a decade ago and haven't changed (that much) the model that made them successful, but what worked then doesn't work now. Two games you mention (D&D and Rift) were released with a subscription model in mind but had to jump to F2P in order to survive, and you're completely forgetting what happened with SW:TOR. Sure, those games have optional subscription fees (and I mentioned some posts back that WoD could also have them), but subscriptions are definitely not their main source of income and they don't work in the same way that traditional subscriptions do (you still have to use the Cash Shop for a lot of stuff and by paying a subscription you have clear benefits over the average player, who only uses the Cash Shop every now and then).

Completely different business model, even if we're still paying $15 a month. I'm a regular costumer in WoW, but an absolute minority in Star Trek Online. And the devs know that.

I understand your position, I really do, but what I'm trying to explain is that 5 years ago RMT and Cash Shops were a trend the industry was headed to, but right now RMT is the present. It has arrived and you can't ignore that. If you release an MMO using the same business model Eve Online or WoW use, you might get a steady monthly revenue from a loyal playerbase (like you and me) but you're going to lose a lot of potential players that don't see why they should pay a monthly fee when most AAA quality MMOs out there are already F2P. And you have to compete with those other MMOs, don't you forget it.

But fortunately for both of us we'll soon have an answer to this debate: WildStar is an upcoming MMO (Q1/Q2 2014) by NCSoft that looks pretty damn well, has received a certain level of hype and will apparently use an Eve Online-style business model, with a subscription fee and PLEX-like items. I'm going to be watching this game closely and something tells me CCP devs will be doing it as well.

I'm betting they go F2P within 2 years. If they don't, I'll gladly concede my defeat! (Hopefully we'll know some actual facts about WoD business model before 2016, but... sigh).

... most of us know Star Trek so its easy to tell when the F2P model drives the developers into a corner where they constantly need to release things more powerful than last to scale the demand with new players, the problem with that approach is that the way the power scales the content eventually becomes so absurdly overpowered that its not interesting anymore.
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Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2013, 12:12:42 AM »
If older games like EVE Online and World of WarCraft prove anything, it's that the subscription-based model is a survivor. Even if it only survives in the form of an optional bonus that sets people with money above people without money (and there's really no difference there between a subscription and a cash shop), it'll still be there. At their best, cash shops are only optional themselves; just because the developers use either a subscription or a cash shop, that doesn't mean enough players are going to use either. In a lot of cases (including EVE Online) the company takes more flak for introducing an improperly-balanced (in price or content) cash shop than they ever did for a subscription model.
Cash shops may be new, and the present, but I'm not going to go so far to say that they're the future. Only the very best or most broken (what I'm hearing from Star Trek Online) of them will survive, because once you've bought the item you want from a cash shop*, you have it and don't need another one, whereas the benefits of a subscription only continue as long as you pay it. And broken games tend not to be the survivors. Cash shops are only effective as long as the items it sells get used up or the game has a constant influx of new players; subscriptions are wiser for the company because they're a constant longer-term income (EVE Online) that helps them through thick and thin, instead of just the thick.

All this said, though, the $15/month subscription is pretty dated. Especially in this current financial climate, a lot of people aren't going to shell out $15/month in addition to buying the base game and having the temptation of a cash shop. A game would have to be supergreatawesomecoolepic for me to consider paying that now.
But something more like $10-12 a month fits in the budget a little better. A lower subscription price would probably attract more players who are tired of the higher-priced games.
*nudge*nudge*


*the obvious exception to this are consumables like experience or money bonuses, which eventually run out when you hit a level cap or don't have any use for money anymore. In my experience, that happens in just about every game.
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2013, 01:49:18 AM »
For 12$ dollars you can get ArmaII which gives access to Dayz which is like a bizzar MMORPG. in that sense the developers of Arma series earn big time since they sell a game that is also a platform to develop Sandbox MMORPGs, and the same used to be true for NWN series that sold many copies for much the same reason. Both didn't have to have a subscription model since the community took care of its ongoing development that increase purchase which is probably not a bad return on investmet(if it was Valve wouldn't be what it is today).

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2013, 12:10:09 AM »
Valve's cash shops are... on the upper end of cash shops. If more companies did cash shops like Valve, I might be a fan of cash shops (I've spent waaaaaaay too much money on Valve cash shops. Those chests and keys are addicting, man!).
But for the WODMMO, the subscription is going to pay for quality and continuity that you don't get in ARMA II or DayZ. We'd be paying for the upkeep of servers, sheer quality of graphics, and of course for game moderators, technicians, and additional content down the road. (Theoretically we'll also be paying for a kickass awesome game, but we have to pay for the sure things first.) If they go with the rumor we've created - that players will be able to create their own content like clothes, weapons, and other cosmetics - and offer to put the best cosmetic items in their cash shops (like Valve does), then that would be a good supplemental income for them with minimal work on their part. Savings that I would hope would be reflected in the subscription, or at least the cost of the item in the cash shop.

But I still ain't paying for something that I'll get in the long run, like experience, money, or in-game event items. Even if I endorse a well-made cash shop, I have to draw the line somewhere.
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2013, 01:52:41 AM »
the subscription is going to pay for quality and continuity that you don't get in ARMA II or DayZ. We'd be paying for the upkeep of servers, sheer quality of graphics, and of course for game moderators, technicians, and additional content down the road.

Dayz has continuity, throughout its persistent dedicated servers (which you didn't read about or you would know that Dayz is an ArmaII mod, the Standalone Dayz looks better but it isn't out yet).

How much does it cost to upkeep a server? I mean I know back in the day you needed some crazy computer room to hold a server but nowadays even though you still need a very strong computer  it is much less expensive than what millions of users need to pay to enjoy the game.

paying for further development is good when it is actually going in the desired direction. How many EVE players actually wanted DUST being developed before Walking in Station for example?

Also implying that creating cool looking items is minimal work... that is  maybe true when its half assed recycled versions of already existing in-game objects but otherwise you couldn't be more wrong.

I'm not entirely against the subscription model because it is better than the f2p model but your justification of it sounds like misinformed rubbish for the most part.

My point was that people modding the game creates more diversity and more sales of the core product so that you don't have to have a cash shop or invest in developing that product further, that formula holds true still.
it even evolved into crowd-funding model.. because the Occulus rift, Omni , CastAR and other crazy stuff wouldn't have lifted off the ground in a boardroom filled with financial advisers...
so why not crowd-fund further developments and bring the monthly fee cost down?  doing that would even allow to realize what path of expansion is the desired one and what isn't.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 01:55:53 AM by Radical21 »

Offline Cahalith

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2013, 12:43:29 PM »
Cash shops may be new, and the present, but I'm not going to go so far to say that they're the future. Only the very best or most broken (what I'm hearing from Star Trek Online) of them will survive, because once you've bought the item you want from a cash shop*, you have it and don't need another one, whereas the benefits of a subscription only continue as long as you pay it. And broken games tend not to be the survivors.
What about clothes, pets, cosmetic effects like changing the swarm of rats your Nosferatu can summon into roaches or ravens, furniture for your haven, extra character slots for your account, extra wardrobe space, unlocking actual songs made by groups so you can play them in your haven's soundsystem... and don't get me started on paying to change your avatar or even your Clan.

I can see people spending money on these things over and over again... because right now, as we speak, there are people playing many games who are spending money on some of these things over and over again. And notice how none of them offers a significant gameplay advantage over another player who doesn't use the Cash Shops.

And you've mentioned Eve Online and World of Warcraft as really old games that survived thanks to their business model. Can you name a few more? Because there are not that many. Meanwhile you have Runescape, MapleStory or Puzzle Pirates, every single one of them still going strong a full decade after release.

I have no idea if WoD will offer an optional subscription to its players, but even if it does the game will be built around the Cash Shop, subscriptions being something completely secondary. Of that I have no doubt. But then again, who knows, it's not like CCP follows the logics of the industry religiously.


And Radical21 brings a really great discussion topic to the table: nowadays MMOs not only have to compete with other MMORPGs but also with games like DayZ or Minecraft as well. What would happen if Mojang added a magical in-game door that automatically allowed you to walk from one server to another? Well, then we would be talking of the biggest MMO ever, where the players themselves are the ones paying for the server upkeep instead of the developer.

What if instead of subscriptions you used the RMT store to pay for the server hosting your "private" city district? Sure, WoD won't be using any of this since it looks like it will be a fairly "traditional" MMO, but I'm telling you guys that this is where the MMO genre is heading, maybe sooner than later (Everquest Next, I'm looking at you).

But this is a discussion for another time perhaps?
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Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Teemu Vilen on MMO design philosophy
« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2013, 10:33:11 PM »
Ultima Online is celebrating 15 years with a subscription; SWG had a subscription right up until it died; Lord of the Rings Online has one, and I hear excellent things about that game; EverQuest 2 has one, and will be played at least until EverQuest Next comes out. Runescape 3 has an optional one, which ironically offers many of the same things a cash shop does (now you can get emotes and animations, too).
There are lots more games out there that are free-to-play without a cash shop.

EDIT
To sum up the argument I had made before I realized I didn't want to type it all, and you all don't care to listen to it all:
With a cash shop, somebody somewhere's getting screwed. If we assume a $15/month subscription fee, if a player spends less than $15/month on the cash shop, the company's getting screwed. If a player spends more than $15/month in the cash shop, the player's getting screwed.

I'm eating a hollow chocolate egg, and I'm trying to come up with a nice metaphor for the cash shop - like you're paying for the hollow shell of cosmetic items - but it's not quite there yet. Stay tuned!

EDIT EDIT
So here's another bad thing about having a cash-shop-based "free"-to-play game: Instead of just outright charging a subscription, they feel the need to offer "packs" of things that should be included in a subscription-based game.

This is the "Tenno Pack" from Warframe, a "F"TP game I'm into. The "Tenno Pack" is 50% off on Steam for the Holiday Sale.
http://store.steampowered.com/app/238482/
At 50% off, the "Tenno Pack" costs $49.99. That is as much as I have paid for full games at a one-time charge. And most of the things in this pack are consumables or currencies, so you will just need to buy even more down the road (the mod cards are randomized, which sucks because you need specific cards to outfit your warframes [hero/character/avatar] and weapons with, so there's no guarantee you'll get the cards you need/want).
Why not just charge a subscription and pay for that content and lots more over the course of three or four or five months? It's certainly better for the player, who can make installments on all the content of the game, and it's probably better for the company, because they can show off the numbers of subscribers to their investors and board of directors. (Or Mom Upstairs.)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 08:00:30 PM by Rick Gentle »
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