“Innovate!” is the Mating Call of the Lazy Gamer March 8, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MMO Design.
Tags: Friday Blog Wars, Innovation, Trolling Tobold
There was a cartoon that ran in the New Yorker years ago. I wish I could find it.
The cartoon featured a man dressed up in a clown suit on a television studio set. He was on a fully dressed sound stage with back drops. There was a large studio audience. Cameras were pointed at him. Studio technicians were off on the side. A boom mic hung above him. Everything was in its place.
And on the cue card was the phrase “TELL A FUNNY JOKE.”
That seems to be what Tobold is up to today. He is kvetching that game studios with revenue goals and investors and expectations and all the baggage of big business aren’t reading his cue card, which simply says, “INNOVATE.”
Well, that and the idea that the past is bad, which is why it is in the past. Only fools put on rose colored glasses and bask in nostalgia or some rubbish.
So he doesn’t just want a funny joke, but he wants it to be a new joke as well.
But there are no new jokes. There are only new contexts in which to tell them.
In entertainment, as in jokes, remakes, reboots, re-imagining, and telling the same damn story in a slightly different way is what sustains us. Using old material was old hat when Shakespeare (or whoever) was cribbing his plots from the Greeks.
And the more familiar the story, the more of our dollar votes go towards it. Avatar is where the money is, not Primer. Or, if you want the “higher” arts, the music of Mozart or Beethoven get more performances and sell more albums than that of Rachmaninoff or Prokofiev.
The problem is that we’re not used to this being the case when it comes to video games. The video games industry is pretty young. It hasn’t just been a business in living memory, it became a business in my lifetime.
It went from a cottage industry of single person or very small development teams, when what ever they produced seemed new (though they borrowed heavily) because we had never seen such a thing on a computer before… or in some cases, even a computer… to the big business it is today in something like 40 years.
We are just reaching the point where remakes have become the norm.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I have my doubts that something like Wasteland 2 can deliver on its promise. A lot of what made the original great was in the context of the time and the limitations of the hardware. But it could still be a decent game. On the other hand, I am quite happy that somebody is going to fix up Age of Empires II and bring a great game into the 21st century.
And it also doesn’t mean that there is no innovation. There are plenty of developers trying to tell stories or create situations in new contexts that challenge and amuse us. They just so rarely show up from big studios that looking for them there seems to be the real fools errand. Games like Journey or Katamari Damancy will always be the exception on that front.
It is the so-called independent game studios that will likely foster any innovation we see.
If you are complaining about no innovation and ignoring them, then you didn’t really want any innovation in the first place I guess. Heaven forbid you get off your ass and go find something new.
Addendum: And then later Tobold said we need to pay more for niche titles. So I guess I win.
EverQuest: More Popular at Launch than WoW is Today… February 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Humor, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Air Warrior, Camelot Unchained, Friday Blog Wars, sarcasm, Trolling Tobold
But only if you use the Bizarro metrics.
For example, on Planet Tobold, it ISN’T how many who play your game that matters, but how many people DIDN’T play you game.
Taken to logical extremes, there are more than 7 billion people today who do NOT play World of Warcraft today.
However, back in 1999, when the first player logged into EverQuest, there were only 6 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory for SOE, putting it a whole billion “non-players” ahead of Blizzard!
But wait. Back in 1987 when Air Warrior was finally rolling, it only had 5 billion people not playing it!
Who is the most successful online game now, bitches?
Meanwhile, SpaceWar, running way back in 1961 had a mere 3 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory in the unpopularity race!
And yes, I am stretching Tobold-logic to humorous extremes on purpose. But even trying to work the negative player numbers in a serious manner… potential player populations, target populations, subscription rates, and what not… seems like building a castle in a swamp.
Of course, so does trying to measure how many people remember a game. I suspect there are games out there that more people remember than actually played them. But how do you even begin to measure that and, more importantly, how does that equated to success?
Being remembered certainly doesn’t pay the bills.
Nor does historical significance which, by definition, is an assessment of something that happened far enough in the past that it has ceased to be contemporary and actual becomes history. Real history, in the serious academic studies sense, only starts when those who were there to witness it… and thus have invested opinions about it… pass on and things that had to be held secret to protect governments and individuals alike are released to the public.
Which is to say that neither I nor Tobold can really make anything besides guesses now about how the future may view this era when it comes to MMOs and the like.
But when you’ve soured on a genre to the point that your agenda seems to be deny that any MMO with numbers south of 250K can possibly be a success merely because WoW exists and heap scorn on anybody who wants something different, I guess you have to take whatever crazy ammunition you can find.
I am certainly not saying WoW isn’t a success. It is certainly what keeps Activision-Blizzard funded for the three quarters each year when they don’t ship a new Call of Duty game. But success is not an absolute bar, now set so high by WoW that nobody can ever succeed again. Mark Jacobs’ Camelot Unchained plans are not an automatic failure merely because he is targeting a small audience. It is an experiment. It has risks. It has to live in the current MMO ecosystem.
But that alone doesn’t mean it won’t work.
Of course, even Mr. Jacobs isn’t above pulling out a silly metric himself now and again.
Tobold Prediction – CCP Bankrupt in 2012 October 21, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: CCP, Friday Blog Wars, Piling On CCP, Predictions, Syncaine, Trolling Tobold
Hey, it is Friday and Tobold has made a prediction for the 2012 MMO market over in the comment thread over at Hardcore Casual:
I am quite willing to bet you that CCP goes bankrupt in 2012. You might want to interpret their “great success” how ever you like, but financial reports don’t lie.
Yes, there was the whole Incarna debacle and the recent layoffs that brought with them a return to focus on EVE Online at the expense of the planned World of Darkness MMO. But it is a long jump from there to bankruptcy. Or is it?
What do you think will happen to CCP in 2012?
I enabled the “other” field if you have a different vision of the future. And, of course, feel free to justify your point of view in the comment thread for this post.