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Episodic content would alleviate 'mistakes' of MMOs, Ultima creator says

Having been involved in role-playing games for so many years, starting with the Ultima games, Richard Garriott is quite qualified to discuss what is wrong with the genre. And one of the biggest mistakes being made by MMOs today is spending so much time and money on the game without knowing if the audience will accept it.

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Having been involved in role-playing games for so many years, starting with the Ultima games, Richard Garriott is quite qualified to discuss what is wrong with the genre. And one of the biggest problems with MMOs today is spending so much time and money on the game without knowing if the audience will accept it.

"One of the big mistakes of MMOs is spending three to five years and hundreds of millions developing the thing, then having no one like it," he said in an interview with Shacknews. "I think you need to start smaller, get players in earlier, and have the game grow along with them."

Of course, Garriott learned his lesson after the troubled life of his last major project, Tabula Rasa, which started development in May 2001, launched in November 2007, and then was shut down slightly more than a year later at the end of February 2009. Garriott is hoping to solve that issue with his new Kickstarter RPG, Shroud of the Avatar, which is rapidly approaching its $1 million funding goal with still more than 20 days to go. One of the plans is to feature downloadable episodes once the game launches.

Check back later today for the full interview with Garriott and his plans for Shroud of the Avatar.

From The Chatty
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    March 13, 2013 9:00 AM

    Kat Bailey posted a new article, Episodic content would alleviate 'mistakes' of MMOs, Ultima creator says.

    Having been involved in role-playing games for so many years, starting with the Ultima games, Richard Garriott is quite qualified to discuss what is wrong with the genre. And one of the biggest mistakes being made by MMOs today is spending so much time and money on the game without knowing if the audience will accept it.

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      March 13, 2013 10:49 AM

      The biggest problem with this approach is that players will run out of content too quickly and then leave the game before more content is added. For MMOs this can be particularly bad since end game content is a huge pull for a lot of players, and if you don't have that in at launch those players will loose interest.

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        March 13, 2013 11:14 AM

        Content have to be created very quickly, like on a monthly basis.

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        March 13, 2013 4:49 PM

        That's a problem for WoW clones, less so for sandbox MMOs like Ultima Online or Eve Online, where "content" are emergent user created experiences.

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          March 13, 2013 5:17 PM

          Ahh, that is true.

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          March 13, 2013 5:30 PM

          yeah its pretty crazy how mmos are now thought of as this linear treadmill type game even though i think sandbox mmos are truer to the ideal of an mmorpg.

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          March 13, 2013 5:35 PM

          Which is exactly what it needs to be, and I think that style of gaming is going to come back soon.

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      March 13, 2013 10:53 AM

      episodic fixes things? like waiting for episode 3? WHOOPS!

      no, for MMOs, you gotta have the treadmill in place. have a lot of in game activities that warrant a subscription to consume the content. making a shallow game and thinking cranking out episodes or xpacs is an improvement is wrong. plus, it will fracture the playerbase and that is never good. so then you have tiers of players (like the 3 tiers of SWTOR players) and then each one has different content. LAME

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        March 13, 2013 11:21 AM

        IMO it works pretty well for The Secret World, and is one of the reason I still pay a monthly subscription. They haven'te exactly been monthly but the changes and additions have always been exciting enough to keep me playing.

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        March 13, 2013 5:32 PM

        so when we are talking about mmos, xpacs or any new content these days is usually not paid for. This is basically an EQ to WoW thing that doesn't exist in other games. So not really lame.

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      March 13, 2013 11:23 AM

      Episodic content means that a company needs to have an impressive ability to manage a project in phases.

      How many companies have actually managed to have decent episodic content in the last few years?

      The only one I can think of is Telltale.

      I mean...I guess DLC is somewhat episodic, but DLC is usually tiny as hell. When I think of an episode, I'm thinking like...Heart of the Swarm or Episode 1/2 for HL2.

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      March 13, 2013 11:30 AM

      are we back on the episodic thing? unless it's an aventure game it's probably not going to work. still waiting on episode 3, 5 years after the fact

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        March 13, 2013 11:54 AM

        I think you're envisioning this differently than Garriott might be. Asheron's call has essentially released monthly episodic content for years and it apparently still works for them. Game is a billion years old and still has subscribers.

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      March 13, 2013 11:57 AM

      I figured out why I'm not excited about Richard Garriott making a new Ultima game. I've been a fan of these games sinces Ultima III when I was a kid and you'd think I'd be jumping up and down to hear this guy was making a new Ultima game. But I think I realized that what I loved about those games so much was controlling a party of 6 to 8 characters with turn-based battles. There is obviously more to the games which I love, the stories were amazing, the huge environments were excellent, the open world do anything approach was extremely impressive (and a pre-cursor to games like Oblivion and Skyrim). All of that was great and I loved it, but what really hooked me in and kept me going to developing my characters and organizing my party and having huge crazy turn-based battle using every skill, spell and weapon I had to get my way out of it. Playing just one character in what is probably an action-based combat system... I don't know... it's not too exciting.

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      March 13, 2013 3:36 PM

      Asheron's Call was and still is the best MMO of all time because of this precisely.

      It had regular, interesting, fun AND free content updates. Never before or since has their been an MMO where individual players could alter the game world so permanently.

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