Friday, October 28, 2005

Live blogging fr AGC: What Vegas can teach MMO Designers, Damion Schubert

What Vegas can teach MMO Designers (and how to take a design lesson from almost anywhere)
What Vegas can teach MMO Designers, Damion Schubert, ACG 2005
Damion Schubert, Wolfpack, Ubisoft

Casinos interesting to look at since they are social spaces with a lot of people can play mini games.
They are service minded: mmos should be too.

There is grind in casinos! Still big buisness. Maybe there is a lesson here.
Different though: want all your money _now_.

Some observations.
How players walk through the space. Displays a map of a casino area.
No exits close to the theatres. Also, on they way to them there are poker rooms and slot mashines.

In most mmo's: they journey sucks! Boring!
Single player games are better at it.

Addressing cheaters. Have worked at many places where he had had to plead to bosses to get someone banned from the game. They have to be banned.
Vegas comes down on cheaters like the hammer of god!

Automated events.
Everyone loves events.
Problems. Expensive. Low reach. Mby 20 - 100 ppl at the time.
But people live them.

Casinos do automated events. Treasure island: pirate battle going on every hour. Big and silly enough. Cost efficient.

Metrics.
A casino on verge of death, Harrah, created a card, a kind of loyalty card. Put in slot mashine, after a time player gets some free things. This casino used this to track the player's behavior. Learned about the player base. They found that the revenues came form suburbian middle class. So these were the people they needed to give love in the form of a tshirt and some free drinks. And shaping areas that attracted different player types.

Mmo game devs could use the datamining which is already done could be used to guide design instead of only failiure detection.
Microsoft can proove that people who talk a lot like to group with each other.

For example see how fast ppl klick through conversation trees: do they really read the text presented by the npcs?

Freebies
Harrah's saw that 26% of costumers gave 82% of revenue.
Concentrated on those.

In mmogs we may not have the same criteria for who should get a lot of love. Guild leaders for example.

Maverick design.
Pictures of a potato peeler.
New potato peeler old potato peeler /*but hey the new one is ugly, yeck */

Now long story about Friedman realizing that ppl didnt want to gamble in big empty spaces, even if they are beautiful. Too grandiose. "barn effect" ppl dont like to be in barns, they want to be in small cosy places. PPl like looking at grand casinos, but just to look, not to gamble. Slot mashines are boring, being around other people makes them intersting.

Mmo players: likes being _around_ people, not _with_ people.
/* third place */

But vw:s are huge! Empty

Everquest zones: each zone a good little community with buzz. Cozy.

Then the seamless world. Radial chat. Problem if players move: might not hear answers to own calls.
Becomes silent. Have it shadowbane.
Blizzard brought back zones. More cozy factor. Breaks immersion a bit, but ppl can chat without problems.

Insanzing and coziness:

Conclusions:
Make the world cozy.
Understand that ppl are in the world because of the other people. Reward socializers.
Consider automated events.
Think about your players flow thorugh game space
Use metrics to giude design not just answer questions on failiurs
Ban cheaters.

QA
Q: Real world trading? A: depends on the game
Q: females gamble for 3 reasons: 1, secure environemt 2. they feel pretty no matter what they look like, treated like they are 3. they feel cared for in the casino /*OMG...*/
A: feeling of safety, the lack of it, is a reason for women not being in the games. Need thick skin. /*wot!? Do we? ... mby im pronoid*/
Q: how do you give players reliability but still keep it exciting?
A: areas where things are too easy and booring, areas where it is too difficult. Find space in between.
Q: how handle cheating? How identify who is cheating and what is cheating? Sometimes player reports are not reliable.
A: Log it for a couple of days, use metrics, only reliable way. Guild of association.
Q: color palettes? For cosyness. SWG cold, WoW warm.
A: Where the bank is... Tries to make homespace warmer. Like in movies where safe and happy sequences have other palette than scary and wierd sequences.
Q: Clocks in games?
A: Even more important now when in china a law where ppl can only play for 3 hours, fear of game addiction.
Q: how much did it cost you to do your research?
Q: too small and cosy?
A right social density.

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