Space Ramblings

Tag Archives: Mmo

Wing Commander + Privateer = Star Citizen

Obviously there’s a dose of Heinlein in this too. I won’t quibble over details, just show the trailer. Anyone who has played the first two Wing Commander games will recognize elements from them in the trailer.

Kickstarter and its cousins have certainly helped bring back some classic games. And that’s good.

And now the quibbling. How exactly is the MMO + single player aspect going to work. Is the MMO the Privateer part while Squadron 42 is the Wing Commander part?

And Chris Roberts doesn’t have the best track record. Not when Wing Commander 2 was the last good Wing Commander game, followed by FMV abortions starring Mark Hamill, followed by Starlancer and Freelancer, both of which were poor copies of Wing Commander and Privateer. But on the other hand the engine looks shiny and the idea seems promising.

So let’s dream. Let’s dream big.

Blizzard and Bioware are Going Zynga

Let’s stop pretending that Diablo 3 is anything but the Zynga model applied to a popular game series done by the people who now do diablo 3Torchlight. It’s a click to grind and then click to buy loot so you don’t have to grind as much.

Is this the new model now?

The concept is simple. Grab an IP, wrap it around a click grind game, put the game online, or try and sell it to people, then offer them a way to buy things to grind less. Then profit.

Think about what the movie industry has been doing. Grabbing IP’s and then turning them around into 100-150 million dollar movies that are all basically the same. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s also the new MMO model. Take an IP, turn into an MMO, if like Blizzard you have the balls to try and make people pay 60 bucks for your version of Zynga, go for it. Or just grab a Star Wars IP like Bioware did and make your own WOW clone. Or take Ultima and turn it into Ultima Forever, a free to play online game from Bioware that’s bound to rape a lot of people’s childhoods.

Not that Activision or EA care. They have a backlog of IP’s that they have no intention of turning into actual games. Wing Commander got turned into a cheap arcade game. If they can figure out a way to turn it into a free-to-play MMO they will.

 

 

Why is Curt Schilling being blamed for 38 Studios and not Jennifer MacLean ?

Sure Curt Schilling is famous. A big part of the selling point of 38 Studios was “Famous Baseball Pitcher” is into MMO’s. But Curt

Jennifer MacLean

Not a former star pitcher

Schilling was not the CEO of 38 Studios. That was Jennifer MacLean who went on maternity leave and never came back. But Jennifer MacLean is much less famous than Curt Schilling and there’s not much of a story there.

Curt Schilling messes up company is a story. Jennifer MacLean messes up company is not a story. But maybe it should be.

MacLean did have some legit experience with Microprose in the 90’s. After that she managed game development… at AOL and Comcast. Not exactly the best possible qualifications for spearheading an MMO project. Her background was casual gaming which is very different from an MMO. There’s a lot of interviews where she talks about what a geek she was, she mentions that she played MMO’s, but that’s a long way from knowing how to run a company that takes them through the gate.

The problem here is that 38 Studios was being run by a CEO with no current experience with getting modern AAA games out the door. With a BA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA with a concentration in international business from the Columbia Business School, Jennifer MacLean probably knows her business stuff, but there’s no indication she knew how to run a company where games are the main product, not a casual gaming sideline on a portal for an ISP.

And does anyone remember AOL or Comcast for its games?

If you don’t know much about gaming or the industry, Jennifer MacLean’s resume looked impressive. She was in charge of game development at two major ISP’s. Some magazine named her one of the 20 or 100 or 200 most important women in gaming. Sold.

38 Studios did have plenty of executives with game development experience, but to ask the obvious question, shouldn’t its CEO have been one of them?

Ray Bradbury, Luddite

Around the time that internet became culture, the internet developed an odd relationship with Ray Bradbury. Bradbury’s books were still popular, but his unabashed opposition to the internet and ebooks made for some uncomfortable moments.

“When did Bradbury become such… well, such an old man?” Graeme McMillan at Time Magazine complained. Bradbury was never old or he was always old. This was who Bradbury always was and it was odd that anyone could read his books without realizing that.

His best known book was an attack on a society filled with technological entertainment. Fahrenheit 451 isn’t just a book about book burning, it’s a book about an America where everyone watches television because it makes people easier to control. Where the television is fully interactive and you can participate in the stories together with your friends.

You can make fun of Bradbury for talking about “internets”, but he saw MMO’s and social gaming coming and he didn’t see anything good about them.

Bradbury was enthusiastic about some kinds of technology. He was in favor of space exploration. The technology that he was suspicious of was mobile entertainment and communications technology. He disliked portable radios playing music, phones and surveillance equipment. He distrusted technology that dehumanized or diminished life.

Was Bradbury wrong about television and the internet? Kind of pointless to talk about it, since he didn’t use the internet and probably didn’t understand it. The internet has its own pros and cons, but Bradbury’s criticisms have been made by even its biggest enthusiasts. It distances us from people.

Bradbury’s cynicism about technology was more popular when it was fashionable to talk down television and worry about the reading culture. When the internet became culture, suddenly Bradbury was being treated like an “old man”. And that reaction justified his distaste for the medium.

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