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The Closing of Tabula Rasa - MMO Industry needs to change

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Muckbeast, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. Muckbeast

    Muckbeast Adventurer
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    I recently published two articles on the end of Tabula Rasa, its history, the end game event, etc. You might find them interesting.

    History, Timeline and Post Mortem of Tabula Rasa

    The End of Tabula Rasa - Server Shutdown Event


    I always find it a strange and interesting thing when an MMO closes. Unlike non-MMO games, television shows, or most other forms of entertainment, if the creator stops supporting it you lose total access. That's such a weird and ultimately bad way to go, imho. I think for the long term of the industry, that has to change. Once MMO gamers have had 1 or 2 beloved MMOs shut down on them - and in the fullness of time, that is almost inevitable for most people - they are going to sour on the whole concept.

    What's the solution? Well, I think MMO companies are going to have to cut it out with the closings. They are going to have to do one of three things:

    1) Open source the server code. Let people run their own private servers. Include as part of the license that a server operator can never charge money for access.

    2) Release a version of the server source code that allows single player and LAN. At least then people can play it by themselves or with friends.

    3) Sell the game... always. Find a buyer, every single time. No matter how cheap you have to go, FIND A BUYER.

    Players are going to get fed up eventually and figure it just isn’t worth their time or emotional investment to play a game that can be ripped away at the whims of some corporate bean counters.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Diomedes Artega

    Diomedes Artega Certifiable
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    I think unfortunately, it doesn't hold much water. No offense to your opinions...they are good I think. Inevitably though, it all boils down to money. Think of it like a music CD. Unfortunately most game developers seem to be territorial and stingy when it comes to their product. Instead of wanting to receive royalties or something of that nature, "they" let the game die when it can no longer turn out a rewarding profit.

    In their eyes of course...never mind of course what the consumer might think. Essentially it will all boil down to pure capitalism as it has, and leave it to the consumer. Eventually an all new player altogether chooses to participate in a MMO. After all, we ourselves were all once one of those people. Think about it.
     
  3. MMON3rd

    MMON3rd Guest

    I have to agree. It all depends on what type of money a publisher has to support a game and it takes a lot to support an MMO. Think about the community and how much goes into developing a game's community, the development of missions, quests, maps, etc. It's a lot of intricate tech. It's not that cut and dry and I'm certain it pains the developer to end a game.
     
  4. So sorry to hear about this video game closing on you.
     
  5. Diomedes Artega

    Diomedes Artega Certifiable
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    Yeah, the developer had to go on a space trip lol. :danceb:

    Literally though. You can read it on wikipedia. It's not an accredited resource naturally, but the actual article about the developer has enough cites to prove credible.
     
  6. MMON3rd

    MMON3rd Guest

  7. ianubisi

    ianubisi Guest

    In general this is why I (reluctantly) admire SOE for their All Access Pass. They keep very small games alive through that means (Planetside and Matrix Online). I think it's very unfortunate NCSoft never adopted such a model, so as to allow similar games with small populations to remain alive (Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa).
     
  8. Diomedes Artega

    Diomedes Artega Certifiable
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    Auto Assault. Similar style of play as Tabula Rasa? I don't remember that one. :(
     
  9. Tinyzoo

    Tinyzoo Guest

    Well, as a game developer myself who has operated to date with an entirely volunteer team, and looking at the number of man hours it's going to require to finish Visions, I can say absolutely that making a game is no simple task. Making an MMOG is monumental. Keeping it running, just as difficult as running it.

    Let me run some numbers for you.

    It took my team of volunteers working part time 19 months to get Chariots to the state of completion it is at right now (we had 11 months to launch due to a 3rd party deadline, but the game still needed a lot of work post launch so I count these additional 8 month in the development time). In 19 months we created ONE tiny fraction of the Visions game design document. JUST the racing part. This game code from Chariots will benefit Visions, so our development time on our MMOG was not lost. And it allowed us to complete a game title. But when I look at how many hours it's going to take to complete Visions at our current rate of development, well... let's just say it will never happen unless we can generate funding for a full time development team.

    So I've been re-doing the research I had done 5 years ago (because a lot of things have changed since then) on how many people I need (minimum and ideal options both included), how much it's going to cost to staff a full development team, how much we can accomplish in a given amount of time, and how can we maximise our development efforts given our current resources.

    We need a minimum of 65 people to establish a full time development team. Staff salaries alone will cost $4,682,000. Adding in Office supplies, services, technology, and marketing costs, I estimate we will need $9,272,190 for one year of development with a team of 65 people, if we were to be fully funded. To really get the game done in less than a decade, I anticipate we will need 179 people within a year's time (or sooner if possible). Staff salaries alone will cost $12,129,000 a year. Total operating costs will run $20,519,320 per year.

    No matter how you look at it, there's just no way to keep a game running without a user base to support the financial demands of running the game. Developers have bills to pay and families to feed, and only the rarest gems are willing to work for free for long periods of time. And even then, volunteers can only work part time, because they must have a source of income from somewhere to feed the kidlets and keep the power on.

    Game designers work about 80 to 120 hours a week. They pour their heart and soul into the games they create. They invest their time, their resources, their lives, and often at the cost of time with their own famlies in order to see their dream come true. Whatever feelings of remorse or dispair a player experiences when their game ends, almost certainly the designer, and even the developers who worked on the game to help the designer realise that dream, will feel those pains of loss and remorse all the stronger. A fair portion of their life went into that game, possibly a decade or longer. The decision to end a game most certainly doesn't come lightly. But if the players don't support the game, it can not continue. Bandwidth does not come cheap, neither does staff, office space, tech, or marketing strategies.

    And as to releasing the engine open source, often times the original licensing agreement prevents that. If the game engine came with a restrictive closed license from the vendor, then the developer must abide by that, even to the end of the game. The vendor may have other license holders out there who are expecting that code to remain secure. So it's really got very little to do with being "greedy" and much more to do with economics and legal documents.

    I am sorry about the loss you are feeling. I know it feels just as painful as losing a loved one to death. And may seem just as permanent. And as you go through life, you will have flashbacks of memories of the fond times you experienced with your friends as you played. Hold on to the memories. And press on into the future. There are many more exciting times to come, if only you have your eyes open to notice them ahead of you, and aren't looking back at days gone by.

    God bless you,
    -Sparkling
     
  10. Muckbeast

    Muckbeast Adventurer
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    With all the engines, third party software, and middleware out there, I think the days of the $20-100 million MMO are gone.

    If you can't figure out a way to build an MMO for less, you aren't going to make it (unless you are Bioware, Blizzard, or another huge company).
     
  11. bytor_tp

    bytor_tp Guest

    ya, those costs are for a mainstream game in new development and not to keep an old game alive. Look at UO.....there are opensource servers out there and tools to build new content (map builders, etc) where the players could actually support games quite easily. Hardware is cheap and so is bandwidth. Older games would need less resources to support while newer games would obviously require more (server hardware, bandwidth, etc.)

    You would think once a game 'dies', as in no longer supported by the original company, they would sell the server code to players to allow them to keep playing. A couple things that companies should look at now since there are not too many dead mmorpgs yet, is to build the server platform on something that a robust PC could run. Granted load times for zones would be slower and not too many people could be on at once.

    Another thing developers should think about is a way for people to 'save' or download their character files. This would let the player keep playing from where they were when the game was no longer supported.
     
  12. Diomedes Artega

    Diomedes Artega Certifiable
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    At least this would be better than say worrying about if after every expansion certain games falling by the wayside.
     
  13. Tuferon

    Tuferon Adventurer
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    No one is gonna give up on MMO's because they may shut down.
    When you lose your job...yeah you worked hard for nothing.
    When you lose a game...you have lost a GAME! And I understand the immersion as an 11 yr UO player and recent WOW unenthusiast. But please! Your efforts were for your entertainment! And too bad for the ones using the games for making RL money, good riddance to them.

    Get a grip, the monthly cost is peanuts for the hours of wonderful play you get in return. How many times do you watch a DVD you purchased? TV is the poorest value. And I will bet all of you pay more for your internet connection and systems and accessories in order to play than you do for the game
     
  14. Tuferon

    Tuferon Adventurer
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    BTW NC Soft FIRED Garriott, then closed the game, and they r currently in litigation about this