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  1. #1

    managing expectations

    Say you were buying a car that you were going to drive for a couple years, and you saw a kind of car that you'd never seen before. It looked cool. You'd have a car payment every month. You want it not to break down or take time out of your life. You want to enjoy it.

    So you compare that company to other car companies you know, right? You say, "Toyota has a staff of tens of thousands in all these countries. This company is two dozen guys in a garage. But *damn* it's a cool looking car."

    OK, so here is Notorious Games by the numbers, compared to Turbine's staff for LOTRO *only*:

    Turbine's LOTRO: over 300 staff involved, probably about 250 full time on that game. Includes five devoted staff to online community relations and social media. Includes over twenty for PR/marketing. Mostly devs, art, story, production. They also run their own datacenter, as far as I know.

    Notorious Games: About one dozen, mostly in Siberia; HQ in CA with a handful of folks and did I read somewhere the datacenter is in Chicago, presumably on contract.

    As far as I know, Jordi is self-funding. In one investment round, before LOTRO was nearly as big as it is today, Turbine took $40,000,000 in investment from Warner Interactive (who later decided it was such a good deal they bought the company).

    I'm willing to bet Jordi doesn't have $40M in his pocket, much less as a small part of his investment.

    So, guys, if you think it looked amazing AAA in the showroom, and you didn't look up the definition of "indie" before you signed away your big investment of money (and I suppose leisure time), how much of that do you own. C'mon.

    Over at MMORPG.com, Wood's going on about how he doesn't buy the "indie" thing. But this is a bit like saying, "I don't buy the idea of independent film being edgy, flaky, and sometimes omg how cool was that?" Big studios like big, safe ideas. I've blogged over on Gamasutra about how indie and mid-line and even AAA studios are getting pressure from investors to produce the next WOW.

    If all you want to see in the market is the next twenty WOW clones, sure, why not. But if you support diversity from formula, you're going to have to waste some time and money here and there finding the next CCP, and that company isn't going to be obvious a month after launch.

    NOW, all that said, let me say a few things to Notorious Games: reputation counts. It's no longer 2003 (when SWG launched) where the gaming community tended to stay on their own game's forums. What I am seeing (and sometimes refuting) is that this game is being slammed for being DOA, and for a lack of transparency.

    There is a difference between a game that expects the community to discover the game mechanics as part of the game (and help refine both the community and mechanics in the crucible of experimentation) and a game that can't talk to their community meta-game. We need to know more about how things are going. We need to be involved. We do not need to be told the outcome of your weekly scrums, but it would be nice to know if you have them, and how people were, authentically, feeling at the end of it.

    We'd like you to present this game to the market more authentically too. We'd like to see you manage expectations of folks buying in, so they have less likelihood to call it a scam upon ragequitting (assuming the folks calling it a scam for over a year weren't right -- I actually believe this is more of an understaffed dream, myself).

    We'd like policies put in to update the splash screen for the launcher with *current* server status (not wishful) and a log of when the servers have been down and why and with what rollbacks on the launcher.

    If you can't manage these things because 150% of your staff time is on the code, then you're doing it wrong.

    If the community didn't do due diligence on the game, you haven't done your part as the game company to be transparent.

    Shava/Ani

  2. #2
    Wish my brain was firing on as many cylinders there Ani. Enjoyed reading this one as well. Interesting anecdotes.

    The following is a thread from mmorpg in which a member color-coded the features page to show what is currently implemented, partially implemented, or not in game at all atm. I thought it was well done.

    I won't comment necessarily on how accurate it is as I don't know the whole game. I believe the features list is one year old.
    http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/g...194792#4194792


    I thought the presentation might be a way for the Notorious Games features list to show a more genuine depiction of what is currently in... I wouldn't argue it to really be any of my business, but thought I would pass it along since managing expectations was brought up.

  3. #3
    We are the investors as well as the customers...

    So should we not be treated as such?

  4. #4
    Excellent post Shava...and good suggestions that should be taken into account on both sides.

    Thanks for your level head.

    Quote Originally Posted by orious13 View Post
    We are the investors as well as the customers...

    So should we not be treated as such?
    Excellent point Orious. Continuing along Shava's OP analogy, it's currently kinda like the dude in the garage guaranteeing you a two year warranty and when the car breaks down the next day and you return to the garage, shop is closed up and he's gone.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by orious13 View Post
    We are the investors as well as the customers...

    So should we not be treated as such?
    i'm all for supporting the little guy. Heck, don't really ahve a choice, the big guys are too scared to make the type of game I want to play.
    I do not begrudge spending my $40 for the game. It was worth a shot.
    However NG won't get another dime (from me at least) until it proves it can deliver something I want to play.

    Heck, dev can't even come on and tell the community to stfu, and state the type of game they are trying to make (ie pro/anti pvp argument).
    Why wont he/they? THe only conclusion i'm left with, is they want to string along both sides of the player base, and not just have one side or the other break camp and head out.

    and finally, their business model isn't an excuse matrix. i don't care if they have 1 person, or 1000 people working...the cash out of my wallet is the same, and i'd jsut assume that it purchased a working product.

    I hope they get their shit together...concept is great...implementation so far is the suck.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    www.theburninghorde.com

  6. #6
    I don't see any shares being given out - so we are not investors.

    I don't see Notorious Games being registered as a chariety - so I'm not given them money for nothing.

    That makes us customers - and given the state of teh game we shouldn't even be that, we should be testers, why are we paying to test this program is probably a good question.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by orious13 View Post
    We are the investors as well as the customers...

    So should we not be treated as such?
    I was the VP of Marketing and BizDev of an entertainment licensing dotcom during the bust. While many of our friends and competition fell around us, we grew from an unrated company in 2000 to the 3rd fastest growing private company in Oregon in 2003. One of the major differences between us and the deadpool is that our investors were level headed, trusted us, and bothered to learn a bit about our business and how we worked.

    A lot of dotcoms had no business being in business. But a lot of the really really good companies died because the investors (usually VCs) panicked and pulled out, leaving all possible plans for survival gone for the good companies as well as the dotscams. So, what kind of investor are you?

    yrs,
    Shava/Ani

  8. #8
    Because it's fun and once his vision is complete the game will be awesome. He and i share the same thing in common that Xsyon is the game we have wanted to play since first playing an mmo. I imagined a game like this minus the apocalyptic part but I actually think that makes it even better. Give the game even more realistic customization since anything could possibly happen in an apocalyptic scenario

    Anyway.. I hope you rejoin AR one day Res...things are looking really good. Good luck anyway
    Audacius

    [B]

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mmogaddict View Post
    I don't see any shares being given out - so we are not investors.

    I don't see Notorious Games being registered as a charity - so I'm not given them money for nothing.

    That makes us customers - and given the state of the game we shouldn't even be that, we should be testers, why are we paying to test this program is probably a good question.
    So why haven't you given up and gone away?

    Listen, I played Chainmail, and most folks here are probably too young to know what that is. These two guys in Geneva WI decided it would be fun to adapt miniatures rules from military wargaming (Napoleonics, etc.) and create a set of rules for sword and sorcery, or maybe more Lord of the Rings style combat, with heroes rather than phalanxes or whatever as the units.

    They wrote up a pretty rudimentary rule set that didn't really work. But some guys in Germany started making the coolest cast-lead miniatures for it, and a small core of gamer geeks started adapting rule sets, sending around "house rules" sets in postal mail (early/mid 1970s), and getting together at fantasy/science fiction cons to play out alternate rules.

    Around 1974-1975 the two guys in WI decided that it was worth their time to turn this into something a bit more, including a cultural setting, role playing potential, more source material -- and ANOTHER rule set that was drastically incomplete and really kinda just didn't work.

    They published the set in three volumes that had a bit more in common with your local church's cookbook project than a real book, but jazzed it up a bit by putting the three very thin folded and stapled volumes in a white cardboard box with some really mediocre fantasy art on it.

    No chance in hell these guys were going anywhere. Geeks with no business sense, too.

    That was Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who basically created the RPG industry as we know it. You're paying to test a game because that's what ALWAYS happens when a new kind of game comes out on a shoe string, because it's trying to do something new (or because the founders think they can do it without giving up equity and dealing with asshat investors).

    If you don't want to test a game, play something well tested, like say, WOW, or EQ2, or LOTRO, or Eve, or whatever.

    Most games fail. If you don't want to be an early adopter, wait until the game is a year or two on before you become a customer. It's really just that simple. What was the last game you started on day one that wasn't full of fail, even if it *was* a well tested concept? Launches are notoriously (no pun intended...well, maybe) bad.

    If you don't like the product, go find one you like. But you know, staying here if you think it's bad is kind of sick. You aren't getting your money back. You aren't getting your time back. Those of us who like the game for what it is kind of prove that it's not entirely 100% the game that's the issue.

    Dead horse beaten.

    Shava/Ani

  10. #10
    ^Jordi's alt account^

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