Interviews Category

We ask tough questions. Whether the devs answer them truthfully — or at all — is on them! [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Hi-Rez’s new game Bot Smashers isn’t an MMO, but it’s fun

After a few days of playing Bot Smashers at Hi-Rez Expo 2018 this past weekend, I sat down and talked shop with Rory Newbrough, Bot Smashers Design Director, to get a few more details on the upcoming game. I discovered where the idea came from, and learned more about what to expect in its released form.

What I didn’t learn was that the newly announced game had an MMO version hiding in the wings. Yes, I said that. I think I would totally live in a gaming world of the bots from here. They all have such personality, and they are pretty pleasing to the eye. One of them already has a cloak! The idea just oozes fun. I could see the gruff Topsy trying to maintain order, while the ever-flailing Smashbot runs panicked from life’s crazy stuff. And those Rangerbots? They’ll band together like little green army men to get stuff done. Sadly for me, the mobile game is not an MMO – only a 1v1 battle arena. Maybe someday it could be. (Hey, leave me with my unlikely hopes!) Until that pipe dream can find a thread of reality, here’s what you can expect from the actual mobile game.

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Paladins’ story, previewing new toon Moji, and hands-on with Paladins Strike

As much as the battle royale-flavored Battlegrounds is big news, it wasn’t the only Paladins news at Hi-Rez Expo 2018. We also learned that there is a new champion, a new map, and more coming to the shooter. But there is always more to learn about news than an announcement provides. That’s one of the things that makes the expo great: the opportunity to talk face-to-face with devs about the game. And that’s exactly what I did!

I spoke with Art Director Thomas Holt and Lead Designer Garrett Martini about Paladins, its upcoming changes, and the lore and story of the game. I also had the chance to try my hand at the mobile take on the game, Paladins Strike, that we heard about at PAX West. Read on for an inside look from the event!

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Hands-on with Paladins Battlegrounds, the game’s new battle royale mode

Paladins got not one but four announcements at this year’s Hi-Rez Expo. There’s a brand-new team death match mode coming as well as new battle cat mounts and a unique new champion. And then there was the biggest news revealing the upcoming Paladins: Battlegrounds.

But announcements only gloss the surface of things, so I sat down with devs to discuss the new modes. Todd Harris, Hi-Rez COO and Paladins Producer, and Erez Goren, Founder and CEO, shared details and answered questions on Team Deathmatch and Paladins: Battlegrounds. I also got to settle in and play a few matches of Battlegrounds. Here’s what I learned in the interviews and my hands-on.

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How video game lockboxes use psychology to manipulate you

We here at Massively OP can’t get rid of lockboxes, but by gum, we’re not going to roll over and give up on fighting them. At the very least, we can help to educate the gaming public about the insidious nature of these gambleboxes.

In that spirit, we want to share this post on the psychology of lockboxes and gambling and how both casinos and video game studios use the same techniques to manipulate players into spending far more than they ever should. There are five tricks listed: the gambler’s falacy, the sunk costs effect, the availability heuristic, the illusion of control, and the near-miss illusion.

“Casinos long ago discovered that if they let a player make some kind of meaningless choice or tap a button to potentially ‘nudge’ a slot machine reel into a winning position, they would love it and gamble more,” author Jamie Madigan notes. “Even when the odds of winning are held constant. You could totally do this with loot boxes, too. Instead of clicking on a loot box to open it, let them choose between three boxes, all of which in reality have the same contents.”

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Warframe shares how its business model keeps players happy and giving

One of the reasons we and our readers admire Warframe is that this title hasn’t descended into the questionable, aggressive, and despised business tactics that are being used in many online games. Developer Digital Extremes said that this was very intentional and helped by the fact that Warframe is primarily a PvE game with no direct competition between players.

Another factor that helps with keeping players happy and generous is that Digital Extremes removes as much of the RNG as possible in attaining desirable gear and offers the full play experience for free players without harsh restrictions. Read more

Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor says ZeniMax has least ‘two years’ of additional content planned

With over 10 million players (2.5M monthly active users) having come through its doors since 2014, Elder Scrolls Online is one of the stronger success stories in the MMORPG genre. The fantasy title is riding high on this year’s accomplishments, which include the addition of housing, the Morrowind expansion, and the Clockwork City DLC.

In a new interview with MCV, Game Director Matt Firor explains how the team pushed past the disappointing launch and helped to propel the game forward. The move to console and the appeal to a wider spectrum of gamers were key factors, he noted. This year’s pattern of strong quarterly releases and one large expansion is something that the team wants to continue going into 2018.

“We have two years, at least, of things I know are going in and then we have ideas for after that,” Firor said. “Regular content, keeping players happy, that’s all we’re doing. ESO is very much a game-as-a-service, which is a term we don’t use a lot but it really is a service at this point, and so we want to make sure that it works and keep a lot of new stuff coming in.”

Source: MCV

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Black Desert’s Pearl Abyss on feedback, cadence, and avoiding ‘aggressive’ business models

Pearl Abyss’ Dae Il Kim sat for an interview with InvenGlobal earlier this fall that’s just gone live, and while it might be a bit old, it’s packed with juicy quotes of note to Black Desert players.

For starters, Kim says the game’s UI is due for revision, and those reivisions were inspired by – wait for it – the mobile and console versions. That includes the minimap, mind you. And feedback from players? Yeah, he reads it, unfiltered and raw, to ensure that his team gets the “specific emotion” from player complaints.

But Kim does reject Inven’s assertion that the game’s update pace has slowed down, which is certainly the case in the West, where PA’s western publisher has reduced updates from weekly to biweekly.

“The [number] of updates is the same as it was before,” he counters. “I pushed myself to make a system which makes the updating progress much faster and easier.”

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Interview: ArcheAge’s 4.0 Maelstrom launches December 13 with changes to lunagems, raid finder, and more

Batten down the hatches because a big storm hits tomorrow! ArcheAge’s Maelstrom, with its cross-server navel arena, launches on December 13th. We got to see some of the 4.0 expansion and learn more about it during our demo and interview at PAX West this last fall. And on the cusp of launch, I sat down again with Trion Associate Producer Seraphina “Celestrata” Brennan, Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai, and Community Manager Joe “Muzzy” Brogno to chat more about the upcoming changes. What I learned is that the changes have changes! Lunagems, the raid finder bulletin board, streetlights, and some of the arenas updates have been updated. And one change — the addition of the new turtle ship — will actually not be happening.

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EVE Online uses city urban planning in its design

Who would have ever thought that something so mundane and everyday as city urban planning would be of immense inspiration to a game like EVE Online?

Develop has a fascinating interview with CCP about how the studio uses strategies from urban planning when developing its space MMO. Citing “unproductive” development around 2004 following the game’s rise in popularity, CCP drew its community into talks about what it wanted to see for EVE Online, which in turn led to the formation of the Council of Interstellar Management. Through all of this, CCP started seeing the game’s growth through the lens of city planning.

EVE is more like a city than it is a game,” said CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “If you are doing urban planning in a city, getting feedback from the inhabitants is important. You might have to bulldoze away some houses to make a highway, or you might have a garbage collection problem, and it’s impossible to know all this. We have no way of knowing all the things in EVE Online that the hundreds and thousands of people who live there every day do. They have way more information about it. So factoring in all the information about the game, their input on where the game needs improvement, putting those two things together is what the EVE team does every year.”

Source: Develop

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Warframe on how studios should ‘learn to fight superficial microtransaction integration’

Warframe has become aggressively popular according to Digital Extremes’ own metrics, and our own readers back that up. Part of the reason is the game’s business model, which as DE VP of Publishing Meridith Braun tells GIbiz this week that the studio has been working hard on its monetization over the last several years since the game soft launched open beta. (Yes, it’s still technically in open beta.)

“[Players] say they are blown away by the fact that we aren’t a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers,” Braun argues. That means making almost everything in the game earnable inside the game, downing content progression walls, allowing players to freely trade within the microtransaction system, and respecting the new reality that “a games service is always on and needs constant attention.”

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Bluehole’s CEO on how Ascent: Infinite Realm (A:IR) will breathe life into a stagnating MMORPG genre

Ready for some harsh truths, MMO players? Bluehole CEO Hyo-Seob Kim recently told GIbiz that he wasn’t expecting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to do so well globally, that the studio was “pitching up the quality of the game for the Western market.” Bluehole wasn’t a major player before that, even though it had been making MMOs for a decade. In fact, Bluehole hadn’t even gone to G-Star in six years – back during the rise of its MMORPG TERA in 2011, which was “targeting the Western market from the beginning.” You’ll recall that TERA actually did well – GIbiz fairly calls it a “hit” for the genre – but Kim argues the genre has since stagnated.

“MMORPGs were very new [ten years ago], with World of Warcraft and all the others. But the play style [stayed] very similar as time passed on, so the players got bored with the system. They started looking to other genres of games. […] But there are still people who are used to the MMORPG, and if a new game can give them a new experience they will come back and play again.”

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Are rank-and-file devs benefiting from MMO publisher ‘money-grabs’? Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs weighs in

Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.

“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”

But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.

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Marvel Heroes: Former dev says Disney’s not the bad guy, Xbox One grants automatic refunds

Still reeling from the abrupt early sunset of Marvel Heroes yesterday? Same here. If you want a little closure, maybe check out Kinda Funny Games, which yesterday posted an interview with former Gazillion Systems Designer Anthony Gallegos, who discusses the collapse of the studio.

Gallegos suggests that Gazillion is going through “some kind of bankruptcy” and notes actually furloughed employees a week and a half before the layoffs – and indeed, lost a quarter of its staff from layoffs earlier this year. He also confirms that the license (he says “contract”) for Marvel Heroes was lost in October and negotiations with Disney/Marvel began anew.

This was a time when Gazillion reps were telling the press and the playerbase that “the company [was] functioning normally.” It clearly was not.

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