game design

PUBG Corp’s infringement lawsuit against NetEase may not be completely ridiculous after all

Last week, we wrote about how PUBG Corp is suing NetEase (and NetEase is threatening to sue everyone) over alleged copyright infringement in regard to the battle royale genre and the companies’ respective games, in particular PUBG itself. The litany of gameplay concepts PUBG Corp includes as original to PUBG baffled both us and our readers – it’s everything from loot acquisition and air drops to waiting areas and sound effects. It’s absurd. So how legal is it?

As gaming attorney Pete Lewin writes on Gamasutra today, generally what is copyrightable – in the US, where the lawsuit has been filed – is the expression of the game’s ideas rather than the ideas themselves. “For example, Nintendo owns Mario (the expression), but not the concept of a plumber collecting gold coins and rescuing princesses (the idea),” he explains. “As such, PUBG Corp will undoubtedly own PUBG’s unique code, art assets, audio files etc as these represent its particular expression of its game design choices.”

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Perfect Ten: Why trend-chasing doesn’t work at all for online games

Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.

For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.

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Choose My Adventure: Warframe in review

It’s funny how presentation problems can have such a huge impact on the same product.

Warframe, as a game, is almost crippled by its lack of guidance and the poor resources it has to explain things to players. Some of this, as has been noted in the comments, is the result of a general design philosophy that producing more fun stuff is more advantageous than providing guidance, but some of it is also a result of having a philosophy that doesn’t seem to take full advantage of its business model. Better tutorials and direction would do a whole lot to redeem the game.

This would be a good thing because Warframe is also strikingly unique and fun in a lot of other ways, and it seems to be to be the logical apotheosis of a lot of game design aspects. It has flaws, it could use some streamlining and refinement, but at the end of the day it’s a slick and fun experience that is mostly let down by its failings in guiding players. And it’s another game that I’m not really done with even though my month is up.

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EVE Evolved: Get ready for EVE Fanfest 2018!

There’s just a week and a half to go before EVE Fanfest 2018, the biggest event in the EVE Online social calendar. The event kicks off on April 12th and will celebrate EVE‘s upcoming 15th anniversary, a major milestone for any online game. This year we’re anticipating juicy details on the next step in EVE Online‘s ambitious long-term development roadmap, an update on the impending EVE mobile game, and possibly a major announcement about CCP’s upcoming MMOFPS codenamed Project Nova.

MassivelyOP will be on the ground once again this year to get the latest insight into the future of the sandbox. Stay tuned to our coverage of the event using the EVE Fanfest 2018 tag, where I’ll be posting major announcement news, detailed discussions on new gameplay revealed, interviews from the event, and in-depth opinion pieces. Fanfest will also be a great opportunity to assess the mood and impact of last year’s pull-out from VR game development, and to take the pulse of the community of a variety of topics. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to pose to developers or players while I’m there, please let me know in the comments.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down our expectations for EVE Fanfest 2018 and give some tips on getting the most out of the event for players attending or just watching from home.

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GDC 2018: Ready Player One Now, billion person gaming, and mitigating abuse

It’s no surprise that Ready Player One was constantly being referenced at GDC 2018, especially in VR, AR, and MMO panels. It’s not just because of the movie’s release but because the tech involved is seeing a surge of interest. That doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp, in my opinion, but it may be a thing we should start talking about.

And talking about it we did. As Bill Roper of Improbable and SpatialOS recently told me, “The next generation of online games isn’t going to behave like current-generation MMOs. […] We don’t know what a billion-person game might look like, but it’s likely to include a wide variety of playstyles, to reflect the diversity of its playerbase.” Even if you’re a cynic and don’t think SpatialOS will play any part of this future, Roper’s very much on the mark: Billion-person gaming isn’t going to be like our current MMOs.

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GDC 2018: Exploring SpatialOS with Improbable CCO Bill Roper

SpatialOS: You’ve probably been seeing this name pop up more and more in the MMO sphere. Worlds AdriftMavericksFractured, SeedMetaWorld, and Identity are just some of the titles we’ve mentioned that have sprung up to use Improbable’s platform. The company picked up more than half a billion dollars from Japanese company SoftBank, roped in MMO veteran Bill Roper, and got Jagex to announce its intention to use it in a future project. However Chronicles of Elyria recently noted it’s dropping Improbable’s baby, and both on and off the record, developers I spoke to at GDC 2018 had mixed reactions – assuming they’d even heard about SpatialOS at all.

What’s the big deal about the platform? What does it do? Why should developers care? Why should MMO players care? I attended a panel by Improbable and briefly sat down with CCO Bill Roper to try to figure it all out.

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MMO Mechanics: The Fair Play Alliance and mechanising fairness

News of over 30 gaming companies taking a united stand against unfairness and toxicity in online game communities sprung out of GDC 2018 a few days ago, with some rather surprising company names making the list of those involved. The issue of toxic behaviour is a tough nut to crack, and these companies believe that the best way to tackle the issue is by pooling research and resources to share knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. It’s an interesting and complex idea that has got me thinking, so I just had to take up an issue of MMO Mechanics to discuss the potential implications for MMOs and near-MMOs.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll look at the mission of the Fair Play Alliance, discuss the ground they’ve covered so far, explore a case study of how toxicity affects one involved MMO developer, and then will give my thoughts on mechanical rollouts that could be employed to help smash toxicity.

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EVE Evolved: What pushes EVE Online players to breaking point?

How many times have you read the comments on an EVE Online article and found someone talking about an experience they had that turned them off the game? They were suicide ganked and lost a month’s worth of progress in 30 seconds, scammed out of all their ISK, or their corporation fell apart after a war declaration. Even former players who look back fondly on their time in EVE Online will relate some event or trend that ultimately pushed them away from the game, whether it’s a gameplay change that ruined the way they liked to play, their alliance suddenly losing all of its territory, a valued friend quitting the game, or a social structure they relied on breaking down.

These natural breaking points happen to all players eventually, and some will invariably take the opportunity to quit the game when they occur. EVE is more of a long-term hobby than a game, so it’s only natural that some players will leave the game if something catastrophically upsets the way they’ve learned to enjoy that hobby. Lately I’ve been thinking about these moments in which a player can lose something they’ve invested heavily into, and wondering whether there’s something more that could be done to minimise these failure states. Should CCP provide safety nets for players against catastrophic failure, or is this just part of the player-directed nature of the sandbox?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider some of the things that can push a player to breaking point, and whether additional safety nets would make a difference.

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Monster Hunter World’s first patch is all about balance adjustments for weaponry

The first major patch for Monster Hunter World is arriving on March 16th, and thankfully it will include a new monster to fight in the form of Deviljho. That’s the only real content addition, though; the big feature is the laundry list of changes coming to every weapon in the game. Great Sword users will see increased damage from Charged Slash maneuvers, Long Sword users get big buffs to Foresight Slash, and Sword & Shield can toss beetles more effectively with a weapon drawn.

In fact, pretty much every weapon has seen some significant balance changes, except for bowguns; those are unadjusted. Lances in particular have been upgraded to be easier to use in general, which should be a boon to veteran players and Lance enthusiasts alike. There are also new quality of life features and a free ticket to adjust your character’s appearance, so even if you’ve only got one new monster to hunt, you should find plenty of other things to enjoy in the patch.

Source: Kotaku

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How DDO’s Mists of Ravenloft went from concept art to game design

By now, Dungeons and Dragons Online’s Mists of Ravenloft has seen a few turns of the full moon and settled into its niche in the game following last December’s launch. It’s still thrilling players with its depiction of a much darker and more terrifying campaign setting, however.

The dev team was particularly proud of how much attention was given to bringing the world of Ravenloft to the game, and in a short video, it juxtaposes several pieces of concept art with the finished in-game product. Even if you’re not playing the game, it’s pretty neat to see what the artists are able to do with this older MMO engine.

The expansion in its various bundles is now available on the game’s web marketplace and should be coming to the in-game store for points this month as well.

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Sci-fi MMORPG Project C announced with Thief and Half-Life 2 devs at the helm

Let us make an already interesting MMO news day a bit more so, shall we? How about the introduction of a brand-new, full-fledged MMORPG in development with AAA credentials and some notable game industry vets at the helm?

The game in question is code-named Project C, a sci-fi MMO that takes place on a single-shard hostile world. It sounds incredibly intriguing and not afraid of to embrace the massively multiplayer experience:

Project C invites the players to explore, conquer and dominate a massive hostile persistent sci-fi world. The game offers players genuine innovation in game design with emphasis on emergent memorable gameplay moments: a single-shard virtual world, continuously updated with new chapters of the game’s story, containing a fully simulated ecosystem of creatures and resources, in which player choices create permanent changes.

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s March balance update has players excited

The EVE Online community came down pretty hard on CCP Games at the start of the year, with podcasts, blogs, and the Council of Stellar Management all highlighting a recent lack of balance changes and iterations. CCP responded with a renewed wave of updates, and it’s safe to say that the studio is absolutely knocking it out of the park. The upcoming March patch will include surprise buffs for the Muninn and Eagle, damage increases for the Cyclone and Drake Navy Issue, and an unexpected change to Attack Battlecruisers that could turn the fleet PvP meta completely on its head. The Orthrus is also finally getting its long-awaited nerf, and some careful tweaks will end the dominance of Ferox and Machariel fleets.

As if that wasn’t enough good news for one month, developers also plan to release a completely new class of ship designed exclusively for fleet commanders, are finally adding blueprint-locking to citadels and engineering complexes, and have some big territorial warfare improvements in the pipeline. The horrible but often necessary Jump Fatigue mechanic is finally being re-evaluated, and players will no longer be able to use citadel tethering mechanics to easily move capital ships in absolute safety. The territorial capture gameplay and the Entosis Link module used in nullsec sovereignty warfare are also being improved based on player feedback. The community hasn’t been this positive about upcoming changes for quite some time!

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I lay out the details of the upcoming ship balance overhaul, the new Monitor fleet command ship, and other changes coming in the March update.

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Wakfu targets the Huppermage for its next update

One of the hardest things to change in game design are elements that work but could be working better. The Huppermage in Wakfu serves as a prime example. It’s not that the Huppermage is useless or can’t be really good when played with skill; it’s just that the class has some issues with very rigid rune management, a lack of damage output at low levels, and small effects requiring lots of effort to set up. Hence why the team is rebalancing the class with the game’s next major patch, which you can test now.

Among the changes already open for testing are reworks of secondary elemental effects along with a more straightforward elemental mastery system, generating based on the last rune generated rather than all of the runes possessed at any given time. There’s also a smoother ratio of spell damage to cost. You can check out the full set of changes in the official patch notes, or you just download the test client and find out that way.

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