Cryptic’s CEO discusses taking an IP and making it work for an MMO

    
24
I've got to get gone, I've got to get going.

At this point, Cryptic Studios has a stable of games based off of existing IPs, most notably Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and the upcoming game based on Magic: the Gathering. A new interview on GamesIndustry.biz with CEO Stephen D’Angelo discusses working with the IP and making a successful game out of it, noting that first and foremost it’s a matter of finding the core element of the IP that makes it interesting and designing the game around that.

D’Angelo explains that the studio’s core goal is to expand beyond the existing audience for the IP by exploring new directions, rather than trying to solely cover the same material as the original; he notes that the expansion into Magic: the Gathering made sense due to a strong working relationship with Wizards of the Coast and the desire to not simply make an online version of the same card game. The studio wants to explore the world from another angle, just like Neverwinter doesn’t simply plug the stats of the tabletop game into digital form. If you’re interested in the mechanisms of making an IP-based MMO work, the full interview is worth a read.

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

I read the interview linked in this article. Notice how Stephen D’Angelo didn’t even talk about Champions Online? I’d be worried about that if I still played that game.

Personally I think Cryptic did a great job with Neverwinter. Star Trek Online… not so much.

The players, especially fans, wanted exploration and player crews. Both of which are done by other games. Neither are in STO nor does it seem they will ever appear in STO.

“So pleasing the fans is hard.”

Multiple Cryptic devs have used this exact same excuse in interviews, and on the forums, for years. I’m just tired of hearing/reading this. Yep, making video games is hard. If it’s too hard for you then perhaps you should go find an easier job.

Reader
Salmoneo

What MMO have multicrew? I know there are this multiplayer games that uses aformentioned feature but I don’t recall MMO. That said, MMO gaming and various states of Multiplayer gaming are categorized by blurring lines, thery are mixxing up: I think many multiplayer modes or games, even older products, are pratically almost a full-blown mmo and sometimes better than many mmos. Ah! Who know how many indie mmo and multiplayer are so much advanced than mainstream products. Actually, I’d like if massively could write a piece regarding this changing landscape of multiplayer gaming as a whole, retrospective about old multiplayer gaming, predictions of future changes and new concepts and whatnot.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

“CRYPTIC’S CEO DISCUSSES TAKING AN IP AND MAKING IT WORK FOR AN MMO”
============
Step One: Acquire IP.
Step Two: Promise the Moon before launch
Step Three: Convert to F2P after failure
Step Four: Place restrictive caps on things like bank space/gear improvement/timers
Step Five: Fill generously with Lockboxes
Step Six: Watch money pour in from Cash Shop

Reader
Hope

You forgot “give away the entire story for free” and “run multiple annual events that give out cash shop equivalent endgame items.”

Reader
Darkthunder

So let’s see here…

Champions Online: “Maintenance mode” in every way except the official status. Been that way for years.
Star Trek Online: Still being updated, but in woeful need of streamlining and optimization. Game is after all running on 10 year old hardware (software?!?)
Neverwinter: Similar issues to Star Trek Online

And now they’re making a 4th MMO? How about focus on the ones you already have? It’s as if Cryptic is being run by some Asian company… (* cough * PWE)

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Legend Of Vinny T

They never needed PWE for that. Cryptic has always preferred launching new games to maintaining old ones.

– They started work on what became CO less than a year after City of Villains launched. That was under NCSoft, and what led NCSoft to break up the studio to keep CoH development on track. (Sound familiar?)
– They picked up the rights to STO from Perpetual almost a year before CO even launched. That was under Atari.
– They announced NW six months after STO launched. That was about a year before Atari sold Cryptic to PWE.

This is Cryptic’s first announced new title under PWE. (There’s also the Jurassic World game they were allegedly working on, but never launched.)

Reader
Darkthunder

I am well familiar with Cryptic history (and STO history in particular). I enjoyed the City of Heroes games, which is why I initially gave them the benefit of the doubt when they launched Champions Online.

I still occasionally log into STO, but had it not been for the “Trek” in it’s title, I would’ve abandoned it long ago. As a huge Trek fan, it saddens me how far Cryptic have taken the IP from it’s source material. Star Trek is not all “combat, pew pew, destroy!!!”. There is no exploration in the game anymore, diplomacy is virtually non-existent, everything is ultimately resolved at the barrel of a phaser array.

Reader
Salmoneo

I remember a period of them being Indipendet. After NCSoft or Atari.

Reader
Salmoneo

I still think that CO has potential even now.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tazuras

There is so much potential for an MTG MMO, I hope hey don’t mess it up and are more true to what fans of the IP love then they were with STO.

semugh
Reader
semugh

so Magic won’t be a card game. Ok Cryptic, plz dev in the open. Ask players for opinions please.

Reader
Panzerbjorne

Utter bull plop. The core of Trek is not violent combat but hey, at least they have some exploration. Oh, right​. The only thing this guy is an authority on is free to play monetization and taking things people love and destroying them in video game form.

Reader
Darkthunder

Absolutely agreed. Cryptic pulled the last vestige of “exploration” over a year ago, and hasn’t replaced it since. I guess the opening monologue of TOS and TNG means nothing to STO producers: “To seek out new life, and new civilizations. To boldly go, where no man/one has gone before.”

STO: Boldly going… nowhere.

Reader
John Mynard

This obsession some fans of Trek have with “exploration” is bordering on ‘baby with the bathwater” territory.

I challenge you to find me a SINGLE example of Star Trek where they spent the majority of the episode, comic or movie doing “SCIENCE!”.

Here’s a hint, you won’t. Star Trek isn’t now, nor has been in the past, about “exploration”. It started as a medium for Roddenberry and others to speak truth to power and take looks at issues affecting the majority of society in “safe” ways. STO has done that on multiple occasions. But the reality is in any form, be it Television, Movies, or Video Games, you have to present a product people want and keep them comfortable with it so that when you want to have “a very special episode” that talks about something important you don’t scare them off.

I remember when “Rejoined first aired way back in mid-90s. I skipped it because the topic was blatantly about homosexuality. It made me uncomfortable. These days it’s not a big deal. I changed, I grew as a person. No doubt “Rejoined” played some minor role in that evolution.

My point is that Star Trek is, and always should be, a western in space. With clear good and bad guys, incompetent bureaucrats making things entirely more difficult than they should be and a clear moral message(whatever it happens to be that episode). BUT, such a message should never override the plot, much less to the point where the action stops and the show is yelling at the audience.

But, no, Star Trek is as much about “exploration” as my bank statement is.

JonBuck
Reader
JonBuck

A “Wagon Train to the Stars” as Roddenberry put it.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Star Trek Online.
Let’s see. Hey, you know, the core fundamental of the TV show is the bridge scene. Iconic characters in key roles, all working together. Should we have multiplayer? Crewing together on a starship just like the TV show? Nah. Let’s let NPCs do the work. Sure, you have crew members. Just not your friends.
Should we let people explore the interiors of their starship? Heavens no. That’s hard.
What will be a real “Trek” experience about this game? Well, we will have away missions. And you can have pointy ears.
*tepid applause*

JonBuck
Reader
JonBuck

If I recall correctly, the company working on the ST MMO before Cryptic tried to do that and couldn’t make it work. When they folded the IP was tossed to Cryptic, who created the game in an 18 month deadline on the engine they used for Champions. To have a Bridge Crew like you want, the game would have to be rebuilt from the ground up.

There’s now a Star Trek Bridge Crew game in VR. It’s not an MMO, though.

Reader
Darkthunder

And Star Trek Bridge Crew looks oh so much more like the “Trek experience” that STO should’ve been.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Bad crew then, with too little funding. SWG let you travel together, explore the inside of your ship, go to far off worlds, etc. etc. Disney’s Pirates Online (POTC) let you all jump on a boat and travel together. You could scamper around the deck, and man the cannons during a ship battle. You could land on islands and adventure there, TOGETHER… I will never forget the reaction of the STO devs when people kept asking if they could explore their ship interiors. How bloody hard can it be? It’s an instance, just like housing. Really… “They made a bad game, Petey” (Fantastic Mr. Fox reference)

JonBuck
Reader
JonBuck

At this point I’ve accepted the game for what it is, and I enjoy it a lot since I returned. I didn’t play for over five years. The game is light-years better now than it was at launch. But because of the game engine they built, it’ll never have bridge crews.

Reader
Jeremy Barnes

What would cryptic’s CEO know about that topic?

Reader
Hope

Licensed games are famously usually crap. Cryptic is, honestly, the studio I’ve seen most reliably take licenses and make games that are playable.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

step 1: endgame grinds that are more punishing than vinilla wow
step 2: lockboxes.
step 3: ????????????
step 4: profit

Reader
Hope

I… don’t understand the complaints about STO’s endgame grind. It’s the only game I’ve ever FINISHED the endgame grind on, because it gives measurabe progress toward every goal in it each time you complete a mission that’s supposed to progress that goal.

Is other people’s luck with RNGs and such really that much better than mine?