The Daily Grind: If you could give advice to a developer that would actually be taken, what would it be?

    
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While developers have an insider’s knowledge of the make-up of their games and access to information and demographics that we do not, it doesn’t mean that gamers’ observations, opinions, and advice is null and void. Having “massively multiplayer” communities creates the opportunity for a whole lot of insights that developers might well have missed — or deliberately ignored.

I think many of us would jump at the opportunity to speak our mind to a dev or dev team. So let’s imagine this scenario today: You get to sit down for a one-on-one with a developer of your choice (say, a creative lead, producer, or lead designer). At the end of your conversation, she asks you for a piece of advice as to what to do for this MMORPG — and promises to act on it as faithfully as she can.

What single piece of advice would you give if you knew it would be heard and at least attempted (if not accomplished)?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Sean Walsh

Create more fear in your game. These virtual worlds need to come alive, and without true fear via real, painful consequences, immersion takes a big hit.

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Peregrine Falcon

Don’t make your game another WoW clone.

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Sleepy

Measure your games. Record what actions are common, and what are rare. Who plays what, where people die, how many are crafting and what they’re making. What zones work, what zones are deserted. Ask why. What people were doing just before they quit out of a session.

Community feedback is valuable, but very susceptible to bias on both sides. Want to know what’s happening in your game? Measure it.

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Ardra Diva

since “quit forcing PvP and make it entirely consensual” is apparently advice a developer isn’t going to take, per the rules. I would ask for more cosmetics. *rolleyes emoji*

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Paragon Lost

Yeah, remember Will Wheaton’s law and apply it. Important as we once again watch the meltdown of another industry leader Blizzard due to violating Wheaton’s law repeatedly and for many, many years.

If you can’t start off with this in place, I’m no longer interested in anything else you might do or want to do. It’s a rather low bar that apparently companies like Blizzard, Riot Games etc just can’t seem to surmount.

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Tim Nicholson

Remake Asheron’s Call with modern graphics and animations. That is all.

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Jon Wax

Have an overarching purpose as to why the game exists. what is compelling vs. rote?

give us something to fight for not just fight over, please

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Rndomuser

What single piece of advice would you give if you knew it would be heard and at least attempted (if not accomplished)?

To provide variety of gameplay for variety of people with different preferences and to give equal importance to all of those gameplay varieties. For example, give plenty of social tools to players who enjoy socialization instead of dungeon grinding – tools like proximity voice chat (there are no drawbacks to that since anyone can disable it at any time) in an addition to text chat so players can enhance their socialization by doing things like concerts with singing at some dedicated area or music performance without relying on crippled in-game music instruments, or tools like providing plenty of text space in character profiles so everyone can put something about them into there so others can view that and know if it is worth conversing with you about specific topics. And give plenty of large optional open world territories in game where people who enjoy open world PvP would be able to enjoy doing that, including destructible buildings and gear system which can be fully looted if players choose to engage in PvP in such optional PvP territories or gear that have a chance to be permanently destroyed upon player death (which would keep crafters happy). And give players tools to create their own PvE dungeons with custom loot and ability to change monster types and amount of them and their attack type and make such dungeon available for everyone to access to keep the people who enjoy grinding dungeons happy between expansion releases. And if they cannot afford creating such game – don’t waste their own time and money until they can.

Of course, I know all of that advice would be useless and in the end I will still get yet another themepark on rails with the heavy focus on loot grinding and no self-sustaining gameplay or some PvP-focused game without anything else to do and I will have to waste my storage space and money on keeping multiple games instead of playing just one as well as waste my time on switching between different Discord communities for all those games instead of just using one Discord community for one game.

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Ken from Chicago

Communicate. Communicate! Communicate.

Stop underestimating the power of and value of good communication–to you and your customers.

What is “good communication”? When studios tell us:

1) What are you doing?

This is usually considered the “good news”, the “hype”, the “marketing”, the part that studios are tripping over themselves to tell. Sadly, many of the same devs who excel in coding and computing often have trouble with communicating and might be more introverted. There’s a reason public speaking in survey after survey surpasses death as Americans’ top fear. That said, if you have trouble public speaking, write it down. Spell it out. Set proper expectations. It does little good to release a game that scores 100% from game critics if customers were expecting it to spin gold from straw, turn water to wine, and make you forever young. Tamp down hype to what you can meet by telling us what you are *actually* doing and intending.

Also, point of clarification in telling us what you’re doing: Tell us what you’re doing that *we* are interested in–or at least spell out why *we* should be interested in what you’re doing aka how do *we* benefit. Yes, we get it, you’re making the world’ first totally underwater mmo with completely acurate underwater physics. A five hour discourse on the life cycle of plankton isn’t the most compelling of videos–unless you’re explaining the various types of plankton might boost our characters performance, how to detect the different types and the type of environments they might thrive in.

It’s like the difference between Pure Research and Applied Science. The former is just a general study of a subject at random, out of sheer curiousity. The latter is figuring out how to make that research useful or at least profitable. Players tend to, though not all, be more interested in how they can (immediately) benefit from a subject that you’re talking about.

2) What are the big obstacles slowing you down?

This is usually considered the “bad news” that studios often want to minimize or not even talk about at all. Fake it til you make it. Hide the bad news until after you’ve released and sold the game, then apologize for the bugs and promise the fix them. How’d that work out for CYBERPUNK 2077 or ELITE DANGEROUS: ODYSSEY? If you’ve got bad news, spit it out so players understand it and brace for it. That builds trust to create a long-term relationship.

If you’re not deceiving players but simply remaining silent, that’s also a problem–especially if it’s slowing down development progress. Players see that and imagine the worse. Set them straight by giving the facts. Spit out the bad news and as soon as possible allowing you to control the message. (No, you don’t have to confess every stumble but big obstacles that are slowing your progress? Definitely spill the beans.) If you don’t reveal the bad news, then others will, some for grins and giggles and others who are rivals, who have a vested interest in your downfall so you don’t threaten their lead or to knock you out of the way of their climb to fame and fortune.

Besides, without telling us the of the big obstacles, then you can’t do this:

3) How you are dealing with, overcoming or at least sidestepping those obstacles?

If you don’t tell us then, sure, some of the veteran, mature players or coders, will have a general idea of how you might address major obstacles but those tend to be minimized in the face of radio silence from official channels. By telling players the steps you’re taking to deal with problems, it reassures them and fortifies for when another major problem arises–and another will always come around–by having seen you deal with problems before.

It’s like the parents who disagree and explain to their kids why and how they work out a solution vs parents who studiously hide any disagreement to maintain an united front to their kids–who then aren’t prepared to deal with conflict resolution. Revealing the bad news–and how you handle it–better helps the kids mature and better sets expectations from your playerbase / customers.

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Kevin Smith

Pick a type of game and stick to it. Don’t try and make a game that is for everyone or has everything. Pick a genre that you have a passion for an make a game for that. Don’t take a PVP game and try to shoehorn in PVE and vice versa. Pick a group of players that you want to attract and give them 100% of your time.