Embers Adrift and Monsters & Memories devs come together to talk indie MMORPG devlopment


This week saw the developers of two classically styled MMORPGs come together to talk shop, as Monsters & Memories creative director and producer Shawn “ALovingRobot” Lord invited members of the Embers Adrift team to have an extremely dense and candid talk about making MMORPGs in a livestreamed roundtable.

The Embers devs once more talked about monetization, as they reiterated their desire to make a game that doesn’t lead people into the cash shop and one that was about “real adventure” and not one that gave out “dopamine shots” to make it addictive. Lord himself championed the value of word-of-mouth, stating that people who are “not assholes” bringing in others to the community who are similar is just as important as people spending money to fund a game’s creation.

Another topic that came up was about managing a live game vs. a developing alpha or beta, with the devs admitting that keeping things humming is more challenging than making a mistake in beta that could be simply wiped and reset (at one point Lord likened live MMORPG development to raising a child in a very broad strokes sense). This led to discussion of indie releases versus major studio launches (recall that Lord has worked on some major MMOs) where he pointed out that indie MMOs face the same complexity, difficulty, and effort, while further calling out multiple instances where major companies were surprised at how hard these kinds of launches can be.

Tangentially the topic of marketing came up, with some generally strong feelings about the “politics” of game studios and how marketing departments rationalize their budgets, while one of the Embers devs say that some of the best marketing comes with a major content update, and Shawn talking up the principle of a game selling itself.

The topic of players who plow to level cap as fast as possible was brought up, bringing forth responses from the devs that suggested that players of this sort are just something the genre will have to deal with; they’re not going to judge people who play that way, but when those kinds of players come in complaining, then that’s when the mocking can begin. At the same time, the Embers devs agree that all that can be done is to keep their heads down and keep adding content, especially when updates are made that make players unhappy.

Finally of note was the matter of community moderation, as Lord admitted that even after years in the industry, he has a hard time not reacting to some of the dumber statements players have made. At this point Embers CM Elloa piped up to talk about how to cut through the noise and find constructive feedback. The full stream itself is overall very open, a bit swear-filled, but ultimately a worthwhile watch for genre fans.

Incidentally, Elloa held yet another community show for Embers as she brought on another influencer co-host to read patch notes and discuss the game. That video awaits below as well.

sources: Twitch, YouTube
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