Thursday, November 21, 2013

About the death of Glitch

About a week ago, I read that Glitch closed down due to lack of players. I must admint I never played that game. But the game had some striking similarities to mine. It too was an MMORPG, it was web-based and it was breaking conventions. I wondered if the same would happen to my game. Could it? Let's see what their reasons were for closing down.

Technology choice

One reason they mentioned was that the decision to use Flash turned out to be bad. I think they are overrating this factor. Sure, they couldn't port it to the iPad, but when people really wanted to play it, they could have played it on their PC. And seriously, who has an iPad but no PC? Sure, Microsoft and Apple have both decided that Flash needs to die, but so far their attempts at killing it didn't work out so well.

But I am not using Flash, I am using HTML5 which all the big tech companies support. I think I am pretty save in this regard.

Too complex infrastructure.

Their closing-faq mentions that "It takes a full-time team of competent engineers & technical operations personnel just to keep the game open. Even if there was a competent team that was willing to work on it full time for free, it would take months to train them. Even then, the cost of hosting the servers would be prohibitively expensive.". When that is true, they really have scaling issues. Less players should mean less work to do. But obviously that wasn't the case. Maybe their infrastructure was designed to scale up, but not down.

I am still taking this as a warning: I have to try to keep my infrastructure as low-maintainance as possible.

They didn't know what they were doing.

There is a really interesting article on Gamasutra which mentions that the people who made it didn't really had much of a clue about game development.

It seems to me like what they made wasn't so much of a game but rather some interactive community something which threw together gimicky game elements without having anything one could consider the "core gameplay mechanic". Sure, there seemed to be an amazing amount of creativity behind the project. But unfortunately they let that creativity run lose without any sense for coherent structure.

I hope I got this covered. Sure, I can't claim that I am a professional game developer yet, but game development is my hobby for about 20 years. I also collected plenty of experience with The Mana World. I believe that I know what I am doing when it comes to game design.

Not accessible enough

Another aspect the Gamasutra article mentions how hard it was to get into the game: "A lot of people were just like 'I don't know what the fuck I'm supposed to do.' Some people took 'I don't know what I'm supposed to do' as an invitation to explore and ended up loving it. Other people closed the browser. That's it."

The big strongpoint of browser-based games is that it is easy to start playing them. No gigabyte-sized download, just visit the website and you are good to go. But that's also their greatest weakness: It's too easy to close the browser window and forget that they exist. By making the game too hard to get into they fell prey to that weakness.

This showed to me that starting my games content development with the tutorial was definitely the right choice.

1 comment:

  1. What makes the MMORPG 'bad' is:
    -moderator's or game masters socializing with people. If all people would be normal, it'd just doesn't matter. But recently on RPG MO 2013, HTML5 MMORPG I've seen comments sort of 'nig**r", while moderators were active. They didn't even noticed guy to stop talking like that. Player who called his character 'nig**asaurus" was allowed to play. Btw moderators can be awful at times, writing 'yus' instead of 'yes', or just spamming the chat with random words, m00, j00, etc.
    In the other MMORPG, one guy named his character 'Cazzone'. During chat, he revealed about meaning of his nickname. It meant 'd*ck'. It's still rude, whether you understand it or not. People knowing the meaning will be offended.
    One more thing about RPG MO 2013: they forced all players to solve captchas, to check if they're botting or not. It's just end of the fun, it's the most bizzarre solution to botting I've met.
    If you'd like to be succesfull with your project, don't let trolls ruin it, and most importantly remember that game has to be funny, because it's main purpose - to entertain, not to make it boring and difficult.