Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Innovative vs. Fun

Alganon has been taking a lot of heat lately for some similarities to WoW. Anyone who has actually read the features of the game would see some interesting aspects not found elsewhere. But visually, comparisons are being made. One recent poster criticized the UI looking too much like WoW's and therefore believed the game to be a hoax. One of the dev's responded as follows:

"At the risk of feeding the trolls (you may not be one, but there are plenty who will take advantage of having a dev response), I'll reply.

I can assure you, it's not a hoax. The paycheck I get every month is all the proof I need. I have no idea if we'll be releasing video any time soon, but if that is the only thing that will satisfy you, then there is no reason for me to write any more on that topic.

As far as the similarities to other games, my response is this: The ONLY rule that guides my design is "Is it fun?" Nothing else matters.

For example:
Would moving the mini-map to another portion of the screen make the game more fun? Nope.

Then we're going to put it where players will naturally look to find it. If that means it happens to be the same place as it is in LotRO, and Guild Wars, and Battlefield, and WoW, and many other games, so be it. All I care about is "Is it fun?"

Trust me, if moving the minimap made the game more fun, we'd move it.

What about forcing players to scan the screen for where their minimap is, because it's not where they expected it to be? Would that make the game less fun? Yeah. It would.

If you jump between games a lot, you'll notice that looking in the wrong corner for your mini-map is a pain. The same is true for any piece of information. It's not fun to die because the designers put your health bar where you weren't looking.

I rotate through EQ2, Eve, WoW, Guild Wars, and a couple of F2P MMOs, so I suffer problem this all the time - Why, oh, why do game designers have to move the interface around on me? Why do I have to learn a new control scheme everytime I want to play a new game?

Oh yeah! Because if they don't, people insult them on forums.

When they have to choose between "do I make it fun?" or "do I avoid being mocked?" they choose to sacrifice fun and save their egos.

Not me.

I'll dive on the grenade. I'll make the sacrifice. I will suffer the slings and arrows of forum-troll-after-forum-troll saying that Alganon looks like (insert MMO here), as long I get to make Alganon fun.

So, go ahead, let the mocking begin - but don't let it keep you from enjoying the game. Don't let it keep you from having fun, because there is only one thing I care about: "Is it fun?"

Nothing else matters."

I thought that was an excellent response. It had me wondering if in fact developers of future mmo's avoid good features of previous mmo's for this reason. Aside from the UI, those that have stepped out of the typical mmo mold...DDO, TR, PotBS...well they haven't fared as well. So what is it we really want?

I think many of us stayed with our first mmo for so long because we made no comparisons and enjoyed it for what it was. And maybe too many of us have turned into a bunch of snobby mmo connoisseurs who have forgotten how to just have fun.

1 comment:

Thallian said...

I think its good to re-bring this up since that really is the big picture, short and simple. We sometimes get lost in criticizing the details too much.