Saturday, July 7, 2012

MMO Game Design, the Beginning

As promised, my blog is going to be an eclectic mix of whatever I'm thinking about.

I've been working on a non-fiction book about player versus player game design.  I've got a complete draft which I've edited several times.  My research of a couple of points I had skipped previously is now complete (I created a little spreadsheet simulation for one and looked up some numbers in my chess book for the other).  While editing I've discovered that I don't particularly like my sentence structure, paragraph organization or the overall organization of the book.  I'm also worried that the mix of serious examination of the topic with humor isn't working.  Other than that, it's going great :-).

The problem with organization is that I'm pointing out potential pitfalls without really giving the rules that the examples back up.  Remember the speech recommendation?  "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them."  Right now I'm just telling once (hmm, and now the ghosts of all the how-to-write books I've read are screaming at me "Show, don't tell!").

Anyway, I think the next task is to fit into the introduction a "here are some design rules" list.  Here's the current list, which doesn't exactly match the examples in my draft.

“Design Rules”
  1. Tedium is not a core game mechanic.
  2. Hero classes, just a bad idea.
  3. Easy to learn, hard to master.
  4. Between frustration and boredom lies fun.
  5. Stealth, an even worse idea.
  6. MMO’s  need to be fun on at least two levels, core mechanics, and character progression.
  7. PvP MMO’s need to be fun on three levels, core mechanics, character progression and for a single match.
  8. Just because you can play with thousands of other people doesn’t mean it’s fun to be required to do so constantly.
  9. It’s good to be king, but only for the king.
  10. No one has ever built a game around middle management, there is a reason why.
  11. The elite will always find a way to game the system, optimize play for the bulk of the players in the middle.


  1. Oh my gosh! It's too early in the morning for me to laugh this hard (7:30 am here). "No one has ever built a game around middle management, there is a reason why." YES!!!

    Love this list! Especially #1. Lately I haven't been playing, too busy, but also I haven't found a MORG I love. Minecraft is awesome but I don't have the time to play and there's something about motion in the game that makes me queasy.

    Anyhow, love your post! Good luck with your book, if it's anything like this post you'll do very well. Cheers!

  2. Congratulations! You win the First Commenter Ever (who is not me) Award. Karen, thanks for stopping by. I was beginning to wonder if anyone could even find my blog.

    In my book I'm trying to mix humor with a serious look at why PvP MMO's just don't feel like they are working quite right. I was getting a bit discouraged (it's pretty hard from this side of the keyboard to tell whether I am funny or just, well, sad), but maybe this will work our after all. I still feel like I'm in my metaphorical tunnel at the place that is farthest from the light, but I'm now encouraged to finish this book.