Saturday, October 6, 2007

Lessons of Star Wars Galaxies +

Originally Posted by DougQB:
Perhaps the real lesson here is to know your target group before you create the game, and then listen to that target group and continue working to satisfy that target group. I like to think it helps if that is decided and known by everyone well in advance. Once the game is released, its a bit late to go back and change it.
I would say that is the lesson of SWG.

Not that it's a new lesson. The success of Master of Orion II, and the abject failure of Master of Orion III, should tell any game designer something useful about not radically changing the things that got you your customers in the first place.

Nor is this the only lesson that MMORPG developers should heed. WoW makes it abundantly clear, for example, that "polish, polish, polish" is a necessary (though not sufficient, as Lord of the Rings Online demonstrates) condition for success in the MMORPG market. (A corollary to this might be "do everything in your power to prevent your game from being launched before it's done.")

Back to SWG: Some people have suggested that another lesson is: "Don't let a content owner dictate design." The very close relationship between LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment may have led to a kind of schizophrenic pattern of post-launch changes.

I don't know about that one. But yes -- "pick your target audience carefully before you design your game, and don't even think about trying to change audiences after your game ships" is probably the most important takeaway from the NGE debacle.

Naturally any MMORPG developers reading this are rolling their eyes and snorting, "Like, duh. We already know all that; we've got our target audience totally figured out."

Really? How do you know?