Congratulations to the Canadian Women's Hockey team for winning gold at the World Championships. NHL playoffs start tonight which means my years of despair cheering for the Sabres come back to make me grumpy and cause my family to avoid my office like a biohazard zone. Go Sabres! My family beseeches you to at least get through the first round.

I have often wondered why console makers didn't allow users to purchase a viable keyboard peripheral. It is the obvious point of migration for a PC game player to a console. I can't play first-person-shooters nearly as well with a console controller as I can with a mouse and keyboard. Trying to aim, run, strafe and swap weapons using two thumbsticks and some poorly laid-out buttons is much like running across a hockey rink wearing roller skates. You can do it, but why would you? I certainly can't chat in a text box as well in a MMO as I can with a keyboard. What's the hold-up? Do developers really think I want to hear the voice of the beer-bellied guy from Arkansas come out of the well-endowned female character's mouth? This is nothing more than promotion for the virtual drag-queen society. You gusy know who you are. Stop it. Apparently the XBox 360 is working through the voice-changing, the hormone shifts and acne of adolescence to become a man...a real man with...a keyboard. So says, CNet;

"In addition, Microsoft will launch a new text input device this summer that will attach to the Xbox 360's controller and will let users type messages using a QWERTY keyboard."

A "text input device". Somebody sat around in Bellevue, Washington all day to come up with that.

What they call it really doesn't matter. The fact that consoles are going to give MMOG players a familiar way to play is what is important. It wasn't too long ago that console games couldn't even be updated with new content. As the barriers to putting a MMOG on a console in its true form come down I expect that more developers will look to the easier to develop for console market as a viable alternative to PCs.

What say you?

Our readers previously asked developers what they could do to make the MMOG experience an easier transition for new gamers. Here are a few of the answers.

“We need to make “sampling” play easier and more attractive. Mammoth install times, patch times, and long registration processes make starting a new MMO a daunting process. The next big leap in accessibility will have nothing to do with gameplay – it’ll be a better delivery method for game trials.” -Nik Davidson, Turbine

How many of you have passed on a game trial simply because you had to download 3+, 5+ or in one case 20+ Gigs of data just to give the game a whirl?

Would you try out Lord of the Rings if you could get the "setup kit" in 15 minutes? I bet you would. There is a reason that every game store, drug store and ice cream truck has World of Warcraft trial CDs at the point of purchase. Thumbs up to Nik Davidson of Turbine!Bill W. Fisher of Sigil Games (Vanguard:Saga of Heroes is their title for those of you who have been held hostage in Iran the last few weeks) looked past distribution to gameplay itself.

"A more intuitive and logical interface would help lower the barrier. I'm not just talking about the visual interface, but the input schema and feedback system from the game as a whole. These games do not feel intuitive to a new user - you learn a whole new language and way of "being" when you step into an MMO for the first time. If someone could hop into a game for the first time and immediately start having fun I think the genre would be opened up to many new users." - Bill W. Fisher Senior Game Designer, Sigil Games

Tabula Rasa is going with a minimal interface, much like Bill describes. The fine line I suppose is deciding what needs to be shown permanently in the heads-up display (HUD) and what can be "inferred". I agree with Bill that MMOGs are too complex for many new users from the get-go. World of Warcraft attempted to solve this problem by removing the need to think about "what to do next". Quests and direction within the game were intuitively directed via the now copied golden exclamations and golden question marks. WoW took the process of "What do I do?" and simplified it. If Bill or another designer can take the problem of "How do I do what I want to do?" and make it intuitive there is no doubt that the barrier to entry is removed for many players. Thumbs up to Bill W. Fisher!

April Burba of NCSoft took an even different track.

"No monthly fee. I think that’s pretty obvious from the amount of success Guild Wars has had all over the world." – April “CuppaJo” Burba – NC Soft

Not forcing a fee upon users has been a means used by many Asian game companies to introduce titles to prospective players. The eventual result was charging players for extras via a micro-payment system. Guild Wars hasn't done this and I don't expect that they will, but nevertheless it may be an option for other titles. Thanks April!

Thank you to the developers who have responded so far. If you haven't seen your answer posted yet never fear. I am keeping them all right here in my laptop bag to use against you at the next interview. You're the best!

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Thanks as always for visiting

- John "Boomjack" Hoskin

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Hoskin 0
Dissecting and distilling the game industry since 1994. Lover of family time, youth hockey, eSports, and the game industry in general.