Blacksmiths of Intellectual Property: The Rise of Originality in MMOs - Page 4

Updated Mon, Jun 08, 2009 by Cody Bye

Still, no one can deny the fact that original IP MMOs need some way to make themselves stand out from the pack. Whether that’s through high-profile staff members or some other way, it needs to be done. Gamers don’t have any background with the game world, and without some sort of familiarity with the genre or the style of gameplay, they may just look for something more familiar. It’s up to the developers to make those games stand out from the pack.

When asked how they were planning on making their own IP unique among the many games they’re competing with, 38 Studios’ Steve Danuser had a number of telling comments.

“Making a new IP stand out comes down to a number of factors,” he said. “Are you crafting a world in which players can feel a personal investment? Does it drip with charm and danger and drama? Are you thinking not only of cool places and people to put into the game, but also the history behind them and how they relate to the world as a whole?”

“At 38 Studios, we've worked hard to give the Copernicus IP enough depth and detail not only to sustain a single MMOG, but many genres of games as well as novels, comics, and other media that will allow fans to engage our IP in a multitude of ways,” he continued. “This is one of the reasons we're so excited about our recent acquisition of Big Huge Games--it gives us another avenue to let players experience the richness of the IP we've spent the last few years building.”

April Burba’s response to the question was concise and straight to the point:

“What makes original IP games stand out? Great gameplay and originality. It's not enough just to be fun, and its not enough just to be unique - you have to have both to really stand out.”

Thoughts on gameplay definitely resounding with a number of the other developers surveyed as well.

“If you’re currently developing an original IP, our best advice to you would be to really focus on the iconic features that set your game aside from the rest and use the IP to support those,” Knaack said.  “Before you even get that far, however, make sure you start with fun and work backwards from there.  An original IP is worthless unless the end product is entertaining.”

“While IP may "sell" a product,” David Allen stated, “it doesn't keep players. Good games do.”

Of course, Ten Ton Hammer"s gamers had their own opinions, which seemed to at least parallel what the developers suggested. This, in my opinion, is a good, good thing, and the more often players and developers think alike, the more promise there is in a future title.

“By telling us more about what makes your game unique and really allowing people to develop their characters in a way that promotes attachment and personalization,” Yalyss said. “Everyone's doing copycat WoW game mechanics, tell us what you're doing differently and why it's better. Not only that, I challenge game developers and publishers to be more open and honest about the state of their games instead of feeling the need to obfuscate it to sell more copies. Honesty goes a long way and as a gamer, I feel a lot more forgiving toward a publisher that tells me, "Hey, we screwed up and we're trying to fix it, here's what we're doing:" than one who tells me, "That will all be fixed after the beta, when the game is released in a week.”

“It doesn't need to stand out for me, but if they want it to stand out for everyone else, then they need two things,” Bobfish explained. “A unique selling point, something that the game does that no over game does, it can be a mechanic, the game's setting or something else entirely and the other thing is to build a complete game, where every part of the game fits together perfectly. Have a plan and just stick to it and if you do it right, the combine sum of the parts will work so well together that the simple fun factor will be enough to capture peoples' attention. All us gamers want is a well developed product that is fun to play, everything else comes second to that, you simply can't release a buggy half-finished product, cause no matter how great your ideas are, if you can't deliver on the fun part of things it WILL fail.”

“Gameplay, Gameplay, and Gameplay,” Protect exclaimed I would have to say that’s the #1 reason I quit playing games is that they are either don't work right or are just plain boring.”

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