Size Matters

Smaller is Better

Ton Hammer Interviews
Brian “Psychochild” Green - Part Two

by Cody Micajah

Throughout our lives as gamers, we often find ourselves at a
loss. We wonder why our current game isn't providing us with a
substantially satisfying experience. The game seems bland, colorless,
and uninteresting, yet there appears to be nothing better. Many of the
mainstream games have fallen into a state of replication; if a game
does something right, copy it and resell it as something else! The
major marketplace is filled with these sorts of copycat games, and it's
often hard to find anything that is innovative or exceptional. Some
gamers even believe that it's a hopeless search.  

That's where we're wrong. According to Brian "Psychochild"
Green, the answer lies in the smaller games, niche titles that have
slipped under our radar yet could have subjects as interesting as
mermaids, mechs, and mature themes. href="">In the first
part of our interview,
Brian discusses what it means to be a niche title and how that can help
them differentiate from the larger games on the market. He also covered
some of his background with Meridian 59 and how his previous work has
helped him become an experienced voice in the MMOG industry.

The second part of the interview, which we feature below, has
Brian advising gamers on how we might find a niche game of our choice.
We also cover the need to legitimize the video gaming industry and
where Brian believes the future of MMOGs is heading. Sit back, relax,
and allow Brian "Psychochild" Green to entertain you with his words.

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href=""> src=""
alt="Brian Green" title="Brian Green" name="photo_j"
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Brian "Psychochild" Green, Founder of Near Death
Studios, Inc.

Ten Ton Hammer:
As players, what should
we expect from indie games? How do we sift the wheat from the chaff and
really find a quality indie MMO that we want to play?

style="font-weight: bold;">Brian:
I think the important thing to remember is that indie games
aren’t big budget games, and you shouldn’t expect
them to
be.  This doesn’t mean that the games
won’t be fun,
but it often means they won’t look as visually stunning as
big-budget games do.  With the newest generation of games, the
cost of art has skyrocketed.  This is the largest cost for a
and a game with a more modest budget won’t be able to afford
army of artists as the latest $30+ million dollar game can.

the other hand,
this can be a tremendous benefit.  A game that isn’t
spending tens of millions of dollars can do something the large games
cannot: try something risky and innovative.  The person who
a project worth a ton of money is going to want to take the safe path
so that they aren’t blamed for wasting all the
money.  Of
course, this doesn’t always work, but it is what a lot of
developers think.

hard part is
finding a good indie MMO.  Low development budgets usually
that there is no budget for marketing, so it’s hard to hear
these games unless you really go out looking for them. 
glad for indie conferences because it gives me a chance to hear about
all the games that I might otherwise overlook.

think that the
best way to evaluate an indie game is to see if it appeals to
you.  Do you love a particular setting besides high
If you see something that sounds interesting, don’t be afraid
try it for a bit.  If an indie developer is making a game
fighting dinosaurs, to pick a random example, chances are they are
really interested in dinosaurs.  If you like dinosaurs, you
definitely check it out.  Or, maybe economics is fascinating
you and you find a game with a deep economy.  Perhaps you love
hard-core PvP.  Even if the art isn’t as pretty as
in other
games, you will probably find a great game run by someone passionate.

the other hand,
I tend to avoid games that try to clone popular games.  An
WoW-clone is probably not going to be very interesting.  Given
endless possibilities, it’s sad to see someone with so little
creativity that they have to clone a game they have no possibility of
competing with.  Look for and support innovation.

href=""> src=""
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Even though WoW has been hugely successful, it actually
uses less CSR help then previous online titles.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Customer service seems
to be a hot topic around the web as of late, but you’ve
stated in
the past that customer service isn’t necessary the
that some developers believe it is. Why do you hold this position?

style="font-weight: bold;">Brian:
This is always a tricky topic, because some people misrepresent my
position.  In Meridian 59, the majority of our costs are to
keep a
few CSRs employed to help people, so I believe that CSRs are still very
necessary for a game.

service does not make a significant difference in which online game
someone will play.  Most of the largest games have had
customer service, yet they still play the games.  I,
had a very disappointing customer service issue in WoW, yet I continued
to play the game several months after that event because my friends
were playing the game.  If you look at the history of online
games, the most popular games had no end of people complaining about
the terrible customer service in the most popular games of the time.

rarely decide to play a game because of the customer service. 
Meridian 59 probably spends a larger percent of our income on CSRs than
WoW does, but you don’t see people rushing to play M59
because of
this greater focus on customer service.  So, even though CS is
important part of the game, it does not make as much of a difference as
other aspects of the game, from my experiences.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Meridian 59 Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016