Another 2 cents (well more like 48)

Hey folks! I’m the new guy. My nick is Nicodemus and I will be posting a lot of rants, raves, complaints, ideas, opinions, analysis, theory, practice, and commentary on just about every topic remotely related to the game industry (with an emphasis on MMOs). Apparently I have talked Spot’s ear off so many times that he thinks I should shut up, write it down, and share it with the rest of the world. So, here I am!

“Who is this guy?” you are probably wondering. Well, here is a little bit about me:

I am an old school gamer…I’ve played games on the Ti-99, Atari 400 and 800, the Apple IIe and IIc, the Amiga, the Commodore 64, some weirdo computer called a Schneider (with a tape cassette to load games!), and of course the venerable consoles…Pong (yeah, I owned one) Intellivision, Colecovision, Atari 2600 and 5200, and the usual Nintendo and Sega consoles, as well as all of the recent ones you are familiar with. Oh yeah, can’t forget the Vectrex!

My first business was a comic book store, and my first game industry job was as a senior multimedia engineer (2D and 3D graphics, animation, sound effects, game design, level design, technical design) for a virtual reality arcade game company in the early 90’s. In 1995 I started my own MMO development studio with the intention of creating the first real-time 3D MMORPG. At the time a lot of smart people thought I was an idiot and that real-time 3D graphics could never be done on a PC. I would like to take a moment to give them the bird before I continue. While I accomplished a lot there (learned quite a bit too), the company was ultimately PK’d by one of my business partners (evil mofo) and it died a slow death. Since then, I have been doing a lot under the proverbial radar…mostly consulting (business, design, whatever) for smaller developers and high-tech startup companies, as well as becoming something of an industry expert in the design, administration, and operations of MMORPGs. No, you haven’t heard of me. Yes, I’ve been either a senior VOL or a senior CS/GM (staff) for a bunch of MMOs that you have played and might still be playing.

To put it simply, I have more than a decade of experience in nearly all areas of the game industry. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and the things that can kill a company or a good game, as well as what it takes to do things right.

Maybe I’ve become jaded in my old age (spot sure as heck thinks so)…I used to be full of vision and energy about the MMO industry, and I felt like it was a true evolution of entertainment and storytelling that could draw someone into rich and evocative experiences in such a way that can only be done with a book or a really damn good movie. However, there is such a saturation of mediocre games out there, and what I feel is a detioration of the industry, that I am quite cranky about the state of things and I have a hard time being impressed by something newly released. I was actually bored at the last few E3 conventions I went to.

So, am I just going to whine and rant about the good ole days, or all the idiocy in the industry now? Heck no! Well, partially, yes. I am also going to try to “think outside the polygon” and share my thoughts and ideas on how to improve the industry, create better games, and attempt to spark a revolution that might just catalyze an evolution of the industry.

Geez, I was just supposed to write an introduction and I’m already using the big words and getting all hot and bothered. I don’t even have an official soapbox yet.

So, anyway, I am happy to be here, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you, and getting YOUR thoughts and opinions. Maybe I’m completely off-base with a skewed perspective on something, or maybe I’m dead on with a comment or an idea. I might be pretty confident about myself and my views, but I am not so arrogant that I can’t listen to other opinions and adjust my views. Besides, half the fun is the discussion and the sharing of ideas. Otherwise, the world would be a pretty dull place wouldn’t it?

Signing off for now…


17 thoughts on “Another 2 cents (well more like 48)”

  1. Can you explain why so many games suck? I’m not quite clear on why large teams of probably smart folks can spend years and millions of dollars then release utterly crappy games. Thanks!

  2. X: Thats a multi-part post that I will be getting to soon.

    R: Same thing, but longer. The answer is rather detailed and complex, and can’t really be stuffed into an apothegm (I’ve been waiting days to drop that word on someone!), although I suppose I could if I had enough bawls and coffee.

    This is going to be a fun ride guys, especially when I get to the controversial opinions. Hehehe.

  3. Heck, I can answer that one. Marketing. The large producers want something that’s SURE to sell, so they take a good game and ruin it by telling developers they have to be the “next EQ” or the “next WoW” or else they won’t provide the $$$ which game developers need. There are a lot of creative people out there who could make very original games, but there aren’t many creative game makers who are already RICH and willing to do what they really imagine.

    Anyhow, HELLO Nico! I’m an old gamer too: Late 70s arcade to Atari 400 (or was it 800?), TANK PONG! WHEE!, to Commodore 64 (Ultima III and up, Bard’s Tale, etc.), to PC (ran a BBS for a while, then got AOL), to online RPGs (GemStone III on AOL), to UO, and from there on to now about 60% of the major MMO’s. I’ve never MADE a game, but I’ve probably played enough for 20 lifetimes. Like you, I’m pretty jaded. Considering blowing my $15/mo. on the very first game I used to play, GemStone III, which is all text. The company that made that game, and many others, is working on it’s first 3D MMO. It’s been in “development” since forever, but it LOOKS like it might actually be close.

    It’s called “Hero’s Journey” and it’s by SimuTronics.

    They’re a pretty small game company so I’m sure it’s hard for them to keep up with all the big’uns, but everything I’ve seen them make is a quality product. Hoping for the best for this company (no I don’t work for them, though I’ve known a lot of GS3 GM’s in the past) because they’re small and they’re creative and do their own thing. Maybe, for once, we’ll get an original game to play that isn’t just another stamped out game we’ve already played but with new skins and spell effects. *prays*

  4. Ian…its more than just marketing. I’ll probably make this my next “big post” if enough people bug about it, otherwise I’m just going to mull it over a while and craft a good response.

    I used to pay $2.95 an hour to play Gemstone III. I frequently pay $40+ a month to maintain a premium account. Yes guys, more than $40 a month for a text based game.

    If you think I am nuts, then I challenge you to start an account (choose Weinheimers as your starting city) and level a character to leven 25. Pay attention to the gameplay mechanics along the way, as well as the fact that people are actually role playing (OMG OMG can it be true?).

    Anyway, Simutronics is one of the very very very few companies on the planet that really know what they are doing and I expect their first 3D title to be pretty good (although if it isn’t I’ll blame that on their history in text and the finer forms of immersion).

    Ian, the game should be in beta this summer if my sources over at Simu are correct. I’m not sure, I haven’t talked to them in a coupla weeks.

  5. Ok, confession. I absolutely hate misspelling stuff. Like really. I also can’t stand people who abbreviate the hell out of everything because they are lazy.

    “level a character to leven 25.” Should be “level a character to level 25.”

    Shwew, I fell much beetter noww. lol! wtf? o no, wat s happen to me? a/s/l? ARRG.

  6. Here I was thinking about editing that for you. Now you have to stare at it forever. Ha!

    Never tried Gemstone but my brother used to play it a lot. Now I guess I’m going to have to go try it, thanks a lot.

    Can’t wait to read more from you.

  7. You are jaded indeed.

    Come on man, bitching about the tutorial in the beta of Battle for Middleearth II, that’s just sad. No only is it unfair to a team which obviously is making clear that it is a beta, but also to the fact that the tutorial will most likely be one of the last polish jobs on the project.

    If you want to bitch, do it about something worthwhile like RF Online. :)

    And let me warn everyone to not open the can of worms which is John Romero. Nicodemus could rant for days on that box of crackers.

  8. OMG OMG Don’t get me started! The tutorial for the Battle for Middle Earth II is one of the worst I have ever wasted precious moments of my life on. RF Online has some issues (Im still poking around beta) but at least the tutorial didn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out with a spork.

    John Romero. Hoo boy. I’ll need some cheese and wine before I talk about those crackers.

  9. Im not saying the RF tutorial was good or bad, Im saying that it didn’t make me want to stuff rabid marmosets into my pants and stick my head in an angry beehive to distract myself from the torment of the BMEarth tutorial.

  10. wait wait…what is your EvE pilots name again?

    :D Just kidding. I’m looking forward to reading more.
    So is your handle by any chance Nyhm related or the more generic and anciet reference? ….I’m hoping for the cool rats

  11. Trin: A bunch…some of the usual online stuff, as well as old school PC games.

    Alaph: Both…the smart old rat from NIMH and the wise old man in the Bible.

    You can call me Nico for short.

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