…this isn’t rocket science guys. Get your story straight.

I was at the NASA MMORPG Workshop held on Monday of this week at the BWI Marriot, so I’m speaking from first hand experience. The first thing I’ll tell you, is that everything you have been reading (like Slashdot, Gamasutra, Second Life Herald and even Wired are all wrong. Absolutely. Like, what happened to doing accurate reporting? Or even checking sources?

[Damn, even Wired goofed this?]

I’ll explain how and why these sources (and almost nearly everyone else there) has it wrong. First, most of the people that actually attended the workshop ignored the first rule of the world of technology. RTFM. Or, in this case, the website, documentation, materials, and everything else. Heck, I’m starting to think that the majority of the people that went didn’t even bother to pay attention during the panels or even read the powerpoint slides.

Continue reading EXCLUSIVE! Reporting about NASA MMO ALL WRONG…

My two cents for two years…

Wow, I missed my two year anniversary here at killtenrats on February 27th. Has it been that long already?

2007 was a bit of an iffy year for me, pretty chaotic with a few surprises (good and bad). 2008 looks “interesting” thus far. Hard to believe we are getting close to the end of the first quarter already…is that “new car smell” of the new year already beginning to wear off?

I expect I’ll be continuing to point my finger at the game industry and yell “noob!” frequently this year. There is just so much going on (or not going on, depending on your perspective). Yes, sometimes I state the obvious, but hey, that’s what I do. I don’t always make people happy with my commentary (even my gerbils have gotten death threats), but my response to that is “get your heads out of your asses and make better games so I don’t have anything to rant about”.

Continue reading My two cents for two years…

What is Kotick thinking? If at all…

After I read about Kotick’s comments here and then commented on the insanity here
I was still pretty stunned for a few days, as were a lot of other people I know in the game industry.

At another conference, this time the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference Kotick has made more eyebrow raising comments. My skype went nuts over the last day or so as everyone has been sending me the links hah. Gamesindustry.biz reports a few of his comments, but I wonder if Kotick isn’t doing a technology and investing roadshow, hitting all of the influencers…with the same speech. So far, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Think about that for a minute.

Anyway, he has already declared that you need to spend $500M-$1B to effectively compete with World of Warcraft (total bullsh**) or at least be commercially successful. Now, he is saying that conversations with Blizzard has Activision thinking about a Call of Duty MMO (bad idea! bad!) which will probably cost…how much? My psychic mind powers give me a strong sense that the budget will be something insane, and will directly impact Activision shareholders (or Actiblizzion, whatever they call the merged venture). Even more mind boggling, is that he implies that Blizzard’s “take away” from the brainstorming conversations was (and this is a direct quote):

“about how Starcraft – as a short session experience – can actually be the model for in-game advertising and sponsorship and tournament play and ladder play for the future.”

Uhm, wow. I’m beginning to see where all this is going. I wonder how long before Blizzard/Vivendi starts feeling some serious buyer’s remorse. I don’t have an opinion of the staff at Activision, but my impression of Kotick is rapidly going down the toilet and based on his comments (granted, I didn’t hear them first hand and I don’t have the full transcript of his talk), I think we are beginning to see early red flags for the future of the company.

Sure, Blizzard is the king of the hill now, and World of Warcraft is great, but can they really follow through with people like Kotick being thrown into the mix? How many of the original designers and developers that worked on WoW are even around any more (remember the exodus with all the new MMO studios being founded by ex-blizzard WoW employees that all had critical contributions to the game?).

Look at NCSoft…they used to be the king of the hill too, but it only takes a few missteps for the whole house of cards to tumble.

My advice to Blizzard: Caveat emptor.

Nicodemus slams Activision CEO

I woke up this morning and was stunned to see an article on gamesindustry.biz where the CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, is quoted as saying some pretty insane things at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium earlier this week.

“We don’t think that even if we made the USD 500 million or billion-dollar investment to get a product out [to compete with WOW] that we would even be successful doing it,”

This is ludicrous on a massive scale and demonstrates that Kotick (and by association, Activision) literally has no clue when it comes to MMORPGs. Spending 500M to a billion dollars on a single MMORPG would have the same level of historic stupidity and waste as the Atari E.T. game (if you don’t know about that, look it up). Not only that, but for a company like Activision to spend that much, it would pretty much guarantee its sheer and absolute failure on an epic scale. It is ABSOLUTELY possible to create a MMORPG with a tenth of that amount and be competitive with WoW (and profitable).

“When we first started looking at it, it appeared to us like a game in an insurmountable product category… EA, Microsoft, Sony and scores of venture capital investments had been put to work unsuccessfully in trying to develop massively multiplayer games as a product opportunity,”

Why is that, do you think? The problem is the management of those companies, old misconceptions of what an MMORPG is or how to make one, and a lot of really, really bad design. Why is it that the companies that are most successful in the MMORPG space are the small or independent developers working with original IP? Why is it that the big publishers screw things up when they acquire these developers, or they throw massive amounts at a game that is just craptastic and then either cancel it or blame someone else on the failure?

“When you… Look at all the money that’s already gone to these businesses that have failed, there didn’t seem a likelihood that even a well-managed company like Activision would have the prospect for profit any time soon in this category.”

Oh, please. This was a pretty narcissistic and arrogant comment. “even a well-managed company like Activision”, bah! Considering a half billion for an MMORPG is not well-managed at all. You might as well be smoking the money in the bathroom. My advice to Kotick…if you want to make money on an MMORPG, give your money to someone that knows what they are doing. It isn’t hard making a MMORPG profitable if the people making it are halfway intelligent and not monkey drones working in your generic game development factory.

Ok, so why am I so pissed about this? The audience that Kotick was talking to was the attendees of a technology investment symposium. If any of those people were looking at investing in game developers or funding new MMO ventures or even financing publisher expansion, Kotick just made it look like anything related to MMORPGs was a fat waste of time and not worth the risk. He single-handedly spit in everyone’s eye and effectively torpedoed someone’s chances at getting funding. This will have a subtle backlash effect on gamers too. If it is harder to find funding for new titles, you will see fewer games, less innovation (in a market where there is barely any to start with), and more games based on dumb Hollywood licenses (the argument being that a license lowers risk). Even worse, his comments have hit the press now and will probably hit mainstream market analysis and research reports.

Great job Kotick. Thanks a lot. I’ll be sure and dedicate my next MMORPG design project to you. I hope you don’t get punched in the face by an independent studio exec at the next game conference.
Speaking of which…this is an open request to everyone in the industry out there…if you have a funding pitch that gets nerfed because of Kotick’s asinine comments, please let me know.

Kotick, I think you owe us an apology and a retraction or at least a damn good (and detailed) explanation at why you think it would take $500-$1B to compete with WoW, and why you think MMORPGs are an “insurmountable product category”. Who has been feeding you your information?

Nicodemus finds LOVE…

Most of you know that I have a pretty dim view of the MMORPG sector and I like to whine and moan about how everything is being done wrong or poorly, and there is such a huge lack of innovation and original content, that I have a hard time sleeping at night. There is pretty much nothing out there in development that has me more than slightly interested. Certainly nothing that has me biting my nails in anticipation and bouncing around in my chair with excitement.

Except for THIS. You have GOT to check it out. Right now. Stop what you are doing and click the link. Indulge yourself for a few moments on those screenshots. Luscious. Dreamlike. Evocative. Moody. Unique. Surreal.

What is it? It is a mini-MMORPG of sorts in development (apparently by ONE guy) called LOVE. There isn’t much information available about it, but the screenshots are jaw-dropping. The graphics are all procedurally generated and they look like a live water color painting (or reminiscent of digital concept art from artists like my friend Koshime).

I honestly didn’t think this would happen anytime soon, but damn. I’m pretty impressed. I’m officially excited about getting my grubby hands on this game and checking it out.

PS. For all you industry folks out there that think you need a content license to make a successful MMO, you are about as smart as a turnip farmer trying to whack a rat with a bent rusty spoon. Don’t make me list all of the “licensed” MMOs that have gone down in flames.

Thanks to Andrea for the heads up on this title.


As you probably know, NASA recently put out an RFI (Request for Information) regarding the development of a MMOEG (educational game). The deadline for responses was today, at 11:59P Eastern, but it looks like they killed the page early this afternoon (not found) and now the link is password protected. If you didn’t get your submission in before they did this (or at least wrote the right information down) you are probably out of luck.

Anyway, I’ve posted my own thoughts on what NASA might or might not end up with, but I am curious to see what the KTR community thinks. After looking around at random other blogs, reviews, and whatever, I get the feeling that the gamer community, as a whole, may have missed the point about what NASA is looking for and trying to build. Forgive me for not saving the link, but I actually saw some comments on a Second Life blog implying that NASA and Linden Labs (makers of SL) were planning on creating a research company in SL to research the viability of a MMO (??). Even more amusing (or perplexing, depending on your point of view) one commenter expressed some befuddlement at the idea that NASA would consider building a MMO independently and not just build a space station or something within Second Life. (“…”).

What do you guys think?

Fist of the North Star, ftw?

Ok, apparently a Fist of the North Star “MMORPG” is about to go into beta. I say “MMORPG” in quotes because it really isn’t anymore a MMO than say, Quake or Unreal Tournament. Sure, gazillions of people can play, but not at the same time in the same universe. I’m beginning to wonder if the game industry even knows what a MMORPG is supposed to be anymore. I have already decided that the mass media has no clue (hell, those guys have even lost sight of what “news” is supposed to be).

For you younger folks, Fist of the North Star is old school manga/anime. You can see some graphics over here and a little more information here.

What is next? Ikea MMO? Ferris Bueller the MMORPG? or maybe “Speed Racer Online” and “One Tree Hill, the super fabulous MMORPG” (totally “next-generation” of course).

Yeah, I died a little inside when I saw this stuff. It seems like the industry is really trying to grasp at straws for “new” content by dregging up old properties. Even the few companies trying to do something original simply end up with chocobo racing omgmmorpgwtf!

I want something really original for a change.

[[UPDATED]] Pot calls Kettle Black…gamers give author grief…

You may have heard about this already…some psychologist (Cooper Lawrence, author of The Cult of Perfection) was on Fox News the other day talking about Mass Effect and using it as an example of how games objectify women, and how terrible that particular game is with full frontal nudity and explicit sex (marketed to young boys no doubt). Geoff Keighley was there to present the side of the game industry. You can see a clip of the segment (and the commentary by the “panel” afterwards over on Kotaku.

Ok, this is where things get fun. This woman has never played Mass Effect, she mentions some “research report” (if anyone can find a link to this let me know, I want to read it myself), her facts were all dismally wrong, and she actually called Geoff “darling”. Unbelievable.

Continue reading [[UPDATED]] Pot calls Kettle Black…gamers give author grief…

Looking forward to 2008

I had written a rather lengthy rant about the state of the industry and all of the things that just drive me to insanity, particularly design problems, mishandled operations, stupid funding deals, etc. etc. etc. After I wrote it and had some time to sleep on it, I decided that 2008 is a new year, and thus full of promise and potential. I’d rather set the tone with some optimism and deal with the scurvy side of the industry later in the year…

Continue reading Looking forward to 2008

Teclisen drops a nuke about Sigil’s behind the scenes…

Hoo boy. You have to see it to believe it.

Wow, I can feel the radiation from here, and I’m pretty deep in the sewers hunting more damned rats. Ok, I have to tell you up front that I’m not sure if this guy really is an ex-vanguard designer or what, so take the post for what it’s worth and with a grain of salt or two.

Among other things, he rips into McQuaid, Smedly, and Gilbertson.


I thought *I* was bitter about some things in this industry!