Nicodemus delurks

Happy New Year folks!

I’m working on a huge post that I will try to get up this weekend or mid-week next week. Mostly, I’m going to give my two cents on the state of the industry (mostly MMO) and explain why I’m so damned bitter and cranky about it. The problems are legion, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In retrospect, 2007 was a pretty crappy year on a number of levels, but I think we are nearing the end of the downcycle. Expect some more horrific bombs, failures, and wtf? deals and press releases. However, keep in mind that this is still a relatively young industry with incredible amounts of hope, promise, and potential. I’m not seeing anything that really gets me excited /now/ but the winds are changing. I’ll talk about that more in my post.

In the meantime, hop on over here and leave some comments.

Activision and Blizzard Merger

Yep. That’s right. Activision and Blizzard merging

Wow. I’m not quite sure what I think about this right now, although I’ll probably comment on it on my personal blog from the business perspective.

The gamer half of me is a bit perplexed though. Blizzard probably realizes they can’t rely on their Warcraft/Starcraft franchise forever and simply can’t come up with any good new ideas. Activision might be a good source of established IP and franchises, but it has quite a checkered history. I almost feel like Activision just won the lottery here and Blizzard could have had better merger partners.

The one thing I am thankful for though, is that they did not merge with EA. Because as you all know, EA has the touch of death. The only people that win in a EA acquisition are a few execs. Everyone else gets a wedgie and kick in the mouth.

More commentary later…

Nicodemus in San Fran…

I’m going to be in San Francisco the evening of November 26th through November 28th for the Dow Jones Consumer Technology Innovations conference at the Sofitel Hotel. This is sort of last minute, so I am scrambling around to make arrangements…I need a pickup from the airport (SFO) around 11p on the 26th and a couch to crash on. Anyone interested? Otherwise, I’ll head over to because I’m cool. Email me.

Yes, we are presenting at the conference. Something wicked about AI-driven evolving and adapting ecologies, as well as dynamically scaling player driven economies. Yeah, no kidding.

Nancy Drew more popular than WoW; EA doesn’t know what a PC is

I have a theory about game industry execs…most of them are pretty dumb. Sure, I’ve met a lot of really smart guys that “get it” and are just totally awesome. There are a few that I look up to and I try to follow their example in business, design, etc. But there are so many idiots out there that have either gotten their position by dumb luck, the ideas and work of others, or simply being in the right place at the right time, that the joke about the stereotype is actually pretty right on the mark in a lot of cases.

This is pretty self-evident in the industry. How many times have you seen a press release that has left you scratching your head and thinking “wtf?”. This usually happens when someone cancels a project or title that everyone is just dying for, or some stupid concept is greenlighted and given an outrageous budget, and the list goes on.

But I digress, lets talk about Nancy Drew for a moment, and then on to EA.
Continue reading Nancy Drew more popular than WoW; EA doesn’t know what a PC is

Best Myspace message ever!

I just had to share this message I got on myspace this evening. It totally made my day!

From: ******
Date: Oct 11, 2007 6:20 PM

I have been playing MMOG for 10 years (since EQ beta). MMO Evolution is a very insightful piece of work.

I am finishing a graduate research paper and your work helped enormously.

Thanks again,


How cool is that? Graduate research paper! I asked him to send me a copy when he was done. I admit, I’m curious to see what he wrote and how exactly my book was useful to him.

Speaking of which, I need new shoes. Go buy a copy from amazon or send me a donation for the PDF version.

Best Crafting Ever!

Ok, I’m curious…what MMO has the best crafting system ever? What do you like or dislike about the various systems out there? Tell me what you think from gathering resources and components to selling (or using) the final product of your hard work!

I’ve been in a few discussions lately and the responses have been all over the board…What do you guys think? What would you do differently? What really annoys the hell out of you?

NC Soft’s Carbine Studios: Not New, Not News

Uh, okaaay. NC Soft announces Carbine Studios, and it is heralded in the press as a “new studio”, “acquisition”, “new team”, “unveiled”, etc. Someone has their wires crossed or NCSoft is trying to drum up some press to get past the tepid industry response to the Tabula Rasa open beta.

Carbine Studios “was founded in 2005 as a division of NCsoft North America by ten former members of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft core development team.”

First, why wasn’t this news two years ago, and second, how the hell many people worked on World of Warcraft? Everytime I turn around, there is another new studio founded by former members of World of Warcraft (like Red5 for example). Even more curious, they all seem to be leading or key members of Blizzard’s dev team. Who the heck is left at Blizzard? Is this why Burning Crusade was more like “warm lint crusade” than something really hot? How is this an acquisition or a new studio?

[“This is a dev team made in heaven,” said Robert Garriott, CEO for NCsoft’s North American business. “This group is as experienced as they come in the area of computer role playing and multiplayer game design. Making successful games is second nature to them. They are a very welcome addition to the NCsoft family. The gaming community should be excited to see what great things come out of Carbine Studios in the coming years.”]

You have GOT to be kidding me. I mean honestly, I don’t mind a little hype in a press release, but “a dev team made in heaven” that is “as experienced as they come”? Then why is it, two years later, they need an “unveiling” and we still don’t know what they are working on?

[Details are scarce, but NCsoft said that Carbine is currently working on an unannounced project that “promises to break new ground in massively multiplayer gaming.”]

Ok, this line really makes me ill. Didn’t Garriot say this about Tabula Rasa (I have yet to rant on this, it is coming, I promise). There should be a law that says you can’t say something like this without qualifying it with some facts and examples. When someone like Garriot says stuff, people listen…he isn’t doing the industry any favors by fluffing up his own games or NCSoft “new” studios, particularly when there isn’t anything worth fluffing. Fine, say your game is great, awesome, or whatever, but don’t call it evolutionary (that’s my line by the way), “the most anticipated game ever”, or “ground-breaking”.

The bar must be getting really low these days…

Koster’s Metaplace launches today.

Metaplace launches today. The overview over at Crunchbase says:

“Areae’s Metaplace platform wants to revolutionize the virtual worlds space. Their platform will provide an open, easy-to-use interface which will allow users to create virtual worlds that can run anywhere. Metaplace-created virtual worlds will be robust with users being able to play games, socialize, create content and conduct commerce.

Most virtual worlds are walled gardens making it hard to get data in and out of the worlds. Metaplace-created virtual worlds can be embedded into your Facebook page, MySpace page, or your own blog via a flash-based client widget. Every world is indexed, tagged and rated by users on the Metaplace portal, so virtual worlds in the Metaplace network can be easily linked together.”

I have mixed feelings on this, so I am going to wait to comment until I can get a good look and see what is really here.

There is a lot of potential, considering that Koster is at the lead and calling the shots. I am also a firm believer that the precursor to the “metaverse” (or cyberspace depending on your preference) are MMORPGs. I’ve also said that MMORPGs lack a lot of things and so do virtual worlds (like second life). Will Metaplace be a step in the right direction for a change, or will it miss the boat and eventually fall to the side and struggle for years like badly designed MMORPGs and poorly implemented virtual worlds?

I’m hoping that Koster did it right and it takes off. There is a lot of attention on web 2.0 approaches, as well as pseudo-MMOs like club penguin, laguna beach, etc. Expect to see a lot more of these as the “flavor of the day” with the venture crowd becomes social + virtual world. I predict this is a fad, and the people that look to the long term will be thinking way beyond these shallow experiences.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. More later.

Robert / Nicodemus

Steam Community

Ok, so I’ve been hankering for some Counterstrike lately…I haven’t played in a good two years (omg!). So I downloaded steam the other day. Anyway, steam started blinking at me a few minutes ago about a new update and the “all new” steam community.

Shoot me an invite. My SteamID is Nicodemus.

Any of the regulars here feel like a match sometime? Nothing hardcore, I just want to have some fun on old maps I remember. Dust2, Vegas, Office…hell I don’t remember their names anymore. Damn.

Yeah, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with MMORPGs…or does it? I’m looking at you Tabula Rasa!