Do you have an upcoming MMORPG that you’re making? Gee, that’s swell, mister! But before I hop on board that express hype train, you’re going to have to fulfill some requirements for me. Yeah, kind of like quest objectives. If you want to stir up my interest and raise reputation with my faction, here are six ways to make that happen:
1. For the love of all that’s holy, have a hook.
Original ideas and design is extremely difficult, and it’s OK if most of your game shares similarities with other MMOs out there. But PLEASE have at least ONE core concept that is interesting and serves to set you apart. We call this the “hook,” and it’s what lures players in to your product above all others. There are so many upcoming games that think that by putting “open PvP fantasy sandbox” on their resume, they’re somehow making themselves this unique, desirable snowflake when in actuality they’re just another Q-tip in the jar.
2. Put some effort into your art style.
Greys and browns with clunky 2001-era models don’t really do it for me when it comes to art. I’m no visuals snob, but it really does help if you look somewhat attractive. If you don’t have the funds to pull off a stunning, photo-realistic world, then go colorful and stylized. Do something to avoid looking drab and dull.
3. Post regular development and design posts.
In covering MMOs over the years, I’ve ceased to be amazed how some of them seem to be handled by marketing monkeys. And not the good kind of monkeys; the ones that think that “minimum effort” and “occasional flurry of activity” is all that’s needed to avoid a pink slip. If you’ve got a game coming out, then post something at least once a week to fuel community excitement and keep your project from looking dead in the water — even if the reality is anything but.
4. Don’t let players buy their way to success before the game even starts.
It’s a disturbing trend with early access and crowdfunding these games how some MMOs — and I’m sure you can think of a few specific names — are so eager to grab any free money they can that they start making design compromises by selling advancement and serious advantages before the game even comes out. It might make the people who just dropped $300 feel like they’re on top of the world, but you know what? It repels a lot of others who might have played but think, “Why should I now? That guy is already king of a realm and owns a titanic space-carrier, and the game hasn’t even launched.” This is particularly troublesome in competitive (PvP) environments.
I’ll make it simpler for you: If you can’t start us all off on a fair and level playing field, then I probably don’t want to try it.
5. Demonstrate competence, confidence, and vision.
This is kind of a lump-all category, but sometimes when I’m reading posts, tweets, and watching dev videos, I can tell when a team just isn’t quite all together. Maybe there’s an exec who is spouting crazy all over Twitter at the dead hours of the night and can’t be muzzled by anyone. Perhaps we only ever hear from the same one person over and over again, as if the studio is afraid to let anyone else off their leash. Occasionally you see games where everything keeps changing again and again and again, as if the devs are responding too heavily to community feedback and trying to appease everyone. Maybe the team projects a juvenile and slovenly look. And once in a while we see newer studios that obviously don’t understand how things work and how to talk to both fans and media.
I’m not saying don’t be outspoken — please speak out! I’m not saying don’t have a sense of humor — you’re going to need it! But watch yourselves, control your message, have confidence, show humility, and create the game you want to create.
6. Don’t have elves.
Better yet, have elves but kill them all in some global pandemic in the first scene, leaving the remnants of the world’s races to rejoice and live happily ever after.