Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

20 February, 2014

Interview at over at Massively
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:04 PM

Just in case you missed it, I did an interview with Shawn Schuster over at Massively:

I talk about the past, present, and future of MMOs.

In addition, you might want to check out Shawn’s new site: I’ve agreed to write an article or two for him in the near future. :)

Got further questions? Feel free to post them here, and I’ll answer them as I feel comfortable doing so. ;)


  1. Nice interview Brian. It’s got to be a challenge to try to talk about the future of MMO games in such a broad context. There were statements in almost every paragraph which could have been expanded on to an article of its own. Some paragraphs, two.

    I agree with the premise that among the paradigms which are holding back MMOs in the marketplace are the focus on DIKU fantasy mechanics and the chase for the next big thing. I don’t think the skins on the player really matter much, whether it’s WoW, or The Secret World or SWTOR, the structure of these games is still kill things and take their stuff. When the genre was born, this was about all the digital technology of the time could effectively support. The tech has advanced significantly. Virtual worlds are bigger and enable a much improved capability for individual interaction with them.

    As the experience of virtual worlds converges with the real world, one of the first questions a game designer needs to ask themselves is ‘Am I creating a fiction because I have to or because it’s always been done this way and that’s what players expect.” MMO economies are among the worst offenders. Either because they cater to the hardcore players or are based on an outright fiction.

    I recently took a class in fiction writing and in the anthology of advice assigned as the class text, there was a common thread, the details sell the fantasy. To move forward with the genre, MMO designers need to drop the barriers to deeper level of emotional engagement. The more physical and real the virtual world feels, the more genuine the emotional engagement of the players will be.

    Once upon a time, there were just three networks and 30 cowboy shows a week in prime time. None of those networks founded a cable company. They were risk averse and vested in the status quo. History seems to be repeating itself in the game industry. The next big thing is not going to be the thing you already got. As much as I respect Richard Bartle, designing MMOs in the context of Achiever, Socializer, Explorer and Killer won’t break MMOs out of their current stagnation.

    Comment by Kern — 21 February, 2014 @ 2:51 PM

  2. Nice read – thanks!

    Do you find you ponder/write more when not buried in projects?

    Comment by Isey — 25 February, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

  3. Kern wrote:
    There were statements in almost every paragraph which could have been expanded on to an article of its own.

    Oh, certainly. These aren’t really all that new, just the interview was a great opportunity to discuss the issues.

    I think the problem with fiction in games is more that we really don’t have a good idea about how to tell interactive stories. I read an article recently about doing movies in VR, where the person still lamented that you can’t control where a viewer looks, so they could miss some vital bit of information. Instead of creating new types of stories that work in the new medium, people are still very focused on trying to tell traditional stories in the new medium. Eventually that will change, but it could take a while.

    Isey wrote:
    Do you find you ponder/write more when not buried in projects?

    Hmm, I think that it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m more focused when I’m in a project. This generally means I produce more work when I’m focused, as the blank page/screen can be intimidating. I have a lot I’d like to talk about, as you can see in that interview, but sometimes when I think about writing a blog post my mind just doesn’t latch on to anything in particular.

    Comment by Psychochild — 26 February, 2014 @ 3:01 PM

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