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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:49 am 
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As someone who really enjoyed There.com for several years, here are my observations:

Really bad business decisions. At some point a few years ago, they shifted their focus away from 'regular' customers over to kids and teens. Guess what? They are not the ones with money! This is something we discussed many times ingame long before the shutdown, and something that irritated many of us adults who actually rented land, created content and built communities. Nothing wrong with kids, but if you want your product to succeed, you should cater primarily to those who can afford to actually buy it..

It seems they saw their own error about a year ago, and they tried to shift their focus again, but I think by that time it was too late. I remember reading a blog from the owner of There.com after the shutdown, where he said that the number of active logins had never been higher, yet the income had never been lower, and I couldn't help but think 'Yes, because you catered to the kids when you should have remembered your paying customers!'

Would There.com have survived had they not jumped on the Coca Cola, CosmoGirl and whatever teen affiliates bandwagon they went with? We will never know, but I have a feeling they would at least have remained in business a lot longer.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:10 pm 
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Their idea was probably not to get the kids' money, but their parents'.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:55 pm 
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DreamingGirl wrote:
As someone who really enjoyed There.com for several years, […]

From the Harvey interview one can see where his thinking was. Having venture capital to operate on meant they did not place enough consideration on what users wanted. Instead they went with what they thought would work. As they burned through the capital the reality of their mistakes took over.

I suspect your take on customer-confusion by THERE.com’s management is accurate. In SL we are seeing some of the similar things happening. Management does not listen to the users. There are reasons for that. (See later part of: Second Life and Linden Lab Dying?). As the economy crunches people tolerate fewer mistakes with their dollars and require more convincing to let go of their dollars. Universities were using SL because it was cheaper than alternatives. Now they are moving to OpenSim and Unity-3D as both are much more cost effective and places like Reaction Grid and Unity are providing far more support and cooperative help with University projects.

As the Uru community comes into a management position, I think it will still happen, we have all those mistakes to make… or avoid. We seem to be evolving into two threads of development. Those going toward a small UU like game run on home servers and those looking to build something more substantial. I’ll put Cyan in the later group. I believe the later group will have to learn from others mistakes and Harvvey’s interview points out a problem I think our community has yet to deal with, figuring out what is personal belief, preference, and what is real.

Consider. If you hear a plan for Open Uru and we ask you to invest US$10,000 on its success, what would you want to see to convince you to fork over the money? This is the decision venture capitalist have to make. Those that went with Harvey on THERE.com lost money. I think Harvey has realized the problem and took a different track with IMVU. I think we haven’t.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:49 am 
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Uru has been, I think, a special case. If you look back at Cyan's history, you see these quirky projects that no one else had tried. They kept up with the experiments. An art project, if you will, that just happened to make a bunch of money in "Myst."

Myst was made by a few people in a garage. OK... what's next? "Riven." They had to expand to make that but the money was there... yes, money... the great corrupter of art projects throughout history.

The next project was even more expensive... D'ni in Real Time... requiring investors, who then have their hands on the controls. We all know how most committee-led art projects turn out. Yep. We got Myst 3, Myst 4, Myst 5. Way off course.

I don't know if the original idea for D'ni in Real Time can ever be made to pay well enough to support its own development... with current tools. Maybe 20 years from now computers will be strong enough to do the heavy lifting, so an inspired garage-based team can do something like D'ni in Real Time was dreamed to be. By then, though, the clientele will have moved on.

Paradigms move on, too. For my style of game play, Riven was the apotheosis of the computer game. Its design particularly suited my explorer's nature. Will anything else come along like that, but better? I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath. Cyan seems to me to be spending their energy in endless remakes of the past. Yes, Riven HD for the Ipad is a neat thing... but how long can a creative group keep plowing the same ground before no new ideas will grow?

My point here is that things succeed or fail for unpredictable and subtle reasons. Yes, There went under. Was that inevitable, as Harvey seems to think? Organizations tend to become arrogant over time--I used to work for the City of L.A. and arrogance was entrenched--and quit listening to their clientele. So, before pulling the plug, perhaps There's management should have gone out and asked people, face-to-avatar-face. Talk to people, find out what they're doing, play the game and watch others as they do so, instead of telling us all what the truth is.

Opinions expressed here are my own, and are not guaranteed to be right. They're based on what I see and what I think, and I've been wrong before.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:27 am 
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DreamingGirl wrote:
Nothing wrong with kids, but if you want your product to succeed, you should cater primarily to those who can afford to actually buy it.

One word: Webkinz

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:45 pm 
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There are games targeted to kids, little kids, tweens, For tween and families, Free Realms, a Sony game comes to mind, though adults happily play it too.

On thinking that all game development companies fail to listen to their customers -- I'm talking about US companies here. Blizzard seems to be doing well, and it didn't start with WoW -- remember Diablo. There's the always excellent Bioware -- stirling successes, and now that they are getting into the MMO space, we'll see what they do with Star Wars The Old Republic. I'm happy with Arenanet (yes I know it's owned by NCSoft now) -- I like Guild Wars and am looking forward to Guild Wars 2. There are examples, where companies release a successful game, and then continue to release successful games.

I've got a theory that it's easier for a US game company, particularly one that does MMOs, to be successful if they are in locations with other game companies -- larger pool of hires and people can come to your company without moving, and there's all that cross fertilization that occurs. It helps to locate where your people want to live. Then again, I'm biased in favor of a game company locating themselves on the west coast -- Los Angelos area, San Diego area, San Francisco area (also Silicon Valley), Seattle. In southern California, you've got all that wonderful synergy with other types of media companies. In northern California and Seattle you've got all the wonderful synergy with tech companies. From what people have told me, Cyan's in a pretty area (and housing is affordable), but although they are located in the state of Washington, they are inland, not part of the west coast game scene. Outside of the US West Coast, there's the Austin game scene -- don't know how well the companies are doing -- Austin is a great place. I know there are other game companies in the US, only talking about the areas I know about.

Getting back to paying attention to your market, I'm always interested in how companies do this, particularly for something that takes a long time to develop. Cyan had a magic thing happen with Myst, they made a great game and there was that happy convergence of technology. Remember -- the CD drive came out and tech companies wanted people to have reasons to buy their hardware -- that being in the right place at the right time -- helped Myst a lot. It doesn't seem to me that you throw up your hands and assume that there is no way to tell what people want. All I've heard is prototype, prototype, prototype, playtest, playtest, playtest. I'd like a better understanding of how the successful MMO developers continue to do it. I'm also interested in the changing payment models -- more and more monthly subscriptions seem to be morphing into microtransactions, F2P (free to play) where there are some things you pay for.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:20 pm 
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Lord Chaos, we think Uru is unique. But, that does not really help us figure what needs to change to make it more popular with todays MMO group of players. Just as Myst was the first game to use players high end graphics Uru was like an introduction to MMO play.

When you try to explain what is unique about Uru or how it is different than other games, what kind of lists do you come up with?

Also no experienced player wants to go through long introduction on how to play. SL’s 10k signups per day where they are dumped on what is called Help Island for training isn’t working. So, it seems reasonable that something about Uru is going to have to change just for this reason.

Lord Chaos wrote:
My point here is that things succeed or fail for unpredictable and subtle reasons.

I agree, unless you are trying to say we can’t know why. The Harvey interview is from one that created THERE.com and IMVU. THERE.com had trouble making money. IMVU makes US$40million. He is explaining what he did different. I think we pretty well know what Cyan did. The questions I ask are what are we going to differently and why?

mszv wrote:
I've got a theory that it's easier for a US game company,[…] to be successful if they are in locations with other game companies

Do you really think the company location is all that important? I can see that it might be an advantage. I can’t see it being a key factor with Internet information available today. Also, having employees scattered around in different countries mixing with various game communities might be better. Have you looked at where successful and not so successful companies are located and tabulated that into anything that would support your theory? Also how would the Uru fan community take advantage of that if it is true?

Play testing and prototyping… we have enough studies to work from that one does not have to start from scratch. Harvey’s experience is that one must test assumptions about the target audience. Are you suggesting that we as developers not do that?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:47 pm 
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Nalates wrote:
Also no experienced player wants to go through long introduction on how to play. SL’s 10k signups per day where they are dumped on what is called Help Island for training isn’t working.


It's true that the so-called "Help Island" doesn't work, but it's not the concept that's off. It's the execution. I ended up there once, and immediately felt like a fresh steak dropped into a tank of sharks. If it hadn't been for Tai'larh's help I would have quit SL almost immediately.

Regarding the "...long introduction on how to play," though, I"m not so sure. I agree that learning how to play is frustrating. This is one reason I didn't take to most computer games. I had many friends in the 1980s who were playing lots of games, but to me they were too complicated, and required too much twitch that was learned through repetition. I'm not good at repetition. "Myst" came along, though, and changed me into a gamer. Sort of.

What appealed to me about "The Manhole" and "Cosmic Osmo" was that I'd been dropped into this world and now had to figure out where I was, what I was doing, and how to do it. The learning curve was steep but short. When "Myst" came along it used the same observational skills, but with a deeper story to it. "Riven" continued this but with more involved puzzles. I already knew how to play: point and click. I can do that. I could walk along, adding to my knowledge, until suddenly the solution to a puzzle would form. Sometimes this took a while; I wandered arround a lot in figuring out the animal dolmen puzzle.

"Uru," perhaps, tried to be too many things at once. Is it a puzzle game played with friends? Is it an MMO? Is it a race? An attempt at non-linear storytelling? Maybe all of those things, but insufficient resources prevented growth in finding its way. I know many people are frustrated when they first enter Uru. They expect instant results. I come from a different age, in which I expected things to be revealed slowly. "Myst 3" confused me for a long time because all the puzzles were right out there in the open, to be figured out by themselves rather than by assembling clues from here and there. I still remember the sharp disappointment I felt when I finally figured out that Saavedro's journal pages were irrelevant to solving the puzzles. Riven's integration was gone.

My game play desires are probably unusual... but I know of at least some others who share my taste. The problem with focus groups is that they serve the majority, thereby forcing non-majority people into niches. I still dream of finding another Riven.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:54 pm 
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Lord Chaos wrote:
"Uru," perhaps, tried to be too many things at once. Is it a puzzle game played with friends? Is it an MMO? Is it a race?

This was the biggest issue for me in Uru. I wanted to part of the community and involved in the story, but I also wanted to be able to solve the puzzles at my own pace. Sadly, I discovered that I couldn't do both. Unwanted spoilers were a regular byproduct of interaction with other explorers (especially for Greeters) and sometimes the storyline required progression (as in reaching K'veer in time to see Yeesha). I tried many ways to reconcile the two things and finally resigned myself to choosing to participate in the community/storyline over puzzle solving on my own. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Natales, from what I read, apart from work they contract out, many development shops are pretty traditional -- you come to to the office and work. Also, from what I've read, aside from the layoffs after a game is shipped, people tend to leave, so they can get on a team working on another published title. It's all about having published titles on your resume. It makes sense to be in an area with other game development companies..

Having lived in Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay area, for many years (I'll get back one day) -- I'd say that location still means a whole lot in the tech world, in terms of who you interact with, where you get your people, educational systems, synergy with other companies. quality of life. There's technical stuff all over, but it's interesting to see how it congregates in tech hubs across the globe. As an example, If you work for a large Silicon Valley company, odds are good you spend some time going to Austin.

I know that there are game companies all over. I''ll focus on a list of bigger MMO games with major studios, and see where they are.

Blizzard (WoW) - Irvine, southern California, south of Los Angeles, US West Coast. locations all over the world but development seems mostly in southern CA.

Arenanet (Guild Wars, GW 2) - Seattle, US West Coast

Linden Labs (Second Life) - San Francisco, offices in Boston, MA, USA, Brighton, United Kingdom, Davis, CA, USA, Mountain View, CA, USA, Reston, VA, USA, San Francisco, CA, USA, Seattle, WA, USA. Laid off 30% of their workforce in June, consolidating all their software development teams in North America.

There, Silicon Valley -- from what I remember, San Mateo, Silicon Valley.

Sony Entertainment (Everquest II, many other games, including MMOs) - San Diego, California, with additional game development studios located in Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington.

Bioware (Star Wars The Old Republic, many other hugely successful games, Mass Effect, Dragon Age) - Austin, Texas for The Old Republic, other locations at Edmonton, Canada, Galway, Ireland, Fairfax, VA, Montreal, Canada. Development appears to be in Austin, Edmonton and Montreal.

Cryptic (Star Trek Online, Champions Online), Los Gatos, CA, Silicon Valley,

Turbine (Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online), primarily Boston, acquired by Warner Bros, Warner Bros Games, locations in Seattle and Chicago area, Montreal, Canada.

Trion Worlds, new company, money, many veterans in the industry (Rift Planes of Telera), Redwood Shores, CA. Locations in San Diego CA (development), Redwood Shores, CA (development), Austin, TX (looks like operations, customer support).

I could go on. I don't know about the rest of the world (interesting things going on with Eve Online, in Iceland!), but for US MMOs, very specific areas, lots of tech centers on the west coast, some on east coast and Austin.

Big flame out, though, heck, could have flamed out if they were in Silicon Valley
Cheyenne World Entertainment (Stargate Worlds), Phoenix, Arizona. I won't go into the history of their many, many problems here. I suspect that the people who moved to Phoenix to work on Stargate Worlds are not happy -- lots of layoffs, not a big game hub.

---------------
From what I read before (though it's been awhile) -- I think Cyan wanted to be "away from it all", in an area the founders liked. So, they didn't locate their company on the west coast, nor in a tech or entertainment hub. Maybe it was different then, don't know. If you are super successful, it seems to me you could get people to move, but you'd have to do that over and over again -- you would not get any senior people, locally, and if your people wanted to move on, they'd have to leave town. On QA work (their other business) if you have the right infrastructure, there's a lot to be said for doing QA work in an area of the county where costs are lower. Was that a good strategy -- well, looking back, causation is difficult to prove. Just because two things happen -- Cyan does not succeed, Cyan is not on the west or east coast, doesn't mean one necessarily causes the other.. I think that there is a lot to be said for being in an area with other game development companies, if you do that for a living. And, for the record, I'm not living in my beloved California anymore. I'm not saying you can't have a good life anywhere -- you can. I'm talking about where to locate, if you are a game company making big games such as an MMO.

----------------
On how this applies to us now -- I don't think it does, if we talk about a group of fans working together, Fans aren't a company. It's a different dynamic.

----------------
On playtesting and prototyping (slightly different topic), from what I read, the companies making successful games do that, a lot, all the time. What I don't know (not in game industry, never worked on an MMO taking years) -- how do you do that and get it work, for a game that takes years to develop?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:16 pm 
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Tai'lahr wrote:
Lord Chaos wrote:
"Uru," perhaps, tried to be too many things at once. Is it a puzzle game played with friends? Is it an MMO? Is it a race?

This was the biggest issue for me in Uru. I wanted to part of the community and involved in the story, but I also wanted to be able to solve the puzzles at my own pace. Sadly, I discovered that I couldn't do both. Unwanted spoilers were a regular byproduct of interaction with other explorers (especially for Greeters) and sometimes the storyline required progression (as in reaching K'veer in time to see Yeesha). I tried many ways to reconcile the two things and finally resigned myself to choosing to participate in the community/storyline over puzzle solving on my own. :(


Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars The old Republic are focusing on two things: the story and actions in the world, and a story and things changing -- that apply to you only. The part that applies "just to you" is done in instances, like the private ages in Uru. Both games are going to have NPCs (non player characters) that react to you diffferently, depending on how you behave in the game. You'll also see different things, and your individual area will look different, based on what you do. There's the concept of a personal story and a whole world dynamic. On the whole world dynamic, I'm not sure how The Old Republic is going to handle it -- some people aren't sure how well they can do a whole world dynamic, but they excel in the individual story.. In Guild Wars 2 the whole world thing thing is going to be handled by dynamic events. The world changes based on what people do in the world.

Uru had a model for this, private, instanced worlds with puzzles, and live events in the public spaces -- the monthly sessions where live actors interacted with a small set of players, and progressed the story. But there were problems. Puzzles are very spoilable, unlike things you do based on combat and crafting, which aren't as spoilable (if that's a word). I like the ideas of puzzles in a multiplayer game, but the idea of multiplayer games is that people talk to each other, and, sometimes they help each other out. If you are in a public space, you can't depend on not getting spoiled. And the live events, the world changing events, they did not scale, and they did not change the world based on player participation. I could not go into a public age in Uru and count on having something new to do, something that would change the world. And the events felt scripted -- like we were watching a play. Sure there was some interaction, but you got the idea that the events would go to their end irregardless of what the players did.

I'm still hoping that we can find something to do in a multiplayer world that works as well as combat, without it being combat. I like combat ok, but I'd like to do other things do. And I'm still interested in an MMO with a private story, a private area, something just for me, and a public area where the actions of all the players change the world.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:20 pm 
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mszv wrote:
[…] It makes sense to be in an area with other game development companies..

All good points in that paragraph. In the rest of your post you make points and provide good examples. I did not know EVE was developed in Iceland…

But do you really feel office location is a major factor in a game’s success? To me it seems your point has more to do with employee job satisfaction. Many factors beyond location contribute to that. How do you know whether it is ‘other factors’ or location?

The cross pollination and idea exchange between professionals could provide stimulation, motivation, and excitement. But, I suspect NDA’s and other restrictions would slow the process, if not completely stifle it. In this regard I could see these factors being a bigger help to an unrestricted (no NDA’s) open source group spread across the world. But, without good quantification and objective measures I’m not sure how we can know. Iceland is pretty much out in the sticks from my point of view but EVE is doing well. I just can’t see office location being that big a factor. There are other factors that seem to consistently contribute to success or failure.

mszv wrote:
how do you do that and get it work, for a game that takes years to develop?

That is what Harvey was explaining. If you are going to commit years of work and millions of dollars to a project, you need to know your ideas and assumptions are valid. He sees his failure to do that and over committing as a major contributor to THERE.com’s failure.

For a large project one has to know what works. When starting out in a new field or creating an innovative application/game one cannot know. There is no previous experience to draw on. This is why such efforts often fail.

For MMO’s there are over 10 years of experience available to draw on. We have learned much about what works. Adding the basics common to successful MMO’s helps assure people will find the game usable. Getting those aspects adapted to an individual game requires some experimentation. Understanding what it is about those features that users find handy and why allows one to make positive changes. Making changes based on assumptions, personal preferences, and beliefs may or may not succeed and is where play testing is important.

Lord Chaos wrote:
They expect instant results. I come from a different age, in which I expected things to be revealed slowly.

This age thing comes up in different ways. I think a better way of thinking about what the age difference is can be found in; Self-entertainment and the end of newbies – It’s a long article but the age difference aspect comes up in the first page. I think she gets the foundational reason for how age affects game play.

Lord Chaos wrote:
My game play desires are probably unusual... but I know of at least some others who share my taste. The problem with focus groups is that they serve the majority, thereby forcing non-majority people into niches. I still dream of finding another Riven.

Individual preferences are a fact of life. I liked Riven too. Uru was quite a change. I would not really want to change Uru into Riven. But sorting out what it is about Riven and Uru that makes them popular among Uru fans could tell us which direction some changes should go. Just as focus groups and academic studies of MMO’s tell us which aspects of MMO’s Cyan missed or failed to understand.

Also, we know our niche… or at least have a good idea of what it is. I think we are way fuzzy on exactly what it is. But I see no reason to try to change niche. My idea is broadening the appeal by providing better support to players to make it more popular. Our personal preferences will likely narrow appeal, which is why I try to get people to look beyond their selves.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:32 pm 
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Yes, location is important. From what I've read, game developers in the US move around to different companies, since the goal is to always be working on successful published titles --- and since companies, from what I've read, lay off after producing a major title, there's additional movement. After Cyan let go of their people, or people left, do you think that, if said people wanted to continue to make games, they could stay in the area? There are game companies everywhere, but if you look at large game companies, or MMO game companies, they aren't spread out everywhere in the US. There seems to be a confusion between honoring an NDA and working in the same industry. It looks like game development people move around -- doesn't look like it's an industry where people work for the same company for life.

Personally, I'd love it if there were more tech companies everywhere (I'm not in Silicon valley anymore), but, using a different line of business, if I wanted to start a new company dealing with the oil business, I'd go to Houston. For publishing I'd go to New York City, Government related -- near DC. For Finance, probably, NYC, though I might think about Chicago.

Location makes a difference. Companies can be successful in a variety of locations, but some areas are harder places to succeed, depending on your industry. I remember when Gateway Computers moved to San Diego, after trying so hard to stay in South Dakota, think that was back in the 1990s -- from what I read, they could not get the workforce, so could not stay there, and they tried. I'm talking about US companies -- not as familiar with the world market.

Speaking of one non US company, the company making Eve Online is interesting -- Iceland studios, but the company (CCP Games, interesting company formed from OZ interactive, ) has a location in Georgia. I could not figure out why, but then I looked around a bit -- Georgia Tech, Georgia Entertainment Investment Act,-- other game companies (Hi-Rez Studios, Gametap) -- it makes sense.

From a game company perspective, Cyan is in the middle of nowhere. From what I can tell, it was by choice -- the founders moved somewhere they liked. . And when the company was doing really, really well, maybe it made sense, though I think there is a lot to be said for having other people in your industry in the same place.

Looking at a new (big) game company, let's look at Trion World Networks (MMOs, they have that interesting deal with the ScyFy network), a new game company made up of heavy hitters in the industry -- the industry experience these people have is phenomenal. They have a main location in Silicon Valley, a studio in San Diego, and some tech and customer support stuff in Austin Texas. Wowie! You've got all those tech and game people (and companies) in Silicon Valley, and access to venture capital money -- VCs meet you in person, and there's still a disproportionate share of venture capital money in Silicon Valley. You've got the southern CA electronic media scene and the Austin tech scene. And, those are places where, as far as I can tell, people in the industry want to live. They aren't the only places people want to live, of course.

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But really -- this is just me talking, since I like to look at the game industry also the tech industry. I don't think it has much to do with the post Cyan life of Uru. Doing that open source thing with fans -- don't know if you need a critical number of people in one location, I suspect not, but I don't know -- not an area I'm familiar with. I do know that a lot of open source projects are done by companies, not just a set of eager hobbyists playing around, but it seems to me that Uru will be different -- will attract the eager hobbyist type. Maybe for that you could be anywhere

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Getting back to lessons learned, for Uru, maybe -- get people trying out your stuff. Once development work is going on (that can be talked about) -- get people playing around with your server, your ages, your client, before it's perfect. That will give you feedback and you can see what you have to do.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:09 pm 
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That's a very interesting article, Nalates, and I think there's a lot of truth in it.

Those who are willing to work at entertaining themselves will be reasonably happy just about anywhere. Those who aren't... will never be happy no matter what steps are taken. Second LIfe offers enough different options to keep at least some of those new sign-ups coming back.

My own approach to SL is kind of in between. I'm not really a builder. If I'm going to make stuff, I'd rather go to the beach and make real curves in sand than polygonal approximations in SL. Game time competes with reading time. In SL my usual role is presenting events; I'm pretty good at making imaginary things. :) I could do more events there but I'm putting most of my energy into other things right now, and when I want a break, I want a *break.* So, I play Guild Wars.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:03 am 
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I finally got a chance to sit down with the article. I don't think there are too many direct parallels with Uru (with one important exception), and more importantly we have already a chance at taking a whack out of the "too expensive to run" question with fan hosting. The Open Source game doesn't have to turn a profit to continue going, at least not in a static form. Uru doesn't seem to be a good revenue source; but Cyan has pretty much removed that part of the equation, both happily (it is now free) and tragically (it having consumed so many resources).

My main concern is that, fan made stuff aside, the cycle repeats itself when we ask the question of where Uru goes from here on out (I am assuming in this post that Uru is safe to remain in a static form, but not as a continually growing thing, as it was envisioned and as I am interested in), in terms of the excellent Cyan-made content. I'm sure folks at Cyan have thought seriously (it's been mentioned before) about doing a pay-per system for clothes, maybe even for levels. That obviously would cause some problems for users and the installed userbase if they aren't getting all the latest materials, but it seems a straightforward transaction to give cash for new content, which many of us would happily do. The critical work of hosting the server on Cyan's hardware is being done right now for us, by Cyan with the help of donations, essentially for free. I wonder if this would be sustainable if Uru saw another spike in interest as we had years ago, though.

I think that at least some people would be very happy to plunk down $5 to even $15 per small-ish to regular-size Age. The question (as always) is whether it would be enough to make it worthwhile. There is still a pretty widely dispersed core of die-hard Myst fans who keep an eye on developments. But is it a community that will grow again (critical from a business perspective)?

The only other thing that I think the article nailed, which Uru actually gets right, is a sign I have been away from Uru so long I'm starting to forget the basics. I was thinking "yeah, Uru ought to have a home for players!" Er...but anyway, I still think that there should be some walk-in rooms scattered around the Bevins or whatever the more private flipped version of the two is called. But in my view Relto is too out-there - and I wouldn't mind having more traditional "rooms" to play around in. Relto is great but you can't really kick your feet up or play ball in there too long. The city setting would be a nice change of pace for a home, and much of the architecture is already done; it's just a question of fleshing out more of the interiors. (Same story as much of the rest of the city.)


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