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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 11:46 am 
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You've heard it over and over again...
"There's nothing to do on Uru."
"You know what would be cool? In game journals..."
"I'm bored with this game."
"I wish there was more new content."
"Well, Cyan is understaffed and has a small budget..."
"I'll wait around, but if things don't improve..."
Well, what makes you think the situation is going to improve any time soon? It has been five months since Uru officially launched in February, and as far as I can tell, no one has mentioned an increase in the new content which has been provided for us. If the flow of new content has not accelerated significantly over these past five months, then why should it significantly accelerate over the next five months? The fact is, the amount of new content Cyan can release will always be limited by their low staff and resources. And the only way for their staff and resources to increase is if more people play Uru more often--or to add advertisements, which most people dislike. So what is the best way to get more people to play Uru more often?--why, more content of course. It's a cycle--more content means more people means more money means more content means more people means more money...etc. It can be a cycle that leads up and up and up, or a spiral that leads down and down and down. Right now, Uru's popularity may be increasing, but if so it is slowly. Basically, if Cyan continues releasing content in the same way they have so far for the next five months, I doubt we can expect to get much more new content per month than what we've received up till now. And compared to the Ages we've come to expect from the Myst games, the amount and quality of the new content we've seen is very low indeed. We all hope that someday Cyan will make Ages as gorgeous as the ones we've already seen, but I doubt very, very, very much that it will be anytime soon (at this rate).
Now let's play a little numbers game: Suppose that for one particular month, Cyan gets $1 from its Uru revenue. And over the course of the next month, it spends the $1 on creating new content for us. And when the new episode comes out and we enjoy the new content, Cyan gets $1.05 from its Uru revenue since people enjoyed the new content and played slightly longer than they did last month, thus bringing in more money. So, over the next month, Cyan spends that $1.05 on creating even more new content for us and releases it in the next episode. And because we received more new content than last time, we play slightly longer than before and Cyan gets $1.10 from its Uru revenue, which it invests in even more new content for next month, and the cycle continues slowly but steadily. Maybe someday Cyan will receive $2 a month and we'll get twice as much content as we get now. But suppose for a moment that instead of investing that $1 in the next month's new content, Cyan invested it in buying an Age-making machine. The machine requires minimal maintenance and produces one small, quality Age a month. Next month, Cyan goes back to its regular routine of spending its $1 on creating new content for us. However, meanwhile the Age-making machine has been at work, and it effectively contributes another dollar's worth of new content. As a result, instead of getting $1.05 back in return for the new content, Cyan receives $2.05, which it invests in creating new content. But again, the Age-making device is still working and produces another load of free new content for Cyan, worth about $1. So instead of getting back $2.10, Cyan gets back $3.10, since people played longer because they played through the Age-making machine's new content too. The next month, Cyan has $3.10 to invest, and the cycle continues onward...
So you're thinking: "Oh great, another thread about Age creation tools. Must we rehash this over and over again?!?" Yes, I think we must--because it is very important that we leave the $1, $1.05, $1.10 cycle and enter the $1, $2.05, $3.10 cycle. Don't you think when Cyan is getting triple their current income you'll get triple the amount or at least the quality of new content? I'm not saying what we're getting now isn't nice, but don't you want astonishing Ages? Of course, everyone does! (Yes, my model is overly simplistic, I was just illustrating a principle)
Here are some popular arguments against Age creation tools:
1. "Only a few people will be able to use Age creation tools, so only a few people will be actually entertained by them. Cyan should focus on creating content that everyone can enjoy instead of just a few people."
Well, what about when the few people who can use Age creation tools create an Age? The masses would enjoy exploring that...
2. "Fan created Ages can't be beautiful, they will be ugly no matter what. The masses won't enjoy that at all!"
Are these pictures (from fan created Ages) ugly? http://ilathid.bluegillweb.com/en/gall.htm And here's what Rand Miller has to say: "We're always amazed at what our fans are able to accomplish, frankly, and by making those tools [Age creation tools] available, I think we'll be even more surprised." You aren't going to contradict Rand Miller, are you???
3. "Okay, some fan created Ages can be beautiful, but the majority will be ugly. Who wants that?"
So how about some quality control, to weed out the ugly ones?
4. "Who's going to decide which are ugly and which are beautiful, you?"
Sure, why not. Make a rating system and I'll cast my vote. There are a bazillion solutions to this problem that have already been suggested, and all Cyan has to do is pick one out and we'll fall in behind it like complaining sheep.
5. "Well, I still don't approve of fan made Ages, no matter what you say."
That's fine; Cyan will still deliver new content every month for you. So why worry about it at all? Fan created Ages can only help Cyan get more new content to you, not hinder...
So what's the point of this? Simply to raise awareness of the fact that Age creation tools should be high on Cyan's the priority list. You see, according to an oft-cited interview with Rand (interview here: http://www.joystiq.com/2006/09/28/joyst ... an-worlds/) Age creation tools are supposed to come 6 months after Uru launches. So starting in midmonth, February, March, April, May, June, July, August... Age creation tools are supposed to come out one and a half months from now. And I'm not seeing any signs yet suggesting that Age creation tools are on the way... Meanwhile, our potential is wasted. Imagine that out of the entire population of the Cavern, a mere 100 people spend 1 hour per day working on creating an Age together: 100 hrs of work per day. And imagine that 20 people at Cyan spend 10 hours per day working on creating an Age together: 200 hrs of work a day. I really do think we could produce one pod Age a month, at least... We could decorate it with lovely stained glass windows, courtesy of the artists in the Cavern, and place ecology journals and plant/animal identification books in it to read, courtesy of the DZS (if they wanted to--just an example). We could add beautiful music, composed by the musicians in our talented group. So there you have it: new content which costs Cyan virtually no labor or money to produce in comparison to the costs of making an Age themselves. New content that brings in more people and more money for Cyan so that it can make us bigger and better Ages. There is no better, quicker, or surer way to increase Uru's new content and thus Cyan's budget and Cyan's new content than to release Age creation tools. So after Jalak, let's invest that $1 on an Age-making machine!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:00 pm 
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wow, wow,

Great post Jennifer_P. Must have been a hard and long night.

Art at its best. 8) :lol: 8)

Bravo X 100. :lol: Image


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:04 pm 
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Thanks!!! I spent over two hours on it... :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:18 pm 
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I believe that age creation tools are important, and part of the long term vision for MOUL.

However, there is a cost of doing business that you are leaving out in your estimations. You seem to be assuming that there would be no cost to Cyan for those fan created ages. Unfortunately that is just not true. While Cyan would not have to pay the fan for making the age, they would have to bear the cost of resources and time for Quality Assurance and for the selection process. In addition, since they are apparently pushing what resources they have to the limit, they would have to reduce or eliminate their own age releases for a few months or so while they built, tested, polished, and certified those age creation tools you mention.

One strategy they could use would be to wait for the moment when MOUL has grown to the point where they are allowed to add resources, and then allocate those new resources specifically to work on the age creation tools. That way the new resource can be working on that "age making machine" you mention, without impacting the productiveness of the current team at Cyan. That would reduce (not eliminate) the cost to the current resources.

Providing age creation tools is a great idea, and one that will eventually add to our fun in the cavern, both as creators and participants. It does not equal new free ages IMHO.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:31 pm 
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While Cyan would not have to pay the fan for making the age, they would have to bear the cost of resources and time for Quality Assurance and for the selection process.

All they need to do is hire some Beta testers with moderator type powers and empower them to make the decisions. Moderators don't get paid, and it's not hard to say, "Nope, not good enough. The grass looks 2D and the texture is obviously repeating, and your rocks appear to be spheres planted in the ground. Come back when you've improved that."

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In addition, since they are apparently pushing what resources they have to the limit, they would have to reduce or eliminate their own age releases for a few months or so while they built, tested, polished, and certified those age creation tools you mention.

Yep, Age creation tools would have to be a month's new content release, if not two months of content release. But if something isn't changed about Cyan's rate of new content release, Uru will probably remain in perpetual immaturity, with the content release situation never improving...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:03 pm 
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Wow, great post... I like it :)

The main problem I see is that most of the community would really not like it if Cyan told them "The next two months, there will be nothing, and then we'll release age-creation tools". Many would leave in that time, I think. In addition, we don't know what GameTap thinks about user-created content... perhaps they don't like that idea.
Anyway, I would be one of those who would really appreciate the above message by Cyan!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:02 pm 
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so, a person makes an age and it is "approved" by some community of moderators who are not employed this all is "free" so far.

let's see...... then there is licensing fees, copyright costs, true product approval, some back story that relates this age to the storyline and D'ni in the direction that Cyan wants to take it, additional hardware needed to serve the additional content in a reliable manner ....... you get the idea.

No free lunch.

Don't get all defensive and stuff, I am all for creation tools. I also believe that there are Many amazingly talented people who would be able to create some very interesting ages. (not pod ages!!! please, we have had our fill.) Indeed, if fan web pages are any indication, when these tools are available some of the content from them will be rather interesting.

However, there are trade-offs in the release of such...

Have you heard the amount of people in these forums whining about the lack of constant and consistent new things to do? (oops, forgot ,you are one of them) Just imagine the deafening outcry when "one or two months of content" is replaced by the release of tools that maybe ten percent of the community are interested in.

then we come down to the ages old debate of whether everything should be "open-source" or proprietary. Each definitely has advantages and disadvantages. (don't worry, not opening that can of worms any further)

new content may be easier to release more frequently. that may lead to more players. that should lead to more "income" for proliferation of the game. but it is by no means free.

all this aside, I believe you are making an argument for something that, as you pointed out, should be on its way.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:06 pm 
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A very nice explanation. However, I think the premises used are not realistic:
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But suppose for a moment that instead of investing that $1 in the next month's new content, Cyan invested it in buying an Age-making machine. The machine requires minimal maintenance and produces one small, quality Age a month.


An "age-creation machine" can not be bought for $1 in only one month. First, there is no such machine they could buy; instead, they have to make it on their own. Making it takes much more time than only one month and costs much more than your currency representation unit of $1.

It would not surprise me at all if creating Age creation tools took nearly as long as developing the game itself. And when these tools are finally available, Cyan has to maintain them, because assuming that such tools would be bug-free from the start is just unrealistic.

If Cyan had the money for it, they might be able to produce Age creation tools within some months, but then there would be absolutely no new content during that period of time.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:43 pm 
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Great post Jennifer! :D

I thought I'd drop by and point a to the Age Creation: Myths, Facts, and Questions over on HuruStudio. If you have any questions about the technical side of things (and possibly even some questions about how fan Ages can exist IC), drop on by and have a read.

I don't see fan Ages in the near future (meaning much before fall), but we can always keep working on those Ages and make them as good as possible. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:56 pm 
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Jennifer_P wrote:
(interview here: http://www.joystiq.com/2006/09/28/joyst ... an-worlds/) Age creation tools are supposed to come 6 months after Uru launches.


He didn't say that Age creation tools would come out after 6 months, or that they were supposed to be ready in that time. He said that he would like for them to be available by then. He made no promises and you misquoted him.

They've got to try to keep the people entertained with new content. They don't have a month or two of no content to spare, or the outcry would be worse than it is now, as others have pointed out. Uru is not like a traditional MMO where the content is already there and the players can busy themselves leveling up and all that. They've said that they were going to tell a story and have a dynamic world, so they have to do that.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:40 pm 
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Quote:
Quote:
A'lan: "In addition, since they are apparently pushing what resources they have to the limit, they would have to reduce or eliminate their own age releases for a few months or so while they built, tested, polished, and certified those age creation tools you mention."


Jennifer_P: "Yep, Age creation tools would have to be a month's new content release, if not two months of content release."


What exactly makes you think that? What information do you have that makes you think that it would only take a month or two? I'm not saying "you're wrong", because I honestly have no specific knowledge about how long it would take, but I can't help but wonder if you do, either. Perhaps it's just a difference of perception. I always got the impression that making Age Creation Tools would be a massive undertaking--even just tools that would still require some graphic-design skills, as opposed to the dreamed-about "drag-and-drop" kind.

I see giving up standard content for even a month or two as an unwise decision, because so many people who are more interested in standard content than Fan-Created Content would get bored and frustrated, and maybe leave entirely. And we don't want that. So I figure that it would make more sense for Cyan to do as A'lan suggested:

Quote:
A'lan: "One strategy they could use would be to wait for the moment when MOUL has grown to the point where they are allowed to add resources, and then allocate those new resources specifically to work on the age creation tools. That way the new resource can be working on that "age making machine" you mention, without impacting the productiveness of the current team at Cyan. That would reduce (not eliminate) the cost to the current resources."


Hopefully Uru's fanbase is growing slowly, despite how stagnant it may seem. And thus, hopefully eventually Cyan will gain additional resources. The question is, when that happens, will they choose to divert those resources to Age Creation Tools, or to improving the current mode of content release? It's a tough decision. Perhaps the community will be willing to continue with the current rate of release, and Cyan will begin working on Age Creation Tools. Or perhaps Cyan will divert those new resources towards standard content release, and wait a while longer until the NEXT time they gain additional resources, and THEN divert them to Age Creation Tools. It's a tough decision. Or perhaps they'll still use those new resources for standard content, and wait for the next time around. It's a tough decision.

I've always felt that, while Age Creation is certainly a legitimate and worthwhile topic, there are 2 problems that arise in such topics. First is complaints/concerns/etc. about legal issues, quality control, In-Character-ness, etc. I figure that we can deal with those problems As They Arise. That's not to say that we should pretend that they won't happen until they DO happen....we need to be aware of future concerns. But figuring out how to make Age Creation work will probably be a lot easier if we just tackle one problem at a time.

Which leads me to the second problem. We talk and talk and talk so much with each other about Age Creation Tools (and despite complaints about repetitiveness, it IS necessary for new, uninformed people), but we talk so little to Cyan about it. And in the end, whether Cyan creates Age Creation Tools entirely themselves, or whether Fans do almost all the work, or whether it's something in between, we need to know where Cyan stands. We know they want Age Creation Tools to happen, but we need to know what their situation is (current and projected future) about resources, the impression THEY are getting about how much of the Community wants Age Creation Tools, etc.

I know, Cyan is incredibly busy, and hard to get in touch with (in or out of Uru). But that doesn't mean we can't send them e-mails. Of course, tons of e-mails would take up a lot of their time, so perhaps all those who want Age Creation Tools to happen (how/when/etc. doesn't matter) could collaborate on an e-mail to Cyan, voicing their desires.

It wouldn't need to have a lot of details--i.e., we know this many people who are skilled in this and that programs....we are willing to wait such-and-such an amount of time without new content....we can form a volunteer beta group, etc....we just need to let them know that when they get the chance, we would greatly appreciate it if they could open up a dialogue, however brief, with the Community, to discuss the Present, Near Future, and Distant Future of Age Creation Tools.

Wow, this post went on longer than I meant it to :) I just wanted to voice my thoughts on Age Creation Tools. Hopefully I've come across as wanting to be Constructive in All Things.

Questions? Comments? Verbal Abuse?

....or maybe I'll just shut up now :P

*shuts up*

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:19 pm 
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I was going to sit back and watch, but I feel (probably unfortunately) compelled to post something in here :roll:

Age Creation tools will provide Cyan with some new content. They will not however, double the content release rate.

*actually goes back to read what was said*

Oh. Cyan should never need to stop content to bring us Age Creation tools. We have community members writing the tools as it is, all that Cyan needs to do is get together with us and discuss some technical implementation stuff and then we could easily have fan made Ages ready.

Again, I'm going to keep plugging this link in Age Creation threads, you can ask questions and get answers on the HuruStudio website. If you have suggestions, the tools writers would gladly like to hear them. http://blog.hurustudio.org/age-creation-faq-info/


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:19 pm 
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The main problem I see is that most of the community would really not like it if Cyan told them "The next two months, there will be nothing, and then we'll release age-creation tools".

That's the biggest drawback in my mind too. Another "payment plan" would be to spend, say, 25% of each month's time/energy/money budget on Age creation tools and still use 75% of it to create new content. Also if Cyan were send a long, explanatory KI mail to Uru users explaining the situation and encouraging people to form Age creation teams and prepare drawings, music, etc. for when the tools come out, it would soften the blow. Reading essays like this one about the benefits of Age creation tools helps soften the blow too, which was one of the reasons I wrote it. :P And one final possibility is that Jalak may have repeatable gameplay, and thus users could be kept occupied for two months instead of one.
Quote:
Many would leave in that time, I think. In addition, we don't know what GameTap thinks about user-created content... perhaps they don't like that idea.

Well, Cyan announced its plan to introduce fan created Ages five months ago, and we haven't heard them say they've changed their minds, so I think Gametap probably knows about it and is okay with it.

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then there is licensing fees, copyright costs,

Hm, I didn't know about this part--I though Cyan owned its own software?
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some back story that relates this age to the storyline and D'ni in the direction that Cyan wants to take it

Eh, having Ages that relate to the storyline and D'ni is a want and not a need. How much do we REALLY know about the pod Ages? There are many ways around this problem which would cost next nothing in terms of time and effort on Cyan's part. (Some ideas are: Say that ICly speaking, fan created Ages are newly created and modern era, or simply forbid all defining references to D'ni culture)
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additional hardware needed to serve the additional content in a reliable manner

How so? I don't see why they would need to buy any new hardware...?
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No free lunch.

Hehe, true--I'm only saying it would be a relatively cheap lunch.
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An "age-creation machine" can not be bought for $1 in only one month.

Obviously the numbers are wrong; they're only there to illustrate a principle. I'm thinking you're thinking that the tools haven't been developed at all yet? Cyan actually has the toolset in hand--they use it to create Ages for us--the problem is getting the tools to us, not creating the tools, really...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:24 pm 
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Yes, Cyan has their own, in-house tools that they use.

Unfortunately their tools have no documentation, and exist as plugins for the 3DStudio Max program (which comes with a large pricetag attached).

The fan made tools are designed to be user-friendly and work with the free, open-source 3D modelling program Blender (which can import and export to a variety of other formats).

People complain about the usability of fan tools... I'd hate to see what they would say about Cyan's internal toolset :P


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