Thursday, November 19, 2009

That's not an MMO, its a...

Some people call almost anything "big" an MMO. Is facebook an MMO? Is a chess ladder an MMO? Is Pogo? Not to me.

What about iMob and all the art-swapped stuff by The Godfather on the iPhone? You have an account with one character. Your level/score persists, money, and which buttons you've press on the "quest" screen. As much as they want to call that an MMO, it is something else. Is it an RPG? Well, there is a character. But you don't even get to see him. Or are you a her?

These super-light-weight online games are not technically challenging. You can build one out of web-tech or some other transaction server. If you are all into optimizing a problem that scalable web services solved years ago, cool. Your company probably even makes money. But it doesn't push the envelope. Someone is going to eat your lunch.

Maybe I should have called this blog "Interesting Online Game Technologies".

Me? I want to build systems that let studios build the "hard" MMO's, like large seamless worlds. I don't want a landscape that only has WoW. If that tech were already available, we'd be seeing much lower budgets, more experimentation, games that are more fun, lower subscription fees, more diversity, and better content. All at the same time. I certainly don't want to build the underlying infrastructure over and over.

Of course, I'd love it if the tech solved all the hard problems so my team could build something truly advanced while still landing the funding. Unfortunately, today, people have to compromise. But maybe not for long.

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