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Developing Online Games: An Insider's Guide

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  • Copyright 2003
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 528
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 1-59273-000-0
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-59273-000-1

A soup-to-nuts overview of just what it takes to successfully design, develop and manage an online game. Learn from the top two online game developers through the real-world successes and mistakes not known to others. There are Case studies from 10+ industry leaders, including Raph Koster, J. Baron, R. Bartle, D. Schubert, A. Macris, and more! Covers all types of online games: Retail Hybrids, Persistent Worlds, and console games.

Developing Online Games provides insight into designing, developing and managing online games that is available nowhere else. Online game programming guru Jessica Mulligan and seasoned exec Bridgette Patrovsky provide insights into the industry that will allow others entering this market to avoid the mistakes of the past. In addition to their own experiences, the authors provide interviews, insight and anecdotes from over twenty of the most well-known and experienced online game insiders. The book includes case studies of the successes and failures of today's most well-known online games. There is also a special section for senior executives on how to budget an online game and how to assemble the right development and management teams. The book ends with a look at the future of online gaming: not only online console gaming (Xbox Online, Playstation 2), but the emerging mobile device game market (cell phones, wireless, PDA).

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Raph Koster.


Introduction.

I. EXECUTIVE CONSIDERATIONS.

1. The Market.

Do We Enter the Market? Basic Considerations. How and Which Niche? Market Analysis: Who Are These People, Anyway?

2. Planning and Budgeting.

Cost of Entry. Budgeting and Return on Investment (ROI) Factors. Talent Pool: Management and Hiring Issues. Differentiation Between Product and Service. Budgeting the Development and Launch.

3. Project Management/Manager.

Project Plans. Yes, It Really Will Take at Least 23 Years to Complete. Why Production Slips Happen. Project Realities.

4. Marketing and Distribution Concerns: Retail Box, Download, or Both?

Downloading: Not (Yet) a Viable Option. Buying Shelf Space. The AOL Model: Do You Need to Actually Sell the Client?

5. Calculating and Expanding the Profit Margins: The Cost of Doing Business.

Some Numbers. Add-On Profits.

II. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT CONSIDERATIONS.

6. Basic Design and Development Issues.

Practicalities and Advice. Design.

7. Digging Deeper into Development and Design Issues.

Technical Considerations. Where to Start? Building the Right Tools. Host Hardware and Bandwidth. Player Hardware and Software. Customer Support: Dude, Wheres My Tools?

8. Getting into the Design.

Acquisition and Retention Features. The Themis Group Player Satisfaction Matrix. The Critical “New Player Experience”. Its the Socialization, Stupid! The Importance of (the Other Guys) Storytelling. World-Building: Just What Is “Content,” Anyway?

9. Other Design and Development Issues.

Console: Oh, Brave New World! One Problem: The Designers. Development Issues. Balancing Creativity with a Schedule. The Test Process. The Freeze: Closing the Loop to Launch. Ramping Up Player Support.

III. LAUNCHING AND MANAGING A GAME.

10. Launch Day.

Launch Philosophy. The Importance of a Technically Stable Launch . Whos in Charge on Launch Day? Disaster Control. If Disaster Happens.

11. Managing a Game Post-Launch.

Barbarians, Tribesmen, and Citizens. Transitioning from the Development Team to the Live Team. Managing the Expectations of the Players. Player Relations: The In-Game GMs. The Service Philosophy: Acquiring and Retaining Subscribers. Security: Keeping Honest People Honest. Community Relations: Processes.

12. The Live Development Team.

Live Development Team Responsibilities. The Publishing Process. The Publishing Plan. Patch Creation and Publishing Schedules. The Live Test Server. How Often Should You Publish? Critical Bugs and Exploits. Bug-Fixing Versus Nerfing. Planning and Implementing Major Expansions. Implementing an Expansion.

IV. ARTICLES FROM THE EXPERTS.

13. Microsofts UltraCorps: Why This Turn-Based Game Failed.

Turned-Based Conquest Games Are Not Mass-Market. Too Easy to Exploit the Game Design. Constant Bugs and “Hacks” Destroyed the Games Credibility. Lack of Publicity and Marketing by Microsoft. Failure to Refresh the Game Often Enough. The Zones Sysops Were AWOL.

14. Anarchy Online Post-Mortem.

The Foreplay. The First Trimester—Development of the Bone Structure (The Technology). The Second Trimester: The Heartbeat of the Auto Content Generator System. The Last Trimester—Getting Ready to Be Born. The Birth: The Launch. Post-Launch: Infancy and Toddler Years.

15. Glory and Shame: Powerful Psychology in Multiplayer Online Games.

Buzzword Snow. A Unique Audience. A Unique Medium. The Power of Shame. The Problem with Glory. Pure Meritocracy: The Ultimate Glory Game. Cumulative Character Games: The Devoted All Go to Heaven. Achievement Versus Development. Summary: Development over Achievement.

16. Case Study: Online Game Lifecycles.

Achieving Mass Market Status. The Current Top Four MMOGs Worldwide as of December 2002.

17. Fighting Player Burnout in Massively Multiplayer Games.

The Exponential Curve of Death. More Content? Play Less, Please. Conclusion.

18. Post-Mortem: Mythics Dark Age of Camelot.

The Community. The Beta Starts. Server Backend Configuration. The Business Arrangement. Lessons Learned.

19. Managing Deviant Behavior in Online Worlds.

What Are Some Kinds of Undesirable Behavior? Why Undesirable Behavior Is a Complex Problem. Why Do People Engage in Abusive or Undesirable Behavior? Establishing a Code of Conduct. Detection. Verification. Corrective Action and Remedies. Encouraging Desirable Behavior.

20. The Lighter Side of Meridian 59s History.

Prologue. The Timeline.

V. APPENDICES AND GLOSSARY.

Appendix A. Executive Considerations Checklist.

Appendix B. Bios of Interviewees.

Jeffrey Anderson. Richard A. Garriott. Gaute Godager. Scott Hawkins. Thomas Howalt. Daniel “Savant” Manachi. Kathy Schoback. Damion Schubert. Jack D. Smith. Gordon Walton.

Appendix C. The Bartle Quotient Survey Questions and Some Results.

The Bartle Test. Bartle Survey Results for Five Leading Games.

Appendix D. Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs.

2002 Introduction to the Article by Dr. Bartle. Abstract. Preface. A Simple Taxonomy. Interest Graph. Changing the Player Type Balance. The Social Versus Game-Like Debate. Player Interactions. Dynamics. Overbalancing a Mud. Summary. References.

Appendix E. Online World Timeline.

Appendix F. Glossary.

Index.

Errata

Errata for the book - Updated 06/19/02 - 36 kb - Errata0000.pdf

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