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XBox (Games)

How Can Game Developers Improve Gamer Involvement? 29

Posted by Cliff
from the developers-and-gamers-working-together dept.
TimCrider asks: "TeamXBOX is running an editorial about how console game developers can get the gaming communities more involved in the games themselves. Does anyone have any suggestions on how console developers can help build a gaming community?"
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How Can Game Developers Improve Gamer Involvement?

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  • SDK's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bastardknight (918695) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:24PM (#13671094)
    How bout letting us mod the games? Modding games can allow games to have huge communities and much longer shelf lifes. I remember downloading, playing and creating maps for Duke Nukem, becasue of this I played that game long after it had past it's prime. Sony's attitude towards homebrew on the PSP has actually prevented me from buying one at this point.

    Oh and FIRST POST

  • In a word: Don't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rahga (13479) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:25PM (#13671104) Homepage Journal
    Did Jerry Garcia say "I want to build a musician fan community that will follow me wherever I go." ...?

    Did Bungie set out to create a community of people that are so dedicated to their games that they are willing to subject themselves to bizzare alternative reality role playing games about a game?

    Did Kos say "I want to rally the teeming masses of ignorant college kids and soccer moms against the unjust white male bourgeois pigs!" ...? (Okay, maybe he did.)

    My point is really this: Community forms where they will, and trying to get gamers to build a community around your product is a stupid and condescending idea. How about this: If you build it, they will come. That'll work a whole lot better than corporate-sponsored video game fan club #232131.
    • i think the key point is that you need something of quality first and foremost - something that game publishers & developers fail to notice time and time again.

      developing yet another ww2 game or yet another 'space marine fighting aliens' game is not going to endear yourself to the gaming community.

      oh, and in repsonse to the 'did bungie try to...' - yes they obviously did - microsoft's massive multi-million dollar marketing budget for the game very much did create this groundswell of following - the fact
      • by steveo777 (183629)
        this recent 'rabbit' website promotion and all of the articles & followup reports that promoted it with drolling anticipation as a followup, slashdot included.

        I wonder if this won't have a negative impact. It surged out in wonder and dilivered absolutly nothing. It was like hyping a rock under a blanket.

        Sure, when you take off the blanket there is an extremely strange rock under it, but nobody cares because there are exremely strange rocks all over the place. Nobody understands the rock. The rock

    • Re:In a word: Don't. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Magnakai (772137)
      There's a difference between attempting to build a mod community around a POS and making it easy for a possible user community to spring up. Opening user forums and actively supporting any development around a game = good attitude. Imagine if Valve hadn't bundled Worldcraft with Half Life and had tried (for whatever reason) to quash Counterstrike. Yes, you can't spring up a community out of nothing, but you can attempt to make a comfortable climate for it to foster.
  • They can't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kinglink (195330) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:36PM (#13671198)
    The very idea of the Console, makes it near impossible. We don't need mods or huge online sections of the game, we just need enjoyable games. You make great games you get fans. Some examples of minor interaction are MGS (MGS2 has all tags from real people's names, might be only in substance) and We Love Katamari (basically the entire game is a thank you for the fans.) But some of the best games is the ones that people feel like they get a large choice system in different ways.

    Look at Ratchet and Clank, you choose your weapon in each situation, no weapon is always great so it's fun, You choose which mission, what problem and so on to tackle. Same with Sly Cooper and to an extent Jak.

    The whole idea now is that you need to make the consumer feel like they have a choice in the game, Morrowind really got a lot of leverage because the game developes around the character even before mods are put in, then you factor in mods and each game feels tailor made.

    The whole point I'm making is that you need a game where the user feels like he has a say. Notice, NOT A choice such as buying a different version, those piss off people because your forcing a decision. A "say" is "whether I go to Azeroth now or in a couple hours after I check out this other new dungeon."

    At least that's what I think will allow you to have a community, making each game a unique experience should go a long way with creating a community.
  • Maybe we should take a lesson from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and turn the problem around. It's not like the dress code would be that far off, most of the characters in the games dress like Frankie Fans. There are mods you can run around buck naked in the game just like you are often playing it. [shudder]

    Remember Gamers go to SciFi conventions, look at how they dress. Do I really need to go on??

    PLEASE SOMEBODY BUILD A BETTER GAMER!!!!
    • Build a better GAME (Score:2, Interesting)

      by banzaimonkey (917475)

      Console developers only know how to do two things in games: Objectify women, and ... no wait, that's all.

      If you want to get people interested in some sort of community, you need to stop selling soft porn and start selling a game that you play, not one that you watch.

      Aside from that, console games are almost always linear, there's no replay value, no depth, it's just another "Super Mario" with T&A. Start making games like Morrowind on consoles and you'll get a community. Add flexibility, require the g

  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:40PM (#13671236)
    While the question is about encouraging a gamer community I think it's worth looking at the way Tecmo discouraged it. All the people at NinjaHacker.net (now offline) were fans of various Tecmo franchises, particularly the DOA games. They had worked out ways of changing the costumes of the characters in these games, which spurred a huge number of alternate costumes for the various characters in the games. One costume made a character look like the Terminator, one make Ryu in DOA look like he did in Ninja Gaiden and there were dozens of others. These were the dedicated fans a games company would love to have, yet Tecmo decided to sue the site's owners under the DMCA and threatened to go after the people who contributed the alternate costumes! While that is a valid response, surely the first step should have been to just ask NinjaHacker.net to cease whatever it was that they objected too? Surely threatening to sue all your fans isn't the best way to endear them to you?

    Conversely Bungee love their community, would we have Red vs Blue if Tecmo had made it I wonder? Bungee is an example of how to do communities right, as they support and encourage what people do. Heck they even offer advice to game modders on how to do things. I just boycott Tecmo games now on the principle that they do not allow modding, I should have the right to do whatever I want with software I've bought.

    I tried making that point here [1up.com] but the asshole guy who wrote the article edited and deleted my posts because he only likes feedback that agrees with him... Perhaps I take a leaf from Tecmo's book and sue him for modding my posts?
    • Ahhhh, the good ol' DMC of A.

      You can blame upper management for that.

      You give someone a weapon and tell them "you may need this one day".

      Some people will put the weapon in the closet, clean it once in a while, and carrying on with their lives. They will use it only when they really have to.

      Others will go find something to shoot.

      DMCA: The weapon of choice for more entertainment companies.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:43PM (#13671272) Homepage Journal
    .. in the game. And don't think all society is about statistics and numbers; there is more to a good act, good theatre, excellent literature, wonderful drama, than just keeping score of who has what token 'upgrade'.

    Quit thinking of games as if they're anything less than modern literature. Books have their lessons; if you want to develop a game people talk about and form communities around, read a few more books ..
  • Quite a few comments have already been made about allowing modding.
    Add to that a really good story in the original game / campaign / whatever and you're getting close to a good thing.

    Whilst I am not an expert game designer, or even a very talented gamer, I do know which games have kept me coming back time and again. In no particular order: Neverwinter Nights, No-One Lives Forever, Soldier of Fortune II Double Helix.

    The storylines in those games were involving. It's a bit like an interactive book or movie.
    • SoF2 is just about the best semi-realistic FPS ever made. A bunch of my friends at college used to play what we called 'death house' on the randomly generated multiplayer maps. We would all converge on whichever building was closest to the center of the map, and the point of the game was to hold the building for the most time possible until the kill limit ran out, while everyone else assaulted it and tried to take it back. It was a shame that none of us knew how to code a mod so that the game could 'offi
  • There are a ton of things game companies can do that can encourage gaming communities, none of which are easy and most of which people try to do already.

    The first of all and this one is absolutely necessary is, making a good game. No matter how hard you try you can not build a community around a bad game. I'm sure developers never try and make a game that they think will be bad just for the sake of getting that quick buck before the gamers realize that the game sucks. But if you have a bad game you will not
    • It's not the key, but making features of your game accessible to ad hoc systems through standardised protocols is a good idea, and it is likely to increase community paticipation by making it easier for people to share information about the game.
  • by PurpleFloyd (149812) <(zeno20) (at) (attbi.com)> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:43PM (#13671796) Homepage
    It seems to me that creating "community involvement" in the development of a game could potentially be a major mistake for game developers. While it sounds great (you're giving people what they want, after all), there's a serious problem: for the most part, the people who get involved will be the hardcore gamers. These gamers will demand complex features, interfaces which may well be difficult to master (although efficient once mastered), and high levels of difficulty.

    While none of these are necessarialy bad things, these features would tend to alienate a much larger market segment, casual gamers. Furthermore, there will always be complaints about certain issues from the hardcore segment. For example, I knew many people who were upset that the weapons, especially the rocket launcher, in Quake II were balanced far better than the original Quake; keep in mind that the rocket launcher in Quake I was by far the most powerful weapon in the game and that deathmatches frequently were rocket launcher races. Of course, these players were unhappy because they were forced to deal with something novel; they wanted the same deathmatch gameplay they had always had. Most of them warmed up to Quake II's multiplayer over the course of a month or so, acknowledging that better weapon balance actually made the game more fun, but if Id had asked them their opinions after a few hours with the game they would have loudly complained about the "worthless" rocket launcher.

    The lesson here is not that community involvement is always a bad thing. However, when dealing with the hardcore gaming crowd, there will be a lot of people who want exactly the same thing they had before, with prettier graphics. This would lead to an industry devoid of innovation, alienating its games farther from the casual market with each iteration.

    Now, this doesn't mean that games shouldn't be easily moddable. In fact, that's an important way to keep people happy - not satisfied with a certain weapon? With a good mod system, you can change it to the way you and your friends like it. Moreover, there are also some incredible user-created mods, too - Counterstrike got its start as a Half-Life mod. A good mod system makes sense, both in appealing to a community and as a business decision; a good mod can certainly prolong the life of a game. It's important to allow a creative outlet for people to modify your game, but it's not a good idea to base the entire thing on the input of a small crowd of hardcore gamers - the people a "community involvement" system would almost certainly attract.

  • develop for Nintendo's Revolution. . . Just think of the possibilities with the motion sensing remote, and the gamepad shell. . . Think of the impact that could be had in a first person shooter with a gun shell, or a steering whell shell. . .
    These are just ideas based on our current games, the revolution has the possibility to define completely new genres that can't be thought of based on current dev/market trends.
  • No, thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mirkon (618432) <.mirkon. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:33PM (#13672136) Homepage
    I'm getting tired of player-driven content. Lazy developers make an open engine, and instead of writing content, "allow" players to make it up themselves. An interesting social simulation, but I for one am becoming bored of paying someone to make up my own fun.
  • A good way to reach gamers is to get them involved in portions of the development process. I'm starting an independent game marketing company that's dedicated to building a bridge between the small game development studios and the gaming community. The hype of the game isn't always related to the big media marketing package that the publishers like. Many of the CEOs of the major publishers don't have a gaming background. We actually refurbished a bus that is modular and allows us to demo any game, on any s
  • Well.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @05:27AM (#13674308) Homepage
    1) Cut the hype. It might have 32-bit, 100FPS graphics but if we are lead to expect the entire game to be like that and it isn't, we won't like you. Tell us what you WANT the game to have, tell us what it's ACTUALLY got and ask us what we think. This also means get rid of cutscenes and DO NOT SHOW CUTSCENES in advertisements.

    2) Testing. Demo disks of new games. Must be fully playable, must be a complete level. If we like it we will tell you. If we don't, we won't tell you unless you ask us. Put a BIG banner in the demo at the end that lets people win a prize if they come up with the best suggestion or whatever.

    3) Feedback. After you release a game, go looking for those sites that list "I wish game X had Y" and IMPLEMENT IT in the sequel/next patch. READ THE OFFICIAL FORUMS FOR THE GAME and take people seriously rather than having your own agenda for what goes into the sequel/next game.

    4) Movement. Keep changing the game, the stuff that's in it, don't take stuff out that works, ask for opinions, release smaller updates (with things like XBoxLive now, there's no excuse not to have regular, massive patches... think Steam... I buy Half Life 2 on console and when I've just completed it, bang! I get a free upgrade mod like CS:Source or something). Keep showing me what the game can do in new and interesting ways.

    5) Modifications. Let me download mods - again with XBox live and similar systems there's nothing to stop "those in the know" from being able to download an SDK that you put out for the game, develop some sort of mod with it and then UPLOAD IT where anyone with the console and a suitable net connection can then DOWNLOAD IT and play it. Yes, you'll be cut completely out of the customer experience by this but they will love your game and you can buy up the best mods later (think Counterstrike). This extends to things like nude patches, new skins, new sounds etc. (don't worry... if you're not creating them yourself, you won't get sued like Rockstar did over the GTA mod)

    6) Online play - players will create their own communities without you, but at least it's better than people just never talking about the game because they can't play it with their mates.

    Those are just suggestions. Everything else is just minor details, like the technicalities of having a forum where people can rave about your game.
  • As other posters mentioned, it's tough for consoles. The biggest thing that drives communities is a sense that your feedback matters. I'm not going to go on and on about a game, or bother to post in the forums, if my voice is never heard. Well, maybe my voice shouldn't be heard, but somebodies should. That's part of what drives a lot of MMOG communities, a sense that if they scream loudly enough things will change. And generally it does.

    If you don't have a good story line, and you're not going to (or
  • How about not enforcing completely facist patent laws and dont try and milk your audience for as much money as you can make.
  • by kinglink (195330) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:32AM (#13676469)
    Ok so there's some good answers here already, but here's where it gets to be important.

    NEVER rely on the fans, make a great game on your own with fan added content is the max you should do... Never rely on the gamer to make the game.

    The important note here, is What Star Wars Galaxies has taught gamers. Basically when Star wars galaxies came out it relied on a name... (star wars) so people bought in, but there was NOTHING to do, all the beta people really didn't help, most people were given a site into it and they yawned.

    So when the game came out it did poorly. What did the people who made the game say? That it was the fault of the PLAYERS! Honestly this is the exact reason they sited for the mmorpg's failing. This of course pissed off what fans they had and almost ended the game.

    The biggest thing you must do as someone else meantioned? Don't piss off the fans, don't attack them, don't tell them not to do stuff. If you want a fan community, you need to realize you're going to have to give up some "rights" if people hack your game to change minor things, and they enjoy it, congradulate them. As long as they buy your game you should be happy with anyone who takes an interest in your game.

    Another example I will give is World of Warcraft, now there's a "plague" apparently going on, sounds like it sucks, but when I saw that I was like "wait a second, SWEET!" they were letting a major glitch go because it acted like something else, and people enjoyed it. The major towns were screwed, but you know just by seeing that it made me interested, because the GMs and programmers were make a positive out of a negative, and giving everyone a good time as it goes. That alone is possibly the best thing you can do. Yes people died (but if you play WoW you know you don't lose much for death) but people probably had fun with it. Made the world a little less friendly but also made people enjoy it, and changed the dynamics of the game accidently. Overall I can't imagine anything they could have done any better when it's a glitch.

    Basically three rules

    Don't rely on your fans.

    Don't take yourself too seriously. It will ruin your company straight out if in the game everything must be Serious. Even if it's a serious game, relax a bit sometimes.

    NEVER attack your fans with laws.
  • I like games that have a camera which helps you see what going on.
    Platform games should be banded. Jumping from platform to platform should not be part of a game formula or even an obstacle.
    How about controls that I can set up myself. I like all my PC FPS games set up the same so why can't I do this with a console? How about not having to unlock every item, just to be able to even see it.
    There must be years of work put into games which I will never see.

    Here are some more points for corporate people.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

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