Trouble with Online Games

Trouble with Online Games.

Wired reports on Electonic Arts' decision to shut
down UXO
(Ultima X: Odyssey) and goes on to elaborate on the pain and cost of
running a massive online games. While developing the game client and server
itself is within the realm of developers' abilities, creating the content of a virtual
world and keeping it an interesting place to live in is a difficult and neverending
task that most developers will find difficult to manage, even if they have a deep
pocket like EA.

The missing ingredient in today's online games that full 3D online world developers
forgot to translate from MUD (Multiple User Dungeon, a text-only online world) is
community participation in building and maintaining the online world. Instead
of hiring legions of artists and area designers, they should have leveraged the creative
power of the players themselves by creating tools and offering incentives. With
such legions of superusers, all they needed was a much smaller staff to control the

Player participation in running online worlds should not stop with content but also
operation. Let the superusers handle most of the in-game headaches such as user
complaints and conflict moderation. Going beyond that, superusers should also
be used to play NPC roles such as monsters, shop owners, etc.

Unfortunately, EA looked only at the numbers and chose the easy way out instead of
using UXO as an opportunity to explore more creative options. [Don Park's Daily Habit]

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