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  • Game Design Challenge: MMO-OFF

    - staff
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted, along with some commentary.

    The Challenge

    Design a system for an MMO to incentivize limited play.

    Assignment Details

    There's been a fair amount of controversy over the past several years about players spending too much time in MMOs; some governments have even levied restrictions against games in the genre.

    On the other hand, there is, perhaps, an even bigger crisis. Most MMO games are full of hand-crafted content. If players blow through your content too quickly, they'll become bored and leave the game. Creating game content up to contemporary standards is a painstaking and expensive process, so this is a crucial issue.

    Your task is to design a system for an MMO which encourages players to limit their playtime in a game (or, perhaps, limit their progression but not their total playtime) -- but without making the player feel like they are being penalized.

    Recently, Square Enix announced its system for upcoming Final Fantasy XIV which is supposed to serve this purpose -- to fan outrage. Here's a relevant link.

    World of Warcraft
    had a similar, if simpler system in its Beta, which docked experience from players after a certain point -- and these players hated it, until it was swapped out for an essentially identical system, but one which characterized points earned early on as an up-front experience bonus.

    Particularly in MMOs and other online games, there's a psychological element to game design. Be aware of it.

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forum. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Design Challenge: MMO-OFF." Please type your answer directly in the email body.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, September 8

    Results will be posted Tuesday, September 14

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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