Train2Game News: MMOs represent “toughest part of the game industry” says SWTOR lead designer

MMOs are the most difficult genre for game developers to be successful in. That’s the view of Star Wars: The Old Republic associate lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi.

“The MMO is the toughest part of the game industry without a doubt and we live in tough economic times in general,” he told PC Gamer.

“We have a very large development team still, definitely one of the biggest in the industry, and we have a very complete and detailed plan for the rest of the year.” the BioWare man continued.

“The players don’t really care about all that, behind closed curtains, but they want what they’re paying for which is a service with new content, new systems, that’s what they’re asking for and we listen to them. That’s what we mean to deliver.” he added.

Train2Game spoke to Emmanuel Lusinchi last year, in an in-depth discussion which covered development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, what his role as associate lead designer involves, and advice on getting into the games industry. Read it here on The Train2Game Blog.

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for the latest Star Wars: The Old Republic news.

Do you agree with Lusinchi about MMOs being the hardest games to develop? That said, would you like to work on one in future?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Free-to-play “the only sustainable option” for MMOs say Turbine

Train2Game Blog readers will have noticed how many MMOs have switched from being subscription based to a free-to-play model, including Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeon and Dragons Online.

And Turbine has told games.on.net that free-to-play might now be the only sustainable model for MMOs.

“The great thing about F2P is that it makes it a lot easier for players to check out the game or even come and go from another game,” said the unnamed interviewee.

“We continue to have hundreds of thousands of players in DDO every month and I doubt that could be the case if we were in a classic subscription model. It also allows different players to spend more or less in the game and everyone can contribute to the community in different ways and we can focus on improving the service for everyone. Overall it was and continues to be a great change for our game.”

“Is it sustainable? We would argue that it might be the only sustainable option.” they added.

Of course, the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic and the continued success of World of Warcraft suggests there’s still some life in subscription MMOs yet.

There’s on free-to-play here on The Train2Game Blog.

What do you think is the future for MMOs? Will everything end up free-to-play? Or will there still be a demand for subscription based games?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: BioWare writer to give master class in games writing

Train2Game students have the opportunity to hear Star Wars: The Old Republic writer Jo Berry speak about game design, when she gives a public master class at Sheffield Hallam University later this month.

The BioWare writer is a graduate of the university’s Master’s degree in Creative Writing, who moved to the United States in 2008. The master class will see her pass on advice about creating dialogue and characters, building scenes that work both for the narrative and as exciting set pieces, and writing for voice actors.

“Attention to the quality of video game writing is increasing – gamers are demanding better storytelling and the industry is responding.” said Berry.

“Writing for video games is perhaps not something that creative writers would consider but it is an exciting career where your writing might find a home. I’m looking forward to coming back to the University and sharing my experiences with potential games writers of the future.” she added.

The public masterclass takes place in the University’s Norfolk Building, room 210 on Wednesday 25 April from 6:10 until 7.30pm. For more information, see the Sheffield Hallam website.

As previously reported by The Train2Game Blog, Star Wars: The Old Republic gained almost 2 million subscribers in its first month on sale.  Train2Game students can get an insight behind the scenes of the game, and advice on getting into the industry,  in our interview with BioWare Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

There’s more Star Wars: The Old Republic news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

Will you attend the public master class with Jo Berry? What would you ask here?

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Star Wars: The Old Republic gains 1.7 million subscribers in first month

Star Wars The Old Republic Train2Game blog imageTrain2Game Blog readers will have seen plenty of recent posts about MMO’s going free-to-play, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for subscription based titles.

The Evidence? BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic has gained 1.7 million paying subscribers in the little over a month since the game launched.

The figures were revealed during an EA investors meeting, with other data including Star Wars: The Old Republic sees over one million unique log ins per day, with the average play session around the four hour mark.

“This great launch makes Star Wars: The Old Republic the fastest growing subscription MMO in history” EA CEO John Riccitiello is quoted by Develop in telling investors.

“We’re incredibly pleased to see this great game from BioWare off to a very strong start,” he added.

The Train2Game Blog spoke with BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka & Dr. Greg Zeschuk about the history of their studio  and how to get into the games industry towards the end of last year.

We also spoke in-depth to Star Wars: The Old Republic Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi during our trip to Gamescom last August. Train2Game students can find out the design process behind the MMO in this huge Train2Game Blog interview.

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for the latest news on Star Wars: The Old Republic and BioWare.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the initial success of SWTOR? Are you a paying subscriber? Will the success last?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Develop/Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Free-to-play can “give your consumers a better experience”

Train2Game students will have noticed the increasing trend for developers to use a free-to-play model in games.

Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online are among a number of previously subscription based titles that have made a leap to free-to-play.

And in his latest column for Gamasutra, games industry analyst Nicholas Lovell argues that this free-to-play model is better both for both consumers and developers.

“By enabling free-to-play games that allow people to play cool games for free, forever and choose – flexibly, with no commitment – to spend a little money or a lot of money on things that they value in the game, I believe that you give your consumers a better experience and make more money than you would with subscriptions.” said Lovell, who has previously spoken to The Train2Game Blog about industry trends including the free-to-play model.

He also did a video interview with Train2Game at The Eurogamer Expo, which can be seen here.

Lovell added that the rise of free-to-play means Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the last big subscription based MMO.

“I think that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the last, massive, subscription MMO because new models have been proven to be better business, especially for games with a niche audience.” he said.

Last week, the Train2Game Blog reported that Ubisoft believe their upcoming free-to-play title Ghost Recon online will be AAA quality.

For the latest news about industry trends, including free-to-play, keep reading The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts? Is free-to-play better for both game developers and consumers? Is it a model you’d use?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Bioware would test more if they made Star Wars: The Old Republic again

Train2Game students will be aware that Bioware launched their long awaited MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic last month, after many years in development.

Now, in an interview with TORWars, Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk has revealed that if given the chance, Bioware would do it all again, but in hindsight, there are things they’d do slightly different during development, including much more testing.

“I think we would definitely do it over again given the opportunity, or a time machine.” said Zeschuk, who along with fellow Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka spoke to The Train2Game Blog about the studio last November.

“I think we can see a lot of things we could have done differently given the benefit of retrospective vision, but I also don’t think we would have changed many decisions. It would more have been a process of refinement and fine tuning to our plans.”

Train2Game Blog readers might recall that Bioware put massive importance on testing Star Wars: The Old Republic, but Zeschuk believes they should’ve done even more of it in order to help develop the game.

“Certainly testing even more than we did, and doing so earlier would have been a good goal.” he said.

“ I also think in retrospect we would have been able to weight some of our technical decisions differently given that we ultimately knew what worked after the fact and what needed a lot of work; there was no way of knowing that in advance, but in retrospect that would have helped quite a bit.” Zeschuk concluded.

Of course, Train2Game offers a course in games QA testing, which you can find out more about here.

For more about the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, read our interview with Bioware Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi right here on The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Zeschuks comments?  What do they say about the importance of testing throughout game development?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: TORWars via VG247]

Train2Game news: UK Charts – FIFA 12 stays No.1 as Star Wars: The Old Republic nosedives

Train2Game students see FIFA 12 take the honour of being the UK’s final chart topper of 2011, while Star Wars: The Old Republic drops 28 places.

It’s FIFA 12’s fourth appearance as the UK’s best seller of the week and as reported by The Train2Game Blog, the football sim first took No.1 with its release last October, becoming the third ever biggest video game launch in the UK.

It’s also the second No.1 in a row for FIFA 12, which also topped the charts the previous week.

The success of FIFA 12 denies Activisions Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which has to settle for No.2, one place ahead of EA’s Battlefield 3. Just Dance 3 drops one spot to No.4, while Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a non-mover at No.5.

Saints Row: The Third and Need For Speed: The Run are also both non-movers at No.6 and No.7 respectively, while Christmas No.1, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, remains at No.8. Mario Kart 7 and Forza Motorsport 4 complete the top ten.

Star Wars: The Old Republic slips from No.10 to No. 38 in just its second week on sale. It’s worth noting however, that EA and Bioware’s MMO is also available as a digital download. The Train2Game Blog interviewed Bioware founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk towards the end of last year.

The UKIE Gfk Chart-Track All Formats Top 10 for the week ending 31st December 2011 is therefore as follows:

1. FIFA 12 (EA)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision)
3. Battlefield 3 (EA)
4. Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft)
5. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft)
6. Saints Row: The Third (THQ)
7. Need for Speed: The Run (EA)
8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)
9. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo)
10. Forza Motorsport 4 (Microsoft)

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the UK Charts this week? What do you make of the massive drop in sales for Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Get involved with Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Test

Train2Game students can get their hands on a Star Wars: The Old Republic beta thanks to EA providing tens of thousands of beta codes to various outlets of the UK gaming press.

The Star Wars: The Old Republic beta keys, give Train2Game students the opportunity to take part in an upcoming beta weekend where EA and Bioware plan to stress test their servers ahead of the MMO’s December release.

While the Train2Game blog doesn’t have any Star Wars: The Old Republic beta keys to give away itseld, you can pick of thousands up from UK outlets including CVG, NowGamer, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Just choose one of the links, then follow the instructions to receive your key for the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta weekend. The exact time for the STWOR beta will be revealed by email at a later date.

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Bioware have spoken about the importance of playtesting to game development.  Meanwhile, for an in-depth look at the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, check out the Train2Game blog interview with Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

Train2Game blog readers will be aware that beta tests are an important part of video game development as thousands of beta testers can find issues that may slip past a handful of QA Testers.

And in an interview with the Train2Game blog, End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars said that getting involved with lots of beta tests for one studio is potentially a way to get into the games industry.

So what are you waiting for Train2Game? Sign up for the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta now.

Have you been involved with beta tests before? Will you get involved with this one?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum

Train2Game news: There will always be subscription based MMOs say Star Wars: The Old Republic devs Bioware

Train2Game students may be aware that many MMO titles are switching to a free-to-play model, one wherein revenue is made by microtransactions rather than monthly subscription fees.

However, while many games in the genre are going free-to-play, the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic – scheduled for release in December – is going to stick to the traditional pay monthly model.

And while many developers are switching to free-to-play, SWTOR developers Bioware believe that gamers will always be willing to pay a subscription fee for a quality product.

“I think there will always be a place for premium content at a premium price and that’s one of the differences,” Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Industry Gamers.

“Free to play is very much about trial, about ‘Hey, I don’t know what this is, I don’t have confidence that it’s any good, but I’m willing to take a look at it,’ versus ‘I know this is good, from a trusted source, and it’s the biggest license in the world.’ So it’s a different value proposition,” he said.

Fellow Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka believes that increased competition from free-to-play titles is good for the games industry.

“There’s more competition for entertainment dollars now than ever before from social and play for free, and all sorts of entertainment, which I think is actually really healthy from an entertainment industry perspective”

However, he agrees with Zeschuk in that the subscription model will remain popular, but the games have to be worth it.

“But I agree with Greg that there’s a space for a certain number of premium products that are subscription based or whatever the premium pricing model is. But they have to merit it, they have to earn that from a consumer trust perspective and delivering and exceeding expectations.” said Muzyka.

Of course, he believes that Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of these games.

“I think The Old Republic is definitely in that triple-A premium category. That’s the feedback reading from the players and data testing.”

Earlier this week, the Train2Game blog reported on the importance of playtesting in the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

For an in-depth look at the development of SWTOR, read the Train2Game interview with Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

So Train2Game, do you believe the subscription model for MMO still has a future ahead of it? Or will free-to-play titles become the dominant force?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game news: Bioware on the importance of playtesting during game development

Train2Game students will be aware testing a game is an extremely important part of game development. But according to Bioware, it isn’t something that should be left to the QA Testers or Beta testers alone, rather the game developers should be constantly involved in the process too.

That’s according to Star Wars: The Old Republic project lead James Ohlen who was speaking to Gamasutra.

“The thing about it is, it’s important to get people to test your game, but the beta tests are more for finding out if your technology’s going to stand up, and finding some small tweaks and changes.” he said when asked about playtesting.

“But all the big changes that we’ve been making were planned from way before, because we’ve been playing the game ourselves. If we didn’t figure this stuff out, we’d be terrible game designers. So, internally we figured out a lot of the problems early on.

However, Ohlen pointed out that Beta testers still have a role to play in game development.

“But at the same time, it’s good for fans to feel like they’re having an impact, and sometimes they do”

“Sometimes they do point out information that is a little bit surprising, but nothing hugely surprising. There’s been surprises on the project, but mostly they’ve come from us playtesting this stuff.” the Star Wars: The Old Republic project lead concluded.

For a more in depth look behind the scenes of Star Wars: The Old Republic, check out the Train2Game interview with Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi.

Star Wars: The Old Republic will be released in Europe on 22nd December 2011.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on testing games? Do you agree that it’s an important part of a game developers job, no matter what role they have in the industry?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]