[Wish] Refreshing the memory

This is what I wrote on the forums of Wish at the end of the second phase of beta (12-2003/01-2004). Then I left to never go back.

I “wish” (considerations about everything)

This is a collection of considerations about everything.
I don’t want to state the obvious but it’s written by me. Me as a person. So it will be negative, perhaps, but only because I don’t care at all about packing my thoughts nicely so that they could be “better accepted”. I don’t care to be “better accepted” if I need to be different. It’s about honesty. The other important point is that the aim is to be useful, I hope. Whatever I write comes from the hope to be useful. I can be absolutely negative but that doesn’t mean that I’m having fun blaming someone or something. So the purpose could be already utopian, I refuse to present things in a way that can help who reads to understand and I refuse to underline where these words could be useful. But I gain the honesty and I believe that honesty is the only way to share thoughts in a positive way. I have the 99.9% of possibilities that noone will read this and will laugh at me, but 0.01% that what I write will be really understood and be useful. It’s worth the effort.

What are we talking about here? Creating another mmorpg.
It’s here the whole point. “Another”. There are already many finished projects and many plans of new projects, is this a speculation on a new trend? Perhaps. But we all know that ‘speculation’ isn’t interesting and at the end the only interesting parts are about the “original idea” and the persistence of this idea even among the clones. But this is too far away from the point I want to focus on. The purposes about creating a new mmorpg are two: collecting what has already been done to ‘adjust’ it in a better direction or fire the creativity to uncover the hidden potential with new ideas.

Creativity = uncover hidden parts of reality (Niklas Luhmann).
Creativity is about originality for the simple reason that something already discovered cannot be re-discovered.
So, or you deal with “art” or you deal with “competition”.

Considering that we are talking about mmorpgs you can understand that the competition is the market. In this case it means that you will offer a game among “colossals”, like Sony, Blizzard, Microsoft etc… Is it safe to go against them? Hardly. Perhaps the market is big enough to contain everyone, perhaps not. However you’ll have to consider what’s your aim. If you want to steal a big slice of cake or if the crumbs in a corner are enough to survive happily. Competition in this case isn’t fair. Fairness = having the same starting point. Mutable Realms hasn’t the same starting point of Sony. They do not have millions of dollars to waste, they don’t have the hype, they don’t have a zerg of experienced staff etc… What they can produce cannot be compared with what Sony produces for the simple reason that they started from different conditions. Who cares? At the end of the reasoning there are the users. These users will pay more or less the same amount to play two games and when they’ll choose they won’t care about the fairness of the development.

The conclusion here is straight. You can compete with these corporations, on the same product, only if you accept to survive in a niche. Hoping that even the tiny space you have won’t be devoured. There’s still the other way to go, a work of art. We are dealing with culture here, because a game is “culture”. Culture is always about art, because it’s a work of the mind. The mind is the contingence, possibility. In this case the possibility to do better than Sony? By only accepting a game as “art” you open your possibilities to do whatever you desire, till your imagination (creativity) will go. It was impossible in the other way (competition). Still remembering that a game is a work of art, but has also an important technical part to found it.

The main question throughout this beta phase has been: where this game is aiming?

It’s a translation of “what’s new?”. The reason why I’m here in the first place is that I read interviews to Dave, the Lead Designer that is now gone. I’m part of those wannabe designers that are passionate players and aren’t happy about what the market offers. I know where mmorpgs are lacking, I know what the users are asking for, I know how this can be delivered in a realistic way and it easy for me to track where all the mistakes are. Most of the times even to foresee them. Burn-out. I’m a depressed, disappointed player that doesn’t hope anymore that someone will guess the right way and deliver what I’m asking for. So I rant and complain, often in a useless, childish way. What’s left?

Dave was the instillation of a glimpse of “life” (creativity!). I read what he wrote and I agreed to his point, to his aim. That’s the right way to go. Finally. Perhaps I can forget about dumb marketers that are destroying all the potential in mmorpgs. Let’s see. This was the origin of the interest. I’m here because I consider this worth my attention, after years of disappointments. Let’s gather the last hopes and see if someone is able to do what I “wish”. I’m here for the beta because I don’t care about having fun, this is obvious. It’s the interest that brings me here, to see if it’s going to be another disappointment or not. And offer my two cents, as always. Not really hoping that they’ll be considered. This is the base, the premise. But also the structure of everything else, the game in particular.

It’s fun if you ask me now “what I don’t like in Wish and I want to be improved”. Because it’s the design. Dave coincides with all the good and all the bad in this game. He’s both the reason why this game is worth everything and nothing.

So where are the merits or the faults? Peoples think this way but the reality is more funny. Dave isn’t to blame at this point. He pointed his finger in the right direction, he did the first step (along with the game) in that direction. And he left for reasons that I don’t know and I’m not able to discuss. I’m not going to judge him. No critiques, no praises. From the design point of view this game is empty. It’s a copy of a few features of Ultima Online, in a 3D world.

It’s something, not much.

Ultima has many features and good points that new games have forgotten, it’s not a bad thing to collect them. It’s never a bad thing to collect what’s good around you (the true meaning of competition = going together toward something). But in this case the path is worth if the destination is. If these first steps are already the goal we aren’t going anywhere. *yawn* You know, at the end someone will blame the lack of marketing, the lack of name and someone other will say again that PvP will never attract many users. This brings me the anger, because the reasons, the true reasons, are elsewhere. And the stupids will banquets on this.

Wish is a body that lost the head.

Dave was a possible head. He expected to do a good work, I expected him to do something worth the attention that could give a positive sign to the rest of the market. The Vision (TM). Where the Vision is just a collection of eye-stabbing problems in the common mmorpgs… Dave wasn’t important because he was the only talented at MR, so that he could have brought a crappy company to the success, he was important because he ‘offered’ and ‘suggested’ the work of art. He offered and suggested what Wish could have brought new to the genre as a whole. What’s new? This. We are offering something that you won’t find in World of Warcraft or in Everquest 2. We won’t offer the same stale, stupid design. We are here to open the eyes. Shake away from a stupid doom where all the mmorpgs seem to finish.

Open the eyes, realize what for Blizzard and Sony could be so easy to do but too big to understand. To teach them that all their money are worth nothing without ideas.

And laugh.
This is the Vision.


What happened in a month?

The plans have changed. I expected someone to take Dave’s place. I was worried about this because whoever will do that will have to regain my trust. The head falls, if there will be a new one I’ll have to reconsider it. The previous “aim” was lost. Is it going to be recovered?

This is beta 1.5.

Is Wish aiming toward the same points that brought me here? Something changed.

The first news has been that noone took Dave’s place. And this is even worst. The body decided it could do without the head. The body realized that the head was worth nothing but a problem and it decided that it could provide what it needs on its own. Good luck.

This is called psychotic, when the little point you see is your whole dimension. Till you are inside that little point. From a more realistic point of view “Wish” stopped. The ideas that Dave suggested are still there, the base of the game as well. And the crude reality: Wish offers nothing new. A clone of Ultima Online with a so-so graphic. Nothing to see, move on. Since I consider Dave’s ideas a ‘direction’, what he realised concretely isn’t worth much. We are talking about potential. Building a mmorpg is the same as growing (creativity, life). If growing (from stale ideas in the genre) isn’t anymore the aim, the whole project sinks. If you are pleased of the point you reached, and stop, what you have done isn’t worth much. It’s like starting university without finishing it (and in mmorpgs there’s no end). You learnt something useful, sure, but if you don’t use that you aren’t going far. You stop, and, slowly, die (life is always tied to movement and change, it’s continuity).

But Wish hasn’t stop. It changed direction.

“Bring the RP (roleplay) back in the MMORPG acronym”

This is the new direction. How to spice an empty game. The crappy model of a sword becoming epic, simple GM-driven NPCs becoming legends. The monotony of a game that doesn’t offer anything (aside dumb monster bashing and a basic guild system in a generic fantasy setting that feels more like a container than a living world) turned into something valuable. Faked.

We have no game here to offer, sorry. So we are going to fake it.

The roleplay is, at the end, a game of parts, where you let your fantasy run. And imagine a game where there’s only a skeleton of a game. And it worked…

The testers are happy, the rants at a minimum. It’s a big success and devs can be proud of it. But.. *prods* where’s the game? Where is the new approach that some of us expected?
(this “bubble of happiness” will last long?)

And I’m still at that point, wondering if this is still the same game or it’s something that betrayed my expectations and so it’s better for me and for the game to move away quickly. The game here is between “we left behind Dave’s ideas because they have been only wasted time” and “that’s it, we have everything, can’t you see?”.

No, I cannot see.

I followed all this on different premises, everyone is faking that nothing changed but you aren’t going to fool me, I’m still the burnout player. Promises or positive thoughts enter from an ear and exit from the other. Where are the ideas?


I’m not going to stop here. I already know all the answers from devs to these questions. They are going to enter a new development phase. They have a “TO-DO list” a few kilometers long. But I’m not going to trust them, sorry. This is going to be a patchwork, I haven’t seen a dev, in these two months, that is experienced enough to lead a project with a decent scope. The work of a team needs to be directed. A project like this needs a precise aim, a soul. Without a soul, an ambition, and without creativity the whole thing is short-sighted and is going to fail. The last signs I’m noticing aren’t good.

The new berserk run into GM content after they saw the players reacting positiviely till the new request to ask to vote the suggestions. How depressing.

I’m not delving into these problems, there have been already discussions about GM content and another new one about the votes is too complex and not worth consideration. The sign is clear, Wish is in a survival mode. “The Vision” not only is dead, but never existed.

Dave never worked at MR and Wish never aimed to solve the problems behind the PvP system and all the rest.

It was a dream.

Reality check. I’m not announcing doom. Wish, structured in this way, could aim for a tiny niche market and build a solid community around roleplay. There’s much to do in this direction, building tools for GMs, add content and finish the world, finalize the systems below (combat, crafting), finalize the client/server structure. It’s a lot of work that can be done in less than a year, so aimed realistically. What’s the scope? I expect the same of Eve-Online (fantasy settings are preferred from the players but this also means that Eve has no direct competitors)… They will hardly reach more than 15-20.000 users and only a nonstop work on the game could make the game grow. Slowly.

The rp communities are always tiny but they have also the quality to be really strong. Considering that with 20.000 testers you are aiming to a max of 3 to 4k of players online at the same time. But this will happen only after the first months without some ideas in the marketing (like letting download the game and things like that).

It’s the ambition which died.

I expected a lot from Wish but it seems that in the end it will offer just this: a UO-generic 3D game with a solid community, decent communication with devs, decent stability. It’s not little, it’s not much. Wish lost completely the creativity and the push toward being the anomaly in the market. It won’t follow Mythic in the path to success without ideas, good ideas. My enthusiasm is gone from some time and the “bah, whatever” feeling is back.

An opportunity lost, perhaps it’s really the doom. The doom that new ideas will always be devoured by short-sighted moneymaking and arid specialists. Wish won’t disturb the market, it will enter it and take a little slice of the pie, sitting quietly.

Not a “doom” for Wish.

It’s a few weeks that I’m asking myself if I’m worth something here or not. I write for the sole purpose of being positive, but everyone loves to attack me, directly or indirectly. Ok, this is good, but useful? I don’t mean for myself, is it useful for the game? If critics and all the rest are just taken as an offence I’m really wasting my time and just ruin others experiences. I’m a disturbance. Considering why I first came here I should also reconsider if my presence is positive or, instead, counterproductive.

I’m a player and a wannabe designer at the end. If things will go wrong I won’t be happy. I point my finger because I can have my own ideas about what’s happening but not a way to “use” this. I cannot demonstrate in any way that what I think will solve mmorpgs problems (and will offer success, so money). There’s only the ranting left.

And after a few years even the rants are becoming “noise”.
Pointless, worthless noise that needs to be shut up.

HRose – I “wished” it was the right game

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