How to make blockbuster online games in a recession

1) Developers should view computer games as works of art, or at least make games that have the same high quality as a movie by Francis Ford Coppola for instance.

2) Focus primarily on hiring great painters, musicians, novelists and voiceover artists that create atmospheric scenes, interesting characters and captivating storylines in a game. Let this creative team be fully in charge of the game development. 

3) The story of a game must give people a feeling of doing something meaningful. Each quest or mission in a game must create a deep sense of purpose. One way to achieve this is to create an MMORPG where long-term progress is possible by spending years on levelling a character.

4) Creating a good levelling system can be difficult, because over time you gradually risk making a character so powerful that some content in the game becomes too easy and boring. This problem can be solved by automatically lowering the stats of a high level character when he/she enters a low-level zone. Alternatively, some areas of a zone can only be available after you have reached a particular high level, like level 400 or level 25,000 for example, and monsters in these high-level areas can only be defeated by using special weapon enchantments that only work on these very high level monsters in that particular area of the game. Even the most difficult boss should be defeatable by a very unskilled player if he/she has reached the highest level of the game.

5) A game must have great rewards when you finish a mission or a quest. A good understanding of reward psychology is vital if you want people to play a game. When you loot chests etc in all areas of the game, you should have a low and random chance of finding an item that is very valuable.

6) Not only bosses but also overland mobs in a game should have interesting combat mechanics and a low random chance of giving you a great reward after a battle or after pickpocketing an NPC. Copy how ESO uses theorycrafting to make it interesting to combine different weapons, armor and potions. Light attack weaving. as seen in ESO, is also a good idea if macros are allowed. To make overland PvE areas interesting, allow PvP if a gamer wants that, so that ambushing or pickpocketing other gamers is possible, but stolen gear must be recoverable (in cool quests that give you extra rewards).

7) Don’t monetize ingame items. It’s not rewarding and not fun to play a game if you can just pay money to buy items in the game. 

8) Avoid grinding in a game. Grinding is boring. All repetitive tasks in a game should be automated, so that you can complete a daily chore in a game by a single mouse click. For example, if the daily task is to create one sword, one helmet, and one shield, then one click should be enough to create all three items. 

9) Make games with combat mechanics that are fun, challenging and fluid (not clunky). Gameplay must be great.

10) The graphics of a game on max settings must never be so demanding that it creates a quantum of microstuttering in a game if you have a top tier CPU and GPU. Fancy graphics are much less important than 1) – 9) above. Remember that people still play very old games like Half-Life 2 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R  because these games have a great atmosphere despite the graphics being totally outdated.

11) Invest in expensive servers that eliminate all microstuttering and lag in an online game. 

12) Never release a game unless you know that it’s free of lag and microstuttering, or you will instantly get bad reviews on Steam. The philosophy of “work fast and break things” doesn’t work anymore in game development.

13) Let the HUD of a game be very customizable. A gamer should be able to change the size of the HUD, its colour, and how many HUD elements are seen on the screen. The shape, colour and size of the crosshair must also be customizable. A minimalistic HUD is always the best option. Screen clutter is bad, so let it be possible to remove all icons above the heads of NPCs and other players in the game. It should be an option to disable the health bar and the name above the head of an NPC or another player.

14) Make the game so customizable that players don’t have to install mods/addons created by other gamers, because these mods or addons can easily create microstuttering and lag. They may also contain viruses. A gaming company should thoroughly check third-party addons and mods and only allow those which don’t cause lag or microstuttering. 

15) A game will never be a blockbuster if it doesn’t attract many different types of people. If you create a sports game, you exclude everyone who is not interested in sports. If a game is very fast, with lots of action all the time, it actually becomes monotonous and it will only attract people who are hyperactive. Millions of players are not interested in anime games. 

16) Never politicise a game. A game is only mainstream if all people can enjoy it, be they leftwing or rightwing. In other words, a mainstream game should not be a way to subtly spread leftwing or rightwing minority values. A game should not be a propaganda platform for any ideological group. It should not be woke or anti-woke.

17) To sell as many copies of a game as possible, it’s obviously best to create a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. A game that’s 18+ will exclude a lot of people. A game should generally be rated for teens who are 14, which puts a game in the same category as movies such as Lord of the Rings. Everyone can enjoy this movie, almost regardless of age. A game should be family friendly, which means that it should be an option in the launcher of the game to download a version that’s free of vulgar swearing. Disgusting content in a game will alienate conservatives, thereby reducing the number of people who play the game. But if a game is anti-libertine or subtly anti-Left, it will exclude libertines and leftwing gamers, so the best policy is to be as neutral as possible. To avoid controversy, make a game that contains few references to the real world of human beings. For example, don’t use ingame music from pop stars that have a bad reputation in real life. Avoid slang, expressions or memes that are easily associated with disgusting things that have been exposed by mainstream media. If a game contains the face of a famous actor, keep in mind that many will not like the game anymore if that actor does something bad or controversial in real life.

18) Online games attract many sick individuals: psychopaths, criminals and juveniles who make a sport out of being nasty or repulsive in the chat window of a game. Many of them use the names of their ingame characters to express toxicity or political values. An online game should therefore have an option which automatically gives each player a name that’s in harmony with the lore and spirit of the game, so that you in chat and in the group roster and in the guild roster see these names instead of the names chosen by players. Each character will then have two names: one chosen by the player and another name generated by the game. You can choose which type of name you prefer to see in the game.   

19) In an online game, create a search option which makes it easy to find a guild that is family friendly.

20) Many gamers are nasty and obnoxious when using VoIP services like Discord. These third-party services can create lag and they are sometimes used to spread viruses, in addition to putting cookies on your computer. An online game should have its own VoIP, with the option to activate a swear filter controlled in real-time by an AI, similar to Bleep, a program developed by Intel. This will make it possible for everyone to enjoy ingame communication, regardless of age and personal values. To encourage all players to use the ingame VoIP give the weapons of their characters an extra boost when using this VoIP during fights in the game. They will lose the boost if they use another VoIP.

Always remember that gamers seek rewards, so take advantage of that when developing a game. People also want meaning and purpose in a game. Toxicity, disgusting content in general and ultra-violence will eventually leave you with a feeling of emptiness. Many will then (eventually) leave the game and do something else. That’s not in the interest of any game developer who wants to create a popular game that’s bought by tens of millions of people globally. To get an idea of what a good game should look like, basically just copy what Elder Scrolls Online has done, but skip the vulgarity and politicisation of ESO. This game has sold 21 million copies, but it has also lost millions of gamers, partially because of many of the issues discussed above.

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