On designing MMOs for both PCs and Consoles.

Last year, the reports from interviews with Jack “Jackalope” Emmert were that the Xbox version of Champions Online was “ready to go”, just waiting for some Microsoft red tape to get sorted out.

Jackalope, on the Champions Online forum yesterday:

100% of our focus is on making the current PC product the best it can be. There are no current plans for a console version of Champions.

Some guy, a couple of months back, talking about Star Trek Online:

1. Stop designing MMO to be released on both PCs and consoles. You end up removing half the depth, the game fails, and then it never ends up coming out on a console in the end anyway. See: Champions Online, Age of Conan.

I agree with that guy. Seriously, stop doing that. Unless you’re Square Enix, in which case you can probably get away with it, in spite of the grotesque UI you’ll inflict on your PC users, because we Final Fantasy fans will pretty much take what we’re given.

You’re probably not Square Enix. Planning for your game to work on a console with a gamepad, and on a television, is just going to lead to game design compromises that mean that PC gamers do not get the experience they deserve.

4 comments to On designing MMOs for both PCs and Consoles.

  • Thing is, I don’t think that it was a tech problem. The impression I have is that it’s a business/money hang up. You’ve got Cryptic, Atari, and Microsoft all trying to agree on how to split the revenue. Not to mention there’s an issue of how Live would or wouldn’t integrate into it, patching, and what not. Personally, I’m glad it fell through since I read at one point (dev forum post, don’t have a linky) that the console version would’ve been a separate server, so you wouldn’t have had the 360 and PC people playing together anyway.

    • Oh, I agree that the reason it fell through was business. But the intent of making it work for consoles would have changed the game during it’s design stage from how it would have been if it was planned just for the PC.

  • We’ll never know for sure, but I wonder about that. I think the faster pace more “actiony” combat of Champions was intended regardless of platform. As far as a lack of depth, specifically availability of side-activities like crafting and what not, that was a problem with City of Heroes too. I think a lot of that is from it being a superhero game where those elements don’t fit as neatly. Or was that not what you were referring to?

  • I guess Champions just felt very much like a console game to me, specifically the combat. It’s hard for me to really put my finger on what aspect of combat was doing that, especially so long after having played it. It wasn’t the gamebreaker for me. You’re right that it’s hard now to say how much the game was changed by being developed for the Xbox, but I would move that it must have had some effect, not least of which would have been the wasted developer time on a version that is never going to see the light of day.

    I don’t think the genre necessarily precludes depth.

    I know you still play it, so it clearly does have appeal to some MMO players.