Jason Park, producer for the "action-based MMO space shooter" Space Cowboy Online, agreed to a brief email interview. We asked him some tough
questions about the game, and he shot from the hip, like a true cowboy.
Jason also agreed to monitor this post and respond to any reader questions that might pop up over the next 48 hours (from the time-stamp on the post).
Joystiq:There are many MMOs on the market. How is Space Cowboy Online different?
Park: Space Cowboy Online is different from the other MMOs in that it is strongly skill-based instead of the typical gear-based game. I believe skill-based games are the best type of games and give players the passion to improve their skill to become the best they can be, not just spend most their time online just to obtain the coolest gear.
Specifically, the battle scheme is very action-packed. The PvP aspect of this game is particularly challenging and we expect some very intense rivalries as guilds(brigades) and even opposing nations have their own organization and strategies against each other.
In addition, we plan on having frequent updates and new features regularly, so there will always be more content for players to enjoy.
Joystiq: How large is your beta-test community?
Park: Our beta-test community had a total of approximately 60,000 users. Our korean developer, Masangsoft chose to play the role of coordinating the beta-testing promotion. Having only experience in the Korean market, I believe the US and other International markets weren't fully aware of the existence of this game and could have been improved.
Joystiq: Define success for your game. How many players do you want within three months of launch? Within 12 months?
Park: Since our game is free, the number of registered users wouldn't be an accurate way of determining the amount of players on our servers, so I base my figures on the average number of concurrent users on our game servers. I would define success for the game if in three months from launch, we have a total of 4000 concurrent users. We have made preparations based off this number and expect to provide support for this figure. In 12 months, I am hoping to reach an average of 12,000 concurrent users on our servers.
Joystiq: What are the three biggest sins committed by today's MMOGs (with specific examples of games that commit them)?
Park: Three biggest sins committed by today's MMOGs are:
- Lack of listening to your community and not doing something about it. The hardcore players of the game end up always knowing a game better than the developers or the publishers themselves. The community sees the problems because they've experienced them firsthand, and once a valid problem is consistently reported, concern should be raised immediately to both the publisher and developer.
- Using mindless grinding as the time sink. The simplest way developers choose to keep users "hooked" on a game is just to prolong the time it takes to progress. Although this has been a common business model for generations of Massively Multiplayer Online Games, new leaders such as Blizzard have proven that it is possible to keep users "hooked" without the extraneous grind to level cap. There are other ways.
- Lastly, the lack of innovation and not providing new concepts. Many MMOs seem to just observe the problems of MMOs from the past and make a very similar game with their own resolutions for those problems. A whole new style, whether be action-based, or MMOFPS, or anything other than the traditional fantasy MMORPG is what online gaming really needs.
Joystiq: Your game forums are not very popular, judging by the number of
posts in them. Do you believe that community activity is an accurate predictor of commercial success? If not, why
Park: I do believe that community activity is a reliable prediction for success. Our forums are relatively new, but I do encourage numerous fansites to emerge and for players to form their own sub-communities as well. I think with the division of nations concept in the game, this will provide users [with a way] to form their own nation-based fan sites. Community interaction is key for any online game which is why our online gamers prefer to play multi-player instead of a single-player game.
Joystiq: Freebie question: anything else you'd like to say about the game?
Park: I would like to remind everyone that the game will be free to download and play, so I encourage the public to try it out and see if you like it. Users have the option to purchase "GPotatoes" which can be traded in to obtain in-game items and possibly upgrades as well. The main page is up at http://sco.gpotato.com