Former EverQuest Leader: Games Must Be Co-Created With Players

Even as the buzz of artificial intelligence eclipses the now fading hype of the metaverse, Web3 developers continue to create virtual worlds, hoping to bring to life an experience like the “Oasis” from Ernest’s influential “Ready Player One.” cline.

But some Web3 game creators may have tried to run before they could walk, making big promises around a drop or NFT token instead of first developing a compelling game concept. Game development can be hard and difficult, something some developers quickly discovered.

However, the evolving Web3 space and its decentralized ethos may still impact the gaming industry as a whole, especially if user-generated content continues to be increasingly viewed as a central part of many gaming experiences.

Avalon’s director of products, Jeffrey Butler, believes the era of building isolated projects is over. In his opinion, the future of the metaverse is open and connected, with developers and communities coming together to create better gaming experiences together.

“I don’t think it’s possible for any [single] company right now to create the volume of content that gamers insist they can consume,” Butler said. decipher at this week’s GamesBeat Summit 2023 in Los Angeles.

Butler experienced this firsthand through more than 20 years of game development, including stints as producer of Sony’s influential massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) EverQuest and creative director on the canceled EverQuest Next. He knows well the stress game developers, designers, testers and players feel with the launch of a new game online.

“Let’s be honest, making a massively multiplayer game is an incredibly onerous task,” Butler said, noting the enormous amount of time, effort, and resources required to create a successful MMO game. “People have been burned out in the industry…it’s been too much for some people, too stressful, too much pressure.”

Butler said he saw the potential for creating larger, more interconnected virtual worlds even as far back as the original EverQuest in 1999. He started out as an avid player of the classic online game and later joined the studio, quickly rising through the ranks. butler said decipher that even that first glimpse of online gaming was like looking into a crystal ball for the metaverse.

“What mattered to me, working at EverQuest, was that I could squint and see far away on the horizon, something like the Oasis in ‘Ready Player One.’”

Coined by author Neal Stephenson in the iconic cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash,” “metaverse” became a popular buzzword on Web3 to describe virtual worlds that can range from gaming to workplaces. However, detractors have called the metaverse a cash grab to nab VC money, and the initial buzz crashed and burned.

Butler said that he does not like to use the term “metaverse” to describe Avalon due to the negative connotation, preferring to simply call the upcoming digital universe a game. Avalon is the first title game from Avalon Corp, and the Unreal Engine 5 powered game will include a mix of MMO and metaverse elements.

In February, Avalon Corp, which features gaming veterans from Sony, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Blizzard, announced raising $13 million to build out its online universe, with backers like Hashed and Coinbase Ventures thrown into the mix.

Rather than cramming a game on blockchain technology and adopting the existing financial approach to crypto, Butler says his ambition is to take the technology the gaming industry already uses and give it a Web3 approach. As such, he envisions ways to motivate players and communities to contribute to game content and gain value as a result.

“My goal is to take all the functionality that exists in Unreal Editor and gamify it,” he said, “as if we were creating a super powerful version of LEGO, where [developers] We can create content in a game, largely in any style we choose.”

Butler pointed to the online modding community as an example of groups coming together to develop and improve the games they love. We’ve seen game mods become their own popular indie games, including Counter-Strike and Dota 2, and that fan-driven spirit continues today with some of the biggest games in the industry.

“They don’t just maintain these games,” Butler said of the modders. “They are increasing the number of people who are playing.”

He suggested that the resurgence in popularity of CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, which had a disastrous launch due to abundant glitches, was due in part to the modding community. Meanwhile, today’s most popular games like Roblox and Fortnite thrive in large part because of user-created games, levels, and content.

Embracing interoperability and allowing the community to co-create alongside the core team are bigger changes Butler sees shaking up the gaming world, while also gradually pushing the concept of the “metaverse” closer to grand visions. represented in other media.

“It’s not just that we saw it in Ready Player One,” Butler said. “It’s part of the value of the construction.”

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