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The purpose of this blog is for my personal use. It serves as my personal diary as I investigate Chinese internet/gaming companies for investment purpose. If you have any comments or disagreement, please give me feedbacks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ntes – TX2 – Progress 2 – Development Direction

My previous post in this article is here:

http://chinese-net-gaming-stock.blogspot.com/2007/05/ntes-tx2-progress-1-status.html

There is another TX2 movie that can be downloaded:

http://czdltx2.163.com/tx2/wl.rar

Right click and save as to download the file. You would need winrar to unzip.

It is another fan made movie. It has a sappy plot (good guys got killed, bad guys got killed. Good guys become bad guys become good guys become animals become good guys). But all the graphics are coming from in-game graphics. It is not specially produced trailer made by professional computer graphic artists. It is made by ordinary game players. It has to be captured and then compressed. Those two steps degrade the graphics. But even with that, as you can see, the graphics is absolutely gorgeous.

Next, let me talk about some of the major playing features the game designers had added.

In every sense, Netease is adding tremendous amount of new contents every week during the open beta. It allows gangs/tribes to conduct castle sieges. At the beginning of the open beta, there were 2 cities. Now, there are 5 cities. Eventually, each server would have 9 cities.

After the gang/tribe captured a city from enemy gang, it can start to build out the city. The game developers were busying in adding the amount of goodies that can be build in a city.

In addition, Netease adds another Player vs. Player (PvP) feature, gang warfare, a couple of weeks ago. While castle siege is the domain of major gangs (with member greater than 200), gang warfare allows minor gang a chance to fight it out with a major gang. While city siege is limited to a city and its vicinity, gang warfare is conducted spreading out all over the whole map. Therefore, it allows for smaller gangs a chance to prevail by conducting guerrilla warfare.

Couple of weeks ago, Netease came out with a very unique way for individual PK (player kills). It groups all users into three groups, sheriffs, bandits, and regular guys. Players become bandits after they killed a regular. The sheriffs can kill bandits and get the stuff bandits have. On the other hand, bandits can also kill sheriff. Bandit would only be penalized after they killed regular players.

I will have to say that this is truly unique. Unlike where WOW or most other games that allows unlimited PK only on special servers, TX2 gives its game a rich environment much like ancient world where fights breaks out from time to time while most innocent players were left alone.

Some of these contents were really unique. Big gang can fight it out with another big gang in castle siege. Unlike the severe player limits of 40 for WOW (War of Warcraft) and 12 for Guild War, TX2’s castle siege has no upper limit (it has some severe side effects, but that is another story for the future). Every day, there are battles involve 4 or 5 hundred players battling out each other.

In addition, smaller gangs can get into the act by doing gang warfare. For individuals, they can do PK with other players either as a sheriff or as a bandit.

As you can tell, TX2 development team had been busying in adding PvP features.

There were flaws in TX2. Actually, there are a lot of flaws. Most of them are in PvE (Player vs. Environments) area.

For one, there are insufficient help for the new users. There really is no official user guide on its official web page. There are some “unofficial guides” written by game players. But they are written during closed beta and are not up to date.

Frankly, it is not a big deal. Write some users guides and add more dialogs for NPCs (Non Player Characters) to give more guidance to newbie are really not that time consuming.

After the first 10 levels, the players are no longer the newbies. For the first 30 levels, the main storylines are rich, fun and rewarding. But after level 35, it becomes very boring. The main story lines are not finished. All that players can do is to kill monsters.

The main emphasis of the young chief designer in on PvP features. Even something as important as the main storyline are assigned to lower priority. Simple things like more help for new players are left unfinished because it has lower priority.

In addition, the economic systems is incomplete. The relationship system is incomplete.

Rich relationship features are the fortes of all existing Netease’s games. If a player doesn’t want to fight, he may become a doctor who goes out to collect herbs to make into medicine. He may marry another player, etc.

There is none of that in TX2 yet. I am sure these features will eventually be part of TX2. But they are just not the priority to TX2’s design team.

In addition, as I predicted in my previous articles:

http://chinese-net-gaming-stock.blogspot.com/2007/03/ntes-ncty-tx2-wow-guilds-war-shootout.html

http://chinese-net-gaming-stock.blogspot.com/2007/03/ntes-ncty-tx2-wow-guilds-war-shootout_16.html

http://chinese-net-gaming-stock.blogspot.com/2007/03/ntes-ncty-tx2-wow-guilds-war-shootout_19.html

Some server becomes dominated by a gang. The gang becomes so dominate, no other gangs can compete on that particular server. As a result, that server starts to lose players.

Finally, as I mention many times, TX2 is a high resource game. Players who have old computer is not going to have a good time in TX2. I thought they improved a lot on this front. But this is going to be a never ending quest to optimize the game code.

So, in a nutshell, that is what happens to TX2:

Netease won’t provide marketing for TX2. There is little new players to start out with. The game is not friendly to new players (in terms of documentation and other things that only require minor changes). For those who is not part of a gang or for those who don’t want to PK (Player Kill) all the time, these are very little reason for them to be there. Even for members of the gangs, there is little reason for them to hang around after their gang loses the war.

Next, I will talk about what I hope Netease will do to fix TX2.

2 comments:

intelligentinvesting said...

Hi

Great detailed analysis on playability and technical aspect of TX2 game. Would you please do a similar analysis on Sohu's TL game? I am interested to know if Sohu's TL game is among the best in terms of playability. How does it compare to successful games such as Shanda's Mir and Zheng Tu, which are both very successful and profitable free-to-play model games? I think Zheng TU does about $10 million USD per month while Mir is at least $4 million USD per month. Correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks.

HenryC said...

I am doing a series of articles (about 6 or 7) that are looking into free-to-play games vs. paying games. In the end, I will have my revenue estimate for TL.

Where did you have $10 million for Zhengtu and $4 million for Mir? Could you give me a link?

My data for Zhengtu is $20.7 millions per month.

There is not much to say about TL's weakness and strength. Unlike TX2, there are really no unique features for TL.

But TL is really much like XYQ or XY2, it has most of the features gamers like.

While TX2 is more a niche game, TL is a much more complete game.

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