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Apr 23 2012
By: tk2012 Survivor 2493 posts
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The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

37 replies 6429 views Edited Apr 23, 2012

Most people know what the K.I.S.S. approach is, but for those that don't or are too young to have heard it I will quickly explain the meaning.  No, it is not referring to the American Rock band that decked themselves out in face-paint while taking on personas of a cat, spaceman, demon, and starchild.  The K.I.S.S. approach is an acronym representing the basic principle to "Keep It Simple, Stupid."  In other words, the best approach is to not make things complex or more complicated than needed.  That being said, this week I make the case and solve one of the possible reasons why the MotorStorm franchise has steadily declined since its original release.

MOTORSTORM

Asking yourself this question, "Why was the orginal MotorStorm such a big hit?"  You'll find many reasons.  The common denominator of all the reasons is that they were implemented simplistically.  It didn't matter if you were a casual racer/gamer looking to have some fun with friends, a hardcore racer/gamer looking to rack up wins, or a different type of hardcore racer/gamer shooting for the fastest times on each track.  All you had to do was pop in the game and you would be taking off from the finish line in a matter of a minute.  You could find friends rather easily.  You could make your own rooms extremely easy.  You could scan rooms and join the ones that had lots of people or quickly join a room where you saw that the host was setting up a new race.

Let's take this idea about simplicity a little further though.  You could say that at the time there weren't many racing games for the PS3, but this would be not entirely true.  This is not a complete list, but maybe you  don't remember the following releases; Baja: Edge Of Control (2008), Burnout Paradise (2008), Dirt (2007), Grid (2008),  Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (2008), Midnight Club: Los Angeles (2008), MX Vs. ATV Untamed (2007), Nascar 08  (2007), Nascar 09 (2008), Need For Speed ProStreet (2007), Need For  Speed Undercover (2008), and Stuntman Ignition (2007).  Plus, there were a couple of different racing/racers out just before the release of MotorStorm like Ridge racer 7 (2006) and Full Auto 2: Battlelines (2006).  We've established that all types of gamers with their individual reasons  for playing could quickly get on MotorStorm and start playing.  The fact that people kept coming back or staying with MotorStorm means that the game had something to retain the interest for these people.  That reason is simplicity.

Now that I've beaten it into your brain, let's give some support for on this theory of simplicity.  We need to first figure out the basic attributes that attract people to a racing game?  You are fine to think there are more, but in a nutshell there are four basic attributes to a racing game.

+ Environment.  The environment includes the location which dictates the terrain and the track which dictates the course.  This is it.

+ Vehicles.  The types of vehicles that are going to be driven.

+ Premise.  What is the reason or story for the game?  It could be something like off-road competition via MotorStorm, cat and mouse via Need For Speed, tricks/stunts like MX vs ATV, combat racing like Full Auto 2, or even simulation racing like Gran Turismo.

+ Modes.  The unique way to change the basic game to allow the players to break away from normal play to liven things up.

These four attributes were done correctly in the original MotorStorm.  You had an interesting location that had its own allure and history that combined a mix of dirt, mud, hard earth, gravel, and rock.  There were short, medium, and longer tracks which ranged from the more technical (Tenderizer) to debris/obstacle scattered (Coyote Rage or Devil's Crossing) to quirky (Rockhopper or Diamondback Speedway).  The variety of the environment was 25% of the success of the game.  You had seven basic types of vehicles instead of games which were released with only cars, only bikes, or only atvs.  This means that the game was attracting more types of racers because of the selection available.  Plus, within each class of vehicle the selection averaged somewhere around 7 types of vehicles per class.  Some had more and some had less.  At the time, there were no other games released that were geared to off-road racing where people could either take an aggressive stance in racing by hitting/crashing others or a more racing-centric stance where it was strictly racing to the finish.  The game centered around the competition of being in a festival which transferred the idea from the offline to the online.  Finally, the modes introduced in MotorStorm kept the game fresh by allowing people to change the style to Elimination from Racing along with tinkering with the Ambiance, Vehicle Selection, Laps, Mirror, Boost Style, and Privacy while determing the track to be raced.  These four things combined is what succeeded in making this a MUST NEED GAME.

PACIFIC RIFT

I said that the attributes were done CORRECTLY in MotorStorm.  This doesn't mean that they were done PERFECTLY.  The game had its fair share of problems.  This allows us to take the time to move onto Pacific Rift.  The goal of Pacific Rift should have been to IMPROVE the things started in MotorStorm to attempt to make them perfect.  Instead, the developers threw away the platform that was introduced in the original game and completely changed it which means that instead of building on the good that they already had, well, they started all over.  What was kept and what was changed?

They succeeded in choosing another great environment that had its own allure and history like the original game.  The tracks once again combined a mix of dirt, mud, hard earth, gravel/sand, and rock.  They even improved upon the original by adding water and lava which allowed payoffs/risks in adding or depleting boost or engine stability.  There was more improvement because there were more tracks in Pacific Rift than in the original to allow more variety to keep people from getting bored.  Plus, the courses allowed you to move your vehicle through certain obstacles/barriers like bamboo or sugar cane along with setting off some incidentals along the way like the watch tower or swivel canon on Beachcomber.  The vehicles were back along with the inclusion of a heavier class; the monster truck which once again added to improve the fun factor.  The premise stayed the same because there really was no need to improve it.  Instead, the opening montage was changed from the original, but was still similar in order to reinforce the premise.  It failed to deliver on the final attribute of modes.  Instead of improving on the modes, they took some away (Mirror and Boost Style) or placed one of the ones they kept (Eliminator) to only be used offline.  Also, they teased us with modes like speed (where you moved through gates like in skiing), time limit (where you had to reach a certain time), and wreck limit (where you were done if you crashed too many times) that were only available in the offline tickets.  Without throwing in the ability to change things up, races became bland.  Combined, these attributes allowed the game to start out with only 3 of the 4 done correctly.

In making a sequel to a game, you need to add two more attributes.

+ Continuity.  Continuity is the ability to keep the series heading in the same direction and keeping things similar.

Pacific Rift succeeded in keeping the direction of the original.  The  things you came to expect from a MotorStorm title were present and  accounted; the epic opening montage, the soundtrack, the look, the feel,  the boost, the sounds.  Sure, the physics and boost weren't exactly  like the original, but it was adaptable and to be honest the physics of  the original changed throughout the release and people adapted to them.   One thing that was deleted though was the location meter which told you  how close you were to someone else or someone else was to you.  That's  not enough to say that overall the continuity was a success.  Rift now reached 4 out of 6 attributes with a chance to reach 5 out of 6 with the next one.

+ Improvement.  This improvement is different than making the things done correct better.  The improvement here is making the things that detracted from the original to being passable.

Unfortunately, the biggest problems which dogged the original game were still present in the sequel despite having two years to remedy the situation.  The lag, save defect, glitch patches, and overall support of the game failed to improve and in some instances (patches and overall support) actually took a step or two backwards from the original game.  One of the only things that they attempted to improve was the ability to trackblock, but that doesn't justify them dropping the ball on the other things.  Therefore, although Pacific Rift was a great game with tremendous potential it really only succeeded in 67% of the attributes and I think the sales numbers from one game to the next goes to support this.  Rift sales go to support this theory to some extent because of the decline in sales from the first to the second.

APOCALYPSE

The main problem with the series is the third installment.  They completely ignored the K.I.S.S. approach.  They introduced too many gimmicks which made the game more complex while failing to deliver on the basic core attributes.

The environment was unique, but it was unrealistic.  The other locations in the series were all in obtainable locations where people could and would be able to race.  There really are abadoned sugar factories and long beach stretches like the ones in Rift.  There really are mid-western locations with canyons and dust abound like in the original MotorStorm.  The obtainable locations added to the realism of the series while racing on top of buildings or actually having the ability of knowing that an earthquake is going to happen, so you can gather to race are just idiotic and cheapened the realism.  Now, you could argue that there were a great number of tracks, but in reality it was just more versions of the same track locations and not different tracks.  Plus, many of the tracks didn't combine a mix of terrain like the other games.  They were primarily just one type of terrain per track.  Instead, they threw in lots of debris that resulted in not knowing where you were headed by blocking the view of the route.  Why?  Because they wanted to play on the 3D ability of the game.  The result was 0 out of 6.

The vehicles lost their cool factor because many of the popular vehicles in the other games were excluded from this one.  There is a certain expectation although not guaranteed that when you buy something in one game it will be available in the next for free.  It gives a certain amount of value to the purchase.  By not having the vehicles or selection that were present previously, it lessens the experience.  They tried to combat this by allowing the customization of the vehicles, but they failed to realize the coolness which people were willing to pay for previously was lost.  We paid for DLC in the original game because we wanted something different that other people may not purchase.  It is what set the FAN (or LUNATIC) from the passing gamer.  We bought vehicles and craved for new liveries to show off our devotion.  Seriously, if you didn't have all the cars, you were NOT considered a hardcore MotorStormer to some extent.  The specialness of this approach was diluted by the way customization was implemented.  Like I said before, there really was no addition to the vehicles.  All they did was make each category more specific.  They say they added classes, but most all of those classes were present previously.  The Mini is the only real vehicle type that was new.  Overall, there wasn't any real improvement to this area.  I'm going to be generous in saying there was an attempt to improve and split the point instead of giving no points.  The result is that the game increases to .5 out of 6.

The premise of the game took a turn.  What started out as a racing game became a game of betting, perks, and people shooting at you.  The game replaced having a level playing field were everyone started the race with the same ability to win depending on their skill to a game where people could choose better perks that other people weren't using.  MotorStorm was about competition and the basic notion of competition is players competing with the same chance.  That's why steroids aren't allowed in some sports or vehicles all have certain specs.  This is so no one has an unfair advantage.  Blurring the lines of this simple factor is enough for people to not give it a chance or leave.  Apocalypse stays with .5 out of 6 to this point.

They once again changed the modes and ability to keep the races fresh.  The perks should have been placed in this area to allow the host to let EVERYONE have increased boost or grip or whatever and see who used this perk the best amongst everyone else using it.  By the time the mode creator was released, many people had already left the game.  It should have been present from day one otherwise don't advertise it on the box!  You had a legit reason to stall the game due to the earthquake in Japan which would have allowed you to finish up on the mode creator during this time and release the game complete.  Once again, I see the attempt, so I'll split the point allowing the game to now reach 1 out of 6 points.

The game still has a chance to reach a 50% rating if it can obtain the next two attributes, but it doesn't.  There is no way I can say that there is any continuity in Apocalypse to that of Rift or the original game.  The opening montage, soundtrack, and overall realism of what Motorstorm was had been scrubbed.  Instead of the offline supporting the online, the player as both the participant in the offline/online was replaced with the player feeling that you were a two dimensional annoying comic book character.  Even the people who were scattered on the sidelines cheering you on were replaced with armies shooting at you and blowing you up.  At this point we could pretty much put the nail in the coffin as the highest it could now reach was 2 out of 6 or 33% of a MUST NEED GAME.

It didn't though.  There was some advancement in giving a game that could use the common 3D technology that people were craving, but the customer support, patches, and network issues STILL plagued the game.  After four years since the original game was released this is completely disappointing, but more importantly it is unacceptable.  Final result on Apocalypse is that it reached a 1 out of 6 or a very bleak 17% which I think the sales numbers goes to support.

CONCLUSION

Let's stop ignoring the elephant in the room.  Revisit the past successes by going back to the basics.

1- Pick an environment that is interesting, realistic, and can offer variation to a racing theme.  Plus, you should have made the original tracks available to play in Rift.  This way people who had the original game could download and play their old tracks on Rift instead of taking out the game to play certain tracks.  Also, this meant that you could have closed down the original MotorStorm server earlier because it would have forced people to get the newer game which would have decreased your costs of operating the additinal servers while at the same time increasing your revenue by getting people to buy the new game of Rift.  In keeping this trajectory, you would have been able to do the same thing with Apocalypse.  Allow people to use their past tracks/vehicles via download and shutting down a server.  This would mean that you would have had one server system operating instead of three systems that lessened your expenses while increasing your game sale revenue. Plus, most of us wouldn't mind this because it means we would still be able to play the same tracks we had previously since most of us hardcore Lunatics still bought the sequels.  Plus, by making older tracks usable on newer releases, you would have new people coming to the series later going online to the store to purchase older tracks which generates more funds for you.

2- Choose vehicles based on their ability to race.  Most of us were fine with the selection of the first two releases because they made sense.  Even the Monster Truck made sense.  Don't just make the classes more specific or add a new class because you want to appear to outdo yourself from the last release.  There has to be a NEED for a new class for people to accept it.

3- Decide what the premise is of the game.  If it is an off-road racer, then get rid of the betting, shooters, and perks.  Stop trying to be everything to everyone because you can't deliver on creating a racing game that is also a role playing game that is also a shooter that is also an adventure game.  You just muddy the entire MotorStorm idea.

4- If you show a mode in the offline, figure out a way to bring it to the online portion.  You should have combined the modes of ambiance, mirror, eliminator, catchup, laps from the original game and and added the speed, time limit, and wreck limit into the online in Rift.  Then, if it made sense, added in something new into Apocalypse.  This way it keeps things fresh.

5- Bring back the MotorStorm that I'd say 90% of us loved by keeping the continuity of the first two games.  There is something to be said about having flow to a series.  Continuity doesn't make things bland as long as you make improvements to the other attibutes.  In fact continuity goes to strengthen your product.

6- Most importantly you need to make the improvements to the game that have been holding it back since 2007.  If you can't figure out how to remedy the problems, a change in developers is certainly needed because the factors holding this game back wouldn't be tolerated by other companies and it definitely isn't tolerated by your customer.

If you are going to make another realease to the franchise, I think I can speak for many of us out there when I say this.  "Good Luck."  You may not have thought you had an uphill climb after Rift, but after Apocalypse, you should realize you do now.  If you don't, you probably need to replace some of your employees with people who can critically think.

-tk2012

How To Bring Back MotorStorm: Evaluate / Standardize / Realistic Locations
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Lombax Warrior
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 23, 2012

Agree with everything tk, can't really add anything you haven't already said.

All the perks and other bs definitely needs to go, I think most of us just want well designed, techincal tracks, a good choice of vehicles and an even playing field. The fact that both the valley and island had so many loyal followers after 2-3 years and apocalypse is already dying out means something.

If evo follows a similar schedule at E3 (2008 - Rift, 2010 - Apocalypse, 2012 - ) we could see a new game this year, just hoping it's something good. Please surprise me for once evo.

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Splicer
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 23, 2012

Thanks for the exceptional post, very well put indeed. I think this should be stickied and you should forward this or make sure that evolution or sony read your comments, seriously. In fact you should be in charge of making the next game.

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Survivor
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

@andrew0304

I think the earliest we would see a new MotorStorm game would be late Fall of 2013.  This is of course IF they get a green light on making another after dismal sales on Apocalypse.

@SNOOKEE

Thanks for the compliment.  They say that people from Sony read the forums, but unfortunately, I don't think they comprehend what they actually read.  At this point, I wouldn't want the entire responsibility of being in charge of something that has such a tarnished reputation.  I wouldn't want to be involved in a company that has a reputation of failing its consumers time and time again.  Instead, at this point they should have an advisory panel made up from the fan base and SELECTED from the fan base that would give feedback during the entire process of the game from development to finished product.  As someone who ran plenty of tournaments and ran a league for both the original game and Pacific Rift, I would love to represent that faction of the community.  The rest of the board could be made up of a TA representative and a RACING representative.

How To Bring Back MotorStorm: Evaluate / Standardize / Realistic Locations
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Survivor
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

yea TK...there are many people who have played motorstorm from day one of the ps3 release until today, no matter what motorstorm game it was...most of them are member of this forum, but not all....i know a guy who plays ranked in mspr these days....i have known this guy from the very early ms1 days, his name is FANTACY and there are more people like him....people whose passion is motorstorm should be definitely involved into the development or feedback group of a new motorstorm game. it really can´t get as wrong as msa did if they followed this method of creating a game

10000 ranked wins :-)


Rudisha > Bolt
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Splicer
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

I do think there is something to be said for how innovative msmv was compared to any other game that came before it & how that game changing innovation led to massive sales success & popularity. Success & popularity that imo would be impossible to reproduce.

That being said, they sure jumped the shark!!

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I Only Post Everything
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

Would be a good plan, if they would want us to play Motorstorm forever.

But they dont.

They want us to buy new games in rapid succession.

Offering a perfect exciting game is counterproductive!

I played MSPR for ~2 years before MSA came out.

During that time I bought other games and barely played them for an hour each, but I played MSPR for countless hours.

So, the bad and the boring games gave them much more revenue than the Motorstorm games.

About 50€/h bad game to 0,10€/h Motorstorm.

Or in other words: even if I play bad games only a 200th of the time I would play Motorstorm, they still earn more than twice as much money with it.

So, blockbuster games are good in luring lots of gamers to the PS3 to make them bad games customers.

Looks like the Motorstom series quality decline works as designed by Sony marketing experts.

Sad facts

SympathyCheck this out, if you like Motorstorm Rankings

RIP MSPR Smiley Sad - Burn in hell Sony Smiley Tongue

http://joban123.weebly.com
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I Only Post Everything
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

I do see Joban's point and it is certainly valid. However, I think there's a factor that can counter this....

If the game is so good and keeps hold of it's customers, then instead of pumping out new games that have little to no relevance to past games, the developers should support the game and build upon it with DLC. DLC not only keeps the current players happy who would be wiling to shell out for more great content for their already great game, but can draw in new customers too, especially as knowing that a good product will continue to be improved and supported.

Look at RPG games on the PC. Some of them are many, many years old now but still going incredibly strong, and have raked in a huge revenue. Another factor is, although DLC tends to be cheaper than a new game, it is also a lot less costly to produce, and the developers and publishers make a total profit from it, rather than having to pay a company to print millions of discs, companies to ship the discs to a warehouse, more companies to delivery the discs to individual shops, and then share a % of the profit with the shop selling your product.

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Splicer
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

joban123 wrote:

Would be a good plan, if they would want us to play Motorstorm forever.

But they dont.

They want us to buy new games in rapid succession.

Offering a perfect exciting game is counterproductive!

I played MSPR for ~2 years before MSA came out.

During that time I bought other games and barely played them for an hour each, but I played MSPR for countless hours.

So, the bad and the boring games gave them much more revenue than the Motorstorm games.

About 50€/h bad game to 0,10€/h Motorstorm.

Or in other words: even if I play bad games only a 200th of the time I would play Motorstorm, they still earn more than twice as much money with it.

So, blockbuster games are good in luring lots of gamers to the PS3 to make them bad games customers.

Looks like the Motorstom series quality decline works as designed by Sony marketing experts.

Sad facts

Joban123:
"Anyone insulting others for having a different opinion disgraces himself - unacceptable."

Check this out, if you like Motorstorm Rankings
http://joban123.weebly.com

Yes I very much agree Joban.  Also I am sure they (sony) can monitor PS-3s time spent with games to get a realistic idea of whch ps3 users are likely to buy other games OR not likely to buy more games. I'll even bet they can get pretty good projections for the success, or lack of, well ahead of time.

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Lombax Warrior
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Re: The K.I.S.S. approach to MotorStorm...

Apr 24, 2012

Good write up.  I think they should somehow combine the best of all three.  The enviroment of PR, vehicles from all three and certain other added features.

http://www.youtube.com/user/hafadude69
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