Does anyone remember Fireteam?
I am sure some of you game "experts" :wink: even played this game as the ads ran for months in all the mags. I still remember even those ads fondly with people having earphones and mics and yelling to each other to," look out they are going to score".
I was involved in the Beta and then bought the final version. That was a great game. As I remember,there were 4 on a team. You could choose from 3 different guys, one fast, one slow with heavy firepower and one balanced. There was a ball you had to carry to the opposing goal while dodging hostile fire, mines that were set, and the like. There was also a base you could destroy to score. The whole time you would yell into your headset instructions and help to your team members. It had 3/4 perspective and the game itself did not move fast at all, like say C&C or Starcraft and certainly not like Quake or Unreal. I am not sure if it was these two factors or what that finally killed it.
Fireteam was not fast enough for the twitch fellers and was too fast for the strategists. It was the perfect speed for me and, though the mechanics sounded simple, there was a lot of strategy involved.
Multitude developed it and went on to use the voice technology in Firetalk voice communication. I think it was the first game to use real-time communication between players. I suppose they just realized that the communication end was a much more viable business for them than the increasingly crowded game market.
I remember my wife getting up in the middle of the night many 'a time to tell me to shut up and to stop yelling. She still makes fun of me because, evidently, every time I met my new teammates at the beginning of the game I would say, " How's it goin' fellas!" Every single time I used the same phrase she says.
ANyway maybe I have gushed too much and none of you care, remember, or care to remember, but I thought it was wonderful. I do not play many on-line games because you have to spend endless amounts of time to be able to compete even with the worst of the bunches of players. Nox I was OK at and I guess I will play on the NWN servers, but nothing will equal my beloved Fireteam.
I heard that some British company bought some rights and put up servers for people to play, but that was a couple of years ago. BTW, the game even ran well on a 36.6 connection.
That is enough drivel and nonsense for one Monday morning. Thanks for your indulgence. :?
I remember it, Tyjenks. I never played it. As I recall, it sold abysmally. It got good press coverage and had a vigorous ad campaign, as you mentioned, but no one bought it.
It was direct sales, wasn't it? It's just really really hard to sell that way.
Yep direct sales only. I do not believe they even had on-line credit card automated ordering yet. It was all by phone, I think. I remember reading about all the financing they kept getting and I guess they blew it all on the ads, as you mentioned, 'cause they were everywhere.
Yeah, when you can't sell many copies via direct sales when you have an expensive print campaign, just think how hard the indie developers have it who rely on word-of-mouth. Only Jeff Vogel with his RPGs and the Combat Mission guys seem to have done ok, and they both have games aimed at niche markets.
I suspect Vogel sells 5,000 or so copies and I heard a rumor that Combat Mission sold 10,000-15,000 copies.
Plus, Vogel's a goddamned funny bastard. Check out his site, http://www.ironycentral.com/ to see what I mean.
Originally Posted by Mark Asher
I think Fireteam sold for about $30 and bundled in a very nice headset/mic combo. That had to hurt them financially too. I reviewed it way back when, it was a fun game, an arcade style throwback in some ways, but I didn't see a whole lot that indicated staying power (to me).
Art Min, the main Multitude guy, is still around and about. I have his business card somewhere from GDC. Yeah, Fireteam evolved into Firetalk and other non-gaming stuff. Too bad, really. I think they were on to something with the voice communication thing.
And another thing...They were so hands on with the players. I would meet a Tech support guy in the tech room at 10:30 in the evening because I was having sound problems with a crappy on-board OEM soundcard. We started up a game and he could literally talk me through some possible fixes. The server went down or his connection went down, he looked up my home phone from my order, and called me at about 11:00 at home, long-distance charges and all.
I know there are plenty of good player-friendly, smaller companies out there, but this one has stood out for me.
I played in the paid Fireteam beta. My brother was an engineer on a voice-over-IP product at the time, so he bought me a beta set so we could try it out. He mostly did it to get an idea where the competition was. We enjoyed the game, but neither of us was hooked enough to buy the retail version.
They were on to something with the in-game voice communication. It has become a feature now, though, and not a system seller. DoD and CS public servers wouldn't be the same without some squeaky-voiced teenager tipping me off to enemy locations (or just cursing). On private servers, it provides me a handy way to apologize for blowing up half of my team with a poorly-thrown grenade.
True but a little off. I heard CM sold above 20,000 units online, but I could be wrong. SE:4 sold similiar numbers to what the quote above for CM and is approaching 20,000 for both games (SE4, SE4 Gold).
Originally Posted by Mark Asher
It can work you just need to do SMART marketing, not expensive marketing ;).
And to keep this on topic, yes I remember fireteam. In fact the first gaming site I worked for, gameworlds.com, had a staff member that was involved with their team on some level. I forget what she did for them right now, but her name was Patrice Sartor I believe.
FireTeam's main problem was the flawed design and business model; the lack of persistent elements. As presented, it was just another zero-sum game, with winners and losers. Since most people lose a lot and the best players just keep racking up better scores on the backs of the losers, this tends to churn out players more quickly over time than an EverQuest or Ultima Online. People won't pay monthly subscriptions to lose a lot. They will pay to build a 'life' and accomplishments over time (i.e. there is more than one way to 'win') and hang out with their friends.
This lack of peristence and massive-multiplayer elements was part of their philosophy. As explained to me by Multitude's Lorena (?) Stagnitto at a conference I spoke at in September, 1997, Ned Lerner and Art Min firmly believed that massive-multiplayer persistent worlds were a fad and that the big money was in charging for games like FireTeam. They were, of course, wrong.
Another part of the problem was that Mutltiude didn't follow-through with their promises of better customer service, community management and player relations. The web site for FireTeam would go un-updated sometimes for a week at a time, and that includes official representation on the message boards. If you happened to catch a GM in the game (not an easy task), you could get quick service, but mainly because there were so few players. In general, they were just as bad at it as everyone else.
It was no surprise to those experienced in the industry that FireTeam bombed, nor that Multitude tried their best to salvage the investors' money by becoming a tools provider. There wasn't much else they could do, at that point.
Voice communications have been used in online games since at least 1991, which is when I was shown how to use VOX in Air Warrior on GEnie by players who had been using it for months. It has been pretty standard in the online sims since then.
I played a fair bit of FireTeam, and I disagree with you, Jessica.
FireTeam's big strength was that it was equipped to handle a large number of competitive players. If you won a lot, you got moved to a higher tier and were only able to play better players. If you lost a lot, you got bumped down a tier and could only play with (and against) worse players. In a short time, you'd be stuck playing at your level, winning some and losing some.
The whole structure was built for clans and tournaments and rankings and such. It would have worked great if there were 200,000 people playing. The problem was that with direct sales it sold so bad that the numbers didn't work out. Your tier could be just a couple hundred people, only a couple dozen of which would actually be online at a time. So people went out of their way to play games that wouldn't count toward their record because you could play with people from other tiers that way.
I'm not sure if the economic model could ever have worked, maybe so, but they never got the initial momentum necessary to even make the whole tier ranking thing work. I blame that mostly on direct-only sales.
It sure was hella fun, though. :D
Sure, I remember it. I think I reviewed it for someone. It was fun. I wasn't very good at it, and I got killed a lot, whichever character I chose, but the voice worked really well in building a sense community with the other folks on your side.
FireTeam may have been a great game, for what it was and, in fact, I enjoyed it, for the brief time I played it. That still doesn't address the issues. In fact, you point up a major flaw in the game design, which basically Peter Principled players until they failed repeatedly against the best of the best. At that point, most players bail; who wants to be the 'best' of the lower rank, which is basically being the tallest midget? Once they reach their plateau, there is no incentive to go on and FireTeam was guaranteed to plateau them.
Even if the game had been sold in stores, it would have failed as a subscription game. The big economic lesson learned since 1994 is that players will not pay subscription fees for non-massive multiplayer (and being able to host 200,000 players does not make a game massive-multiplayer), non-persistent content. TEN, Catapult, Mplayer, Engage and others learned that the hard way.
Note that Infogrames learned this lesson well, which is why there won't be subscription servers for NeverWinter Nights, which would seem to lend itself to the concept. But then, Jason Bell (former Kesmai and EA) is a VP there, and he knows better.
Originally Posted by Jason Cross
Didn't Harvey Smith work on it?
Yep. Amazingly, the credits are still online:
Originally Posted by Raph Koster
In fact, looks like Cryo Networks picked it up.
Originally Posted by Jessica M.
Thaaaat's who it was. I knew i had read that somewhere.
Originally Posted by Jessica M.
Wow I'm replying to a thread 5 years old.
I agree with Jessica that there were plenty of failings with what we did on FireTeam for the year 1998.
Cryo Networks was running the UK/French version for Europe.
Harvey Smith was lead designer on the project for the middle of the project.
We intentionally designed the community aspects around the persistence of your statistics. Back then, we didn't achieve enough critical mass to make it really work. I don't believe Ned or I believe the persistent worlds were a fad. That might have been Loretta positioning FireTeam in a way to differentiate us from what was already done.
Direct distribution was a bad idea, but at the time no buyers were interested in an Internet-only voice, no subscription boxed product. Let's just say we did not sell very many copies.
Yeah, we insisted on a nice box. It wasn't very much more, and given how much we were spending on the headset, we needed it to be a solid box to protect it.
What FireTeam wanted to be is an Xbox Live game in 2006. Think about rankings and achievements and...
- Art Min
Talk about taking your sweet time to come up with an answer... :)
Anaway, nice to see you here, Art.