Sherwood News from around the Web

Wired Game Life: Maid Marian Entertainment Is a One-Man MMO Show

Press: June 22, 2007
Susan Arendt


Original Article
http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/06/maid-marian-ent.html

A new Adobe Case Study profiles Gene Endrody, who pulled off the nearly unthinkable when he created a successful MMO all by himself. MaidMarian.com attracts more than 1.3 million unique visitors a month, with as many as 4,000 players logged into the multiplayer games at any given moment. The majority of visitors are spending time in Sherwood Dungeon, a free, browser-based MMO that Enrody uses to test new ideas and techniques.

Since Adobe is the one doing the case study, there's a whole lot of "man, Adobe products sure are awesome!" in it, but it's still an interesting and encouraging read for anyone who's ever dreamed of creating their own game.

 

The Escapist: Maid Marian
The MMOG Shop You Never Heard Of

Press: June 22, 2007
Corvus Elrod


Original Article
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/73197

You may not have heard of Maid Marian Entertainment, but that doesn't mean it's not a wildly successful MMOG studio.

Adobe Showcase has just published a case study about the boutique MMOGs developed by Gene Endrody at his one man studio, Maid Marian Entertainment.

Independent game developer Gene Endrody, a likely inspiration to solo programmers everywhere, figuratively and literally quit his day job and, against all odds, hit the jackpot in the massive multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) space. ... MaidMarian.com attracts over 1.3 million unique visitors a month with up to 4,000 simultaneous players at a time logged into the multiplayer games.

 Using Maya, Photoshop and Director, he created a free MMOG, which runs on four servers and delivers 10 million ad impressions a month. Best of all, there's no client download, no complicated configuration settings, just instant access to the game.

Allen Varney mentioned Endrody and Maid Marian in his article "Boutique MMOGs" in The Escapist issue 75 (also check out Allen's companion The Escapist Daily post, "Your own MMOG?").

Maid Marian is a stellar example of the boutique approach to development. Endrody started small, contained costs, launched without a huge media fanfare and constantly makes small improvements and adjustments to the game over time. It's highly likely we will see more and more independent studios taking this approach over the coming years.   

The Forge: Sherwood RPG

Press: June 24, 2007
Matt Mihaly


Original Article
http://forge.ironrealms.com/2007/06/24/sherwood-rpg/

Adobe has a piece up about Sherwood RPG, a 3d MMO that runs in Shockwave (a web browser extension if youíre not familiar with it). Sherwood garners 1.4 million unique visitors a month, is completely free, and is ad-supported. It also takes about 30 seconds from clicking ĎPlay Nowí to getting into the play experience, if you have Shockwave installed (I have heard Shockwave has about 55% penetration in the US market).

I love Sherwood. I donít really play it beyond checking out what Gene Endrody, its creator and sole developer, is up to but I was impressed enough by the way it operates that I had planned to talk about it during my talk at GDC this year. (I had to cut the segment about Sherwood due to time constraints unfortunately.)

Two things stand out from Sherwood for me. First is the sheer economy of design and technology. Granted, if you donít have Shockwave installed, the start-up process is a little more annoying but Shockwave is a very easy install all things considered. Once you start up, youíre in the world incredibly quickly. Geometry is cheap and the models in Sherwood are decent in those terms. The textures are not as good, but thatís a trade-off that has likely proven well worth it for Gene in terms of keeping download time to an absolute minimum. No 100 meg installs here. The gameplay is pretty basic and the world is not particularly rich with content but itís completely free and never, in any way, asks for money from its users.

In fact, thatís the most impressive thing about it to me, and the second thing that stands out. Itís completely ad-supported. The reason I had included Sherwood in my GDC talk was because Sherwoodís revenue generation model is so simply efficient. Virtually all of the ads that run on maidmarian.com, the umbrella site that Gene has Sherwood and a few other of his games under, are for games that directly compete with Sherwood for its audienceís attention.

Heck, the front page of his site runs ads for two main games, and only one of them is his own. Gene has chosen to look at his game and decide, effectively, that heís better off sending people who are pre-qualified as interested in MMOs to competing MMOs than he is at trying to directly monetize his players. Heís approached Sherwood entirely this way, and encourages other sites, I believe, to run Sherwood as their own, as long as they include his Google ads in the frame Sherwood is running in.

Itís an interesting strategy thatís clearly working for Gene, though I think at some point heís going to polish his games to the extent that itís worth more to get players to pay him directly than it is to direct players to other people whom the players will pay instead. Clearly, running ads isnít some sort of innovative strategy, but yet thereís something about the specific way that Sherwood runs ads (as a funnel to games normally considered competing) that I donít see done very often, if at all. If Gene looks for funding, investors take note. Of course, if I were Gene, I think Iíd try to avoid that and grow organically as heís done thus far.   

From Gamasutra.com:
Nine Paths To Indie Game Greatness

Press: February 26, 2008
David Marsh


Original Article
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3547/nine_paths_to_indie_game_greatness.php

6. Consider less traditional monetization methods

There could be more efficient ways to monetize your game other than the traditional means. A game designed to be played for free could still be monetized in a variety of different ways. Advertising, micropayments, virtual item sales or even sell your game while it's still in development.

Similar to how the advent of Googleís AdWords revolutionized monetizing content on the web, technology is providing alternate ways to make money other than the traditional fixed-price for a box of goods model.

One example is a website run by Gene Endrody, MaidMarian.com. He makes multiplayer 3d games using Shockwave that players can access directly in their browser. Instead of charging players directly to play the games, they are made free to play without any restrictions.

By removing almost all barriers to playing his games, MaidMarian.com attracts 1.5 million unique visitors a month, and up to 4,000 concurrent users, which generates a comfortable amount of revenue solely through advertisements on the site.

By the time Gene left his role as a technical art director at Radical Entertainment to focus full time on MaidMarian.com, he was already earning more than his day job by attracting visitors to roam through his virtual worlds.