I keep reading various articles about developers being worried that people will break NDA and leak alpha-unfinished info that will then “define” their game as broken or bad, get picked up by the hate/forum circuit and lead to the downfall of their game through anti hype and forum flaming hate.
But I asked myself, is it a lack of understanding what “alpha” is OR is it that these companies keep making decisions that slap the fans in the face thus making the fans angry? The more I looked at it the more I started to think a little of both but I would say MOST of the MAJOR forum uproar is based on prior mentioned backhands to the players. Many companies seem to be using “it was alpha” as a scapegoat to try diffusing the real problem they created by slapping the players in the first place.
I often hear how it’s a few that raise up the many. That is probably true but if the few were going around trying to stir up the pot with info like, “THEY ONLY HAVE 10 HAIRSTYLES!!!” I doubt the “OMG this game is doomed” would snowball quite as much. On the other hand, say your game is based on a beloved IP known for numerous vastly open sandboxy worlds, eternally violent conflict, and gritty realism and you make the game world a bunch of tiny zones and only feature a few of the worlds, with little conflict, and use Hello Kitty like graphics. Chances are you're poking a sleeping bear...with a hot metal rod! To be fair the second you make an MMO based on a beloved anything you are already being set up for failure by the fear mongering fanboys of said IP. They love it so much they would rather kill it than allow it to move forward as an abomination of what they love. How poetic!
I’ve been on enough forums to know the weaker minded of us will go screaming to doomville at the very first sign of ANYTHING they don’t like. OMFG they don’t have blood this games doomed, OMFFG they don’t have capes, OMFFFG they don’t have pink ponies! It drives me crazy. BUT, again, I can’t help but think the majority of us don’t jump on the hate train at such minute discrepancies. With most games it takes some major F-Uing to the players to really get a hate hatchet between the shoulder blades.
“But it was alpha footage, it will be different by launch” so your world will no longer be tiny instanced zone by launch? So you game won’t look like Hello Kitty Part II; The Return of Hep Cat by next year? I mean, ugly or simple graphics can be upgraded, but when you're color pallette was taken from Barbies Dream House I highly doubt things will magically be turned around before launch...UNLESS, unless maybe, JUST MAYBE, you see enough CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM (yes I know it’s more rare than a Unicorn with 2 horns on the interwebs but, like your car keys after a kegger, if you look hard enough you can find it) the trick is being humble enough to listen to some of it, not even all, just some, and reevaluate your decisions inspite of what market testing indicates.
All of this brings me to my “bsc” idea which is...TO BE CONTINUED!!! Ok, it’s not having an NDA, none, never, ever, notta, nope, zilch, zero, the big fat O, nothing...just noticed a lot of no words start with N and Z...
“But Tiny T, how could that work?” TO BE CONTINUED! For real this time. I’m over my ADD e-reader word limit. I mean, most of you are just reading the first and last couple sentences anyway right? So, tune in next blog for the exciting unveiling of how games can be made without an NDA, here is a clue, it’s easier than you think and has a lot to do with prohibition.