(* CRAP = Current realistic actual playability *)
Three months ago on a Friday night after work a middle age professional marches into a store and purchases one of the biggest releases in the history of MMORPG’s. He shreds the plastic wrapper before he reaches the station and has already absorbed half the manual before struggling onto a crowded London tube.
As he enters his flat he ignores the post on the floor, ravenous dog, even his own dinner in the fridge and heads straight for the PC.
“This has to be good, it just has to!” he mutters anxiously.
He had read all the forums, reviews, previews, developer posts and upgraded his already powerful rig to fully appreciate this masterpiece.
Several hours later I wonder how I could be so naïve.
It’s just after midnight and I am infuriated as I realize my research was pure folly. My avatar stutters across open landscape occasionally letting me take control. The FPS (Frame rates per second) barely breaks into the teens. My gorgeous level ten High Elf has been on a perilous, inspirational journey that involved thumping dozens of skeletons and so many scorpions I have enough poison to wipe my server of all existence. I pick another mission and the exhilarating adventure starts all over again like some RPG ritual.
Target stationary NPC, click, hit, hit, hit…rinse and repeat.
The sudden realization that there is nothing more to this world but development bugs, cute dancing toons and lovely trees is too hard to swallow. “They can’t do this to me, not again!” I shriek sending my starving Yorkshire terrier into a yapping frenzy.
Is the lack of game play, community involvement and development the real issue here? I think not. It is the lack of respect the gaming community receives from publishers when we try and make an educated decision on where to spend our money. I remember when I first started playing games back in the mid 1980’s. It was almost a criminal offence to admit you did and may God help you if any girls in your class found out. Thankfully those days of closet D&D are now over and the world of gaming rejoices.
So why treat us like we don’t know any better?
When publishers release a new yet incomplete MMORPG do they chink champagne glasses, serve the canapés and give each other virtual slaps on the back for a job well done? Subsequently lounge back and watch the thousands of players flock to the gift they bestowed on the RPG world? Reality suggests they tiptoe off into the server room never to be seen again while some unfortunate IT graduate on their summer break gets conscripted to deal with a lynch mob full of fantasy toons.
The gaming community has developed into a mature, global, unisex mass population responsible for a multi-billion dollar industry. I struggle to think of any other business with such a vocal fan base who will give up so much of their time to discuss what they want to see in upcoming releases. So I ask, “Why all the lies?”
Publishers should tell us the truth prior to launch. Trust the community; put your faith in their wisdom to see beyond the bugs and actually embrace a game full of immense promise and potential. Developers are guaranteeing a high tech gismo present for Christmas then delivering pajamas and underwear that sends their gaming children screaming into the night. It’s not a pretty sight and one we can all do without. If higher powers are pushing for an early release date then establish communication with your fans and inform them that the game is playable albeit with bugs. However, mesmerizing improvements are forthcoming in the near future. For their undying loyalty all players that subscribe within the first three months receive a substantial virtual gift or title. Sure you need to deliver in the long run but this will avoid the hype bubble imploding along with its subscribers leaving a husk of a game that had so much potential.
Without us, the paying fans, that gorgeous world full of beautiful dancing elves with their pretty trees will be nothing more than a cute screen saver. So tell us the CRAP, it may not set you free but it will make sure you earn a lot of cash in the long run and isn’t that what gaming is all about?