The Champions Online Open Beta is coming to a close soon and it has been a pretty fun week. Sure there are still some really ugly bugs hanging out there, and I am sure many powers and sets will have to be tweaked, and lots of additional content will have to be added, and my guess is that once you get to max level, there isn't much to do. However, all of that does not dissuade me from wanting to sub this game -- the fun factor overrides all of that badness.
There is one thing -- one huge, ugly, annoying thing that bugged me about the open beta. Us.
See, a couple days ago, Cryptic started tweaking the rate of XP gain for mobs and quests. My guess is that it had been artificially increased to allow people to test more of the game, and to give the devs some data on leveling rates. Now, I never noticed the exact rate at which I gained XP, but I did notice how darn fast my characters were zooming through the low levels. My understanding is they jammed the XP rate down very hard, which from my CoX experience is the way of Cryptic -- nerf big, then tweak back up. In any case, the XP was flowing like water and then it wasn't.
The change didn't bother me. What bothered me is the forum reaction to that change. Several threads popped up where people moaned, griped and threatened. "You have just lost a lifetime subscriber!", "I am cancelling my preorder today.", "I will give Cryptic 30 days to revert back to the way it was or else." Ugh... Look, I am a glutton for some good forum drama any day of the week; it is a deep-rooted character flaw. Lately though, I find that I am becoming tired of our community's penchant for knee-jerk, childish reactions to our games and their development.
I have always felt that MMOs were in a unique position -- somewhere between a product, a service and a community. Most media is produced without our direct input. There might be a select few testers, or a focus group giving input, but you are pretty much out of the loop until you watch the movie, or pop the game into your PC. MMOs are a continuing effort and though input is limited at the beginning of the development cycle, it opens up as the game progresses and ultimately includes us. Unlike any other entertainment medium, MMO users have the opportunity to shape the direction of their game through their play, their discussions, their suggestions and their criticism. But if you were a community manager, or a developer, who would you rather listen to, players who think before they post and post reasoned, constructive arguments, or those who rant, rave, insult and threaten to quit over each change?
Sooner or later, the kid who keeps threatening to "take their ball and go home" finds that the group got another ball. Sure MMO developers can't get their own ball; they need us to keep playing and paying. However, they could just stop listening to us. They know that those of us that read and post are just a small minority of the playerbase. We are important, because we care enough to discuss our favorite games (perhaps to the point of taking them too seriously) and our feedback guides and shapes the game over the course of years. That's powerful. Let's not give that power up by devolving into whining and threats when a change doesn't suit us.
But if you do feel the need to leave... can I have your stuff?