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Controversial Imagination Conversation or CIC (prenounced sick) for short

Dig deep into the basis of MMOs, controversial or not it needs to be discussed. Let the heads roll and the children cry its time to get CIC.

Author: FlyingSquid

Developer Ignorance: MMO Plague

Posted by FlyingSquid Tuesday March 11 2008 at 12:41AM
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Hiya folks, squid here again to bring you the next installment of CIC, thus being number 5 in the series.  Today I'm going to touch on a very serious issue that plagues the MMO industry.  Developer Ignorance.  The shear lack of disrespect for testers and potential player base is becoming all to common in the corporate world of MMO development. 

There is a saying, "If you can't beat them, join them."  Many companies have tried to spawn WoW out of their current game to try to get more attention to the average casual gamer.  All these companies have failed, one exception being LotRO they have a steady player base and are doing pretty good.  The first sign of ignorance was that clearly because WoW had record breaking subscriptions that this was the only model to go with instead of using their original vision.  Now don't get me wrong I'm sure the Lead Designer had his ideas to keep it unique but that Lead Designer doesn't pay the bills, investers do and they call the shots if you want their money.  Which in turn will change the games direction all together.

Now going off the topic of WoW modeled MMOs here, I want to talk about the ignorance of the development management.  A beta test is hosted for a reason to test out the game make sure it is in a working or near working state, nothing game breaking so that they can launch commercially.  Well the problem here is the developers for the most part on major issues don't listen to their testers.  Then when it comes to launch and it fails, who comes to shoulda listened fellas.

This ignorance of their way of only being correct is as I've described in the title a plague.  It is becoming more and more common to shove shit down the customers throat and tell them to eat it.  I fear for the future of MMOs that are coming out soon.  Though AoC is moving along nicely and push backs are giving devs more time finish things up, I fear they are not listening to their testers and this may end up being another backfire, I see WAR the same way.

If this mindset does not change, we may forever be in a cycle of dos and dont's and failed to just barely making it.  Tabula Rasa and PotBS are good examples of just barely breaking the seam and once again it's because they did not listen to their testers, PotBS should have been still in development they pushed it too soon, if avatar combat would have been polished we would be seeing a much higher anticipation to play the game.  Tabula Rasa screwed up when they increased all monsters to be killed a bit slower, it no longer had that "rush" of an fps feel for it and truely lost it's touch and vision to a slow paced semi-fps kinda like a terrible lag issue in todays fast past console games, at least that's how it felt.

Last but not least the best decision I've seen in an MMO development company is Gods & Heroes axed.  Instead of selling crap to their customers they gave it the plug, it was a choice many take for granted and applaud them.  See the problem was the combat did not work as envisioned when they developed it when it came to holding a bunch of people on the server it was clunky and the animation was not fitting.  Worst came to worst when funding was cut and nothing else shined upon Gods & Heroes and thus the plug was pulled.  From my sources (I'm no longer in the MMO industry  so my sources are not as great as they used to be, but valid non-the-less) the coding structure of Gods & Heroes was ill written and would not function fast enough when it came to stress testing a bunch of players at one time, therefore there was always lag.  Anyway the point is more companies need to act as they have done, if it isn't fitting for the players don't shove it down their throat.


So as always, I open it up to my readers.  What do you think about this issue?  Do you foresee a bright future for the next generation MMOs or a plummet forever doomed in a mix of what's right and what's not?   Any personal issues or experience you came across with a developer that just wouldn't listen?  Let me hear it all. 

Let the heads roll and the children cry, see you guys next week!