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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: Unfinished MMOs

Posted by Paragus1 Tuesday June 5 2007 at 10:42PM
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Rant: Unfinished MMOs

In light of some of the recent games in the MMO genre, I just want to take some time out to rant about "Unfinished MMOs". Now don't get me wrong here, I understand that no MMO is ever really "finished", but there is a big difference between being "finished" and being in an "Acceptable Retail" version.

I am going to throw Vanguard under the bus as an example (There are countless others) because at the time of me writing this, it is the most recent and one of the most highlighted examples I have seen regarding this issue. This is a game I have followed very closely since its beta, sorry let me correct that, non-retail beta, through members of the guild who were among the select few who were chosen to test the closed beta. Quite frankly, if you had seen this game develop, it was painfully obvious that this game never had a chance in hell.

Here are 5 facts about Unfinished MMOs:

1) Unfinished games hurt the genre. Nobody wins. The developer is going to get hosed, there will be less competition in the field of games, which in turns lower the bar for all other games. Newcomers who have just started playing MMOs may pick up your hot steaming pile of crap and end up being turned off to the genre because you were their first experience. If their first game is a good one, they will be play for a long time and try other games as well. World of Warcraft is a classic example of this. More people in the genre is a good thing because it will inspire more people to make games because there will be a bigger market.

2) You will not recover for a bad launch. It just doesn't happen. Even if you turn the game around completely, people will still be unwilling to try your game, especially if there is bad word of mouth, or they were previously burned by it. A classic example is Anarchy Online. This game had one of the worst launches in the history of MMOs, and it was probably the first MMO to fumble right out of the gate. The game eventually turned into a diamond in the rough. The game broke the mold of the traditional MMO, had a skill based system along with levels. They had probably the biggest game world in its time only rivaled to that of Asheron's Call. They released an expansion that was massive, that added new classes, and new game play dynamics. (Take some notes Blizzard)

3) Open Beta = Retail. How many times have you heard some honest objective criticism leveled against a game in open beta, and some Fanboi screams “ITS ONLY BETA!!11!one!”? It happens with almost every game. Now I’ve been around this genre for over 8 years, and had the privilege to beta a lot of games both good and bad. I’ve got news for you foaming at the mouth lunatic fanbois…Open Beta is ALWAYS the mirror image of what will be sitting on the shelf plus or minus some bug fixes and character balancing. Massive game altering features are never added in between and quite frankly shouldn’t be because they haven’t had time to test them. If the game gargles balls in open beta, it will gargle balls in retail. Chances are you will be paying for Betail (beta + retail / Beta 6 / Pay to test), and unless you’re on the payroll or a stockholder, you have nothing to gain.

4) Potential is not enough. How many times have you heard this line? I got a Fox news Alert for you, potential never gets fully realized and isn’t worth justifying playing if the game sucks. Dark and Light had potential. It ultimately turned into a virtual scam that lured players in, got their billing info, overcharged them, lost their billing info to third parties, and released probably the worst pay-to-play game ever made. I don’t know about you, but massive rollbacks and fraudulent billing is not my cup of tea. The only potential that was realized here was the potential for a class action lawsuit. We aren’t even counting countless other games that started off good and totally botched it by making stupid decisions, but that’s another rant.

5) Fanboism is part of the problem. Seriously, you know who you are. Stop the madness. The reason developers can even consider the option of releasing an unfinished game is because they know they will sell copies because fanbois will buy them. Example Vanguard. Brad McQuaid has admitted himself several times that the game came out too early; the reason behind it to me is irrelevant. Your knowing asking for money for something that is giving you less then you promised. Would you buy a car with the transmission missing? Would you buy a computer without the RAM? Unless you some type of mongoloid I would hope you have enough respect for yourself to not make a donation to someone who is misleading you to help fund his train wreck. Your not a stock holder, your not on the payroll (I hope) so why don’t you make these bastards work for your money. You need to objective. Where there is smoke there is fire. When you hear beta testers say it’s not ready, or it’s a buggy mess that won’t run on the system requirements on the box, its probably true.

When we as players make them work for our money and deliver what we expect, they will be forced to do it or crash and burn by their own deceit and stupidity. Hold these bastards accountable for them. I’m a small business owner, and I have to stand by my product. Make them stand by theirs, and if it sinks, they get to go down with their ship.

Co-Leader of Inquisition

raynerape writes: Very good essay with all the right and painful truths laid down pretty well. My only comment is that while bad launch can bury a good game outright, recovery from bad launch is possible within realistic, conservative expectations. Wed Jun 06 2007 8:47AM Report
Paragus1 writes: Thanks for the comment rayne. There is some truth in your thoughts about recovery. There are 2 examples I can think of. The first is Anarchy online which I already mentioned. The second would be Everquest 2. That game had a horrific launch, and if it had stayed on the same course as it was on when it launched, I think the game would be close to death. I think EQ2 is probably the one time SoE really stepped up to the plate and turned a game off of a crash course with disaster into one of the best games on the market. We will have to see what Vanguard's fate will be. Wed Jun 06 2007 8:54AM Report
Thaliost writes: Good essay :) I agree with all, specially the beta thing. For me the beta, is where I will decide if I will buy a game or not. If a game is not working well near final beta, it most probably won't work as well when released. It's sad that so many games that have the called potencial, are just crap. I'm guessing that the market needs to mature in that aspect. I'm sure that companies have had losses with lots of mmorpgs. I hope they learn a lession from that. Wed Jun 06 2007 6:53PM Report
Panossian writes: Good stuff. Agreed. Wed Jun 06 2007 8:13PM Report
Daedren writes: Let us hope the example of horrific MMOG's that have been released early will serve as a sufficient example to the producers. Keep in mind it's not the Devs who control the release date, it's the guys with the money. Vanguard the current "this could happen to us" example that we like to use. (And on a side note, AO launch was indeed horrific, glad they did pull it around!) Fri Jun 08 2007 10:07AM Report
Paragus1 writes: I think it is a humorous coincidence that many of the next gen games pushed back their release dates right around the same time Vanguard tanked. Fri Jun 08 2007 10:10AM Report
Daedren writes: Indeed, Warhammer and AoC both got very "delay friendly" when they heard the numbers of people leaving Vanguard. (I think it was around 75% of customer base?) Lesson learned, hopefully. This should keep the "suits" easier to maintain. Mon Jun 11 2007 5:36AM Report
Reklaw writes: Rant: Unfinished MMOs Simple if people would stop playing them we would not have so much silly drama, but what you see especialy on this forum is people trying HARD to like a game wich is bound when trying HARD to become disappointed. People need to take responsibility for their own actions, when they feel a game sucks state it and move on to another game, but unfortunaly people need to bring the same old day in day out telling other how bad game X is and why its so buggy/grindfest and such. So basicly at i see many people that should not even be playing mmorpg. Sure Vanguard has made many mistakes or actualy Sigil did aswell SOE with their fast release. But the real fact remains to many people seem to put in to much time in these type of games that they not able to see clearly anymore making them make large topics that sort of shows people that like i said should not even be playing mmorpg. What the most strange thing we see is mopstly those like the OP don't actualy make post on games they like , check info history and most of these people with their rant about how game X failed ort is broken mostly never state about a game they enjoy they only rant, vent and bring negative stuff over at the forums without actualy able to be costructive. Yes you (OP) made some good points but overall i'm just seeing someone blinded by hate, and also this BS about fanboy also has to stop cause again look at the fact the " haters" are the once that keep bringing up BS about fanboy and fact is they do not even understand what a fanboy is as they even consider me a fanboy which is so ridiculus to even be considered. But thats what you get when ignorant people try and play mmorpg. They will try anything to feel right And if they do not like something no one may like it. Like i said some of your points are good, but if i actualy saw that you where a person that could enjoy games it would have made more sense then this rant i just read,sorry..... Tue Jun 19 2007 2:49AM Report
Reklaw writes: Sorry bad essay, don't get me wrong but it would have been a good essay if we saw the OP actualy playing mmorpg that he enjoy's , sorry only could find complaints and more complaint on this board, then again its trendy to be negative and to shout to everyone that might enjoy something that others don't a "fanboy" thruth is many on this forum have no idea what a fanboy is, lol even i am cosnidered a fanboy which is always so amuzing to read such ignorance. Anyway OP what mmorpg do you play or do you only play not released/ or in development games? Tue Jun 19 2007 2:52AM Report
Paragus1 writes: I am currently subscribed to no MMORPG at the moment. I always laugh when I see someone use the term "Hater". Sir, if you think I am a hater, then you need to stop and take a breath. I have posted a well thought out piece, back up with examples and facts. The problem is that people like who don't have the stomache to take a legitimate criticism of your game. I'm not quite sure what your problem is. Do you like Unfinished MMOs? Do you like paying money and getting a product that doesn't work? If you think all I do is post negativity, I invite you to read my other blogs , where I will often times point out what games did it right in different aspects. Are you trying to argue that Vanguard is not failure? I noticed you subscribe to VG, and I think you need to realize where there is smoke, there is fire. The game was admitted to be released months too early, ran out of money, fired all of its developers, and merged 13 servers down to only 4! Arguing Vanguard's success is like trying to argue the benefits of AIDS or Cancer. You need to get thicker skin and learn to read constructive criticism. By the way, the term "hater" is a term coined by Fanboys (which are real), so I can understand why you are getting characterized as such, even if mistakenly. Tue Jun 19 2007 8:48AM Report
Panossian writes: The only one who seems angry is you Reklaw, thank god for gamers like Paragus and the many others who do take the time to write posts/blogs like this so gamers thinking about jumping into a new game which it a monetary and time investment can hear both sides of the story. All you ever hear from people who like the game is something along the lines of "This game rocks!" or some other nonsense. And whats very funny about most people who are supporting a game that is so obviously sub par is that they are either to proud to admit the fact that the game they have been waiting for and supporting is really not worth playing, or they have some other silly agenda such as getting people to purchase the game is some hope that they stay and fill up the dead servers breathing a little life into in. What does it matter if anyone is or currently is not subscribed to a game, why settle for anything. There is nothing out right now worth playing to be honest unless someone has a fit of nostalgia and decides to go back to an older game as a filler until a new title is released. I love see good solid debates on games but your post has nothing to do with games really, you talk about the OP. That is the problem with people on gaming forums, if you want to support a game then go ahead and support it with facts, I would love to hear your view on actual games. Tue Jun 19 2007 10:44AM Report
FatGamer writes: This is just not Fat Gamer approved. You tell us that fanboys are wrong but then you join the bandwagon in throwing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes under the bus. Let me tell you, mr. grumpy. I still play Vanguard and enjoy it hugely. It will only get better, just like EQ2. Regardless of what the sea of socrned SWG players think, SOE taking over Vanguard is a postive thing. Tue Jun 19 2007 11:24AM Report
Reklaw writes: Yeah exuse me, was in somewhat bad mood today, and yeah what you wrote is well thought out, but was going over the forums and kinda only read negative stuff, which is np when i'm on the official forums but on a like this it just is a bit sad. If this was posted on the official forums my response would be totlay different. ah just think i'm somewhat oldfashion to use official forums to complain or rant about the games i play and use forums like this to share fun stuff, and discuss afcourse :P Tue Jun 19 2007 1:19PM Report
Paragus1 writes: This blog is no way discussing the current state of Vanguard, nor its future with SoE. This is a post about games that are released in an unfinished state. Vanguard was released unfinished. This is a fact, not a bandwagon. Brad McQuaid himself stated this, and the fired developers agreed as well stating the game was roughly only 70% of where it needed to be at launch. Your going to argue that the game released in an acceptable retail version against the voices of its own creators? They had 1 Q&A guy on their staff, and the fired developers claimed that Brad never ever played WoW! That's like saying your going into the soft drink business but never drank a Coke or a Pepsi. I believe in objectivity and holding people accountable the same I would be as a small business owner. If that makes me Mr Grumpy, then I welcome the title as a badge of honor, and I will sleep better at night knowing that my glasses aren't tinted to the color of the roses. Tue Jun 19 2007 6:02PM Report
FatGamer writes: Some of us are just tired of the same rhetoric every where you turn in forum land. Everyone knew Vanguard had a lot of work to be done to it when we first subscribed, everyone who spent at least 80 hrs in beta at least. Since I like to enjoy content and *gasp* even roleplay, I was in no rush to RAID the first quarter or even the second quarter of the game going retail. Everyone has turned into such spoiled children when it comes to gaming these days. I remember huddling around a TV as a youth playing the worst possible NES games and making the best of them. You know what? We had fun. It's about fun. Want to wear your badge? That's fine. Iron it, admire it, sew it onto your coat.. I don't care. The fact is, it's hard for any game to survive when people jump ship at every sign of turbulance. I would like to offer my full apologies for momentarily getting in the way of your bandwagon. Love - Fat Gamer Tue Jun 19 2007 7:26PM Report writes:
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