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Waxing Poetic on the Zen of Gaming

This blog intends to look at the gaming phenomenon as a whole, its effect on societal norms, its value in education, and its place in our own day to day lives.

Author: rabbidfly

Grumpy players are always crying foul - reasons why their opinions will soon be marginalized.

Posted by rabbidfly Wednesday December 12 2007 at 3:12PM
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Re: all the recent negative criticism around Pirates of the Burning Sea

 I normally don't mind listening to constructive criticism, even repeatedly if only to get a point across, but simply saying that a game isn't complete and berating the developer is both disrespectful and clearly demonstrates how little you know about this industry and how it has evolved.

Claims were made here about WoW's philosophy around game development, suggesting that they follow the perfect SDLC (software dev lifecycle) model prior to shipment. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a beta tester, and an early adopter of WoW, i saw first hand what happens when you ship an incomplete product that doesn't perform well. I still remember my horde alt char fondly - our guild would go over to a different server whenever our main was down. I got that Tauren warrior to level 43, and that was only on Warsong's downtime!

The general complaints uttered by so many players today are symptomatic of a widely adopted, yet false, perception that MMO software should ship in a perfect state. The same old expectations we had for single player games sold off a shelf in the 90s have persisted over time, and we, the unforgiving public, demand that games fulfill the entire spectrum of our beloved MMO fantasies on day 1.

What floors me each time i read this type of whiny diatribe is that in today's world of Google's spectacularly successful development philosophy, widely adopted betaware, facebook and other social software, 'change' is implicit in the process. Agile developers recognize that a product, or in this case, a game, is an evolution of ideas, and without significant feedback from users, you'll inevitably miss the mark. The challenge in this day and age is to deliver just enough content to foment interest and promise, and to build a layer of transparency between the developer and the user that establishes a contract of trust and partnership. The concept of 'let's work on this together' has the potential of bringing the collective innovation and creativity of the entire player community to the drawing board. Are we as developers so arrogant to think that we can drive that creativity alone? We certainly provide the vision, the structure, and the initial capital, but if we can't generate interest amongst the player community, what hope do we have?

People need to stop thinking of software in absolute terms. Developers no longer intend to drop Ultima III on your laps and walk away hoping it will sell. The MMO gaming world has added so much more complexity on top of earlier classic design models, and the player community has become far more savvy and knowledgeable of the genre. I earnestly believe that the cooperative model, involving significant feedback on content and direction from users, is what will carry the day. Developers merely facilitate this process and apply their own expertise to realize and package the product.

The is the web 2.0 core philosophy. Without the usual cliches, it is now genuinely about Group-think! The new generation of millenials prefers to interact more organically with their surroundings. They prefer networking over monolithic models of design and implementation. In a way, the modern developer of gaming software is building a product for the newer generation of millenials utlizing techniques and design principles that appeals to them as a whole. The hero-worship of the older generation-X made games like CounterStrike, Quake and Unreal popular. The Xers related heavily to the lone hero surrounded by enemies bent on his destruction. There was a distinct notion of self actualization that was unbearably appealing. Although Xers still comprise of a huge percentage of today's gamers, the balance is shifting towards the 2.0 model - the model of participation, cooperation, and networking. This is the model we need to employ in the games today.

Let's give Flying Lab Software a chance to embrace this game with us. I, like many others, find great appeal in a game that tries to differentiate itself from the pack. I applaud their efforts, and i will invest my time in helping to evolve this game into something we will all enjoy playing.

And.. I believe that my voice will be heard, because my Captain Silverbeard Stubble is as critical to the content of the game as any NPC waiting to send me to davey jones.


andyman writes:

I totally agree. MMO software is just like any other application. It is almost impossible to launch it without a bug here and there.

Secondly often the programmers are under pressures from other departments such as marketting that mean they need to take short cuts to get the code out quickly, as opposed to writing perfect code.

This is simply what software production is about today, it is not limited to MMOs


Wed Dec 12 2007 4:08PM Report
LiquidWolf writes:

I point to betas as a source of change, with warhammer having 500K beta applicants, you will certainly have many people giving their input on what they want, and game companies would be foolish to not take it.

And from beta opening to ship date, the game is still being worked on. Most games have some sort of patch within a month of being released... These are not on the same level as the furniture in our houses. MMO's, particularly, are living, changing entities and must be treated as such. 

They are worlds and will change to it's inhabitants... and eventually all software will be taking the route of getting user input to make it perfect.

Wed Dec 12 2007 5:53PM Report
Firedorn writes:

What I believe to be important for a minimum delivery of a game on ship date, applies to both MMOs and other.  The game needs to be playable.  Once you can get the game to run (i.e.: barring driver & hardware combination issues), the game needs to be functional.  Blatantly obvious or crippling bugs can not be in a game at launch.  Server crashes are acceptable, that's part of every MMOs launch.  But game killing bugs are unacceptable...these are things that should be tackled before the game ships and some games do not do that.  They push the game out of the door.

Now, about your reference to Flying Labs, the product they have now (or what limited time I had with it) is a game I would pay money for, if it really appealed to me.  The game is "shippable", especially as far as MMOs go.  Bugs will be present, for the life of the game, but that's to be expected.  But there are two very important things,especially in a MMOG:

1) Bugs are acknowledged and dealt with in a timeley manner.  When I say timely, I mean both the acknowledgement and the actual "doing" part.  If someone is telling the public what's going on with a certain issue, even if it means "we haven't found the problem yet", IMO, it's being dealt with.
2) Hardware issues will arise, especially at launch.  Hardware is a beast of its own and will act accroding to how it feels that certain day.  Yes, I said "feel".

Let's keep things in perspective.  If a quest is bugged, stop complaining and do something else in the game.  But if your inventory is fubared and all your items are getting lost in the shuffle, exit the game, post a message to tech support and exit your home.  There are other things to do in life (and other people to do as well).  Hell, you can even pay a monthly fee for that too.


...I am speaking, of course, about a gym membership.

Wed Dec 12 2007 11:48PM Report writes:
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