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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Development  (est.rel 2019)  | Pub:Soulbound Studios
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A Delayed Concern

Chronicles of Elyria Columns - By Tim Eisen on August 04, 2017

A Delayed Concern

I had a lot of words written down. Big, frustrated words with a little I told you so and worse. Then I deleted them and trust me, there was a lot of them! I mean man, I have a thousand-word cap and I lapped that a few times! I didn’t realize how crowd fund frustrated I was with the entire genre until I saw all those words on the page. I decided to take the high ground, remove the expletives and retain my employment!

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I’m kidding, I promise I’ll never take the high ground when it comes to talking with you guys! I just realized there was no point. All of you made up your minds long ago and no amount of reason or empathy will change them. I had a nice double point of view going too, such is life.

At some point MMORPG’s stopped being hobbies people used for entertainment and crossed into entrenched idealism. I suppose it’s a side effect of an internet infused with the soul of P.T. Barnum always pushing us to like, share, follow and most importantly buy. That causes a great cynicism. Compounding the toxic mix is millions of trolls challenging every ideal if for nothing more than a single response. This creates division, entrenchment and extremism. These chemicals have pushed our entire species to extremes, it’s only natural that MMORPGs follow. Nowadays MMORPG fandom is less about playing a game and more like a political or religious (is there a difference anymore) ideology.

In 2017, we aren’t allowed to be constructive for we are a fanboy, our opinions mean nothing. In 2017, we aren’t allowed to be critical for we are a troll, our opinions mean nothing. I don’t like where all of this is heading. Desensitization, lack of empathy, toxic interactions…wait a second! I remember all those things! They used to happen inside vintage MMORPGs now they happen outside them on the interweb! I think I preferred when they were confined to our games. Now that the symbiote escaped I’m not sure we can ever put it back in the box.

Mello drama aside what happened in Elyria, being delayed a year, will have no extraneous consequence beyond time. For those unaware in game studio time a year is somewhere between 365 days and when the sun burns out (what a terribly engineered power source). I am shocked, shocked I say! I never imagined, based on 15 years of experience in MMORPGs that Elyria would end up like every other MMORPG ever made! (There’s that cynicism I was talking about, no good.) What kind of shock waves will this thunderous quake send reverberating through the MMORPG genre you ask? None.

Hardcore fans will spoon it up like they always do. You can do just about anything to most of them and they will just smile, nod and accept it always willing to kneel rather than question. They will see this as a humble apology and unprecedented transparency! They will defend the studio and never, and I mean never doubt the unified goal not even for a split second. Such logic is bliss.

Now to those tormented souls. The detractors. They will be incised! They will reject the notion that it was the fans fault for not being able to stomach the sausage. They will be offended by Soulbound taking an intellectually superior stance that makes assumptions about their understanding of the development process. Most of all the will be catapulting I told you so’s to the high heavens which will only serve to further entrench the hardcore fans.

So many months later and we are exactly where we were in the beginning. While this verbal war has gone nowhere development has albeit not where it should, at least not yet. I appreciated the lengthy explanation and liked the development insight. It would be nice to see more studios open up and explain project development to this degree. While it might not be as sexy and screen shots it aids in teaching their fans how to appreciate the complexity that goes into making a MMORPG.

That said the line between explaining a process and relying on that explanation as an excuse is a fine one and this updated was wavered at times. Some of it came off very transparent, other parts seemed to be reaching rather than explaining. In the end, it came down to what has plagued all the crowd funded games, attracting qualified workers.

Watching the games I believed in struggle hasn’t been easy. I’ve racked my head trying to find solutions. Why can’t any of them attract experienced workers? I’d love to work on one of the genius games I backed! Who wouldn’t want to make this crazy game? It must be big publishers, right? When all else fails blame a large mostly anonymous entity, that’s what people do in 2017. I convinced myself that must be the problem. My beloved indie developers just couldn’t compete with big pub!

I genuinely believed it until recently when I had a sickly thought crawl up my spine and with its raspy voice whisper a chill into my ear that made my bones feel cold. Maybe crowd funded MMORPG studios can’t attract experienced workers because their experience allows them to look past the campaign and see these ideas for what they are? Maybe they don’t believe in what they see. As a crowd funded fan, that is an uncomfortable thought. 

Tim Eisen / In my columns I walk the line between fan and critic as I document the development of Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria.