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Loud Footfalls On Deaf Ears

Tim Eisen Posted:
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It’s that time again! When I grab a six pack, que Nickelback and churn out some reader chum. So, so many decisions I’m about to regret rest atop this bank page. Let’s take a trip to Camelot this week. Camelot Unchained has been known to kick up some dust from time to time and last week was no exception. CSE continuously finds themselves in a difficult position. One that I’ve seen repeatedly as I’ve ghosted game development going back 15 plus years. It’s a problem that’s been compounded by crowdfunded access. The problem is when expectation has outpaced progress and its amplified by miscommunication. Before you grab your pitchforks and blame developers, miscommunication is a two-way problem on a one-way street but more on that later.

Expectations for Camelot Unchained continue to grow beyond where development currently resides. To most of us time is equal to development progress but time passed and development progress differ greatly. The unseen legend of Camelot Unchained has, in some ways, begun to cast a shadow over the actual product. Mystery has a way or doing that, especially in game development. We are a niche that is attracted to imagination and for better or worse we utilize ours often.

That isn’t to say development hasn’t been impressive, it has, I’m just not sure the known can compete with the unknown. I’ve seen bot battles on a scale I never imagined in a homemade engine I didn’t think could be built. I’ve seen building in a MMORPG the likes of which I didn’t believe was possible. I’ve even seen servers within servers creating a literal MMORPG multiverse all in the name of supporting large scale PVP and a living game world. I’ve tried to clarify just how big those achievements were because I’ve never seen them elsewhere, at least not in a MMORPG. CSE should be proud of those accomplishments. 

The problem is they aren’t sexy to most casual MMORPG fans. They don’t communicate progress well. People in the know may be fanboying over those things like it's WrestleMania II but by now Casu Al Backer just wants to know when they can play the game, as in the fleshed-out game! Long story short it makes putting out Camelot Unchained news a tricky maneuver which makes covering Camelot Unchained news a tricky maneuver.

In the 15 plus years I’ve ghosted game development I’ve never seen a game put out Alpha and Beta images and not get some hell for how they look. It’s a tough spot battling an age-old MMORPG problem that is likely part of the DNA that makes a MMORPG fan and dev alike. Who knew people that like to code would be bad at communication meanwhile fans of people that like to code would be bad at absorbing communication? It’s almost like a genre of introvert basement dwellers by introvert basement dwellers is rife with commination malfunctions, consider me perplexed (not to be confused with suplexed).

In my experience studios often struggle with communication. Sometimes they figure it out, sometimes they don’t, often it’s a mix with stretches of low key press leading to an unexpected tsunami of rage over something completely unexpected, like a monocle! The only thing that’s for sure is nothings for sure when addressing thousands of people about something they are deeply invested in. (shivers) Eck, I think I just realized MMORPG’s are more like politics and religion than games to we of this particular faith!

In MMORPG’s a 20 second Alpha video showing a run animation with some audio for testing purposes can cause waves of confusion. Screens of an Alpha UI, panic. Screens featuring Alpha DPS output of any kind associated with a class, mass chaos! Responsibility rests as much on the ones digesting the content (us) as it is the ones cooking it (studios). We simply aren’t good at meeting in the middle of that street where reason and understanding reside. Making things worse the modern consumer tends to glance at the headline scrolled down at hyper speed, clicked play and judge the content on what the video showed without the context or explanation offered. Trust me it happens all the time in the depths below columns on this site and millions like it. It’s so bad a market for bots that create TLDR versions of written columns has sprung up! (note to self, do a TLDR version of every column from now on)

Inflated expectation and confused communication, two symptoms of a disease that might just be that old scoundrel change. Change in our technology. Change in how we use it. Change in how humans communicate and especially change in how we consume, digest and expel MMORPG media and beyond. You can’t stop change, you can only postpone it. 

What can be done? If I knew that answer I’d be making a living as a communications advisor to game studios...wait, I KNOW that answer, but it’s a secret that is only unlocked via information tiers that I’m willing to give access to in exchange for currency. (Ha, get them with their own game!)  Aside from brevity, clarity and big bold TLDR bullet points all riddled with plenty of warnings I’m not sure what more can be done. When it comes to images or especially video against type, type gets ganked nine times out of ten (that hurt to write). Maybe we fans could take our time and relax a bit when taking in new info? Maybe a good start is to make a promise that next time MMORPG news upsets or even confuses us we will close our PC’s and smart phones and walk away for a solid hour…ok 30 minutes…ok 5 minutes and no walking just, you know, wheel back from the desk a bit…(we of the MMORPG love our machines overlords so)


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry