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Misguided Passion

Tim Eisen Posted:
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In the last update Jermoy Walsh (Souldbound Studios Owner) talked in depth about a random yet deep conversation he had with a successful business man. The man told him “good businessmen are made up of two things: passion, and virtue. Put differently, he explained the most successful men he knew achieved their success due to two things: A love of their product, and a love of their customers. He wanted to know my name because he believed I possessed both, and Soulbound Studios was going to go places.”

I’d like to know what he meant by “successful”. If he meant in terms of money, then I have to disagree. If by successful he meant people that love their lives, then I completely agree but I don’t think chasing passion in a virtuous way equates to long term happiness for most of us. I think most successful (happy) people learn to be passionate about their jobs (or businesses) whatever they are. Toss in loving your customers and you better work hard to retain it because you have a pretty sweet gig!

That is for most of us. A few brave souls decide upon a passion to pursue, often persistently. Jeromy seems to be in this category which is good, persistence is just as if not more important than passion when it comes to developing a MMORPG. Like Jeromy I believe to make a MMORPG you HAVE to have deep passion for both the game and your fans-especially if they crowd funded it. If you didn’t you wouldn’t make it through the arduous development process! Unfortunately, that required passion is also an incredible weakness!

Before you jump to the comments below to verbally gank me, let me explain. If passion guides you it can just as easily misguide you, especially when it comes to art i.e. games. Believe it or not I know a thing or two about art and getting lost in your passion! When I was a tiny Tim I drew the best Ninja Turtle ever to grace a piece of paper. It was perfect! I spent at least 15 minutes on it, which in kid time is like 50 hours. I stepped back to admire my masterpiece and thought to myself “I finally perfected the Ninja Turtle, I guess it’s time to move on to more challenging characters”, but first I had to flaunt my achievement a bit. Yes, even then I had the instincts and desires of a true MMORPGer! I showed it to a classmate who had drawing skills I greatly respected.

Unfortunately, he said “not bad, try this, this, and maybe this too and it should help make it better”. “Better?  BETTER! When Michelangelo (the artist not the turtle) unveiled David no one asked him to make it better because he could not have improved upon PERFECTION!” I was floored! At first I thought he was just jealous. I graciously nodded and said I’d consider his feedback. I showed it to a few more classmates to similar reactions. By the time they were done not only was I humble, but I saw the extremely mediocre Ninja Turtle drawing in an entirely new way, a more accurate way.

My point is when you have you are head down slaving away busting your ass putting some of your soul into something you get extremely passionate about it and that changes how you see it. You develop natural blinders. This isn’t a revolutionary concept. Artists and designers know it well. Its why we like to “get fresh eyes” on our work. It’s also why as soon as we get fresh eyes on our work we regret getting fresh eyes on our work then slip into a mild booze filled depression until we finally admit to ourselves the feedback was well warranted and concede to improve our art…um, at least that’s my, um “process”…

When you back a game you have two options. Stay casual or commit yourself to the development but I warn you with great commitment comes great responsibility. What is important, and I can’t stress this enough, is that fans take a step back and see a project for what it is and what it is doing, not what they imagine it will be. Passion is infectious, it will overtake Soulbound and many backers and that’s a wonderful thing. Pulling ourselves back from that feeling is a burden backers bear because its far easier for us to get our perspective back than it will be for the developers.

Why so serious (and dramatic)? Because the fate of Chronicles of Elyria may rely on our realistic, constructive feedback. It will help prevent the game from heading down the same path to oblivion that so many others before it have. I’ve seen it. Fans let their passion blind them, any and all constructive feedback is deemed hate and disqualified as praise is heaped onto developers no matter how bad the decision or product is.

In the past when the dust settled developers were often left perplexed and ashamed while those same fans quickly turned on them. In the case of crowd funded games I don’t think we have that easy out. In some ways the fate of Elyria will come to rest upon our shoulders even more than the developers once testing begins. You can be passionate but when the times comes you need to set it aside and get practical. It won’t always be comfortable but in the end Soulbound and Chronicles of Elyria will be better because of it.


Tim Eisen

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