A couple weeks ago our List was all about the five worst things a developer could do when making a new game. I think we were pretty fair and honest with our summations, and hopefully some wily dev-folk out there will have read it and taken away something from the article. But the developers aren’t the only people who need to start showing some measure of restraint when getting amped up for a new game. We players have been prone to our own mistakes for several years now. In the interest of fairness, this week’s List will be all about the things we players should try to avoid doing from here on out. Take a look, and see if there’s anything we forgot or anything we got wrong.
5. Writing Off A Studio
I’m not one to disagree that sometimes certain people in our lives don’t deserve to constantly be given more chances to prove our expectations wrong. But I believe that in any form of entertainment media, you have to be willing to see what an artist’s other creations has to offer even if one or a few have turned you away in the past. In books, I wasn’t the biggest fan of China Mieville’s The City & The City. But when I read Kraken, I fell in love. In music, I didn’t much enjoy Bad Religion’s earlier and harder punk, but I found I really dug everything beyond Stranger Than Fiction. The same can be said of some developer studios. I wasn’t a big fan of Funcom’s Anarchy Online, but I’m quite fond of Age of Conan (and definitely fond of Dreamfall). I know it’s easy to dislike a studio these days, based on whatever reasons you may have, but try to keep an open mind and you just might be surprised.
4. Thinking It’s Always About Money
It’s a common mistake to believe that everything any company does is about money. I mean, yes… every business is out there to make a living. We all are. I work at this site to pay my bills. I work at my VA Hospital to pay bills. But I also do both jobs because I truly believe in the work for each. The money keeps a roof over my head and food in my belly, but more than that it keeps me fulfilled. Game designers do what they do because ultimately they’re just as much of a fan of games as we are. They went through all the schooling and education it takes to program, create, and design these games because at the heart of it all there’s a deep passion for this pastime just like the we all share. Absolutely they’d love to get as rich as the Harmonix folks or as crazy wealthy as the Blizzard guys (who wouldn’t?). But when it comes down to it, they just love making and playing games.
3. Using Anger to Demand Change
There’s a common misunderstanding among the vocal folks on forums that if you rage about in topics you’re more likely to be heard and thus more likely to have your opinions or concerns addressed. Yet by and large when I talk to the CMs for the many games we have listed on this site, they all agree: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. There’s nothing that will turn a dev-team off quicker than some angry and entitled twat storming about how much they hate this or how gay the staff is for designing something one way. If you’d like to see some real change in your game, post your thoughts in a truly constructive manner and you just might be surprised with what happens.
2. Assuming Your Ideas are Best
Similar to number three, there are a lot of armchair designers out there who think that every word they type is pure designing gold. Maybe some of these lads and lasses have designed their own games. I can’t possibly know whether that’s true. But I do know that just because you spent fifteen minutes within a game doesn’t mean you know the absolute inner-workings of that title and somehow have magically gained the perspective to fix all that’s wrong with the danged thing. I’m not saying don’t share your ideas. In fact, there have been a lot of titles I’ve seen grow and become better because of the requests made by players. But what I’m talking about is the close-minded perception that just because you’re a fan you know what’s best for a game. It’s like all those guys at the office on Monday who spend about two-hours going over what the Browns need to do to win as if they’ve ever had any experience at that level before.
1. Getting Excited Before Playing
This one’s kind of the golden rule of all MMO gaming: don’t get too pumped about a title before you actually get to play it. Look at the hype meter for Guild Wars 2 on our site. That’s the highest any title’s ever sat at for this long, and ever. Granted, having played bits and pieces of the game myself, there’s good reason to get excited. But most folks clicking that hype-meter and pumping it up are doing so based on the word of press and the word of the devs. Now I’m not saying don’t trust us. I’m not even saying don’t trust the developers. I’m just saying it’s probably best in all things in life if you temper your expectations with a little restraint. The old saying in business is to under-promise and over-deliver. When it comes to being a customer, I always suggest you lower your expectations that you might be over-surprised when the time comes.