Bucket of rage

Random ranting incoming:

One ‘awesome’ feature does not an MMO make.

“TESO is a copy/paste puddle of fail, but feature X looks interesting”. A cute gimmick feature can make an iPhone game worth the buck and download. It won’t get people to subscribe to your MMO for years.

You know what feature separated Asheron’s Call from Ultima Online? Everything. Why was DAOC different from the previous big three MMOs? Because it was, from its roots to its end-game. Way too many MMOs today look identical in all aspects but one or two, and yet devs are surprised people are ‘burning out’ at an accelerated rate. Combine this with the MMO model being one of KEEPING people interested, rather than just GETTING them interested like a single-player game, and the failtrain is pulling into the station earlier and earlier these days. When people can write off your game after your first interview (SW:TOR , TESO), you might want to reconsider some things.

Three faction PvP is the new MMO cure-all.

Can we stop this already? Yes, after DAOC everyone was asking for three faction PvP instead of the two-sided stuff that WoW and its clones were doing. And yes, it’s sad that it’s 2012 and we are just now getting titles coming out that may have it. And yes, in general 3-sided PvP is better than two, but already the concept has been screwed and cheapened.

You know why factions worked in DAOC? Because you had ugly dwarves vs hippy elves vs asshat humans, and most people could identify with one side and hate what the other two represented. DAOC had three factions, who happen to fight over stuff. Hate keeps people logging in and bashing doors or space structures. Fact not opinion™.

It’s not “three faction” PvP if you take your only ‘faction’, split it evenly into three groups, and have them fight off in a corner and then come back to hug it out. If there is no buy-in or hatred, it won’t work long-term, and long-term is kinda the goal here.

Stop talking about your game years before its release.

If your release date can still be counted in years, stfu. If I can’t play your beta in a few weeks, I don’t care, and consider your title 100% vaporware. Feel free to prove me wrong, but do so quietly. Dominus, Copernicus, Embers of Cearus, DF2.0, the list goes on. Any intern with Google can create an awesome-looking list of MMO features. Before they deliver anything everyone is always convinced they not only know what previous titles did wrong, but how to fix it. And of course, come beta (if beta ever comes), we find out that 99% of what you said all these years can be summed up as “bears bears bears” and you just released a horrible version of WoW.

Bonus points to those who, after their MMO is shut down, continue to talk about how amazing their MMO was. If your game was worth a crap, it would not have been canned, but obviously whatever it was you were showing to those with money did not look nearly ‘awesome’ enough for anyone to throw you a few bucks.

Double bonus because no one can ever claim your ‘awesome’ feature was in fact trash, since you never made it far enough for anyone to see. Your e-rep is safe, yo!

Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is about as trendy right now as updating your Twitter or Facebook was yesterday. And while the general concept is cool (vote with your wallet), can we at least get projects that have SOMETHING completed before you ask for money? Like I’m pretty sure if I copy/pasted by “PvE MMO design” post into Kickstarter today, I’d have a million bucks tomorrow. And I could probably hit two million by copy/pasting some obscure MMOs art and making a ‘dev video’ talking about how my combat system is the most “fluid, lifelike, immersive” system ever, and how my housing/ship/war/econ/political system has the depth of a full-on sim title, all within a “massive, unique” world. STFU or start your beta.

In totally unrelated news, I finally finished my Baldur’s Gate 1 game, and having started BG2, I still can’t believe the same company behind those games made SW:TOR. It’s like Grey Goose releasing a new flavor called sewage water. Just disgusting.

Also BG1 is a better sandbox than most ‘sandbox’ titles today, but that’s another post.

25 Responses to Bucket of rage

  1. Shadow says:

    “Go for the eyes boo!”

    How many games still get quoted as frequently as that 14 year-old statement?

  2. Lyss says:

    the same company who made bg did not make tor. I do nt know how people base their opinions about companies on games they released years ago, or even put their trust in them because of game x from y years before. Its like listening to old nirvana albums and blindly buying anything from seattle bands ( it was seattle?).

    this logic works for author based games, for example i really really liked the old gabriel knights and I stll got a quality game ( at least storylike) with grey matter because its from jane jensen and I would blindly buy the next adventure which she writes until she produces stories I dont like. In this case I always have the same Author behind my story, and even if I know they can produce crap the possibillity that her new story has the same quality then her last is still high. Higher then the chance the same company will make good games years after game x with all the personal movement in and out of theese games.

    people bought D3 because its from blizzard and DIABLO 2 BIATCH!!111, when literally no one who was involved (to my knowledge) with d2 even remotly worked on the third, and to say its still from blizzard its like mentioned earlier the music comes still out of seattle.

    As for your rants about dates and gameplay gimmicks, I stopped to track new announcements, I heard from tsw years ago and i was like “whoa demons, urban fantasy, mmo whoaaaaaa giev!” no release date announced, and now it will come out… For me that experience was like I was a kid and got told from my parents that I will receive a cool car when i Turn 18 (drivers licence age in germany) all this happiness and an unforeseable number of years… shattering. never again. BTW It happned again as some of my dumb friends told me ccp was making a WoD MMO and naive as I am I looked up the state of the development.

  3. Dril says:

    Please do the Kickstarter.

    You’re not actually under any obligation to do what you said you’d do, anyway, are you?

  4. morg says:


    Oh man that was painfull.Those video got me so pumped and then such a let down.

    Also like the
    “One ‘awesome’ feature does not an MMO make.”
    Hate the “we are doing wow but with X feature and somehow wow won’t copy it and we expect to have all the content and polish of wow.”
    Blizzard has been really good about updating wow to include X feature. Heck since factions don’t matter maybe even a new onw will come on board at some point or there will be server battles where three servers fight.

    Glad to see some non wow games coming out. The land scap was looking a little baren with just eve all by it’s self as a non wow clone.

    • SynCaine says:

      Someone needs to write a tell-all book about WAR. The world deserves to know who took the original plan and threw up WoW all over it at the last minute.

      • Rammstein says:

        Not sure it’s necessary to posit a vomiting villain there. My opinion of AAA themeparks recently is that since they all share the same playerbase, as people switch from themepark to another like flipping channels on the TV during rerun offseason– that the phenomenon where any feature introduced in one themepark pops up in every other themepark within weeks or months is due to some kind of osmosis between servers. I don’t think the developers even know that it’s happening, or that they exist in the first place. Just osmosis and reskinning done by interns, the rest was all a dream.

      • morg says:

        I really want to hear that.
        War had so much potential and I was so pumped. They even had the crowds but then flop…I never even reached the cap.

        • pkudude99 says:

          Heh. I’ve never even reached the cap of the “up to level 10″ trial. Don’t know why, I don’t dislike it, it just doesn’t pull me in and make me want to play it either.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well said Syn! I think this is how many people feel about MMO’s these days, and for Kickstarter its decent in theory but yeah I bet I could raise a million dollars saying I have an idea to be able to make a man’s penis grow huge as well!

  6. Ahtchu says:

    Keep preachin. Never stop.

  7. kalex716 says:

    The reason Baldur’s gate, made by the same company could be so vastly different is due to the churn of the games industry. People don’t stay with one company for very long.

    Also, anytime a independently successful company gets in bed with a big time publisher, the culture/identity changes with it.

    The only place that this may not be the case is Riot Games, after being bought out by Tencent, I don’t think its changed them much. I however, don’t know anyone personally that worked their during the transition.

    The turnover rate in games is also like, 4 years on average. People get in, make games for 4 years, realize its the pits then leave for saner better paying jobs.

    All the brilliant people that helped make Baldurs gate are long gone.

    • kalex716 says:

      Also.. I didn’t give you props but your post summarizes EXACTLY how i feel right now about the industry.

  8. index says:

    you might want to wait for that

    http://www.baldursgate.com/news/language/en/

  9. Azuriel says:

    Combine this with the MMO model being one of KEEPING people interested, rather than just GETTING them interested like a single-player game, [...]

    That’s kind of a problem though, right? If you like your current MMO, why switch? If you never played an MMO, why start? The reliance on gimmicks seems a perfectly rational (if unsuccessful/misleading) attempt at brand differentiation in a crowded market whose audience doesn’t seem to be growing anymore.

    Hell, according to MMOData, the “total active subscribers” hasn’t increased since mid-2009. In fact, it has fallen. Of course, MMOData is only counting the MMOs that they track rather than all MMOs, but that’s sort of the point. Any growth in this genre is happening elsewhere (F2P browser “MMOs” etc), if it is happening at all.

    • Rammstein says:

      All MMO’s are basically the same, and the amount of players playing MMO’s is shrinking? What an interesting correlation, and Azuriel not only assumes causation, but in the opposite direction as common sense would indicate. Not only that, but he thinks that the demonstrated failure of the ‘clone WoW+add a gimmick’ approach means that it’s perfectly rational to continue attempting the ‘clone WoW +add a gimmick’ approach? Of course he does.

      The great thing about Azuriel simply assuming that the correlation = causation, and in the direction he prefers rather than the other, seemingly more sensible direction, is that it brings to mind Azuriel’s feelings about people who make that mistake:

      “The reason I bring these examples up is because this type of thinking [1) Correlation does not mean causation.2) Even if correlation did mean causation, why this particular correlation?] (or lack thereof) is what I consider one of the most pernicious, asinine fallacies in any discussion of World of Warcraft. It is intellectual laziness at best, intellectual dishonesty at worse[sic]”

      Amusingly, Azuriel’s strident objection to this logical mistake come from his response to an article on this blog some time ago. I’d go on about how he quotes charts and graphs in exactly the way he was objecting to before, etc, etc, but you get the picture.

      • Azuriel says:

        What a fantastic straw man you have constructed! And without even bothering to ask for elaboration, how cute.

        Could you point out where exactly in my comment I have made an explicit claim, to “correlation = causation” or otherwise? I was pretty sure I added enough subjective qualifiers to indicate no claims were being made, but apparently I was mistaken.

  10. bonedead says:

    Wow I almost read the whole thing, bravo me! WTB DAoC

  11. wloire says:

    Grey Goose is not a very good vodka…

    • Xyloxan says:

      @wloire: personal choice or a fact (data please)?

    • Shadow says:

      No vodka is a very good vokda.

      Scotch is where it’s at.

      • wloire says:

        Can’t disagree there.

        @Xyloxan: I’ve yet to discover a scientificly sound way of proving which brands of alcohol are not as good as others but that doesn’t stop me from being able to tell the difference between a Popov’s/Smirnoff and a Crystal Skull/Ketel One. Grey Goose is upper middling: Very smooth but no kick or flavour and quite expensive for what it provides.

        Not quite the vodka I would use to describe old Bioware.

        It was, however, an offhanded joke.

  12. Z.T. says:

    I can’t be the only one expecting angry mobs in the near future when people realize the money they poured into a Kickstarter game drive either was never actually used to make a game, the game they funded actually sucks, or the team can’t actually afford to come through on all these dev dinners and expensive swag.

    I know Kickstarter-funded boardgames have been successfully developed and commercialized before, but I don’t know if the same has happened for games (it might have, I don’t claim to follow all of them). A lot of these just seem like debacles waiting to happen.

    Kind of tangential to the above point, but the more I look around the sandbox MMO landscape the more I respect the team behind Perpetuum. Sure, the game is moribund and (apparently) someone finds a way to break it every other week, but at least it actually exists. They set out to make EVE with robots and just did it. There was no dev solo coding a planetary engine for 7+ years, no Kickstarter based on nothing but a feature list; they just made a game.

    Granted, not everyone can afford to do the same, but I’m glad that at least one sandbox MMO project out of dozens actually amounted to something other than fanwank and pipe dreams.

  13. [...] was reading Syn, and he made a point which is probably one of his greatest [...]

  14. [...] was reading Syn, and he made a point which is probably one of his greatest [...]

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