Ignorance is not bliss

I don’t have much interest in personally playing Star Trek Online. Between being totally happy and engrossed with DarkFall, not being a huge fan of the ST IP, generally not being a big Cryptic fan, and not seeing/reading anything about the game that really lines up with my style of play, my motivation to actually play it is non-existent at the moment.

My interest in following it as it goes through beta and launch is not however, as I’m a general fan of the MMO genre and it’s always interesting to see how these things play out. The first piece of interest in all this is Tobold’s negative review of the game versus Darren’s positive one, and then Tobold’s response to Darren’s review (you still with me here?).

Two things from Tobold’s response, this in the context that the first 10 levels or so might not fully show off what STO is all about:

The majority of players reacts in exactly the same way: Test the game in the open beta, or buy it and play the first free month, then unsubscribe if the game didn’t live up to whatever you hoped it would be.

Now replace ‘players’ with ‘tourists’ in the first line, and I agree. Because if STO is a game you have been following and are truly interested in (Darren, TAGN), I doubt you are going to throw in the towel after only a few hours, not after all that waiting and spending $50+ on it. Secondly, if you are somewhat new to the MMO genre (unlike the two reviewers and basically everyone reading here), those first ‘boring’ 10 levels probably are not nearly as boring, but rather a whirlwind of ‘new’ concepts and ideas to wrap your head around. Those players are not nearly as bored of kill ten rats-style gaming as we are.

The only ones who are likely to leave before the first ten levels are up are indeed the tourists, people just looking to ‘check out’ a game, but knowing that short of being blown away completely, they will move on after seeing the new shiny. And if that shiny is not shown 100% to them immediately, out they go a week or so early than they planned.

Let’s all take a moment to morn such a huge loss to any MMO community; whatever will we do without all you little Zitrons running around in the starter areas and flooding the server/forums with “Why is this not like WoW”, or better still, your attempts to bring Barrens chat to any new world you temporarily visit.

Finally, any reviewer that tourists a game like this and then tries to pass off a full review (rather than upfront stating they loaded it up and saw the character creator) is clearly working for EG, and we all know what those people are truly good for (just keep it legal).

The second part that stuck out to me from Tobold’s post is this line, talking about him skipping Fallen Earth because he disliked the 30 minute or so tutorial:

But as long as I’m having fun with whatever else I’m playing at the moment, me having missed a game is the loss of the game developer, not my loss.

While obviously any developer wants to get as many players in their game as possible, the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to gaming I just don’t agree with. If I had skipped DarkFall and stayed with Warhammer, I could still say I’m happily gaming because WAR has improved and I enjoyed the game despite its flaws, but without knowing it I would be missing out on a far, far superior (for me) MMO in DF.

Tobold is still in WoW single-serving it up, chasing tokens, asking for builds, and running an AH mod. He might still be having enough fun to not cancel his subscription (plus how else would he get freebies from Blizzard for promoting their game?), but for all we knew FE might be EXACTLY what he is looking for right now, and I fail to see how that’s not a potential loss (since everyone’s time is limited and all that) to his gaming.

How many posts or reviews stating that once you adjust to an MMO not being WoW (FE/DF, or whatever comes up) does it take to make some people realize a skewed (thanks to WoW) first impression is not always the correct one? How many times does someone have to read “once I adjusted my play, I saw what the game was really about” before they don’t write something like that off in the first 30 minutes?

And we wonder why Alganon gets made…

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in beta, Fallen Earth, Mass Media, MMO design, Random, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Ignorance is not bliss

  1. Ethic says:

    Great post. I was thinking the same thing when I read that comment about it not being his loss. If there is a fun game out there for you and you aren’t playing it, how can that not be your loss?

  2. bonedead says:

    I know I can be full of myself, but Tobold makes me look like fucking clown shoes sometimes.

    • bonedead says:

      A little more after reading Darren’s post and the beginning of Tobold’s:

      Right after he quotes Darren he then goes on to say that releasing with bugs and problems (aka releasing in general) is a bad business decision. Maybe I’m reading too far into that but god damn, has he been oblivious to what goes on in the MMO community? Every game that I remember launched with a decent sized pile of shit on it.

      • SynCaine says:

        WoW launched without a single bug, and to date has never had one. True story.

        • bonedead says:

          I know, looting was easy peasy from day 1. No crashing, no queues, nothing!

        • adam says:

          hahahaha. I love this. People love to point at WoW as the model MMOG. The way to launch. The way to run your game. Really? Hundred bucks not one of them played during the first 3 months. I did. It was a fucking nightmare.

  3. adam says:

    I read Tobold’s post this morning and I wondered if I was the only one that coughed at the “not my loss” line. Guess not. It is, in fact, very much his loss. I had the same experience with Fallen Earth, during beta. I played through the tutorial, came away unimpressed, and within 2 or 3 hours and a few quests into the game itself, I was done. That’s my loss. It’s not necessarily my fault the game didn’t strongly appeal to me, but I am losing a potentially pleasant experience by not continuing onward, adjusting, pushing through what I don’t find particularly interesting.

    As far as Star Trek Online goes, I’m currently a tourist there. I’m about 5 levels and maybe 10-12 hours in and my intention is to play through the entire beta content (16 levels). I’m nowhere close to being able to write a review. No idea what makes Tobold qualified to write a “review” at such an early stage. He should have called it “notes” or “early impressions” and made it clear that in no way can he assure that his experience accurately reflects what the game actually consists of as a whole.

    • SynCaine says:

      I don’t care that he did a review, he stated how far he got and thats fine. I take more issue in the fact that he knew (or at least suspects) that the game gets better shortly after the intro sections, and rather than see if that’s actually true (and considering the length of time one normally plays an MMO, how important is that first 10 hours in the grand scheme of things?

      • sid67 says:

        Why should someone have to slog through crap they don’t like just because it MIGHT get better eventually.

        If he can’t find any redeeming qualities in the game during the first few hours of play, why is it his continued responsibility to try and find the worth in the game?

        That’s really his point. It’s not his responsibility to “like” the game. It’s the devs responsibility to hold his attention.

        This is why I’ll never buy into your ‘tourist’ rants. Are there people with varying levels of interest in your game? Sure. Do some people have a bigger stake or desire to see it succeed? Sure. But that doesn’t make everyone else a ‘tourist’ if they don’t like the game.

        The fact of the matter is that the dev has an ‘opportunity’ to attract the player. If they miss or fail at that opportunity, that’s ultimately the devs problem. Not the individual player.

        That said, I think there is something to be said for making premature decisions during a BETA when you aren’t seeing the total picture. His main criticism in the review is land combat — and who knows if he’s even seeing the final product there?

        • SynCaine says:

          Almost anyone not heavily hyped for DF (and even some of those) hates it the first day, should AV scrap the whole UI and day one experience (at the cost of other development) because day-one players hate it?

          Because almost everyone who plays for more than a week later admits to the UI being fine for what DF is, and after a month you realize what it does it actually does very well. The game is growing.

          But sure, if you are playing a game that you see NO redeeming qualities in, stop playing. If you are playing the TUTORIAL of an open-world game about survival in a wasteland that others have reported to be a blast once you settle in, shitonabrick maybe you have yet to actually see the real game in action?

          I defined tourists in the post, and that definition is not ‘everyone else’ like you imply. But more on point, we just fundamentally disagree that it’s never the players fault for not liking a game. I see (IMO) plenty of examples of the player being too thick to see what they are missing out on, which is in part why the whole “back to WoW I go” thing agitates me so much.

        • adam says:

          I think that serving up an immediately fantastic experience is misleading. If you rope players in with bling and flash but your game is ultimately shallow and boring, what’s the point? I’m looking at you, Aion.

          Take EVE, for example. My first few days with EVE were ridiculous. The learning curve in that game is rough. But I was able to recognize the potential, the deep and unique nature of the game, and I slogged through the tough opening bits and ended up playing it for a few months, which is longer than I’ve played any MMOG since WAR (4 months, and that only on fumes). In fact, I only left EVE because I couldn’t stomach the thought of never being able to catch up to the longtime players. I REALLY, REALLY liked the game.

          Point being, if a game is deep and interesting and unique, that will shine through a relatively lackluster beginning phase. Sometimes you must earn your experience FROM the game, as opposed to having the game hand the experience over to you on a shiny silver platter (WoW). Darkfall is also this way, and I believe it’s a much better game than 95% of MMOGs out there as a result.

          But, regarding STO, I might have to side with Tobold. Not only are the first few hours mostly mediocre (the Trek IP is the only thing that’s truly compelling), but behind that there’s not a lot of indication that the later game is any more immersive or interesting than the beginning. The difference between me and Tobold is I’ll try to prove it before I give up and then tell the world it sucks.

        • sid67 says:

          Anyone willing to try a different game has ALREADY taken a huge step. They are willing to try something new. Even if (gasp!) that *new* thing is something eerily similar like Alganon.

          But Alganon references aside, the point here is that the people you are defining as tourists are all people who are willing to set aside whatever else they are doing and try something new.

          That’s very markedly different than the majority of sheep who never try anything new at all.

          And some people don’t just take a step — they LEAP! Now obviously those people are going to be the most vested into a new game and the most willing to ‘give it some time’ to develop.

          But it’s ludicrous to blame the people who don’t take huge leaps for not finding value in a product. For crying out loud, they have already taken the BIGGEST step in TRYING the product!

          It’s the developers responsibility to capitalize on that step. So — yes — a new user experience absolutely matters.

          It certainly shouldn’t be the highlight of the entire game, but it should at least be enticing enough for people to continue to play.

          If you say that people hate DF after the first 24 hours — who’s fault is that? The player? That’s insane!

          The issue is that the onboarding process for new players isn’t welcoming enough. The proper response isn’t to blame the USER but to improve that onboarding process.

          You don’t just ignore risk or issues and shift the blame on the customer. You need to address the problem and mitigate the risk that player’s will quit before realizing the full value of your product.

          That’s just risk management 101. And common sense.

        • SynCaine says:

          The first day of DF sucking for most players (generally because they are use to WoW-style gaming/control) is no ones fault, it’s just an accepted fact of, wait for it, doing something different. People go in with expectations (tab target, ezmode mobs, UI to work a certain way), and the deeper set you are in those expectations, the more jarring something like DF will be day one.

          If you quit because of that, it IS your fault, not AVs. If you quit because you hate the combat, you hate the lack of guided quests, you hate full loot PvP, whatever, fine, that’s totally different. But quitting because looting seem ‘arcane’ to you is not something AV needs to fix.

          And in the age of broadband, free trials, and available game time, TRYING an MMO is nothing in a genre that more or less REQUIRES you to leap in to survive anything beyond a WoW-clone.

          Which again says why something like Alganon sees the light of day.

        • adam says:

          You don’t have to lay blame on ANYONE for a difficult or lackluster initial experience. It doesn’t seem fair to blame the player, certainly, but you can attribute a player’s negative impressions on expectations that aren’t realistic or perhaps aren’t even in line with what the developers’ intentions are.

          Technical issues aside, the game should be able to stand on its own merits. You shouldn’t have to have a whiz bang opening few hours to hook people. If your game is good, people will play. Period. That’s how it works.

        • sid67 says:

          I don’t have much interest in personally playing Star Trek Online. Between being totally happy and engrossed with DarkFall, not being a huge fan of the ST IP, generally not being a big Cryptic fan, and not seeing/reading anything about the game that really lines up with my style of play, my motivation to actually play it is non-existent at the moment.

          LOL! Don’t understate how big a deal it is when people take the step towards trying a new game.

          As you clearly demonstrated, people can easily come up with plenty of reasons to not even take that step.

          The first step is the hardest…

  4. xabbott says:

    I didn’t read Tobold’s post as a review. So maybe I just don’t hold him up to those standards.

    In any case. The STO beta is pretty bad on just a technical level. People defending it just really enjoy the IP. Having played CO for roughly six weeks I just don’t have much faith in Cryptic at this point.

  5. adam says:

    That being said, I don’t see myself buying Star Trek Online either. It doesn’t seem like a bad game. Rather the opposite. It seems well-made and of sufficient quality, but the whole experience so far rings hollow. It doesn’t FEEL like Star Trek to me at all. What is this shit with “sector space”? Why do planets bump me off and look like large balloons floating in a dark room? Why can’t I get close to them? As Tobold mentioned, I feel like I’m on rails, being directed, scripted events being thrown at me in this ingratiating, pandering way. I strongly dislike the heavily instanced nature of Cryptic’s MMOG engine. I abhorred it in CO, and I abhor it in STO.

    I can get on board (hah) with the unreality of every player getting their own ship, given the infeasibility of the alternative, but to me a Star Trek game needs to be more than “good.” It needs to be great. It needs to be revolutionary and ground-breaking. I wanted Cryptic to approach this as sacred ground, and create a game that would suck you into its world on the merits of the experience you could have. Honestly, Star Trek needs to be a sandbox game. It needs elements of EVE mixed with elements of Love, WURM, Darkfall and Infinity (http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=33). I recognize that would require more time, more money, more work. So be it. This is Star Trek. We want to explore an effectively infinite, procedural galaxy, land on planets, contact new species. We want to be able to fly into space for literal days and go places WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE. For shit’s sake, it’s at the beginning of every episode of TOS and TNG. Star Trek Online is not that, no, so far, STO is very much more Warcraft or LOTRO than EVE or Darkfall.

    It’s a shame, too. If there’s one IP that lends itself to “sandbox,” it’s Star Trek. It’s amazing that Cryptic went in exactly the opposite direction. I think giving Cryptic the rights to Trek was the first mistake.

    • Snafzg says:

      Unfortunately, it isn’t about what you and many others want. It’s about what they could get done by their deadline.

      Hopefully, these things will be added with time, but as we’ve seen lately, most MMOs start with a bang, fizzle out, improve over time, and by then, nobody cares anymore.

      • adam says:

        Agreed. I recognize that MMOGs these days are about quantity, not quality. I can’t fathom why. But the task of creating a Star Trek MMOG should not have been given to a dev studio like Cryptic. Or if it had to be, it should have been made very clear what type of game was needed to meet the standards of such a beloved property. Cryptic has cheapened it. They’ve made an average, arcadey, theme park MMOG that will hobble through the next few years making a tiny profit and ensuring that Cryptic continues to get their hands on more resources to build more painfully unrealized games. So much potential wasted.

        I don’t think Cryptic are hacks or a bad dev studio, I think they use their engine as a crutch to create mediocre games on the cheap. The problem is that their engine sucks from start to finish. And whoever is calling the shots over there seems to have zero interest in doing anything other than the bare minimum to stay afloat. And we end up with the results.

  6. Bhagpuss says:

    The thing is, MMOs take a lot of time to play. It’snot like a movie, where you give up half an evening and you’ve had the full experience. Or even a novel that might take you three or four evenings.

    I fully agree with the proposition that you van tell what you don’t like about an MMO in a few hours. In fact, it probably takes just a few minutes. However, knowing what you don’t like tells you nothing about what you might GET to like. I mean, I hated olives for years.

    I think Tobold’s comment on it being the game company’s loss not his is shortsighted. Clearly it is a small financial loss for the company, but a potential missed opportunity for him. He stands tolose a lot more than the company does if he is in error. On the other hand, life is literally too short to try everything we might like, and decisions have to be made.

    Personally, I prefer to give things I am interested in a good try before writing them off. I can generally tell the difference between something I have very little chance of enjoying and something I might come to enjoy over time.

    On that basis I won’t even be trying STO: I’ve never been a Star Trek fan (when exactly did Star Trek stop being something it was actively enmbarassing to admit to having even a passing interest in?) and I don’t have any interest in space battles or ship-to-ship style combat, so it looks like a bad fit for me.

    I do find the reviews interesting, though.

  7. Pingback: MMO Tourist « MMOG Chronicles

  8. adam says:

    “I’ve never been a Star Trek fan (when exactly did Star Trek stop being something it was actively enmbarassing to admit to having even a passing interest in?).”

    Haha. I hated Star Trek until I was about 13 or 14 years old and I was bored at night so I started watching TNG reruns on Fox at night. As it turns out, TNG is one of the greatest TV series ever made. It’s intellectual, dramatic, funny and interesting. The special effects are awful now, but back then they were great and it was I think the most expensive show per episode on TV.

    I don’t go around telling people I’m a Trek fan, though. I’m not a nerdy guy. I’m clean, good-looking, have a steady job, live on my own, engineering degree, etc, but I’m still a little insecure about owning up to being a fan early on in many friendships or relationships. I’m not embarrassed, it’s just not something I choose to advertise–too many questions and negative connotations. Same with video games in general. If she’s not a gamer chick, you have to break it to her slowly and gently, not unlike telling someone they have a terminal disease.

  9. Its always nice to hear Alganon mentioned in your posts. :)

  10. Janet says:

    Very Interesting all of this!!! =p

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