This is one of those “it’s a comment but it’s too long so it becomes a post” deals, in response to Keen’s post about hype/excitement. I’m likely near the top of people who have criticized or at least taken a cheap shot at Keen for getting too hyped up about a game. In my defense, there is a Friday every week.
There are a few things that play into all of this. The first, and really central point, is that following/playing an MMO is closer to a religion than a hobby (or should be). When you are all-in on an MMO, it dominates your time, and the better the MMO is, the more time it takes up. And in a ‘real’ MMO, the more time you put in, the more fun it puts out. Before the casual ‘solo-hero’ revolution, MMOs were as much about WHO you played with as WHAT you were doing, and the ‘who’ only mattered if they stayed logging in month after month. “Guild hoppers” were the tourists of the genre before we had enough titles to allow tourism, and neither term is one you want associated with you.
Under that approach, someone who is in/out of a game in 1-3 months is unhelpful at best, and a ‘problem’ at worse. Combine this with the religion thing above, and if Keen hyped and then left your MMO of choice, that can rub people the wrong way. This effect has noticeably decreased as MMOs become more content rather the community focused. In SW:TOR, does anyone even notice if someone else stops playing? Is it even possible to notice? At least in Skyrim Steam shows me who is playing while I’m playing.
Another aspect is one that Keen mentioned; the pre-release talk about features that likely won’t work as written/hyped. Rift is one example that comes to mind. Pre-release I believe Keen made a statement that thanks to the soul system, you can build any character you want in Rift. That was simply not true, and if someone (me) wanted to make a point of Keen creating unrealistic hype around a game, that was a great example.
At the same time, Rift’s soul system is a hell of a lot more flexible than the other members of that clone army, so the spirit of what Keen wrote is still sorta true, if just stated incorrectly. If you don’t get hung up on the exact wording (although really, what fun is that?), you get the point and move on. If it’s Friday, or you just hate Keen, you don’t (unless Tobold has a PvP post up anyway).
Experience is also a factor, both with MMOs and blogging itself. When you are new to MMOs/blogging, everything seems fresh and new to you, and you truly believe you are sharing revolutionary ideas/thoughts, and you sorta believe the devs because hey, why would they lie? As you progress towards bittervet gamer/blogger, and go through multiple releases that fail to not only live up to expectations, but outright lie about features/goals, you stop trusting words/hype and consider anything pre-beta as a maybe (or in the case of Rift, even beyond).
GW2 is a good example of this right now. ArenaNet will tell you that GW2 has an active combat system. If the only MMO you have played is WoW, that’s sounds true-enough to you. If you played UO, or AC-DT, or Darkfall, it’s not exactly as ‘active’ as ArenaNet tries to paint it. Now it’s the job of PR to create hype, so not-really dynamic content like rifts in Rift are called “The most dynamic content ever”. They are lying, but it’s their job to lie. Since bloggers don’t get paid (other than me, buy Darkfall), just accepting the PR release and running with it opens you up to skepticism or ridicule, especially if you can already spot the hype just on what they have released (GW2 will have ‘massive’ battles, limited to 300 people. 300 is not massive if you play EVE. It is if you play WoW).
The final piece here is being the ‘white knight’ for a game. Not only have you bought into the hype, but you also defend the game from all criticism and refuse to believe that flaws exist even in just the facts released (GW2 non-80s being able to contribute meaningfully in WvW for example). This not only comes off as silly, but also reduces the value of your otherwise solid insights. You might have made nine good points, but if your tenth is clearly a copy/paste belief in PR spin, it’s the tenth point everyone will focus and comment on.
With all of that said (told you it was too long for a comment), I still read Keen’s blog because it is entertaining, and the ‘white knight’ aspect has been toned down big time over the years. When you blog for as long as he has, you are bound to write a few things that you later look back on and shake your head. So long as the head-shake posts are far and few between, and you own up to them (everyone with WAR), the blog remains entertaining and the author credible (whatever that means in the MMO blogging world).