Answer to that comment:
I can see your point about moving on too early from SWG, but in the case of UO, I was on there for two years after launch, and was in fact the only original team member left. :)
Let’s agree on something: both UO and SWG were ruined by the fact that the original minds left. And it will be the same for EVERY mmorpg out there. Now and in the future. Dev teams change and things usually go right in the toilet. In particular those games with a so strong “imprinting“.
Bring in more people with new ideas, that’s good. But an high churn rate in the dev team will almost surely lead to a disaster. If people won’t stick then nothing good is going to come out. Before or after the launch it doesn’t change absolutely anything. It’s in fact quite obvious that SWG was hurt in particular because it lacked a real direction. Every few months there was someone else at the wheel with a different idea about where to go.
It was your own game and there was noone in the world who could run it beside you. That’s the only real truth. *You* killed it the moment you accepted to pass the duty. It’s your own responsibility.
Actually I even think that you consciously or unconsciously built it so that the game would have rejected everyone else. Or you or noone else. Like some kind of DNA code identification system that started a countdown to self destruction as someone else tried to “violate” it. You definitely cheated SOE by handing them a crippled game that noone else beside you could have utilized productively.
I do think that not only SWG was rushed out, but that it was also flawed. But this doesn’t change the fact that the only one who could have fixed those flaws were you and noone else.
Want to design new games every few months? Good, then DO NOT aspire to be a Lead Designer for a mmorpg. These games aren’t waiting rooms where you sit for a couple of months before moving onto something else. A mmorpg is a life-job, if you have the opportunity and privilege to continue. It shouldn’t be a walk in the park. Being a Lead Designer should be a daunting task that noone wants, not the easiest way to the game industry stardom.
Plus I only see two different kinds of game designers: the first is the “George Lucas type”, who continues to make the exact same game over and over and over. The other is the one who make ONE great game that will be remembered and mimicked for a long time, while all the rest he tries just sucks so hard and is better forgotten.
I wrote that also thinking to what Gordon Walton said about TSO. I mean, you both had the opportunity to continue the development.
It would be different if you were *fired* from the respective projects. In that case it would make sense to “rant” about what went wrong and how things should have worked. But instead you both decided to drop the ball and leave it there. There’s no privilege of ranting in that case.
That’s too easy. Or you admit that things went wrong and you made a mistake and decided to flee away as quick as possible, or you could have taken the opportunity and kept working on those projects if they were something in which you still believed.
Imho a Lead Designer shouldn’t move AT ALL. Stop. There’s no “early” or “late”. Or there is commitment, or things go to hell.
Or you build a game without personality and so derivative that everyone can lead it. That works too.
SOE did the right thing. Yes. They lobotomized the game because it was the only way for them to break that goddamn DNA lock you sneaked into it.
And *why* you put in that lock? Because it was the greatest way to demonstrate that you are unique and irreplaceable. Or, romantically, a “work of art” ;p