Oh my god. TerraNova goes, for the first time, offtrack to comment something that finally MATTERS and what I find? Lum trying to derail back them in the useless academia and navel gazing.
The topic is, of course, the NGE and SWG. For the first time there’s an intelligent analysis on TerraNova that focuses on the *implementation* and that correctly blames it for the problems of the game:
The problem is that SWG’s chief problem from the beginning has been poor implementation, poor communication, poor service. Koster’s design ideas went wrong when they got awkwardly stitched in late Beta to counterposing designs, when the center could not hold. They went wrong when they went live in a horribly unfinished state, with an underresourced live management team desperately trying to keep a very leaky ship afloat.
Unfortunately, the live management team seems to have ignored another long-standing criticism of SWG by many observers: that their design and implementation process is a disastrous mess. Never more so than with the NGE: whatever it is conceptually, in practice, it’s roughly on par with an alpha build of a MMOG.
What do you think is worth saying about the NGE that is “worthy” of Terra Nova? I’m always intrigued when folks in the industry somehow expect that those of us with scholarly or semi-scholarly interests in MMOGs are supposed to be too decorous to engage in the ordinary business of criticism. Literary critics don’t avoid occasionally saying tough things about bad novels, even bad novels by writers whom they generally have a high opinion of.
And what does Lum replies?
Sure. But at the same time you’ve established a pattern of not stooping to, say, posting diatribes from MMO players angry about the latest patch for their game. (Boy, it’s a good thing nobody ever did that. *cringe*)
(a) professional decorum requires me not to comment on publically (no, really)
What the hell. Speaking of being a pussy.
I wish not only TerraNova but also all the other places where there are people with opinions, INTERESTING opinions (for me) could start to voice them. Freely. Without being scared by everything. I wish Raph would start to speak about GAMES, specific games. His own, competition, I don’t fucking care, but something specific that we can relate to and discuss and not the usual, abstract chatter that just goes nowhere if not to build a theory out of thin air. There’s already a so HUGE displacement between theory and practice that is hurting this genre more than everything else. WAY MORE than mass market successes that seem now to absorb and uniform everything.
People are RAGING against the NGE but what I read in the complaints is about NPCs shooting through walls, melee being retarted, and huge problems with the controls. Yes, they are hating “change”, but they are hating it because it’s, once again, an half-assed, incomplete *implementation*. IMPLEMENTATION. And yes, this is the fucking problem of SWG since day 1. They dragged the game in every direction possible, finishing nothing.
I said it in the past and I’ll repeat it. The HUGEST problem of SWG is the high churn rate of the developers. Starting from Raph. The game switched hands like the cheapest whore and its current status is NOWHERE SURPRISING. But there isn’t anything to learn from here, if not that without commitment, long term and STABLE commitment, you go nowhere. This is why it’s so important the managment in a company to keep things together.
TerraNova saw the light for a day and wrote something interesting as it wasn’t happening in a long time. I really wasn’t expecting Lum to come and blame them for the change.
EDIT- That comment thread turned into something really, really interesting and deserving a careful read. In particular Lum killed my arguments (but not my opinion) and brought up so many other interesting points (about community managment in particular). Every post by Lydia Leong is also terribly interesting and precise. I was going to consolidate the comments that I found worthy in a entry here but there’s really too much and TerraNova has been stable enough. It shouldn’t fade as everything else on the internet, making me angry when I try to find again that doesn’t exist anymore. That’s the very first reason why I have this site.
Beside this, just notice how this “terribly interesting” thread was the result of an unconventional article that was strongly criticized. I’ll say this again: “Bring the noise”. We don’t need the politically correct. We need more passionate and specific commentary that goes straight to the point and without all the useless frills. Without that unconventional article we would just get another boring, empty and polite navel gazing and dissertation about the moon. The conflict of interest is what fuels the heart of these games and makes things have a true value instead of fading into irrelevance and indifferece.
What IS interesting, and what I think should be discussed in this context and without, is the concept of completely changing a live service in mid-stream. SWG this week is a far different game from the one that existed last month. How do the players react to that radical a change? Do they react? Do they simply quit? Do they knuckle under and keep going, “relearning the rules”?
This is stuff that would be interesting. “I can’t aim in combat any more” or “Gosh, this live team sucks at implementation”, not so much.
Oh, this is way too good.
My point of view is exactly the opposite. It’s the context (completely changing a live service) to be useless and the content (the specifics of the changes) to be relevant.
It’s only the quality of the implementation to matter here. If the quality is very high, the dissatisfaction would be easily reabsorbed. If the quality is poor, instead, you’ll simply fail to get both new and old customers and the context would be branded as “not convenient” for future, generalized references and commonplaces formed out of thin air that will be very hard to discard.
It’s really this simple.
What was important was to consider the resources available and figure out if there was enough “space” to do a very good work or not. SOE made its choice. We’ll see the results. These results should be always considered for the specific game and the specific changes. Not generalized and standardized as absolute principles.
And can’t you see that the willingness (of the players) to tolerate it (change) depends on the QUALITY of it?
No, I’d strenously argue the point. If Civ 4 autopatched itself into a WW2-themed first person shooter, I really wouldn’t care about the quality of the patch.