Yet another blog post spawned from an article (source), although this is more of a response at looking towards solutions for the three kinds of people. If you are the easily offended type or someone who’s likely to attack at the suggestions I will give in this article without conducting your own research into the pros and cons of various solutions, feel free to move along to another space on the internet to rant, because you are simply another part of the problem and are better off removed than accepted.
Now for those who continue to pay attention, let’s start with the first of these: The gamers. Now I will not say that the gamer is typically self-centered and evil – I know many who are not like that, including myself, and would prefer to be proven right than proven wrong when I say that a lot of gamers are respectable, honest people who are simply looking for enjoyment out of a video game. And sometimes, the anger of the common gamer is justified when a game people expect to be at least immersive and engaging turns out to be a horrendous failure (referencing recently catastrophic failures on Aliens: CM and SimCity at this point) because that is typically a fault with the developer/publisher team that should have been rectified before it even reached the general public.
This image cropped up in a discussion with another gamer over Twitter, and it sums up pretty well the problems facing developers as they try to weed out the differences between what people would accept and what people won’t tolerate. As gamers, we are entitled to our opinions, but that does not entitle us to change what game developers do with their product. If you want to have a game built exactly how you want it, try getting off your backside and building it or get off your high horse and stop trying to force-feed opinions to developers who already have enough to deal with as it is.
And if you’re going to whine about something, at least have enough evidence to prove that it’s going to be a problem: The number of people who complain about microtransactions in videogames then buy the game anyway despite it is horrendous, and one day they may very well become the bogeyman people are being doomsayers about because, in all that noise, those people who would show genuine concerns would be drowned out in the sea of bullshit developers and publishers have to wade through day by day. Right now, it’s NOT an issue: Mass Effect 3 has free multiplayer content, with microtransactions to buy packs if players want to build on their collection a bit faster. It’s not a pay-to-win system, they are not necessary to complete the game or enjoy the content. Same story with Dead Space 3: They are additions to speed things along, but they can all be obtained through normal gameplay and are NOT required to complete the game. So stop bitching about it.
And if you want something new added/not added, why not suggest it rather than cry wolf and claim you won’t buy into a game/console (YES I HAVE SEEN THESE PEOPLE ABOUT) just because you want/don’t want something that would, in your opinion, help/hinder your enjoyment? Nobody died of being polite. Ever. And there’s always the possibility that certain functions won’t be possible for a platform. 360 Minecraft doesn’t have unlimited worlds or servers simply because the infrastructure is not in place to allow that. If there are plans to add it in a future update, so be it, but you have to bear in mind that what is available for one platform doesn’t make it automatically available for another, and there’s vast differences that have to be accounted for when making that transfer. And sometimes the programming itself doesn’t lend itself well to outsourced/private servers (particularly in cases of heavy dependency on the server’s data management side, or anti-cheating mechanisms), and so dedicated servers are the only possible, sustainable means.
And as a side note, if you believe in cheating, you’re another whole part of the problem altogether. Quit it.
As for the press, though I doubt any of you would get around to reading this, there’s also lessons to be learned for this lot too. I’m all for getting the truth out there, letting people know the facts and the genuine problems in the industry and the games, gamers, publishers, developers and anything that relates to any of the above. But there’s a lot to be said about being ravenous wolves preying on every shred of information just to be the first to report on something. There’s always going to be someone trying to make something go viral, and there’s always going to be people trying to sell off false information to any fool willing to buy into it, leaving you to carry the baggage of being the one to spread false rumour while the other guy runs off laughing at his paycheck.
If you’re going to do a report, it’s a report. State facts, give evidence, provide statements, don’t submit any personal or company propaganda or unverified details until you got sufficient hard evidence that they are genuine and not a huge pile of horse crap. If it’s going to be an opinionated article (something like this is, at least), make sure people know it’s the opinions and thoughts of the writer, but continue to provide reasons for giving these thoughts and opinions while leaving space open for counter-arguments and discussion (which is typically the article’s intent if there is opinions going to be thrown in). NEVER mix the two up unless there’s a desire to incite problems or you wish your readers to question your value and credibility in this and future articles. And if you’re going to be independent, stay independent, don’t go selling yourselves off to companies just because it’s more money on the table just to submit a few sweet nothings in an article.
And if you’re going to kiss the backside of companies, at least be honest about it or submit yourself to being their PR department and remove all doubts in your readers.
And finally, the developer/publisher circle. Now I could be like all other gamers and carpet bomb you all in the same brush, but from my experience not many of the companies are deserving of it. There are good developer/publisher combinations out there (among the most notable being Rockstar, BioWare, Bethesda in the developer ranks, and for me of late Sega deserves some praise for their tolerance) but a fair few do need to work through the noise of what are basically trolls and brown-nosers and look hard and long at the problems you are creating and allowing to happen under your very noses. There’s a lot of lessons to be taken from recent game releases, and there’s some fundamentals that need to be straightened out.
First of all, releasing an unfinished game should not be acceptable, and there’s two sides of the coin for the blame there. One is noted very heavily in my last blog post regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines, but in summary the lesson from that was to not let developers take advantage of your generosity (sorry Sega) and that if you’re not willing to do the job in the first place, don’t take it on and expect to get away with it by handing it off to others (Gearbox). Then there’s the other side of the fence: Reinforcing deadlines. SimCity should not have been released as it was and should have had a lot more rigorous testing and fool-proofing before being released to the general public (especially to what was globally horrendous reviews and protests towards both EA and Maxis, though I’ll leave out who’s to blame for the entire thing without more details). These are problems that shouldn’t even be an issue this far into the gaming industry’s life, so why do they even exist in the first place?
Secondly, let’s have a talk about quality. Now this is a hard cookie to crack, I understand, especially when some companies who have tried something different have been criticised for it, and others who haven’t have been likewise criticised for keeping the status quo. But this is something that you, as developers and publishers, will need to work out, and while there will be gamers like those who will never read this far into this entire thing and will protest about anything if it causes a buzz (it’s a troll thing, something about being part of a crowd encourages them to do it more – maybe they should be called goblins in retrospect) there are always going to be buried nuggets of wisdom in the rocks, and there’s always going to be that one voice that expects they’ll never get heard but will have valid and crucial points, maybe even with evidence to support them, and may even have ideas that are implementable in future creations that can help solve problems that are harder to see when you’re in the eye of the storm.
And if I were to ask for one last thing as a gamer: Be more daring. Expand horizons and push the boundaries of what people know. It’s a challenge some companies are going after (Bungie and Trion Worlds being the more notable ones recently) and that confidence and enthusiasm is what will make the future generations of games even more immersive and powerful in their presence, not only for the development teams that get to experience the challenge of a whole new perspective of games and gaming, but also for the players who desire something fresh and exciting. Now this doesn’t exactly need to be a new IP that I’m talking about – some companies have come out rather well from expanding an existing IP in to new territories, or refreshing the IP with a new and engaging twist. While it is unfortunate that the last of the great companies to do this with their IP collapsed (apologies to Vigil Games and Darksiders) it has hallmarked them as one of the great companies that made themselves remembered by the last great game they gave the gamers. A development company that can accomplish this will secure their safe seat, breathe new life into their IP and make their publishers more than happy and confident.
And that’s to say nothing about the gamers who would appreciate this second wind into their favourite IP’s.