Venting The Spleen To Move On

Hi from the Austin GDC, which has just finished. I know it looks like Elder Game has been on hiatus a while, but actually there are posts back here… they were just too negative or unproductive to reach the front page. But to vent my spleen enough to get back on track, I’ll hit some of these toics quickly… enough that you can tell where I stand on the issue, anyway… and then we can move on to more productive stuff!

  • As an industry developer, I found Mythic’s fear of running a forum to be a bad business decision. As a user who is trying to get Warhammer to install and run, I found Mythic’s lack of a forum to be anger inducing. At worst it feels like a sleazy move to distance themselves from angry players; at best it comes off as a lack of confidence in their product. Sorry guys, you can’t not have a forum when everybody else has one. You look like idiots, or like sleazebags… take your pick. Talking with folks here at the Austin Game Conference, it sounds like this is mostly Mark Jacobs’ handiwork. I don’t care that people hurt your feelings when they post, Mark. Get a damned forum, and get some good moderators.
  • Speaking of Mythic, this Gamasutra article by Mythic’s Paul Barnett shows just how terrible a workplace Mythic is. Paul (the creative director for Warhammer) hates it when developers play WoW because they get ideas from it. He much prefers barely-competent sheep-like workers who will do what he says rather than experienced and outspoken team members. He thinks people who disagree with the game’s design should be publicly humiliated in front of the team (“burned at the stake”). Do you think I am exagerrating or misrepresenting Paul here? Go ahead and read the article. I’ve talked with people from Mythic, and it’s true: you don’t want to work at Mythic.
  • Age of Conan made an embarrassing, newbie-developer mistake a while back when their female avatars were dramatically slower than the male avatars. This was due to the animations being longer. Chalk it up to a lack of communication between teams. But then they compounded their failure when they announced that it wouldn’t be fixed until new art was created, which would take a month to make. This is something that an engineer could have hacked a fix for during a single all-night session. The fact that they couldn’t or wouldn’t band-aid this problem tells us that Funcom’s intra-team communication skills (or perhaps their programming skills) are embarrassingly bad.
  • Hmm… the rest, I’ll save for another day when I can be a bit more upbeat!
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9 Responses to Venting The Spleen To Move On

  1. Scott says:

    Glad you’re back, and jeez did I miss your straight-for-the-jugular brutal honesty about stuff like this! :)

  2. Bret says:

    That Gamasutra article was pretty great.

    “80 percent of an MMO should be things gamers already expect an MMO to have”

    “[MMOs] are cancerous and will change the way you think,” he warned.”

    And finally, my new favorite quote

    “Strong ideas are unstoppable because they’re strong.”

  3. Babs says:

    Nice to see you again, Eric! And yeah, well, Mythic…kinda goes without saying.

    Could the avatars for WAR be any more butt-ugly? Of course, I believe MMOs should attempt to be attractive if they’re going to try to take over your life. But that may just be me.

  4. required says:

    Not having a forum is worse than having one that you don’t like. People will make their own and you won’t have any control over it. Ostrich, meet pile of sand.

    -V

  5. MrWakka says:

    Happy to see your back, always a good read, and i agree on the forums.

  6. Platinumstorm says:

    While you “vent your spleen” I’ve been in the hospital for a week! Had gallbladder finally removed today.

  7. Eric says:

    Platinumstorm – ouch… sounds painful. I guess you’re one step closer to becoming a cyborg now, though…

  8. Eric says:

    Babs – yeah, I noticed that too. It looked almost like they reused the human avatars from DAoC. They seemed strangely out of place.

  9. y4 says:

    haha plat is following eric everywhere lol. (actually it might be from plat that i found this blog.) kudos

    Ya I kinda figured mythic was that way. I also wonder why they reused DAOC models, or maybe their loyal but untalented artists can’t do any better than that. Some smaller companies do better (Spellborn Here I come!).

    “80 percent of an MMO should be things gamers already expect an MMO to have, and 20 percent of it should be crazy.’”–Paul Barnett

    Does a stable, smooth combat and animation engine count as part of the 80%? Also, I don’t see any crazy ideas in WhO:AoR.

    “You Need Strong Ideas”

    The problem isn’t coming up with ideas, strong or not. Not only the paid devs, but thousands of players are willing to contribute ideas. As the saying goes, ideas are a dime a dozen. No, the payoff is execution, implementation and polish. It’s quite obvious from reading the forums that WAR severely lacks all of these. That is to say, good execution and polish is a strong idea that Barnett neglected.

    “But you can’t be The Beatles. If you try, he quipped, you will ‘…end up as the Monkees.’”

    So it’s better to try to be something different and end up as the Spice Girls. (yes WAR is Spice Girls, a passing fad at this rate.)

    You play the other MMOs so you can improve on them, so that you don’t come up with weak ideas and even weaker implementations thereof. Like the previous point about fostering strong ideas. How do you know what is strong or not if you don’t have something to compare it to? On the contrary, it’s too easy to make the same mistakes as previous games, even though they may seem like strong ideas.

    “Find the right partner, work hard with them and be kind to them.”
    Ya AC2 failed this hard. lol MS.