Ready the Meat Sacrifices

Scott Jennings of Broken Toys (whom I still call Lum in my head) posted last week about the upcoming slate of 2011 MMOs. It’s a good post, and if you read this blog I expect that you have already read it.

The bit that really caught my eye, though, was his discussion of the impact of BioWare’s SWTOR (which I still call KOTORO in my head, accompanied by a mental imago of Goro).

Allow me to quote two small pieces:

But all the same, I hope The Old Republic is a massive hit, with millions of subscribers, enough to make back its development costs and then some. [...] Because Austin needs studio that has a successful MMO shipped within the past decade. Because a lot of my friends work there and I’m pulling for them. [...]

And because in 2012, the Old Republic development team may get some sleep.

(I’ve clipped the bits that deserve another, rather longer post.)

If it succeeds, it will show that the “big iron” still works – throw as much meat as you can at the machine, and crank out a huge project, and spend your way to greatness. [...] And everyone will breath a sigh of relief. The old gods still listen to our prayers, now shut up and find more virgins, we have to get the sacrifices ready for the next expansion pack.

I know where Scott is coming from when he hopes that SWTOR is a massive hit. I have friends in Austin and at BioWare as well. I don’t want to see them unemployed or have their last four years of blood and effort go down the drain.

But I also don’t want to see another decade of $50+ million meat-grinder projects. I want my friends to be able to sleep more than once every four years. I want MMOs to improve through a better understanding of target audience and design*, not through luck and blood sacrifice to the old gods.

And one day, I want to be able to consider getting back into the corporate side of the MMO industry again. I miss my teams. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to sacrifice my health and sanity for someone else’s minuscule chance of profit.

* You think SWTOR will succeed because BioWare does have a better understanding of target audience and game design? It’s possible … but right now I’m not seeing it. Let’s talk more when I’ve actually seen the game.

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3 Responses to Ready the Meat Sacrifices

  1. Quixotic says:

    My heart sinks a little each time I hear how much they’ve spent on TOR. That much money means people are being pushed to work ridiculous hours, there will be a ridiculous push to ‘get it out the door’, and they’re going to end up targeting the easy money, which isn’t always the good money, or the money that lasts longer than 6 months or so. I don’t know anyone working there (that I know of), but I get grumpy at consecutive 50 hour weeks. I can’t imagine working there.

    PS: Hiya srand!

  2. MrNokill says:

    Played it a little some months ago, it really needed a lot of work to be somewhat different then all other MMOs but I don’t see this happening. In my mind Blizzard is still the only one that somewhat understands how to make games really work and others can better just make something else instead.

    suits *shakes head*

  3. Cryect says:

    Long MMO projects don’t mean working 60-80 hour weeks for 4-5 years. That is a company problem not a genre problem. Top tier MMO’s for the amount of content players expect though are going to take in the time range of 5 years unfortunately. Personally I can work for about a single week at most at 60 hours before my productivity is seriously impacted and I’m performing at less than I do with a normal 40-45 hour work week. As well, this isn’t unusual as studies on overtime have shown so companies still encouraging it are crazy.

    Will state the rumors for SWTOR do not sound good. And the videos keep making me think of WoW except with Star Wars lore. Scares me when you can shoot a Stormtrooper and another one 20 meters away just ignores your actions. Just a mechanic that really bothers me that is still prevalent in MMOs.