Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Polarizing MMO Rhetoric: Oh how I missed you!

A typical MMO discussion
After a two year hiatus from blogging, it's good to see that the same old polarizing MMO rhetoric is still out in full force.  We still have our rollercoasters, our themeparks, our sandboxes, our "hard-core pvp" crowd, our WoW care-bears, and so on..

And of course, we have our good old-fashioned commenters:

"When will people figure out no one likes PvP"
"Blame the WoW tourists" or alternately "Go back to WoW"
"Then why is EvE successful?"
"It's not 1999 any longer, people don't grind"

PvP Political Compass
Several years ago I wrote a post about what I called the PvP Political Compass.  The basic idea was that PvP in "games" is not as straight-forward or simple as "hardcore pvp" versus battlegrounds.

It's more of a graduated scale with grouping on one axis and "impact" on the other.

As I return to blogging, I am reminded of how polarized the MMO gaming community is on so many topics.

The part I find interesting here is that I believe you can create a similar "compass" for MMO features in general.  The reality is that there is no standard definition for what people like in games.

For example, all RPGs have a certain amount of "sandbox" to them simply by virtue of allowing players to make decisions about character development.  Whereas,  a very linear game like Halo is on the very far extreme with your options limited to such things as: should I drive a Warthog or a Ghost?

By no means am I calling all MMOs a sandbox, I am simply pointing out that a game -- any game -- need not be defined by the box we try to put those games in.  And yet, the fascinating part is that people who write about MMOs or follow the games work so hard to create these boxes.

It reminds me of real-life politics.  No matter your country, there are political groups which form to try and represent large bodies of people.  Very rarely do individuals agree with every single thing the group stands for -- often they only agree with some core philosophical principles -- but they'll defend that group and anyone who questions it (even parts they don't totally agree with) in fierce and often heated arguments.

The truth, if there is one, often lies somewhere blurred in the middle.  More often, there is no truth at all -- just opinion. I always find this willful blindness by the public to be infuriating.  It creates apathy.  So many people don't like the status quo but are so concerned that the other side will "win" if they give any concessions that they willingly bring the whole process to a stalemate.

The straights aren't so dire with MMOs and we all have the power to vote with our wallets. And yet, we still keep trying to put games in boxes and point fingers and blame when they fail...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Unholy Beta

After my triumphant return announcement, I expected to be more actively posting some thoughts on Darkfall Unholy Wars.  Thing is... NDA is still up and the beta has lasted FAR FAR longer than I ever would have expected.

What I find interesting about betas is that different people play them for different reasons.  Some people want to contribute suggestions for improvement.  Some people want to get an "early edge" so that when release happens they have a head start.  Others just want to play the game.

No matter what your reason for playing the beta, one factor always plays in everyone's mind: will I play this game for long on release?

That's the unfortunate side effect of a beta -- people can't help but judge an incomplete and unfinished product through the lens of what they expect at release.

The part I wonder about is how badly a game is hurt by an unexpectedly long beta.  Personally, I can't think of a single instance where interest  "increased" during an extended beta phase.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about how this relates back to the DF:UW beta, but I don't think it's breaking NDA to say that the longer an extended beta lasts, the more likely interest is going to start to wane.

Excitement can easily turn into bitterness, particularly when a concrete release date isn't known and players stop wanting to invest time in a game where character progression lacks permanence.

For myself, I like the game and I "do" plan to play it at release.