I got quite the shout out over on Too Long; Didn’t Listen’s Episode 10. I was flattered that they pegged a massive chunk of their time to discussing a topic spurned from my blog; one that I have been thinking about before and after writing that article. Now I’m thinking even more about it.
Criticism is good and a potentially valuable contribution both to the community and to the genre itself: criticism can sow the seeds that improve the games we love. My intention was never to say “Criticism is dumb.”
Syp and Dodge interpret me correctly. I would like us all to take a step back and consider why we play these games at all. If you hate it, that’s your business; by why focus on that singular factor? Is there anything you like about it at all? There must be. Consider talking about that.
Here was an interesting comment from that podcast that I really want to muse on; somebody tried to debunk Syp with the following (likely paraphrased) statement:
“Don’t listen to him, because – in the past – he’s played games and now he doesn’t play them anymore.”
Okay, so, that also applies to you, Mister Un-sourced Criticizer. That is, unless of course, you still fire up Oregon Trail each week to leave another tomb stone somewhere. Seriously. How many games have you played over the course of your entire gaming career that you no longer make time for? In my case, a metric crap ton. What is it about World of Warcraft that has mutated the entire view of MMO players on video games as a whole? People do go back to play World of Warcraft because they enjoy it; that they try and leave other games does not rule those games inferior. Blizzard makes great games with a lot of playability, but that doesn’t mean you should rule out all other games forever. Diversify your portfolio.
I still regret not having tried EVE when it launched from time to time (as now I definitely don’t have the time) but I got down with STO, Champions, LOTRO, WAR, Rift, and several other titles. Each of them did somethings I liked; things I’d really like to see persist through the genre.
- STO did 3D action space combat (at least, early game) very well.
- Champions allowed full customization of avatar appearance and a solid division between appearance and gear.
- LOTRO has some great (if drawn out) story writing. (Drawn out is actually appropriate for Tolkien.)
- WAR had some tight early game PVP and castles were great.
- Rift’s dynamic regional events were hip; the entire game was bent around facilitating spur-the-moment multiplayer and it works splendidly.
I want to see all of these things together in a new game. Maybe EVE 2 will still be a player-driven-content sandbox that incorporates some of these things. (Maybe it already does.) Am I going to not play games that do not incorporate these things?
Yes. I am going to play games that don’t quite meet these requirements.
Why? Because, I’m only an arm-chair game designer. I’m a software guy that went into research after seeing that I don’t have what it takes to build games. I don’t want to sleep under my desk, face the high turnover and high stress, and deal with the poisoning that comes from years of players constantly criticizing everything I do for them. You may not have enjoyed WAR; I didn’t after a month. But how invested those Mythic guys were was obvious. And get this: they were definitely sleeping under their desks. Away from their families and friends, often through holidays. Dead-lines on MMO deliveries are often unreasonable as the task is monstrous, and so 18+ hour days are not at all unusual.
So, I’m not a game designer or a game programmer. While I can be picky, I can’t be that picky. Not everything in Star Wars: The Old Republic is the way I’d want it to be, but I still play it. Because parts of it are just great and I’m willing to forgive. Frankly I’m grateful that those guys slept under their desks to bring me this monster of a game. I know how massive it must be, how hard it must be to maintain and repair, and I’m thankful they do that. So thankful, in fact, that I will continue to pay them my sub, despite the fact that the game is imperfect.
Haters gonna hate.