Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ramblings of Inconsequence

I am continually amazed by the companies that take on MMOs.  Imagine being tasked to create a world.  Suddenly, you are forced into being a theologian, ecologist, geologist, philosopher, cartographer, scientist, and a writer.  You must fabricate races and fully realize the relationships within and between each race. Hierarchies, political structures,  histories of long-forgotten wars, all of this must be wrought before a world can be fully formed.  As a creator, you aren't simply forging a plastic world, you are establishing a complex of multi-faceted domains that must feel cohesive in nature.

We continually see hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on MMO games that are criticized as half-finished.  In their mad rush to make money, publishers establish deadlines, deadlines that become shackles for many game developers.  Publishers are in the industry for the business, and their task is to make money.   The blame of a failed product is not solely the fault of the publishers, and the fault can lie on many.  Instead of making a world, they only created the illusion of a world.

The more time developers actually get with a game, the more resources they have at their disposal, and the more ambitious and skilled they actually are, the better that illusion becomes.  I hope in several decades, that this illusion, this veiled shadow that lies on the wall, becomes harder and harder to detect.  Maybe one day, I won't be able to distinguish the new world from ours at all.  A scary thought, one that is strangely reminiscent of Inception, but an interesting one that loves to be explored by Hollywood and authors.

Ultimately, this world that the developers create is nothing more than the combination of thousands upon thousands of lines of code.  They are simply independently formed systems that mix and intertwine cascading outward in unique arrays for our entertainment.

And then you have the third party that world creators must consider.  The players.  They are perhaps the hardest to please of all. We are a rather greedy bunch, and continue to devour content far faster than it could ever be hoped to be created.  We are often very similar to infants, crying about our latest woes and worries.  And often times, our cries and complaints block out our valid ideas of restructuring, reorganizing, and renegotiating the game.

I'll be honest, this last point was one of the main reasons I created a blog in the first place.  Over the past few months, the online forums have become particularly painful to read.  I do not envy those of game companies who are tasked to read threads for feedback.  Constructive conversations are lost upon pages of arguments.  Good feedback is often like finding a needle in a haystack, and when you don't, those days must be extremely frustrating as a developer.  However, you are always being watched, and one screw up, one rant of built up anger....and you as a company can lose everything.  We, the players, do not forget and do not forgive.

So the next time when a MMO developer says "we have the hardest job in the industry," you better believe it.  And more importantly, you should appreciate them, and not only that, but show them your appreciation with kind words.


  1. That's funny. I started my blog in part to find an outlet for my thoughts outside of forums, which - save for my guild - I couldn't stand to read and participate in anymore, either.

    One thing I've noticed about bloggers is they tend to be more positive and open-minded, and can also maintain civility when there's a difference of opinion.

    Forum exchanges tend to be more...impassioned, and not in a good way.

    1. I suppose that's in large part due to the formats. It's easier for comments to get lost in the forums so perhaps less thought and consideration is given. Plus conversations are generally faster paced with larger peanut galleries to chime with greater frequency.

    2. I agree completely. The problem with forums probably due to several factors. In addition to our reasons,I also think the problem lies innately with forums. If you are generally pleased and happy with something, you are less likely to go to the forums and post. If you are angry, critical, or upset about something, you normally head to the forums to talk about something you think needs to be changed. When you amass that many people who are already upset, it's like a ticking time bomb. I'm not sure how true that theory is, but its always seemed plausible.

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