Jan 30, 2013

[Stop With the Pointless CGI Trailers, Already]

I am seriously tired of cinematic MMORPG trailers. Sick of them. The recent trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online just summed up all my annoyances with these things:

  Sure, they look really cool, and can thrill the imagination. But they have ZERO bearing on the actual game, and they show nothing of significance about the gameplay (you know, the bit that actually matters?). The more slick and impressive one is the more I think "How much money was wasted on making this rather than being invested in something useful for the game?" Rather than getting me interested, these things are starting to actually turn me off. They seem to be more of an advertisement of how much a game studio's priorities are in the wrong place; how they want flashy imagery to excite people's interest rather than the merits of the game speaking for itself.

  And in the case of TESO, especially, when so little of what we've heard about it is anything significantly concrete about the actual game. When your potential playerbase is already skeptical and more interested in finding out whether or not your game is yet another amalgam of tired MMO cliches in a new skin, showing off a fancy 6 minute cutscene trailer illustrating cool stuff that nobody ingame can actually do, most likely, is not a good idea in my opinion. What does this stuff have to do with what people will actually be able to experience? This looks like it'd be a cool movie but tells me jack about whether its an interesting game.

  Overall, though, MMO studios need to stop with the gimmicky PR garbage and focus on the quality of their product, not the volume of their hype. Because as excitable as many MMO players can be, I think we've reached a critical level of jaded low tolerance for the same old crap in a different box. No amount of fanciful CGI shenanigans is going to save your game if it can't actually deliver. I swear the priorities of AAA MMO studios nowadays are really backwards.

Jan 28, 2013

[The Folly of CRPGs in the West and Japan]

  Via the Insomnia blog: an interesting article dissecting the chronic design failures of the CRPG genre, and why the result is that people have a hard time pinning down just what exactly a 'RPG' even is anymore.

  As someone whose first experiences with 'RPG's were of the Japanese variety (on the SNES) their criticisms of the genre are hard to hear but I have to admit they make a lot of sense (particularly in explaining why as a genre JRPGs have have been in decline for years now).

Related Reading:

Jan 11, 2013

[Let the New Ones In!]

 via The Mary Sue:
"Gamers are so quick to lash out against those who don’t understand our hobby. We go non-linear when people claim that games aren’t art, or that games cause real-world violence, or that we all need to grow up and stop wasting our time. In a general sense, I don’t see any major difference between the art critic who says games don’t belong in museums, the family friend who immediately brought up Sandy Hook after I mentioned that I write about games, or the parents convinced that their kids won’t learn anything useful from digital play. We roll our eyes and complain about how such people just don’t get it, but that’s exactly it — they don’t get it, and so often, we fall short when trying to explain. When we make arguments about the cultural importance of games, are we making an effort to reach out to those who have no experience with the medium? Or are we just talking to each other? When we sneer at casual games or easy mode, are we remembering that all of us needed to start somewhere, too?"
   A great anecdote about reaching a non-gamer through gaming, and asking if the rest of us really have the patience and desire to connect with 'outsiders' and 'newbies' in order to share our love of games.

Related Reading:
Learning the Language

Jan 9, 2013

[When Fandom Turns Toxic]

  The lead writer for the Dragon Age series on why they avoid the forums for their own game:

"I imagine that can happen to any online community. Eventually the polite, reasonable folks stop feeling like it’s a group of people they want to hang around. So they leave, and those who remain start to see only those who agree with them— and, because that’s all they see, they think that’s all there is. Everyone feels as they do, according to them. Once the tipping point is passed, you’re left with the extremes… those who hate, and those who dislike the haters enough to endure the toxic atmosphere to try and combat them. Each clash between those groups drives more of the others away."

  It's been years since I've played WoW, but so far as I know their boards are also still highly toxic environments. The Battle.net community was famous for being awful even before WoW.
I know that even ArenaNet didn't want to host an official forum out of similar concerns that it would be too difficult to keep it from becoming an echo chamber of negativity and hostility. What is it about gaming communities that allow us to treat such awful communities where people dump inordinate amounts of vitriol on the devs and each other as normal and par for the course? It's been said that only a tiny percentage of a game's playerbase ever sets foot in a game's official forum (or any forum), so at least we can believe that it's just a minority responsible for the majority of this problem, but it still doesn't remove the bad taste.

Related Reading:
Taming the Forum Tiger