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Why I've given up on the big companies of the video game industry ...


Psyctooth
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Because they, these days at least, tend towards bringing on board CEOs who are dispassionate, one dimensional bottom line types who don't even understand at all the product of the company they are brought on to look after.

Whom are disconnected with the customers, disrespectful of the developers and have zero understanding of the product they represent.  They then proceed to act on fields of thought that a typical commodities business type would, thinking that the only way to success is that a developer must make a game which is as successful as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty or Halo and failing that, they seek get rich quick schemes or make money to try and survive schemes.  In other words, they look at what is popular, what sells well and think on terms of treating video games as a commodity product, like something you would purchase at the local super market food aisle.

Is it truly a big ask, for the industry to hire boards of directors and CEOs who actually understand gamers?  Who are as passionate for games as we are?  Are they really that hard to find?  Or do they enjoy digging financial graves for themselves by hiring all these ex-yuppies who are better suited to being in charge of junk food companies?

*drops microphone, walks off stage*

Edited by Psyctooth
My hubris is the size of a 2 by 4 nailed to the side of a YF-12 jet barrel rolling into a volcano piloted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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When Neo-Capitalism found out in the late 90's, that you can make tons of money with video games, the gaming industry totally changed to the worst.

 

The people in charge at the big publishers for sure dont come home and play a video game. They drive their expensive sport cars and go making tons of stuff with their money.

They couldnt be less interested in video games, or in you as a customer or human.

 

But also the developers these days arent much better than this these days. They are more just making their jobs, instead of doing creative and inspiring art. They just want money too.

The gaming industry these days really has become the worst, it was totally different when I was young, that was the Golden Age of Gaming back then.

 

Also back then the gaming industry was consisting of mostly small till mid-sized companies, not of the big financial global players dominating and destroying the market like nowadays.

 

But at last we the customers are to blame for this as well, for still supporting these bizarr, weird, awkward business practices.

Edited by Urahara

After EverQuest Next is gone, its Star Citizen for me.

 

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Not sure if any of you ever read the ea spouse, apparently it's still up : http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/

 

I wouldn't say all that much has changed, and we need capital to make games, like it or not.

 

On the other hand you have the star citizen drama that's happening, which doesn't help either.

Edited by Overdhose

Dear ace, it was wrong of me to feel scammed, as time goes by, I realize that more and more. Thank you for letting me sell my account!

-a very satisfied customer-

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Not sure if any of you ever read the ea spouse, apparently it's still up : http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/

 

I wouldn't say all that much has changed, and we need capital to make games, like it or not.

 

On the other hand you have the star citizen drama that's happening, which doesn't help either.

 

Stardew Valley and many other small projects prove you wrong.

After EverQuest Next is gone, its Star Citizen for me.

 

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I think a balance between that "Big Business Mentality" and genuine interest or a decent level of understanding of all echelons within the development would contribute to a successful name. Capital is something that will always be needed to progress / maintenance on the current project, fund future projects or to get those involved to where they are trying to go. Everything is a stepping stone leading somewhere else.

 

While some groups really can be ruthless with money earning tactics, like Black Ops 3 taking advantage of the "Chance Lottery" causing millions of underaged people across the globe to take part in this "Legal Gambling". Spending money in order to earn Tokens that are then spent on a virtual lottery of items that will help them customize their character. A feature that is not new to the gaming community.

 

Can we say they are right or wrong. Maybe, it would depend on the point of view. You could say they are betraying the trust of the fanbase, by taking advantage of them, but in the end it will always be the consumers fault for falling for such easy money grabbing tactics. [Myself being guilty of spending hundreds of dollars on Black Ops 3]. 

"Yes the game might be cheap or even free, But when you see something you like and you want it you spend for it"

That was a quote from a good friend of mine, and he is right. When you put certain things in front of the consumer they will buy it. They want it, and they will try to get it. I can't really see myself blaming "Greedy CEOs" or anything of the sort, I can only blame the consumers for it.

 

Only problem I do have with these tactics, is when they have the audacity to request such large sums of money for almost menial and worthless virtual goods and do not "Give back to the consumers".  For example Elder Scrolls Online. $20 for a horse. Yipee. Even worse, those past typical mmorpgs I don't feel like even listing. $60 For pretty costume. Double yipee.

 

 

As an aspiring game developer, I believe in a balance of that big business mentality to keep the ambition, and drive going. While staying an active participant in the development, and understanding the various moving parts from the player and developer point of view. 

Edited by Reno

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I own many of those smaller projects Urahara, some before the whole indie boom, I don't even understand your comment very well, maybe mine wasn't clear either... my point was that the OP suggested things went sour these last years, I merely wanted to point out things didn't suddenly take a turn, just that much of it was hidden behind nda's and god knows what clauses people had to put up with in contracts.

 

But in larger projects, people with business skills could make the difference in keeping the project afloat and keeping that middle ground between the dreamers and what is actually economically viable. And I agree being passionate about games could help there, but is not a necessity depending on the skill of the people involved.

 

When I read about star citizen, I read about my own shortcomings and what mistakes I would probably make if I actually had enough capital to make that dream game I think would be fun to make, specially given the fact I never actually worked in game development.

 

You can't compare Stardew Valley to something like mass effect 2

Edited by Overdhose

Dear ace, it was wrong of me to feel scammed, as time goes by, I realize that more and more. Thank you for letting me sell my account!

-a very satisfied customer-

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The big publishers got all the money on their hands they will ever need, money isnt an issue for them, really not.

 

But taking risks, being creative, doing something inspiring, using the technologies of today, being innovative, these are all things they arent able and/or not willing to do.

This is a huge problem.

Because you get the same game every year, just with another name, or number behind the name, but charging 60 Euro for it every year.

 

These people got no clue about games nor do they have passion or inspiration, or just anything creative they would be able to express to share with you as their customer.

They are businessmen and programmers these days, back then when I was young you werent able to learn game development.

The people working in the gaming industry in my youth were totally different from the people now, they were artists, freethinkers and enthusiasts.

It was an awesome experience consuming their products.

Because it wasnt just cheap consume, they were sharing their awesome creativity and brilliance with you, it was so much fun playing their with their products, these were real games.

While nowadays I feel like a stupid idiot, consuming the cheap fast food of the gaming industry, just smashing some unclarified type of food or something on my plate and saying "Here, eat, food, yummy yummy!". But of course with a huge marketing campaign, costing several times more than the creation of the game itself. There is almost nothing in these products from their creators, of themselves wanting to be able to share with you, its just cheap, generic products, which are lacking any kind of personality or characteristic.

I feel like a stupid junk-food idiot when I play games these days, getting kicked in the butt by the people selling me this cheap unworthy product, and making fun of me for being so stupid.

Edited by Urahara

After EverQuest Next is gone, its Star Citizen for me.

 

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Not sure about you but even in the "golden days" you refer to, I felt more then once that I got cheated / had paid money for something I really didn't enjoy.

Capitalism will always breed bad apples, no matter what you do. As for 60 euro games, I can't remember when I last spent more then 20 bucks on a game (ow wait.. I can, Crowfall) because you have the luxury to wait 14 days before they start having crazy sales on those 60 bucks games.

 

In the end, as long as consumers pay 75% more for early access and what not, it will get exploited. Me I don't care, sure I'd like to have access to certain games sooner rather then later (like the new xcoms etc) but waiting patiently even those get discounted over time (and most times with all dlc and expansions added in the price). So why even bother paying full price? Nobody is forcing you, in the end it's up to the individual to decide, and kids are easy to exploit there.

 

It's hard to remain as innovative as when the game industry started all together, looking at all that already has been done meanwhile. Same goes for movies and other art. There can only be X versions of a statue before anything resembling it makes it a copy, that doesn't mean all statues resembling the first are bad quality or generic, it's just that you have seen it before and the novelty wears off.

Dear ace, it was wrong of me to feel scammed, as time goes by, I realize that more and more. Thank you for letting me sell my account!

-a very satisfied customer-

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From my perspective, greed and neo-capitalism isn't the problem.  The problem is a lack of care for the product companies represent.  I got nothing against capitalism or at the very least, what is required, a means to generate revenue so a project can be supported during development and post release, be supported to continue running.  My issue lies in disrespect of the people who are responsible for creating the products which are responsible for generating the profits and in turn a disrespect or outright neglect to care for the product by the people who are in charge of the companies.

Care for the product results in creation of good quality product which leads to happy customers which concludes in loyal customers.  And that right there should be the focus of people in the industry.  It is unfortunately something that is lacking, this treatment of video games in the same way as consumer products in the 1980s of being function over substance and bling over quality is the major issue.

 

However, the biggest problem is I think the whole AAA method of games development, the what I'd like to call "applying Movie Studio Approach to video games" as opposed to the previous method which is still used by most small studios which is the "Design Approach".

The AAA Movie studio approach is to throw a lot of people at a problem to try and solve it, rather than actually spending money on hiring experts to solve the issue, it is also about hiring a lot of people to do small amounts of work for way more money than needs to be spent simply to bring a project to completion in a much shorter span, the only thing in AAA games which looks any good by such an approach is naturally the art, set pieces and cut scenes.  Because using the same approach as in VFX does work.  However, this approach when it comes to game design, programming and story writing fails dramatically due to something which is unique to both design, writing and in particular software engineering.  It in fact makes a project take longer to complete!  It has the opposite effect!  It is also primarily the reason why a lot of AAA games are buggy and crap these days!

It's coined as Brooks’ law.  You can read about this in the essay The Mythical Man-Month.  Something I have taken a keen interest in of late as I've decided to resume my studies in software engineering and programming.

 

We also need to consider that, not all instances of terrible games are due to bad publishers or dispassionate developers.

Sometimes a game being bad is a result of forces outside the control of the developers themselves, such as being given a broken game engine to work with (Star Wars The Old Republic), or being told to develop a game for a console with little to zero support from the console's manufacturer in the form of a refusal to give out documentation for the assembly commands and low level programming APIs, a good example of this would be the Nintendo 64, where Nintendo outright refused to give out their microcode documentation to anyone who wasn't a second party developer, or held enough popularity muscle or was a large enough company that they can convince Nintendo to give them the documentation so they can write their own microcode.  

Most studios were stuck with crappy microcode APIs such as the poorly profiled default one provided in the development kit, Fast3D.  Which is why a lot of 3rd party games on that console sucked.

There are many factors which lead to problems, however the one thing that can be solved, is the attitudes of the people who work at a company.
 

Edited by Psyctooth
My hubris is the size of a 2 by 4 nailed to the side of a YF-12 jet barrel rolling into a volcano piloted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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From my perspective, greed and neo-capitalism isn't the problem.  The problem is a lack of care for the product companies represent.  I got nothing against capitalism or at the very least, what is required, a means to generate revenue so a project can be supported during development and post release, be supported to continue running.  My issue lies in disrespect of the people who are responsible for creating the products which are responsible for generating the profits and in turn a disrespect or outright neglect to care for the product by the people who are in charge of the companies.

 

Care for the product results in creation of good quality product which leads to happy customers which concludes in loyal customers.  And that right there should be the focus of people in the industry.  It is unfortunately something that is lacking, this treatment of video games in the same way as consumer products in the 1980s of being function over substance and bling over quality is the major issue.

 

However, the biggest problem is I think the whole AAA method of games development, the what I'd like to call "applying Movie Studio Approach to video games" as opposed to the previous method which is still used by most small studios which is the "Design Approach".

 

The AAA Movie studio approach is to throw a lot of people at a problem to try and solve it, rather than actually spending money on hiring experts to solve the issue, it is also about hiring a lot of people to do small amounts of work for way more money than needs to be spent simply to bring a project to completion in a much shorter span, the only thing in AAA games which looks any good by such an approach is naturally the art, set pieces and cut scenes.  Because using the same approach as in VFX does work.  However, this approach when it comes to game design, programming and story writing fails dramatically due to something which is unique to both design, writing and in particular software engineering.  It in fact makes a project take longer to complete!  It has the opposite effect!  It is also primarily the reason why a lot of AAA games are buggy and crap these days!

 

It's coined as Brooks’ law.  You can read about this in the essay The Mythical Man-Month.  Something I have taken a keen interest in of late as I've decided to resume my studies in software engineering and programming.

 

We also need to consider that, not all instances of terrible games are due to bad publishers or dispassionate developers.

 

Sometimes a game being bad is a result of forces outside the control of the developers themselves, such as being given a broken game engine to work with (Star Wars The Old Republic), or being told to develop a game for a console with little to zero support from the console's manufacturer in the form of a refusal to give out documentation for the assembly commands and low level programming APIs, a good example of this would be the Nintendo 64, where Nintendo outright refused to give out their microcode documentation to anyone who wasn't a second party developer, or held enough popularity muscle or was a large enough company that they can convince Nintendo to give them the documentation so they can write their own microcode.  

 

Most studios were stuck with crappy microcode APIs such as the poorly profiled default one provided in the development kit, Fast3D.  Which is why a lot of 3rd party games on that console sucked.

 

There are many factors which lead to problems, however the one thing that can be solved, is the attitudes of the people who work at a company.

 

 

All of this is the result of Neo-Capitalism.

Because its not about respect or values or anything like that.

Its solely about money.

People nowadays only want money, and nothing else.

They just dont care about other stuff, as long as they are doing well theirselves.

Its very much the reason why the gaming industry has become the worst, because of Neo-Capitalism.

Back in the days this was different, artists and enthusiasts were making games because they wanted to make games, it was their passion and something they made with a big liking.

Nowadays businessmen and programmers are making games to make money.

After EverQuest Next is gone, its Star Citizen for me.

 

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Shouldn't put programmers in the same boat as buisnessmen, believe me when i say this, unless you're passionate about what you are programming, you wouldn't want to program anything.  And judging by the bugs in a lot of modern games where they are reliant on packaged game development kits, it's more of a case of throwing a lot of armatures with poor training at problems which should be tackled by experts.

But you need to keep this in mind, what a game designer is passionate about is usually entirely different to what a programmer is passionate about in the realm of software development.  Especially in the case of specializations, the problem is a lot of the time the kinds of programmers who get hired to work on AAA games have worked on a variety of applications, many different games, some of them being crap ones, others being decent ones and then likely the next thing they work on is an application program, not a video game.  Most do contractual work and move from project to project working on multiple different kinds of applications in the field of their specialization.

Look at John Carmack as an example; Before he got passionate for VR, he was passionate about creating a game engine, he never knew how to design a good game, he just knew what tools game designers wanted to make a good game with.  Almost every programmer I know thinks like this, there are usually 3 categories of programmers, designers who become programmers so they can make their own games, mathematicians who become programmers because they are fascinated with creating things using computers and innovating and then there are those who want to make video games but then discover they lack the intellectual capacity to do so, so instead put their knowledge to use to try and make a living, usually in web development or basic applications, as web development and basic applications is far easier than both making video games and complex applications such as API and digital media applications.

And out of those there are many different kinds of things those programmers are passionate about, two of the more common ones I encounter are programmers obsessed with technical achievements, as in optimization, making better use of hardware limitations, coming up with cool new physics technologies and so on.  The other being those who belong to the "I want to write elegant code" group of thinkers, people who seek to create ever more simplified and beautiful high level programming code which compiles more cleanly into binary, so that their code sets a standard for flawless near perfection and simplicity of form.  Very different thinking to someone who has a passion for making video games.  In fact, I've found being passionate about making video games tends to get in the way of being a programmer and can ultimately distract someone from their passion for programming.

 

From my point of view, now this is entirely my opinion so I could be right or wrong, it doesn't matter.  But, I believe people are looking at things all  wrong, that Neo-Capitalism is directly to blame.  It makes for a fantastic generalist boogie man at best and at worst used as a straw man argument for a perceived  problem based on popular belief on the internet which is often wildly exaggerated and based entirely on assumption formed from snippets of widely ranging information which little to no actual evidence.  Whether or not this is true is besides the point, the real issue doesn't revolve around it, I believe that it isn't so much the source of the problem but one of the ingredients or possibly the visible result of the problem.  I mean if it really is that bad, you'd think people would be discussing this sort of thing on network television, it would make for great material for them to attack video games with, since as we are all aware the different entertainment mediums moguls usually despise each other.

Capitalism can exist and yet a company can produce fantastic products which their fans absolutely love, while at the same time being not very pleasant people to work with, key example, Nintendo.

But, think about it, what does Nintendo have, which these other companies don't?  People in charge who care about their product, people in charge who care about the people who work for them and people in charge who are passionate about video games.  Nintendo is as capitalist as they come and pump out the same game sequels year after year and have really draconian approaches to copyright.  But they are extremely successful, know why?  Because they treat their fans well and love their products and treat their employees well.  

Hope that just lends some perspective, the problem is with as I stated before, people who simply don't care and lack passion.  Not with capitalistic thinking; People can still be money minded and at the same time care about the products they represent;  It's not that hard to do.

Edited by Psyctooth
My hubris is the size of a 2 by 4 nailed to the side of a YF-12 jet barrel rolling into a volcano piloted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Neo-capitalism is a misnomer. Neo-capitalism is just capitalism. It has always been corruptive and destructive. Nothing has changed.

You are so incredibly helpful, CYT. I don't know how I ever managed to do anything before we met. I was just bumbling my way through life, all lost-like. Thank you. My blessing cup runneth over.

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My issues with the gaming companies is the fact that they try it get away with things. Not the fact that they are sometimes get away with it (like ArcheAge for example) but the fact that they try it. And also the fact that it works (still ArcheAge) but that's more of a community problem. 

 

Trion with ArcheAge (my prime example on how to not run a mmo) did many things and never cared about it. 

IMC (Tree of Savior) tried to get away with many things (initial founder plans, international release but only host US servers, etc.) but backpedaled and actually tried to smooth the situation. 

Bless KR and Neowiz also did try to make the game initially very depended on spending money in order to advance faster - in fact serveral times faster than the non-paying user so yeah but they also backpedaled a lot and the gap isn't that big at the moment. 

Well maybe I'd add Dice with the "Star Wars Battlefront is a reskined BF 4/X" discussion but well doesn't matter. 

 

What I'm basically saying is that the customers aren't valued any more. For example the April Q&A from today where they said "backers are backers so that's that" made me quite happy because of the fact that I feel "valued" as a customer. 

 

Other than that I think another problem roots in the communication between devs and players. 

 

However since we mostly seen just westernized korean games the gap between dev and player increases by the publisher. 

 

And we all know where this leads.

 

If devs would actually make it clear what works right, what works wrong, what is gonna be improved, what are they working on - in other words be transparent I think the players would actually understand and show a little more patience. However current games develop 1 or 2 features which are nice but the rest is meh because failure isn't accepted because well dropping player numbers = lost money. 

 

I mean this isn't the sole reason but in my view if a publisher/dev would be transparent enough to admit that things aren't working as they want to so the might push it post-release or delay the releases would be better to deliver either a half-assed feature or completely getting rid of the feature and go the easy way and implement a standard feature (skilled ai which is hard to achieve vs. dumbed down ai which is really easy (<- even I achieved it after 3 weeks so yeah...))

 

PS - not sure if it makes sense or so. I'm too tired <.<

Edited by Thyr

You get the wolves...lots of wolves...and sheep that wear armor and have developed an appetite for blood soaked grass - dubanka

Even insects smell good when roasted - a random confessor

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PS - not sure if it makes sense or so. I'm too tired <.<

 

*pat pat*

you go to bed sir, its bedtime now

Good night, have a nice sleep    ö.ö/

After EverQuest Next is gone, its Star Citizen for me.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The people you are referring to didn't get rich by giving a crap. To them it's a product, the type of product is irrelevant as long as it's making money.

 

I agree that it would be great though if more larger companies knew their products. I find most smaller companies such as ACE will churn out a better product, the issue is the funding, when you have limited funding you are limited in what you can produce. No NDA and constant communication with their customers is already a HUGE step forward to break the mold, that in itself is one of the reasons I have confidence in Crowfall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

this isnt about capitalism, socialism or any such political nonsense!

 

All those crying about $20 cosmetic horses they don't have to buy, are not willing to share the loss when a game like TITAN goes belly up with millions in dev cost lost without a single ounce of revenue. Lets be honest the real blame for all these in game markets are the players that keep buying all the cosmetics and such. Thus feeding the beast. Funny thing about neo nuevo, paleo, and gluten free capitalism is that you have the free will and choice to buy or not buy. To vote with your feet and wallet...why its the ultimate in democracy! If you don't like it don't buy it, and don't play it....ahhhh freedom

 

actually this is about a multitude of things

 

1: increased dev cycle. in order to get the realistic char models, purdy visual effects, huge inteactive world that ll play on a xbox,ps4, and cpu's running Win7-win10 w/ various componants the dev cycle has increased dramatically on top lvl games. Titan, and EQN dev cycles took longer then the market supported. With 100's of million$ in dev time lost. This isn't the old days where companies could crank out a completely new  game every year. These games are multi year projects that crowfall, star citizen and other indie game makers have found out. And while developers are not slaves to the communist masters, even though they may complain as such, they do get paid before a single profit is made. Age of Conan died because it didn't deliver on its promises and shipped early by cutting its dev cycle short. EQN took to long. I feel star citizen will die to this as well.

 

2: too many cooks. With the internet, social media, game media, and trying to listen to player demands a game can easily become a complete cluster of poorly made socks. which we seen in a few games that tried to be everything to everyone. Without a core game concept, and plan a game can be destroyed before it hits the preverbal shelves Vanguard, Tabula rosa, EQN would fit in this cat ez.

 

3: the actual changing of the gamers. and the market. Us old school gamers that can run backward on a quake map and gib you with a headshot at full speed, who also played MUDS, and AD&D are a dying breed. PC gaming is slipping to the console and tablet. The preferred wep of choice of the noob generation. So get ready to have your games simplified and more linear. ESO is a prime example. You can get enough points to have 30 diff wep powers but can only use 6 the amount supported by a ps4 game controller...even on PC! This dumbing down of gaming is one of my pet peeves. Battlefields reward system is like getting a participation trophy for just playing. No matter how much you suck you can eventually open up all the rewards.

 

 

to try to take the game market and simplify it to a political rant is shallow and misinformed. And Neo in modern political speak is normally code lang for Jewish so I am not a fan of anti-Semitism or any racial/religious bigotry.

 

stick mud stir!

Edited by hillbilly

Know me and fear me. My embrace is for all and is patient but sure. The dead can always find you. My hand is everywhere - there is no door I cannot pass, nor guardian who can withstand me.

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...

 

3: the actual changing of the gamers. and the market. Us old school gamers that can run backward on a quake map and gib you with a headshot at full speed, who also played MUDS, and AD&D are a dying breed. PC gaming is slipping to the console and tablet. The preferred wep of choice of the noob generation. So get ready to have your games simplified and more linear. ESO is a prime example. You can get enough points to have 30 diff wep powers but can only use 6 the amount supported by a ps4 game controller...even on PC! This dumbing down of gaming is one of my pet peeves. Battlefields reward system is like getting a participation trophy for just playing. No matter how much you suck you can eventually open up all the rewards.

 

...

 

I lament those changes (for the most part, read on if you will).  I grew up on D&D, Bard's Tale, MUD-ed, played UO and EQ day 1.  My big bro beta-ed Meridian 59 and was there with me for most of the adventures (and still makes an appearance from time to time). I was nasty in early Quake, Duke Nukem and Unreal as well.  I appreciate complex, player driven, somewhat unforgiving worlds because that is still what MMORPGs are to me, at least at their best.  This is a big reason I backed CF. 

 

Yet, there are things that should have gone and have (for the most part), like spawn camping and kill stealing.  There are also those things that have come into being and are now thought of as an essential part of the MMORPG.  For example, early MMOs, though not easy, were not twitch fests with complex skill rotations and lists of hotbar abilities.  The arena style combat that now so many expect came much later to the genre.  Even vanilla WoW was very simple by comparison.  So, while I do agree that linear gameplay and convenience has corrupted the MMO, I cannot agree that games that have moved away somewhat form massive rotations and twich are "dumbing" things down.  The problem is, as I see it, that they simply lack the other aspects that truly make a game great (those things that really foster investment).  This is one of the reasons when I see people complain constantly about the combat in CF that I am compelled to remind them that there is much more to an MMORPG.   

 

Complex worlds, player driven content, harsh penalties, competition and high levels of character customization (e.g., Asheron's Call, Shadowbane) seem to have gone the way of the buffalo, but perhaps they are making a comeback--I am hopeful.  If CF and games like it are successful, maybe there will a Renaissance of sorts for the MMORPG?  New players simply don't know what they are missing--time to step out of the 3v3 or raid and experience the real deal.            

 

EDIT: My poor, poor spelling....

Edited by Regulus

The Artist Formerly Known as Regulus

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