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Tyrant

Gordon Walton - Are You The One Who Brought Us The Nge?

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Thanks for sharing this, Gordon. SWG is always going to be one of my favorite memories from my 20s. I still have friends to this day I would have never known had it not been for the Dev Boards and our guild (TCO, Chilastra represent! ;) )  There has never been another game that I've been been able to get my wife invested in like that, and that we enjoyed playing together so much...even if it was just her crafting back in town while I worked on my Droids! Our community helped gloss over the flaws in some of the systems, and when the NGE came in and the disgruntled-ness kicked in for so many...I just don't think it could have recovered.

 

The NGE was the turning point for me too, and I can't help but think of how the game could have evolved had the focus not been on short term growth. In fairness, I didn't really hate the new combat system and LIKED the more active combat, but the collapse of the skill systems and the flexibility of the game just disappeared for me. I like to think that with the success of games like EVE and a few others, that if the situation were to occur again companies like Sony would be happy with that 200k-300k user base and realize they could work with that long-term to grow into something even bigger and better. There's clearly a market for games that are experiences more than grindage-achievement machines, and I'm hoping Crowfall can be something along those lines. I'm here because of the crew you guys have put together, and I'm hoping the experience gained from some of these old decisions is going to help you all create something great. So...good luck! 

Edited by jefmes

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Tyrant, he did say "I'll start with the easy part:  The NGE was my fault."

And this old ranger felt himself reaching for the brandy and that evil Tusken rifle with the bleed on...  but then he read on a bit and, some say, he may even have laughed, or at least smiled, as reading Gordon's mea culpa reminded him of the best game ever (despite and sometimes, perversely, even because of it's myriad faults).

I was there, from the EU launch right up till that final sundowning when they threw the big switch.  Mastered Ranger and Rifleman because I was a care-bear and liked soloing but I had a couple of combat toons and a family of crafters.  The loot spawning system was a joy to work with. Housing was something no other game has got 'right' yet.  I played on TC and was there thru the Holocrons, JtL, CU/NGE and I bitched and whined on the forums along with the rest.

For all it's flaws, SWG was 'home' for a while and it's interesting to hear what was going on behind the scenes. Always knew it wasn't as cut and dried as a lot of the players thought it was and that, yeah, finance...

Thanks for opening up, Tyrant.
Keep dreaming big.
/salute
/respect


 

Edited by almagill

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Gordon, I feel like a big weight was lifted off of me after reading your post.  So many of us in this industry will stand by any decisions you make, including myself. It's always a pleasure to work with you and SWG was no exception. I look forward to what you and your talented team will bring us with Crowfall, I know you'll bring us a great game. 

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Say what you will about the NGE, but I've never had more fun in any MMO than I did on my Entertainer post-NGE.  The bot entertainers were eventually shut down with the capatcha (which if I didn't have my coffee in the morning and you expected me to count rebel symbols... some days I was not pleased myself lol).  If I macro'd it was for convenience to still be able to socialize ATK not to go AFK.  I made her an ace pilot and PVP'd in space with my friends.  I had a wonderful and memorable experience.  I disliked the entertainer pre-CU, but I completely understand why many people felt betrayed.

 

I was saddened that something as unique as SWG shut down as SWTOR launched.  I miss my cantina.  I miss my beastmaster/smuggler.  I miss the junk loot REing and finding the most obscure junk loot to make creations in my house.  SWG as a whole captured the most unique social aspects to an MMO to date.  It's sad that the social aspects have all but been removed from MMOs lately to pave the way to quality of life improvements and convenience for impatient customers.  I was still subbed until the day it died.

 

Maybe one of these days socializing will be important again in MMOs.  I still socialize (don't get me wrong) but it was nice that classes were designed around the idea.  Crowfall has the diplomacy aspects with regard to PVP, but I secretly hope you're going to unveil an Entertainer-esque archetype or even a discipline at some point.  I'd choose it immediately and without hesitation.

 

As badly as I want to find meaningful open world objective based PVP in an MMO; it was so much fun to coordinate with bounty hunters on my entertainer and let them know when known marks arrived to get buffs (especially spies).  Tip them off to come to the cantina.  Split the bounty with them.  Call in a medic friend to patch up the mark and say loudly "That we need bouncers in here and people can be so rude!" and tell them their next buffs are free.  Entertainers worth their salt also maintained the information web.  Told people the most affordable traders markets were and the best.  Also referred them into guilds that might suit their play-style.  Also in touch with the PVPers to let people know whether Restuss could be active or quiet at the moment.  Also keeping up on the rotating battle at Naboo/Tatoinne/Corellia letting them know where to head and whether to get ready for the combat or build phase.  You didn't never needed a wiki when you knew the right entertainers.  Didn't need a guild finder if you could muster up the courage to talk to entertainers (and lord knows none of them would be shy to tell you who the stingy tippers usually were).

 

As all these companies clamor to make the bottom line with gear treadmills and endless token/daily quest systems; they seem to forget that some of us actually like talking with each other.  And it's nice when the game has classes and systems built in that encourage that.


mael4.jpg


Been around the MMO Block...


Sardoni

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It's sad that the social aspects have all but been removed from MMOs lately to pave the way to quality of life improvements and convenience for impatient customers.

Maybe one of these days socializing will be important again in MMOs. I still socialize (don't get me wrong) but it was nice that classes were designed around the idea.

Both of these thoughts made me go,"THIS!"

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Both of these thoughts made me go,"THIS!"

 

Yep. I used to think the "fluffy" stuff was a waste. It wasnt til recently I realized it creates a retention mechanic by creating an entire social culture within the MMORPG as well as many "emergent" experiences. Now days everyone makes a game to fight in. In the old days they build worlds ot live in and the variety, the consequences, the forced socialization, the breadth it all contributed to retaining people. Now days I get bored in most of these games within a month because they are about fighting. I can fight in hundreds of games, thousands if you expand to FPSs. MMO devs need to get back to utilizing the things MMOs were built on, the things MMOs can do that other games cant. We've seen 10 years of MMOs trying to be WOW or trying to mimic single player games LOL. Obviously a single player RPG will be better than a MMO one because single player RPG strengths are different than MMO ones. Stop trying to be what you aren't, embrace what you are, own it, and play to what makes MMORPGs unique/strong, make those great and they will help you retain.


I role play a wordsmith.

 

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I don't know how extreme the NGE changes were (having not played that game), but it's interesting to note that World of Warcraft also lost many millions of subscribers during the years when they decided to go in and start ripping out / replacing a ton of their core systems and designs.

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I don't know how extreme the NGE changes were (having not played that game), but it's interesting to note that World of Warcraft also lost many millions of subscribers during the years when they decided to go in and start ripping out / replacing a ton of their core systems and designs.

 

But there was never a time where level 60 hunters would log into their character after an expansion only to have it turned into a level 0 noclass with a popup box asking you to select what class you wanted to be.  Then you started at level 1 under the new regime... I mean leveling system.  Then to add more insult to injury hunter wasn't available as an option to play because that class was removed from the game (Teräs Käsi (unarmed combat) specialists everywhere rioted since that class was removed).  I won't even talk about the Jedi unlock folks :P

 

You can click these two links and compare:

 

Pre-NGE: http://swg.wikia.com/wiki/Professions_%28pre-NGE%29

Post NGE: http://swg.wikia.com/wiki/Professions

 

Blizzard gutted lore and some systems sure but (for the most part) your character was still wholly intact.  Your hunter was still using a bow or a gun and shooting stuff with an option to have a pet tamed.

 

So it wasn't just a matter of logging in and adjusting to changes.  It was logging in and having to start from scratch and often without the class you wanted to play.


mael4.jpg


Been around the MMO Block...


Sardoni

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Respect him or hate him, the buck stops at Smedley. Many gamers consider SOE (now Daybreak) to be the Fox of MMO game studios. Fox loves killing off niche shows that have a fervent following because they aren't raking in hordes of cash. SOE loves buying up games only to kill them with poor decision making and then shut them down.

 

On top of this Smedley has time and time again shown that he doesn't just lack empathy for gamers, he has contempt for them. It is of no surprise the NGE occurred for a game under SOE. On the first occasion I had to interact with him I asked him about a change in stance he had made about a particular change being made in EQ. He had in an interview stated one thing, and then about a month later stated the exact opposite without addressing the previous statement. He was in chat in EQ and I asked him if he would share why he changed his mind on the matter. He said he didn't, refuted that he made the original statement and then when called out by the chat responded with this, and Ill never forget it, "Whatever, I make the decisions on this game, if you don't like it get out."

 

Now this is simply not how you treat existing customers. This is a perfect example of how even in light of being told that this was a disservice to the existing players the NGE was still pushed out.

I don't think people really understand the position he is in.  He is trying to provide unique games while playing big league AAA ball.  It isn't easy as we can see from pretty much every other game/company in the AAA market.  The only reason his company gets to fail so many times is because of some of the success they do have.  Hate SOE/DBG but you can't deny that they've tried to innovate even with their failed projects. 

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But there was never a time where level 60 hunters would log into their character after an expansion only to have it turned into a level 0 noclass with a popup box asking you to select what class you wanted to be.  Then you started at level 1 under the new regime... I mean leveling system.  Then to add more insult to injury hunter wasn't available as an option to play because that class was removed from the game (Teräs Käsi (unarmed combat) specialists everywhere rioted since that class was removed).  I won't even talk about the Jedi unlock folks :P

 

Wait, how could anyone possibly ever even think some gamer somewhere would be happy with that? I think my brain just dribbled out of my ear.


David Sirlin's Balancing Multiplayer Games should be mandatory reading for all gamers.

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I don't think people really understand the position he is in.

 

His position is nothing beyond understanding.

 

He is trying to provide unique games while playing big league AAA ball.  It isn't easy as we can see from pretty much every other game/company in the AAA market.  The only reason his company gets to fail so many times is because of some of the success they do have.  Hate SOE/DBG but you can't deny that they've tried to innovate even with their failed projects. 

 

No one said he has it easy. However, Malkav said he backed out on his own words. I don't hate the guy, but that's either lack integrity or indifference.

 

Just compare first post of this topic to situation Malkav described. And no, whatever hardships he endured I don't have sympathy for him. If you making the calls pull the weight or pull out. If half I read about him is true he did neither. And an apologetic post 'sorry, that was a mistake' does not cut it.

 

And the last reason. He could be a saint and paragon, people will still hate him if he was behind the decision. People get worked up about the pixels they loose because they put effort into said pixels. Loss calls for blame and him giving reason for that made it all too easy to place.

Edited by rolan storm

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His position is nothing beyond understanding.

 

 

No one said he has it easy. However, Malkav said he backed out on his own words. I don't hate the guy, but that's either lack integrity or indifference.

 

Just compare first post of this topic to situation Malkav described. And no, whatever hardships he endured I don't have sympathy for him. If you making the calls pull the weight or pull out. If half I read about him is true he did neither. And an apologetic post 'sorry, that was a mistake' does not cut it.

 

And the last reason. He could be a saint and paragon, people will still hate him if he was behind the decision. People get worked up about the pixels they loose because they put effort into said pixels. Loss calls for blame and him giving reason for that made it all too easy to place.

Sorry but it very well may be beyond the understanding of some random person.  Even DBG/SOE's most passionate fans don't understand everything going on there so I can only imagine what kind of assumptions other people are making.  Did he back out of his own words?  We'd need proof and context for this.  Things change in game development and sometimes your best estimates for what something will be may miss the mark.  Heck, on these forums i've seen people repeatedly accuse ACE of changing their vision despite everything bit of information revealed and everything the devs have said indicating that that is not the case.  People see what they want to see, it is not always based on what was actually said or done. 

 

I don't think smedley is a saint, but I know for sure he loves his company and tries his best to figure out how to keep it afloat while pursuing interesting projects.  He tries to run his company like a family, maybe to a fault, but you don't see him with some kinda ritzy office, and you don't see his workers nervous around him.  I'm not going to hate on a guy that's trying to make interesting games at a time where people are so terrified of going against the grain, and trying to run his company like a more friendly environment.  Obviously that may have caused problems and the whole acquisition from sony may be the streamlined kick in the butt they need, and mistakes were probably made, but they still have some pretty interesting projects going that could really shatter the mold. 

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Makes you wonder when game studios published by corporations traded everyday on stock market, how much influence/pressure is put on developer/management meetings.

 

Pre-WoW if you had over 150k subs that wasn't bad....was actually pretty descent. Once wow came and hit millions upon millions of subs seemed every MMO owned by a publically traded company all went if we don't have a million subs you guys aren't doing your jobs right.

 

Why I have high hopes for this game beyond the team working on it...its a small studio not answering to EA, Activison, Sony, etc etc who all have to report growth and increasing profits in all divisions or feel the wrath that is Wall Street.

 

 

Anyway good read.....never got into SWG loved the movies 4-6 .... But when it came to MMOs always like the fantasy setting better.

 

Still thank you for sharing GW.

Edited by mendoza

I turn dough into $$$ .....The Pizza King of QFT

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Wait, how could anyone possibly ever even think some gamer somewhere would be happy with that? I think my brain just dribbled out of my ear.

 

I believe it's been inferred they were more focused on new business and new customer retention not current customers.  They incorrectly assumed existing customers would not leave because "it's star wars."


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Been around the MMO Block...


Sardoni

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This is why I feel bad for developers that work for corporations: The higher-ups. They are the ones running the company, and their sole focus is keeping that company going. They get excited over certain things not because it makes their products better but because it could increase their revenue. When someone tells them this is a mistake, they don't ask why they think that. Instead, they replace them with someone who will do what they want, no questions asked. It's a testament to you that you got fired for telling them "this is gonna backfire". It shows that you understand the product and what makes it popular, and therefore know that doing something that goes against what it is will only chase everyone off instead of make it more popular.

 

The fact that you knew that demonstrates that you have an understanding of what works in a game and what doesn't. It also shows that you have a passion for creating something that works, but more importantly something that works WELL. I hope Crowfall becomes exactly what you want it to be. If you build a great game that matches the vision YOU have in mind, then guess what? You just built a great game! Does that mean everyone will play it? No. Does that mean that there are gamers out there that will look at this and go "OMG check this out guys, this is awesome!" Yes! And that's where it should begin :)


Can we have a Bard? If not as an Archetype or Promotion, then maybe a Discipline?


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Who cares about nge. Why oh why was publish 9 ok'd? That actually killed swg long before cu/nge

 

According to Raph Koster everything went downhill when they started dropping Holocron's with unlock hints. From that time subs started plumiting after having gradually grown since launch. And according to Mr. Koster it was Lucasarts comming in saying "We need a jedi before X-mas, make it happen".

 

 

Gordon, since now all of a sudden people leaving the SWG team in 2005 starts speaking about the development I take it you had a 10 year NDA that has now expired. I'd really love to hear more about SWG Development, the potential of that game was out of this world.

Had you only gotten proper server hardware instead of old phased out EQ1 servers and more time, I think the game would have been a hit.

BUT, the only thing you should have tried to copy from WOW was pretty much the only thing you didn't try to copy and that was the user Interface.

 

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