So I intended to update this thing a couple of times a week and that didn’t exactly work out. Hey ho.
So anyway, I’ve been following the fan boards of my new project and reading what the world and his dog has to say about MMO games design. It appears they do not want WoW. Apart you know, from the six million odd people who do want WoW of course. They also don’t want people to advance based on time invested, but they do want to feel as though their time ingame is rewarding. This is what the technical people call a dilemma. All of this will be nothing new to anyone who’s been on the other side of the games industry table. At any given time you have roughly equivalent portions of your public holding deeply held and deeply incompatible views on what the producers must absolutely do to salvage this game from the swirling vortex of suck that threatens to engulf it. Because if you don’t then you’re clearly on smack or something.
What this does of course is underline why games developers shouldn’t listen to players too much. There is nothing so utterly freaky, no idea so completely horrible, no concept that will destroy your game so thoroughly that someone living in his mother’s basement somewhere doesn’t fervently believe to be the one true way to lift your game into immortality. Occasionally games designers will let this fundamental truth slip but mostly it’s held politely back in much the same way that everyone pretends not to notice an elderly relative’s halitosis. It’s a gentle deceit but a necessary one.
One of the things that has most gripped my attention on the boards for a game that isn’t even in beta yet is the chorus of vituperative hatred towards hardcore gamers. As can be expected no-one really has a clear idea of what a hardcore gamer even is however they’re all in agreement that these people are The Enemy. This fascinates me on many levels. Firstly you have the rather bizarre situation where gamers are agreeing with each other but then you have the subcurrent of confusion over what it actually is they’re agreeing on. There are various metrics posited to determine if someone can be considered hardcore or not and none have universal support. For some it’s purely time played but, as might be expected, the threshold varies wildly. Some put it down to attitude, the win-at-any-cost mindset or the desire to be top of the tree and to consider second place as a losing position. Others are even more vague and hint at congenital defects or actual soul-pacts with inflernal beings. Regardless of what it is they are talking about, they all agree that it’s bad. Very bad. Game breaking bad. Hardly a post goes by without someone raising the well-waved standard and calling upon the developers not to cater to hardcore gamers. These guys destroy communities, they eat babies, they turn honest Koreans into goldfarmers.
Now avoiding for the moment the question of what you would call people posting on the boards of a game that isn’t released yet, many of which are veterans of 3 or more MMOs, I’m failing to understand why there’s so much hatred towards people who are just getting better value out of their monthly subs.