Ending My Early Entry to MMO’s

I’ve been writing a post about Crowfall lately and outlining the parts I liked in the initial pitch, and it does have a lot of really interesting elements that appeal to me. It was while writing this though that I realised I was trying to justify my own purchase in advance, like i need the idea to be this awesome to cross that certain threshold. I’m guessing that was exactly the plan too. Unfortunately it was here too that made me swear to the great gaming gods, and of course RNGesus that I’m no longer supporting any more of these early access mmo’s, whether they be just an idea or something that will be soon releasing. Not going to happen anymore.

It has been a rather disappointing couple years of mmo’s overall, there have been some great experiences and quite a few games with the potential but nothing that really satisfied my burgeoning mmo interests. It’s no secret to those interested in the pvp that it has been rather slim pickings as well; we can have whatever shit the most recent mmo is dishing out and that lasts a good month or so or, we can go over to the unfinished, unpolished indie games like Darkfall. Yeh, not great options really.

This is precisely why I probably should be excited about Crowfall, and honestly I am. Great concept for constant, but semi persistent battlefields. It’s not the rich, complex virtual world I’m looking for but it will be a game i come back to consistently for some play, much like lobby shooter really. I could pay into that early, and I probably have the money for it but then it’s gotten to the stage where I just can’t be assed even playing these alpha mmo’s. I haven’t touched Repopulation in a long time now. Camelot Unchained is going into it’s alpha soon, which I have access to but I don’t see myself jumping in. I almost got the cheap pack for Skyforge too but it’s all just utterly pointless.

At least for those small indie titles they give you a working game and the development cycle for those that aren’t seems a lot less. Coming back now and then to play around with the new updates and such doesn’t really hurt the experience either, in fact, that’s the optimal style of play there. MMO’s just don’t work like that, they require a bit more focus and dedication, even in these alpha states and to put that much time into something that is terrible unfinished and incomplete kills all the enjoyment for me from then and into the future. I’m done ruining my excitement for games that way. I’m wasting all that time to have it all wiped away. I’m done paying for these mmo’s I’m unlikely to play in a reasonable state for the next few years. And I’m definitely done spending my money on it.

So no Crowfall for me, at least not until it hypothetically releases in the next 2 or more years.

 

The Issues of Early Access

A video from the Extra credits team that i hadn’t seen until recently and seems rather apt at the moment. It’s an episode that looks at the issues with early access games and in times like this I found myself nodding to a lot of the points, having experienced and being worried about them.

Positives

As they mention there are benefits. That early influx of money can be very helpful for developers as can getting in a number of people that have no prior knowledge to actually test the product. This can help after the close work of development as many issues can be often overlooked. It’s also nice when these companies really do take community ideas and thoughts into practice, and incorporate these within the games. Games like project zomboid that I’ve been following have actively done this, even incorporated mods within the game and it makes it feel like that much more of an involved and inclusive process.

Problems

The problems are rather numerous too, the main of course being that you may never receive a completed game which has happened a few times. From small and larger studios. It’s also a disease that has seemingly spread amongst the bigger publishers now who ask for, basically, an extremely early preorder with a constant side order of “but it’s in beta”. However for smaller, mostly single player titles I see it as a good thing. It’s just when you enter the multiplayer, and especially the MMO scene that I feel the issues far outweigh any supposed benefits.

Continue reading

The Enterprise of Early Access

The games industry has been seeing a lot of change these last years in how it both markets and presents games now and as I see it, this has both been a positive thing but also incredibly problematic. We have the ability to get into games much earlier now through the many early access type programs and support growing games companies and ideas that wouldn’t have been realised. We have seen a lot more diversity in the game being made and played now because of this. It’s a great time. But it’s a model that seems to be increasingly problematic in the way it is sold, presented and in the ways larger games are taking advantage of the good will gamers give.

Continue reading

HIZZZZZZZZZY and the Alpha Audience

When I originally heard about H1Z1 i wasn’t that impressed with the idea, another zombie survival murder box in a long line of discarded titles. Do we really need another? As it turns out, the more I think about it I actually think we do need another and That SOE could do really well with it.

For some reason every single one of these titles seems to sell really well. Day Z, the title to spurn on the survival genre in a way has sold over 2 million this year with it’s stand alone title alone, then I’m guessing countless sales of arma just to play the original mod. The there is rust and the recent Forest and Stomping land all doing well as well as countless other titles gaining a decent sized community around them.

Now another title coming out now would still seem to do well it seems regardless of any inherent polish… or even quality but the reason why I think Hizzy could do especially well is because it might just avoid the one major failing factor of all these titles. The curse of Early access. All of these titles aren’t finished products and in some cases not even close. The are missing core features, mechanics to make it interesting, variety in content and any sort of end-game or long term goals that might make the experience anything more than a griefing simulator.

Looking at Day Z in particular I think Hizzy would be able to surpass sales dramatically and even maintain a consistent playerbase if they fix many of the more prominent flaws. There are so many things great about the title and that create a rather enthralling experience but there is also so much that frustrates, lessens the experience and creates an environment that really isn’t conducive to gaining a larger playerbase.

Continue reading

The Prolonged Beta

Well Wildstar has released its pre order information and release date, as well as dropping it’s NDA, of which I was completely unaware of. There has been so much known about it for so long, a beta for a lot of players has been running since the start of the year and even beyond that near everything has been known. Right now though all I can think of is how over the game I am already even though it hasn’t even released yet.

It makes me wonder about the extent to which these early access, half finished ideas is ruining my long term interest in certain games. It seems nearly every game I have right now is in some sort of beta/early access mode without a large amount of its mechanics in place. Some of them are great but I can’t hep thinking that this somehow lessens my opinion of them as well as diminishing their long term potential.

Continue reading

ESO Preview

Ok so I thought I’d officially release my little ESO preview I gave a few weeks back that I hid in RSS for realsies this time. I got to play a little more this last beta weekend as well as a lot the weekend before it.

Continue reading

Loving Landmark

I am absolutely enthralled in this little alpha at the moment. Each night after doing the usual chores and such as well as filling my belly I quickly jump on and begin doing one of two tasks: digging or building. EQN Landmark is incredibly simple in its aims and goals right now, there will be far more coming in later but at its core it is a game just about gathering and building and I’m increasingly thinking that this is all you really need.

It’s A project that is very incomplete and buggy right now, as can be expected. I think everyone has tales of input lag, rubber banding, and all manor of other animation, crafting and creation bugs. It isn’t very well optimised and my computer is struggling a little and there are frequent world wipes. Alpha is Alpha so don’t expect some sort of fully formed game if you are playing.. relax and enjoy what they do have. Or get a refund and jump in later.

Continue reading

NDA’s and Alpha Expectations

Well, after all my weeks of bugging those in charge through forums and twitter, and by that I mean giving up after one tweet, it seems the NDA on EQN Landmark has now been lifted. I always thought it was an odd Idea that Landmark, even in an alpha stage had an NDA. When you’ve bought you’re way in you kind of also want to talk about, what’s the use in flashing cash after all if you can’t brag about it after?

The industry has changed a lot over the last few years, especially so when it comes to the prevalence and accessibility of gamers towards unfinished products. This used to be the domain of developers and maybe friends and family as the outside just wasn’t used to a game experience so raw. Missing features and bugs aren’t the exception and you have to worry about players losing all interest in the game prior to release.

Of course keeping these things closed was a way of mitigating any sort of negative media but these days most gamers understand what such a thing means and how it reflects on the product. Beta is Beta. That still might be a naive view as there are some who still judge based on these very early experiences as thanks to many companies, the Beta tag has becoming more of a marketing tool and something that denotes a more finished product. It blurs the boundaries a little with the definitions but thanks to the indie scenes incessant need on selling early access it’s something that has gained more approval.

As much as I’ve become a little overloaded on early access titles, having a glut waiting on steam and other places, it’s something I’m glad exists. Even though you’re at times, more of an unpaid QA it still lets you gain a greater insight into the development of a game you’re interested in. And then there is the allure that you might even have some sort of effect on its development.

The other thing these beta experiences do is help smaller products, and even bigger ones gain more exposure. It seems in recent times that people are getting a little sick with cgi trailers that bear little resemblance to the game itself, a lot of people have been burned by this. News articles are good too but it gets to a stage where you no longer what to know about the next concept art piece they are releasing, or a discussion on various mechanics that have already been decided. People want something tangible and these alpha/ Beta reveals tend to satisfy.

I also think when these experiences are open to discussion that they create more reasonable expectation. I believe a lot of the bigger companies have been taking their reputations for granted for… well, a very long time now. I can see the damage caused from years of closed development, from hyping products to be far more than what they could ever satisfy and disappointing leagues of fans. It’s a practice that no longer belongs in this age of instant information, of hours of youtube vids and written ramblings as information travels fast and the internet doesn’t forget… or forgive.

I think some still believe that opening up in these earlier times would hurt sales, and it might but there are far worse things than a few lost sales. Bigger companies and these smaller growing ones are a brand, and having these sorts of open style development acts as a buffer for your brand, as a way of mitigating any damage in advance that could have been caused by unmet expectations.

I’m glad SOE and Everquest Next have seen this and will let players, writers and other content producer to share their interest and inspiration about this new product. It will no doubt improve knowledge and interest in this new idea forming in front of us as well as maybe selling a few more supporter packs. It might also help garner a greater following for EQN next year.

#ArmchairDeveloper #BetaisBeta #EQNL