Home > Mentality, Uncategorized > The Chase and the Sausage Factory

The Chase and the Sausage Factory

August 19, 2012

The Chase:

I have been taking the tortoise approach to the Acquisitions Race for reasons of limited daily playtime and esthetics. The Chavin preach self-enrichment as life philosophy, and I am relieved that Bioware included a public sector angle, so to speak. I would have felt awfully un-Jedi running around and hip-checking competitors over a few shiny trinkets alone. As it stands, I will be pleased to dump the whole sorry collection into a Republic dropbox on Monday, for the intel-wonks to pore over.

It is fortunate that Jedi do not care for material rewards, because the most interesting item at the Enrichment vendor, the bowcaster, comes in Rifle and Sniper Rifle proficiency varieties and is probably the antithesis of a civilised weapon. It would be nice if force users could get something memorable from the event, especially if Sand People cosplay isn’t quite one’s thing. I do like that clunker of a speeder, though.

The slow approach is better, moreover, because it is enjoyable to drive around places like Nar Shaddaa and take in the local sights again. The corollary of this game being so battered by vitiriol and irrational hatred is that logging back into it with sagging expectations makes for a sweeter reminder of how good it actually is. The smuggler’s moon has its internal logic of glittering facade hiding slums, shady cantinas and spice laboratories, and it’s fun to unwrap it yet again without threat from low-level NPCs.

On a cautionary note: while the event did get people to log in and got public channels buzzing on Nar Shaddaa, Coruscant and the fleet, it is still essentially a solitary exercise. I have no problem with that, but having consolidated servers and achieved a critical mass of interacting players again at great cost to morale, Bioware needs to work harder to keep them connecting and to push back against the single-player MMO misperception that will probably never quite go away entirely.

 

The Sausage Factory:

Perhaps it’s just me, but in the olden days when the grass was green, game developers maintained a certain distance from the audience. It might sound like heresy, but in the case of Diablo 3 and Blizzard in general, I would rather the devs be less responsive and less overt about it when they do respond.

The detailed discussion of D3 class changes with constant references to crowdsourcing and forum feedback reminds me of what has happened to media coverage of politics. We have gone from covering political events to covering the coverage of those events, to covering the popular response to the coverage of the coverage, and we do occasionally lurch into absurd iterations going even further. Political actors adjust to media realities, and so we ended up with lamentable dominance of media operations or spin-doctors over actual policymaking operations inside governments and parties. The equivalent in game industry is not good for the product, either.

On the surface of it, it looks great. ‘We heard your concerns and here they are reflected in the design! We see YOU using a skill nearly exclusively, and so we are responding by making others more interesting. This is interactive, we are working on this together, you and we!’ Transparency of the devs’ thinking process as they search for truth, however, is no substitute for having gotten things right in the first place. Increasingly, paid-for betas and ‘release now, patch later’ are becoming the norm, and this feigned chumminess with the end-user only serves to lessen the design team’s responsibility.

In the end, it ought to be their field of expertise. Try giving ongoing design feedback at the bar of a self-respecting sushi chef sometime.

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Categories: Mentality, Uncategorized