Friday, May 25, 2007

Shit hits the game industry fan...

I take an extended break from blogging, and the industry falls apart in my absence. I must have been the glue holding everything together...

Well, so it could be believed if one read all of the shocked and awed accounts of the Death of Sigil and Vanguard, as if we in the shouting-class press, hadn't seen the writing on the port-o-john wall circa 2004.

Schlid was the premier source of information on the scandal, and the ensuing posts at f13 were of the highest entertainment value. Essentially every other blogger had something to say on the issue, and my links at the right would be a good place to start if you awoke this week and were taken by surprise at this news.

I did not feel any remorse. I did not feel any animosity, nor any glee at seeing this colossal failure come to its bitter end. In fact, I was so uninspired, it took me days to even work up the motivation to blog about it. You see, I had already worked through the stages of post-fanboism grief, and after years of spite, I just didn't have anything left.

I knew this time would come for quite some time now, as I am sure, did many others. I have a funny anecdote that I spoke about in my 'First Impressions' post on the Vanguard Beta forums after my first week in Beta 1. After two straight days of downloading, because the first two times I had tried, the client simply disappeared sometime during the 20 hour process, I finally loaded up my system, and sat for another four hours while it matched my client to the current version.

With the excitement that only years of fansite participation, hype and finally having a chance to test the new shiny in town, I rolled up my Goblin Necro and zoned in... nothing. I was hovering 25 feet above the ground, with a few players and NPCs also hovering in a similar fashion, at the edge of a body of water. I could see smoke and a few fires on the shoreline, but I could not get to them from my levitated vantage point. After about an hour of logging out, logging back in, and bug reports, I just quit in frustration.

Later, after slogging through the forums and asking some questions, I learned that I was in fact on a large ship at the waters edge, with a small exit door supposedly in an upper level, but the ship had failed to render and I could not find the exit to begin playing the game.

My First Impressions post basically amounted to: If very experienced gamers, who have been waiting for this game for years, get frustrated and quit in the first hour they see your game, you have very real problems ahead of you. Who actually thinks this is Beta ready?

The ensuing flames and venomous insults from the gathered forum monkey population, gave me the distinct impression that Vanguard was headed for disaster. I held my tongue and kept playing, kept reporting the same bugs over and over, and getting more and more annoyed until I finally quit. During Beta 4, I re-patched and rolled another Goblin Necro just to see how things had improved, and when I loaded in, the fucking ship failed to render, and I couldn't help but wonder just what $30 million buys these days.

I made this post when the NDA was lifted, and haven't given the game another thought until now. I don't think Brad is the monster or the moron that people are painting him as. I just think he was in over his head. I know if someone gave me $30,000,000 and five years with very few deadlines and no oversight, there is a very strong possibility that I would fuck it up too. I think a lot of good people got hurt and that saddens me, but the industry has grown up a bit from all of this. As an industry, we needed a Vanguard to remind us all that having a dream does not guarantee success, and that hype does not equal playability. Perhaps studios will give more money to QA and CFOs who are there to keep the rampant creativity in check. Sounds very boring, I know, but sadly business is boring. Everyone has a thousand great ideas. Hell, I have 5 MMOs in my head right now that would blow WoW and LoTRO out of the marketplace, but I don't know the first thing about assembling a team, and making my vision a reality. And therein lies the moral of this story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hell, I have 5 MMOs in my head right now that would blow WoW and LoTRO out of the marketplace, but I don't know the first thing about assembling a team, and making my vision a reality.

Tell us, please. :)

Maybe someone reads it, likes it and starts developing.