Friday, June 20, 2008

Common Sense Developers

Recently, Darren over at Common Sense Gamer shared his feelings about the continued concern, even today, about the now famous debacle that was the SWG NGE.  SOE's John Smedley has repeated apologized for the poor implementation of the changes to the game and felt that it was definitely a misstep as far as creating a successful MMO.

The problem with the NGE, from a person that is only reading about it and never played the game, is that it pretty much overhauled the whole game.  It dumbed down the skill system and changed the way combat was done.  But these in of themselves are not bad, its just they all happened at the same time in the same patch.  The game went from being played one way to being a completely different game the next.

My point of bringing this all up is that MMO's get changed all the time.  I think SOE's mistake was to do it all at once, where it became apparent.  The players could actually see all the changes at once and had something to complain about.  I say this because, WoW keeps changing all the time, but in slower increments.

Since release, they have hit just about every class with a nerf bat that most of them are spitting up foam on a regular bases now, gutted a good portion of the honor system, made the xp race to 60 a lot easier and now in the coming patch, you'll be able to get a riding mount at 30 instead of 40.  For the most part they keep dumbing down the game in a slow but steady pace to get new players in and to make the process of making alts more appealing to those waiting for new content.  But these are in fact pretty significant changes, but if taken in small doses, they become more transparent and tend to lull the player into thinking nothing is really happening.  If these all happened at one time, I'm sure people would be shouting foul or yelling, "Remember the NGE, the NGE" on forums and blogs all over the place.

So, I think the NGE experience is happening in all MMO's albeit a little smoother and slower than in SWG.  I just think the shock of it coming all at once is what freaked a lot of players out and the bad press from that kept a lot of new players from getting in the game.  

Thats one humble players opinon.


  1. Not really. Every MMO changes and evolves over time, that's a big chunk of why we're paying subscription fees, as far as I'm concerned. I *want* that change, that evolution, some illusion of dynamics in an otherwise static world.

    The NGE didn't simply "alter" the game in the way we're accustomed to seeing other games change over time, it was a complete overhaul. It was a completely new game with the same graphics. The game went from a skills-based social sandbox to a levels-based system. Entire classes were suddenly removed from the game. We logged out one day, patched the next day and discovered a whole new game we didn't know how to play and many of our characters had been jettisoned into the vacuum of space, never to return.

    Patches, game play changes, nerfs... that's all good. But completely revamping a game mid-stream without telling anyone?


    However, I'll also say that while I think the NGE will always remain an important event for developers to remember as something to not even THINK about doing ever again, and for players to keep in the back of their minds as examples of just how out of touch companies, developers and executives can be, when it comes to those bitter SWG vets... it's been almost 4 years now... let it go and move on. Yes, their precious sandbox was emptied into a theme park. It's FOUR YEARS later... they wouldn't still be playing SWG anyway. It was a decent sandbox, it was a great social experiment and I truly believe modern devs should look at that particular aspect, improve on it and use it, but sorry guys, as a *game* SWG was horrid.

    I suppose if NGE did one thing semi-right, it improved (somewhat) the ability to look at SWG as a GAME. But the price for that was too high: NGE cost everything that ever made SWG special.

  2. My theory is that all MMO's will be different over time from the original concept. Look at WoW. I'm sure a lot of the game has changed since the Beta, and it will continue to change over the course of its life span.

    I'm just saying that even though some of the changes were drastic, a good many of them were probably needed and could have added value to the game if it hadn't all been done at one time. I think the shock of the game changing over night pretty much killed the community.

    I'm sure if WoW changed to a Conan0-Esq style of combat over night, people would scream bloody murder, but if it evolved over the course of a year or so, then people would be more accepting. I don't think people mind be thumped on the back of the head, I just think they hate the 40 pound sledge hammer that comes out of thin air.