All About TPSISO9000
This is a response to the 9/18/09 article "Old Republic dev discusses massively multiplayer loners":
This article actually articulated the problem with all those failed MMO's out there, the idea that solo play is ironic and borderline deviant. My wife and I have alot of experience in MMO's, from AC1 Beta through a dozen titles to several lvl 80s in WOW. No matter how many friends you make or what organization you join, in the beginning and in the end your going to be alone; and when alone isn't fun you move on to another game.
When we fired up the Beta to AC1, we both were thrilled. For that time it offered alot of new stuff that we'd never seen in a game. There weren't any open world GTA types. We'd played everything from platformers and RTS to JRPs, action and fighting games. This was unique in that it offered a massive world to explore with all different dungeons and enemies that we could tackle however and whenever we wanted. You weren't stuck on a path, you could get out of almost any problem with minimal penalty and if something was too hard or not fun, you just went somewhere else. The MMO part meant that it felt like a real world, there were people milling about in towns selling thier stuff and telling stories of the things they'd seen and done, suggesting places to go and stuff to search for. We read the lore, soaked up the atmosphere and headed off. Sometimes we met up with people that asked for help, sometimes we hunted and fished in the same areas and competed for the respawns; all stuff that made it feel much more alive and real then any AI or game world we'd ever played. Somewhere along the line though, some developer wrote a rule that said those things don't matter, this is a multiplayer party game and if you don't make friends and schedule your life around the impracticallity of getting 20-30-50 adults with lives and schedules together at the same time to complete the next task then you can't play our game. Not only that, but the developers decieded that instead of spending their resources on advancing the game world, quests and story; they were going to do everything they could to force the players to team up to the point of making thier paying customers feel ostracized, in a VIDEO-GAME.
The irony isn't that some people may want to play a game solo that includes millions of people, it's that these game designers don't believe in thier product enough that they can't see value beyond one narrow way of playing.
Your business has endured and prospered in a volatile industry for many years, staying afloat as tons of competing sites have sprung up and those in print are on the verge of cancellation. This isn't by chance, it's the result of sticking to a plan. Detailed reviews and a structured scoring system has seperated you from the other gaming outlets which seem to conjure up a score and review every game as a "3 out of 5".Detail and telling the truth has set you apart from these others. Standing above the fray, sticking to the system and maintaining consistency has been the formula; but no longer.
For anyone else reading this, if you haven't already read the news, check this out.
Read the explination of the changes. Read about the new formula and reasoning behind it.
Why? Why move from a definitive formula to an arbitrary one? Why replace reasoned explinations of quality differences with badges?
1. The very nature of reviews requires a standard and easy to understand means of measurement. I'm sorry, but I can't see where "new math" stars and butterflys could possibly make a review more accurate or easier to understand then good old english. If writing a descriptive sentence that quickly communicates the message isn't your strong suit, then try another profession.
If we wanted blurbs, we would go to Yahoo.
2. Why would you change the format to make things easier when you have a listing called "tilt"? The purpose of tilt was to consider the little differences that come into play. Add all the stars, bells and flare you want, but when you dumb down the number system to half points, that screams of something else. Changing the formula doesn't require changing to a half pt. system. The only reasons to change would be either: a) to make it easier on the reviewer (sorry, but I have no sympathy for people who take this on as a profession), or b) to pander to the game manufacturers. I can see where the reps from one company are pissed at you because you put there game as a 8.3 and the equivalent competition at 8.5. Is there some advertising dollars or special consideration at work here?
I know the concept of "journalistic integrity" is a joke in this industry, but c'mon guys. This was almost the last bastion of honesty out there. When the number one publication is GameInformer (an advertisment for Gamestop passed off as a magazine) the situation is grim, and the value of your unbiased reviews has made you the many fans you enjoy and benefit from. Do them right, add to the information to better round out the review, give more importance to the tilt, but don't "dumb down" your numerical ratings system to appease your advertisers. We don't deserve that.
As an ending thought, just a quick suggestion. In most businesses, before changing the formula for how your product is made, you may want to test it with your consumers first. After reading the forums and comments for the blog and news listing, this new format should be nicknamed "New Coke".
The future of consoles will probably rest in the most unexpected of hands, Capcom.
Remember, it was Code Veronica that sold alot of people on the Dreamcast. It was Devil May Cry that made PS2's jump off of shelves. They've pumped out many of the best and most memorable titles in history, and especially on these last 2 generations of machines. Plus, did anyone do as much for the Gamecube as they did? RE remake was amazing when it was released, and did anyone dispute RE4 as the best game of '05? Its arguable that it may be the best game of this generation. Either way, it's DMC4 that's most looked to for the PS3. Dead Rising has been a huge hit for the 360. Now the Wii with it's unique first person control scheme will get a unique RE? Graphics important? Sure. But give me RE4 in 480p with alot more memory and I'll be just fine; and if it plays like the last one with the Wiimote? Spectacular.
Why am I saying this is so important? Rumor has it that Microsoft may just buy Capcom. May not happen, but if it does, picture all these franchises exclusive to the 360. We've seen exclusive from them before, and how well did DMC and RE4 sell on the PS2? After the way Rare has panned out, I'd understand if they're not sure about it. Capcom isn't Rare, and considering how well MS's other studios are doing, this could be the telling blow of this generation, before the other 2 even get their feet under them.
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