Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fun or Un-fun; Or, Can We Support Innovation Wherever We Find It?

So.

The online debate still rages over what to do about The Secret World. It's an innovative game that many people find un-fun. Lono of Screaming Monkey thinks we send a bad message to the MMO development community by not supporting innovation where we find it. Kemwer rightly points out that the only reason ever to support an endeavor of this sort is that you enjoy playing. Syl over at Raging Monkeys then expounds on the fact that TSW is not the sort of place one would want to settle down in.
Does TSW deserve our money and time? Tobold's Homo economicus says no. I say H.economicus may not have all the info he needs. I am not talking about the people who have tried the game and not liked it. I am talking about the people who might like TSW, but have not been reached, whether because they misunderstood the marketing, were scared away by negativity, or simply haven't heard of the game. For that, the game needs time, and a better understanding of the target audience. It may need lower barriers to entry (read: F2P). Ultimately, we may decide it does not deserve our time and money, and that's OK. What is fun or is not fun is highly subjective. I don't argue that TSW deserves some kind of charity.

I don't play LOTRO because ultimately it wasn't fun for me, but at least I tried it. I know people who think it's very fun, and blog about it besides. I don't generally go to horror movies because I don't enjoy them. I don't watch contemporary character dramas for the same reason. I do enjoy the time I spend playing TSW though. However, it's not "light reading." I like Guild Wars 2 because it is fun and light. I play both. I have limited resources, like most people; therefore these are the only two games I currently play. Other games might be fun, but not fun enough for me devote time or money to.

I think a lot of people looking for "innovation" don't really know what they want. For example, the setting itself of TSW is innovative. Name another MMO with a similar setting. Whether it's a "good" innovation or not remains to be seen. The Ability Wheel is a great innovation, IMHO. But, like much of the rest of the game, there is a nuance to it that may be a little off-putting to those not interested in studying that detail. (Having the preset Decks does help.) The actual combat? Perhaps not so innovative, but certainly not as cringe-worthy as some have made it out to be. Frankly, I find it on a par with most games I have played, and encourages (forces?) movement while not worrying too much about limited range cones and such.
Is TSW buggy? It has some bugs; most have been fixed from what I can tell. Guild Wars 2 has bugs, too. In fact (and I love the game), I have encountered more bugs in GW2 than in TSW. That people dismiss TSW as bad because it has bugs, but praise GW2 despite its bugs, tells me those people are looking for reasons not to like TSW and simply add the bugs to their list.

As Syp pointed out, The Secret World is tacking into the wind. Funcom was somehow hoping for "Mainstream" numbers when they had produced a niche game. Like Syp, I hope they give it time to develop the niche audience it deserves.

15 comments:

  1. Fun Fact: The Secret World Rocks!

    - ciao, ciao

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  2. Yep...bugs are definitely not a tell-tale sign for anything, but then they rarely are in MMOs because well, most of the time bugs get fixed (at least if they're significant enough). I don't think anyone would name bugs as prime concern in TSW.

    there are other criteria I think rate higher; theme is one of those things you cannot really argue, atmosphere or graphics style. either you like them or you do not. gameplay is another factor and certainly was for me, or rather the aspect of combat. I think in many ways TSW suffers from the classic MMO combat model which gets especially noticeable when using fire arms (one of my personal chagrins about it). While setting and theme are actually shooter favorites, TSW is pledged to an altogether different genre with an audience that does not necessarily enjoy more "realistic" and action-based controls the way you'd have them in FPSs. This makes the game somewhat of a freak in my eyes: not appealing fully to classic MMO fans due to theme while also not appealing to the "zombie shooter demographic" due to MMO controls. that latter group is actually a big opportunity - see DayZ which is also a virtual, open world. you could probably get these same people to play a horror MMO, but not with such controls in place (cutting on the story side might help as well lol).

    for me these two factors (theme & combat....and looks) and their seeming 'incompatibility' were the major turnoffs during the free weekend that I played TSW. such issues aren't easily fixable where the individual is concerned.

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    1. You are absolutely correct in that many of the gripes about TSW are in fact personal preferences, which TSW will not overcome. Nor should it. The gun mechanics don't adhere to proper aiming a la FPS games, but neither do the guns in WoW or STO. That may be a failing of the standard MMO mechanic relative to firearms. If they were to change TSW to have those sorts of aiming mechanics (and diminish the storyline) it would no longer appeal to many of those who do currently play (at least this player), so that's a trade off.

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    2. BTW, a LOT of negative comments/reviews I have seen about TSW include bugginess as an issue, especially if the review is based on a beta experience.

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  3. I like the combat in TSw, there's just to much of it. There's too much in every MMO, though. For my taste there would be about 50-60% less combat in all MMOs (i.e all Kill Ten Rats quests would be Kill Five Rats etc).

    GW2 is buggy as hell after about level 50. I have also seen a lot more bugs there than in TSW. On the other hand, TSW is, what, a tenth of the size in terms of content? Less?

    They each have their own strengths. In some ways I enjoyed TSW more than I'm enjoying GW2. The difference so far is that with TSw I was completely knocked out by it to begin with and couldn;t get enough but after a month it was beginning to wear on me, while GW2 has been quite slow to grab me but after three weeks my enthusiasm is increasing day by day.

    In some ways TSW might made a better offline game with a beginning, middle and end than an MMO, whereas GW2 is a world made to live in. Roll on F2P though so I can play both.

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    1. I think F2P is an inevitability for TSW, I just hope that the quality doesn't fall.

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  4. Here's where having a random, unspecific taste in games both benefits and hurts me. Benefits, because I get to enjoy such a wide multitude and variety of different MMOs. Hurts, because that means more games I love and am unwilling to relinquish.

    It's been a long time since I've juggled MMOs like this, but oddly it's working out pretty well. I just can't seem to play GW2 for long stretches at at time; sooner or later, the repetition and lack of variety starts me yearning for something that would actually stimulate my mind. The reverse goes for TSW; sometimes I feel like my brain needs a break, and I'm in the later parts of the game right now where constantly getting my butt kicked is making simplicity and casualness look better and better.

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    1. I am in the same boat. I love them both for different reasons. TSW takes a lot of thought, but the thought and the mood are both wearing. GW2 is easy to pop in and out of, and tons of fun(I'm loving PvP for the first EVAHR!), but I don't feel a huge attachment to my characters the way I do my TSW toons.

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  5. I would comment that the levels of support needed are also vastly greater for an MMO to be considered a successful investment. When Legends of Grimlock game out, I bought the game, a $15 investment, to reward the return of party play in CRPGs. I have supported the game as much as I can financially. TSW I bought and paid for a second month in, a $65 investment, and yet, what is that in the grand scheme of things, or when I could have invested $250+ from the jump for it? From the sound of things, for people like Tobold, "support" only counts if you are loyally subscribing every month, or buying a lifetime sub. While I would disagree, it looks more and more like investors and perhaps even developers themselves agree with that assessment.

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    1. In that sense, I have "supported" many a game for varying lengths of time, a few beyond the time I actually played them. Now I only support TSW. I haven't even supported GW2 beyond my initial "box" purchase. :P

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  6. I think the original post of supporting TSW for its innovation from Screaming Monkey automatically assumed it was fun and his thoughts tagged on innovation. The other bloggers who chucked their toys out saying innovation wasn't enough, missed the point.

    I agree we should support games if we like them but if they innovate at the very least they deserve a decent try. I think some bloggers played a few hours of a beta with no investigation quests and struck a line through it. My advice to them is try the 3 day trial and make it through Kingsmouth.

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    1. You're right; people should give it a try. I can't guarantee they'll like it. But opinions based on the unfinished game in beta—or worse, secondhand accounts— have to be taken with a grain of salt.

      I think Tobold personally doesn't like the game, which is fine. But then he also seems to assume that however he feels is the way the rest of us should feel. That his opinion has the weight of fact.

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  7. Personally I have found a LOT more bugs in TSW than in GW2. The whole chat system not working properly for a month in TSW was a dealbreaker for the roleplayer I am... Despite all this, I certainly approve and encourage TSW's innovations and I intend to slowly attempt to crawl back in there now that most bugs have been fixed.
    I also certainly agree that TSW deserves a chance.

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