The Daily Grind: Is MMO ‘open’ development really good for the genre?

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross and I were recently discussing how to approach an opinion piece on Chronicles of Elyria when he reminded me that the game’s forumgoers won’t take any criticism of the proposed game lightly. That provoked an impromptu discussion on the way certain vocal subcultures flock to new, in-development games and shout down even well-intentioned criticism from would-be allies. They sort of pitch their tents on the forums in an attempt to steer the game and vocally make no room for anyone who disagrees with even the most glaringly problematic, pie-in-the-sky game features — meanwhile, the vast majority of the MMORPG market has no time for camping out (or doesn’t even know it’s happening).

It happens with sandboxes, especially PvP-driven sandboxes, certainly — look at the small but distinctive and persistent PvP crowds dogging Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Revival, for example. And that’s not to say that PvE themeparks or formally produced, non-Kickstarter games are immune, either; we saw some of the same behavior from hardcore raiders during WildStar’s early testing periods, markedly changing the tenor of the game.

These are relatively small groups of people, but they are getting a very big say in how MMOs are being made in 2016. Are you among them? How involved are you in the new wave of “open” development for MMORPGs? And do you think it’s becoming a problem, or is it a good thing for the genre?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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116 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Is MMO ‘open’ development really good for the genre?"

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Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

camelotcrusade bardamu1999  “You want the feedback? You can’t handle the feedback! We live in a world with forums, and there are men with keyboards who guard those forums…!”
lulz

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

camelotcrusade bardamu1999  Gunna have to finish reading all of it later, got a bad sneeze and I can’t work like this.
Pretty sure that smaller teams and solo devs should stick to posting updates on a website, and skip the comments and feedback unless they have time to deal with it. Forums require ongoing effort, and will turn sour if left alone for too long.

And, again, thanks.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

camelotcrusade bardamu1999  Thanks, now I need to find coffee.

camelotcrusade
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camelotcrusade

bardamu1999  Thanks for the recommendations, I used Google Docs.
Paper: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bz3IcICy0bzbMlJuUU51LXR0cG8
Presentation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bz3IcICy0bzbRl9INVNDbGg1dlU

Keep in mind they are13 years old and written by a young college student who hadn’t even taken a research course yet.  I myself read them with a mix of fondness and embarrassment.  It’s good to see how far you’ve come, right?

That said, I hope you enjoy them!

camelotcrusade
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camelotcrusade

bardamu1999  I might have said “developer interaction” instead.  I can’t really say where my head was in 2003, but maybe it was that both forums and game companies had a smaller presence then.  Drawing lines between developers, corporate, marketing, PR, etc. wasn’t needed.  Instead the more significant divide was gamers vs the company.

Francis courant
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Francis courant

bardamu1999 Francis courant I think it could be possible in some cases, yes. Not necessarily with Crowfall, and most certainly not in Camelot Unchained. However there are decisions that studios sometimes take in answer to complaints or suggestions coming from vocal supporters. Depending on the significance on those changes and their impact on game development, it sounds plausible that it may sway development into an unfavorable direction.

The “profit” may just be the reason why the studio listen to the vocal supporters: they could believe that it’s representative of the whole targeted audience and modify stuff accordingly.

However it’s not the only thing that I suspect could impact negatively the development: 
Being open and transparent requires a lot of time and energy: if too much time is spent on communication with backers (videos, updates, progress notes, forum interaction, etc.), maybe it hinder the development of the game
Also, no publisher means that the highest authority are the founders of the studio: in some cases being subjected to an upper hierarchical level can help to meet the schedule and be more disciplined / focused.

Developing a game silently without any other objectives than creating a quality product and respecting the timetable is very different I guess than use the open development route.

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

deekay_zero It’s actually a pretty good cop show, as cop shows go.  Variations on the formula.  Netflix has it.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

bardamu1999 deekay_zero this is my sad face :*(

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

deekay_zero even whatshername the played starbuck has played a cop in Longmire! lol

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

arktourosx This is how I’ve always assumed/heard it rumored to go.  Glad to have confirmation of a sort here. :D 
I can’t honestly believe a game dev company would trust serious decisions to the forum mobs, it’s got to be of a “what color bow do you want on the present we already picked out wrapped in the paper we already picked out for you?”