Global Chat: How do we fight early access disasters?

    
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Yarr, cut out all carbs, got much lighter.

With the year in MMOs ending on a sour note due to the botched rollouts of both Fallout 76 and Atlas, blogger Endgame Variable is not the only one who is asking how we can fight these early access disasters.

“My personal response to these trends, as a consumer, which I began some two years ago or more–after the Landmark and ArcheAge debacles, and during that long stretch when a new survival game appeared on Steam every week: I strictly avoid buying any early access title on Steam unless it falls to $10 or less in a sale. The only exception I might make is if a game gets rave reviews from many people I trust. The vast majority don’t.”

We’ll continue this week’s tour of MMO blog essays with looks at SWTOR’s latest update, the enduring appeal of LOTRO, and appreciating a sense of grandeur in our games.

Mailvatar: Let it snow, MMO!

“It hardly ever snows where I live, so when I crave some proper winter weather I need to either travel a good bit in real life, or get my fix in one of the virtual worlds I also inhabit […] Here are some places to savour virtual winter should you ever feel like it.”

Nomadic Gamers: Christmas in Wurm Unlimited

“My alliance got together and painstakingly gathered up four champion trolls (two breeding pairs) and hitched them to a beautiful wagon that Elfin created. a kind GM gifted me one of the skins of my choosing as a thank you, and the alliance filled the wagon with goodies, and left it on my deed.”

Nerdy Bookahs: Why is LOTRO still this appealing?

“So what is it? I think the aforementioned ‘slow’ fits in nicely here. The game is slow. And I don’t mean that it takes forever to get things done or level up your character. It’s just made in a way that I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything when I hop onto a farming field and farm for coffee beans or strawberries.”

This is new, this is new, this is new.

Contains Moderate Peril: Star Trek Online, the other MMO

“The episodic nature of much of the narrative content of STO means that it is a game that can be tackled in bit size chunks or at length, depending on your preference. I often play in fits and starts, when I’m between other games.”

Going Commando: Jedi Under Siege character moments

“Even the background NPCs are pure love, as BioWare inserted some great environmental chatter in the area. The above example was pointed out to me on Reddit and makes a couple of civilians state openly how a lot of SWTOR players have basically felt about the whole Zakuul story arc.”

GamingSF: A sense of grandeur in MMORPGs

“Even if MMORPG engines can rarely cope with total freedom in large zones (Guild Wars 2 is a notable exception), I appreciate when the designers take pains to at least give an impression of a more expansive area than the paths we are given to follow.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.
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Crowe

I have tried quite a few early access games. But I’ve only found one that was actually not awful (the Masters of Orion reboot). I’m to the point now where my reaction is: if they’re charging to play, I’ll pay but if it’s not good, I’ll post a bad review and request a refund.

Alyn
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Alyn

Stop hyping them. Avoid anything that is incomplete no matter how much you want to try unfinished game.

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Schmidt.Capela

I buy games in Early Access when:

1. The game looks good and enjoyable enough despite not being done yet, reviews corroborate that perception, and it’s a game type I desperately want to play. Or:

2. It’s an interesting idea from a developer I feel like I can trust, and thus I spend money on the game as an incentive for devs to develop interesting ideas rather than as a way to play it early.

Otherwise, no. I tend to wait one or more months before purchasing a finished game anyway, no sense in purchasing anything just because it’s early.

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Anton Mochalin

The idea of buying early access games is to satisfy curiosity. Steam does early access in a very fair way putting devs’ explanation of why this is early access right in the begginning of the game description. We also have user reviews and ratings. So if we want to make our choice rational we’re provided with quite much info. And if we want to make an irrational choice we always have pre-orders of triple-A IGN-promoted blockbusters.

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Leiloni

There’s no need to fight them. Bad games kill themselves eventually and if some of the early access disasters manage to get their shit together and become a good game, well then isn’t that nice for the rest of us.

As for players who continually spend on such games, that’s their own issue. Perhaps they should remember the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

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Dean Greenhoe

For starters the publisher needs to communicate fully and truthfully to the public as to what will be in the early access. Take Atlas for example. They said they will launch early access with both PVP and PVE servers. In truth they launched PVP servers and pseudo PVE servers that they merely labeled as PVE .

When you die from a lack of necessary nutrition that is PVE. When other players steal those same necessary nutrition items that is PVP.

Have a phased release of early access to avoid a crush of people logging in at the same time.

Allow players to download the game ahead of the launch and not wait until launch.

And so forth… Try using plane simple common sense

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Skoryy

What’s this ‘we’ stuff? Sure, ‘we’ can stay ‘don’t busy early access’ ’til we’re blue in the face. However, we’re not the ones with more money than common sense. Which, last I checked, was a sizeable and incredibly profitable demographic. Heck, given how much I spent this holiday season, I probably qualify for that demographic.

As long as there’s a sucker born every minute, there’ll be early access disasters.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

You can’t ever “fight it” because it’s built into humanity to create such “disasters” just like you can’t fight global warming, war, genocide, bigotry, fundamentalism, and all that. Sounds cynical, but people have some stupid beliefs and justifications for everything under the sun.

One person says, “Don’t buy it.” Another says, “Who are you to tell me what to do with my money?” and off we go.

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Dread Quixadhal

It’s not hard…. stop buying things that aren’t ready.

No pre-ordering. No pre-purchasing. Wait until you see someone whom you trust, be it a friend, a co-worker, or even a reviewer whose opinion you value, actually PLAY the game so they can tell you what it is, and what it isn’t.

Publishers have managed to exploit their customers into buying “early access” and “beta access” by suckering them into pre-purchasing the game long before it’s ready to be played. Don’t be fooled by this!

If you buy a game in “early access” you are an unpaid beta tester whose feedback may or may not be noticed. If you aren’t given a set of tasks to accomplish when you log in (or run the game), then it’s not a real beta… it’s a cash grab.

So called “stress testing” can be done via simulated players connecting from host machines scattered around the internet, so don’t think you’re really giving them helpful data that they couldn’t get otherwise.

Not every early access or “beta” is pure greed… but folks who really care about making a quality product are pretty up front about their game, and what they’d like you to help with, and what you’re actually getting by giving them your money early.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

This is very easy:

1) Don’t pre-order
2) If you still want to pre-order, do it using credit card. In case if you’ll encounter some game-breaking bug or game won’t be what you expected and publisher/developer will refuse the refund – you can do a chargeback (and yes, this may lead to a ban of your whole account by publisher but if you don’t have any valuable games attached to it – it’s not a big deal).