Vague Patch Notes: Complaining about MMOs you don’t play

    
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Vague Patch Notes: Complaining about MMOs you don’t play

All right, folks, it’s time to talk. And we’re going to start by talking about Guild Wars 2, a game I used to play regularly and that several other people of a particular stripe also played regularly at one point.

My job here is to work as a reporter and analyst about the industry. That means internalizing a lot of stuff about a lot of games, including GW2 because it’s easily in our list of the top five games currently operating. While I left GW2 for personal reasons, it is literally a part of my job to stay abreast of developments within the game, understand the changes and design principles operating within the title, and keep a realistic picture of whether or not the game is pleasing or irritating its players. That includes keeping an eye on forums, other topics, general social media chatter, and comments.

In other words, even though I’m not playing, a lot of my concentration needs to be dedicated to Guild Wars 2 just the same. So what’s your excuse?

Of course, this isn’t really about GW2. It is, but it could just as easily be about Star Wars: The Old Republic or Final Fantasy XIV or The Elder Scrolls Online or even a much older title like Dark Age of Camelot. There are always going to be games that you play and then stop playing for whatever reason, usually because some changes make things no longer fun for you.

All well and good. Nothing stays the same forever. Sometimes the changes made are even really bad decisions and should be reversed or called out as bad picks. But my question to this hypothetical you is why you’re still fixating on that.

Roooooooock monster.

I’ve talked a fair bit about the difference between being a fanboy and being a fan. The latter is healthy; the former really isn’t. But there’s a related problem wherein you become a fanboy for a game in the inverse. Every topic about the game is a chance for you to once again say how much you didn’t like the game, or why you did but then you left, or why you take issue with one design choice or another in the game.

You are, in other words, still fundamentally letting the game live rent-free in your head. But you have now moved into the position of complaining about MMOs you don’t play, the genre-specific version of complaining about shows you don’t watch.

The reason I picked on GW2 there is that, well, it’s an easy target in some ways. If you don’t like the fact that the game has raids? Hey, that’s a rational and reasonable position to take. It’s the sort of thing that you can write a whole lot about because it’s really a bad decision with the nature of the game and the overall focus.

But you know what isn’t the game’s inexplicable pushing of raids? A new episode of story that does something loads of people had long wanted and brings back old story episodes. That’s just a good and long-desired thing that shows an attention to detail and a concern for what players have wanted, which in and of itself has nothing to do with other issues in the game. And yes, I’ve seen people who no longer play the game complaining because it’s a cheap way of re-adding content and raids shouldn’t be in the game, so on and so forth.

The two things are unrelated. Heck, this is something I specifically called out back around a year ago; just because Problem A still exits doesn’t mean that no one should cheer about solving Problem B. Not every moment in a game’s history needs to be a referendum on every good and bad decision being made within the game’s development.

And here’s where we get into the actual problem with complaining about MMOs you don’t play. It’s not that you aren’t allowed to dislike a game for various reasons, good or bad, but that complaints you make about a game you aren’t actually playing aren’t complaints about that game. They’re complaints about a very loose idea of that game which may or may not resemble the game’s actual issues.

In the process, those actual issues get obscured.

Echoing.

Because GW2 is not a game I am playing right now, I can’t talk about balance issues in an article. I could not put together an examination of what parts during the recent story drop hit well or failed, and I cannot talk about persistent gameplay issues. We have someone who does that, and I talk a lot with the people on-staff who do play the game, but I consider my own opinion on these matters informed but not instructive.

On the other hand, I can talk about the balance issues in FFXIV. And I can also talk about the actual issues the game does have… several of which are entirely separate or otherwise disconnected from the issues that people who don’t play it complain about.

Yes, the initial story is bloated and could stand to be streamlined; that is a real issue the game has. But the story gating of content is not actually a problem with the game, it’s the entire point. If you don’t like that aspect of the game, you are probably not playing it. And that’s fine, but it does mean that it’s not an issue that dedicated players actually have.

By contrast, the game actually does have an issue with customization options for Hrothgar and Viera. There is a real problem with how many vanity rewards are tucked behind content that may be difficult or inaccessible for new players. Heck, for a long time the game had a serious problem with making crafting fundamentally impossible to manage unless you leveled every craft to a decent level, and when you consider how much money crafting makes and saves over a long period of time, that’s important!

That last one has actually been addressed, thankfully. But the point is made. This game does have actual issues, more even than I’m listing right here, and they do need to be addressed. And for the people who are playing the game right now, they’re going to matter a lot more than removing something that most players consider not a drawback but a feature.

Part of me really does get the issue for being upset about a game you once loved being no longer one you can stand, or a game that you felt you were supposed to love totally failing to connect with you. That makes sense. There are definitely games I want to still adore that I just don’t at this point. But those are also games I no longer write about except to touch upon things I do know, and always with research and checking.

I have a lot of unhappy things to say about World of Warcraft. But I also still play WoW, and I’m saying them from firsthand knowledge and experience, not memory and extant bitterness. All of that bitterness is freshly harvested from new growth and is very carefully and recently cultivated.

Stop letting the games you don’t play live rent-free in your head. Unless they’re part of your job, I guess.

Sometimes you know exactly what’s going on with the MMO genre, and sometimes all you have are Vague Patch Notes informing you that something, somewhere, has probably been changed. Senior Reporter Eliot Lefebvre enjoys analyzing these sorts of notes and also vague elements of the genre as a whole. The potency of this analysis may be adjusted under certain circumstances.

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Anton Mochalin

There’s an opposite case: “vet’s opinions”. Several months ago I had a discussion with a forum member here where he basically said: “Your 400 hours in GW2 doesn’t mean much compared to how much time I spent in the game – playing 3-5 hours a week like you do you will never play as many hours as I’ve played, so you don’t know the game well enough to have an opinion about it”. But “vets leaving” is an archetypal thing in online games and regardless of what one plays – WoW or Dota 2 or Warframe or Fortnite – one is likely to be familiar with that “grumpy vet” figure complaining how before update X the grass was greener. “Vets'” opinions are probably even more skewed because to play a game for 5000 hours one needs quite a motivation which would inevitably influence any opinions on that game (and other games too).

What I think is everyone has the right to have an opinion. Even if we decide on some internet website that only those who played X hours with a game have a right to express opinions how that’s supposed to be enforced? If one sees someone saying a stupid (in her eyes) thing about a game the only reasonable thing is just to reply “you’re wrong because of facts x, y and z”. And we should always separate the persons speaking from their opinions – a troll or someone who’s never played the game (and even a vet!) can say something that’s exactly on point – maybe completely by chance.

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Anton Mochalin

If you don’t like the fact that the game has raids?

This is one thing I can’t understand about GW2 – why so many people dislike the fact it has raids. I play GW2 quite regularly but I’m not sure I will ever be interested in raids. So what’s the problem? It has raids for other people who want raids but those other people will probably also be playing fractals or open world events with me. An MMO, especially a big MMO like GW2, is supposed to be many things for many people, isn’t it?

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

In this case, no, GW2 was specifically marketed as an MMO without raids, so people who aren’t into the raiding scene flocked to it and felt betrayed when raids got jammed in anyway. There’s also the argument that the class/buff/skill system was poorly designed for raiding, that it necessitated a dramatic change of the meta to make it work, and of course that it takes a disproportionate amount of dev time away from the content the bulk of the playerbase showed (and shows) up for. It’s pretty different from a game that says “we’re gonna be a true sandbox with a little bit of everything to entertain everyone.”

Edit: And now I realize you’re the guy down below bragging about trolling us, so nope, won’t be responding further. Do your own homework.

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Anton Mochalin

GW2 was specifically marketed as an MMO without raids

Can you provide a link to an example of such marketing? I’m not saying you’re wrong I just can’t believe they did exactly that.

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NeoWolf

I can, will and do critique ANY game I have played and has given me a reason to do so.

People sometimes forget games are not a gift they are a service on the end of a commericial transaction. WE pay for games, not the developers. It falls to them to keep US happy, not the other way around.

This doesn’t mean we should give games and developers grief for no reason but it does mean they should be held accountable for their fu** ups. Not patted on the back and given a free pass because we don’t want to upset or offend them.

They are not entitled to our good will or our money, both of these things they have to EARN. period. And they do that by listening and dealing with our overall issues rather than ignoring them or lying about them (which constantly happens).

I will say it is a totally valid point that people shouldn’t complain about something they haven’t played, but even then it is fine to express concern in an opinion so long as their is some valid basis to it.

let us not forget that not ALL complaint is negativity, indeed much of it is constructive and born from a desire for a game to do better not worse. We would ALL love to not have reason to complain about something lol

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Anton Mochalin

This doesn’t mean we should give games and developers grief for no reason

But then, why not? I think it’s quite normal to exaggerate the drawbacks of the things we don’t like and it’s also quite normal to dislike things for no particular reason.

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NeoWolf

Because complaining without point achieves nothing, It is the underlying issue/point of a complaint that gives it validity.

Without that it is just noise for noises sake ;)

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Anton Mochalin

Don’t we play games for games’ sake? If I ask you “what’s the use of playing games anyway?” you’d probably say “we do that for fun”. But people say negative things about games they don’t play exactly for the same thing – for fun. I have a lot of fun trolling people here at MOP and there are people here having a lot of fun replying to me. This is all “infotainment”, people are having “Marvel vs DC” or “Android vs iOS” arguments or “Republicans vs Democrats” or “Biden vs Sanders” arguments because that’s basically our nature – to communicate, and what’s the reason of communicating on things we already agree upon?

So no, it’s not “complaining”, it’s “creating user-generated content”

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NeoWolf

Play games for Games sake? No we play games for entertainment so YES very much fun. and/or socialising not simply because they are there thats just nonsensical.

We aren’t mindless automatons going through life simply bumping into everything because they’re there, we have reasons for doing most things. It is simply that those reasons are not always constructive or beneficial.

Also not to re-direct you issue here but I am not speaking about games we haven’t played which you seem to be, indeed if you look back you’ll see I “specifically” said games I have played.

People complaining about things they haven’t played is just stupidity and sheep mentality from people too lazy to inform themselves on a subject.

You consider trolling fun? and you think people you troll have fun responding to your trolling? interesting if totally flawed perspective I must say.

Arguing just for the sake of Arguing isn’t entertainment, and certainly not any form of content creation it is boredom. I suggest you get a more constructive hobby.

Anyway, now I know you have by your own admission no point you’re just trolling I can save myself the boredom of responding to it lol

Peace out ;)

peace out dude.. ;)

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Anton Mochalin

You say that as if gaming is more “constructive” than trolling… which reminds me of my first experience with GW2’s WvW – I just walked in the general direction of enemy territory and after ~1 minute a guy who was hiding invisible killed me without much effort. Well I had a good laugh because that’s basically what should happen when one walks alone towards enemy territory in such games. But the thing that guy did was quite similar to what online trolls do – abusing the weaknesses in someone’s behaviour to have fun. But like with online trolling it doesn’t matter much – it’s still only a game / online communication. That doesn’t mean that is the only thing that guy does in the game just like me having trolling as a “hobby” doesn’t mean I don’t have any other exciting/”constructive” “hobbies”.

Trolling is normal. Complaining about games one doesn’t (and even haven’t) play is normal. We have our right to express our most stupid or fantastic opinions. Sometimes (quite often) we don’t even know our opinion is stupid. Sometimes everyone around doesn’t know that as well.

even then it is fine to express concern in an opinion so long as their is some valid basis to it

The only problem is who decides which “basis” is valid and which isn’t? And when someone is trolling he’d better have a “basis” which would be perceived as “valid” because otherwise his remarks would be just easily dismissed. In other words, is someone is trolling that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a good point.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I’ll make this really easy – just stop trolling. It is not welcome here.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

A lot of the critiques of SC has to do with their monetization scheme, which frankly is fair game in any game since it affects all gamers, whether you play the game or not and gamers should be aware of trends and schemes used by gaming companies.

(Hmm. Replying to a post which has found the wormhole and disappeared into the netherworld.)

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Utakata

…the pigtails live rent free on the head. Unless someone comes along and lops them off. Let’s not think about that! Nor am I sure this is the same thing. o.O

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Arktouros

I mean this is all well and good if you’re a robot who can just flip a switch and ignore something but generally speaking human beings don’t really work that way. The game is going to be living “rent-free” in people’s heads anyways.

Personally I find it all fascinating to see the kinds of things people can get hung up on. Black Desert is probably my favorite example of this. For the longest time you couldn’t see a thread were at least one person was complaining about the graphical pop in on the environment. I mean think about that, that person wrote the entire game off because of a graphical glitch. Not just other people, when I throw out some vitriol towards a particular game I think about my own investment and what that’s saying about me (still doesn’t hurt, Bree <3).

Also some people are bad at making their case but that doesn't mean that case doesn't exist. For example the criticism against Anet recycling it's content has quite a few examples of this. Path of Fire was basically Nightfall recycled. Here they are digging up Guild Wars 1's corpse to beat on Cantha some more. Now we're getting Season One living story missions back. We also have Anet previously talking how much work bringing back LS1 content would take and how much they'd rather focus on new content. Are we getting LS1 content at the sake of new content? Was that a lie previously? I have a low interest in Cantha 2: Tengu Boogaloo but a different location could always bring me back…

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Anton Mochalin

That hard texture popping just shows how cheap the attitude of the developers towards the game is, basically telling us “we don’t care about graphical glitches ruining the players’ immersion”. And that “graphical glitch” happens each ~2 seconds as soon as you start to move in the game’s world – and the game is much about travelling from leveling/farming locations to cities/villages and back.

Why every other big MMO finds a way to deal with that texture popping and BDO (and Astellia an others) can’t? Because they can but don’t care. So exactly because this ruins an otherwise potentially enjoyable game for me I’m going to write about how hard texture popping is in that game every time I see BDO mentioned.

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Arktouros

Sigh. It’s because of the way they handle their graphics engine as different than most other engines.

Most games use the method where they hide mobs/players from each other and fully render the world/background npcs/etc. You can see as far back as RIFT (2011) games have used culling techniques in their games. It was a huge issue for WvW back in Guild Wars 2 where people would memsmer portal in but the game engine would cull them leaving them invisible to kill you. In Planetside 2 if you were in a vehicle it would de-render soldiers and prioritize vehicles leaving infantry to use anti-vehicle weapons against you while invisible. However the trees, buildings, and background all looks wonderful.

BDO chooses to prioritize the players/mobs instead and leaves the background entirely as optional to load in as it’s needed. NPCs you can’t interact with (traveling on road) suddenly appear/disappear because they’re just part of the background. This is different than what people are used to where most other western games have the backgrounds always appear so it’s more jarring to them.

So it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just they care about different things. Personally I’m a fan of what they prioritize to render as competing in an environment that has players pop in out of no where is way more frustrating than some NPC you can’t even interact with or some tree down the road appearing out of thin air.

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Anton Mochalin

I thought about that but then if we’re talking about the priorities why not just simplify some environment graphics (like what Albion did) if the game prioritises interaction over visuals? Because it’s what they do – most of the time in BDO one is not likely to meet other players / interactable NPCs or objects every 2 seconds while when one walks one sees patches of grass popping every 2 seconds – why not take a bold stance and say “we don’t need those patches of grass on the ground and all those other visual details which are not affecting the gameplay”. The game would look much cleaner but probably wouldn’t produce such beatiful screenshots. Oh, you want people to post beautiful screenshots from your game on internet? Then we’ll also talk about texture popping in your game.

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Deadly Habit

The two that I used to play and sunk countless hours in, but still follow to a degree are Shroud of the Avatar and Legends of Aria as prime examples of what not to do as a company, community management, and game dev wise. I enjoy reading postmortems from success stories and lessons learned and those two serve as a prime counterpoint to a lot of that stuff to me, so I keep casually following them out of morbid curiosity, that and to make some snarky comments and gifs of Lord Brexit and Starr Long looking ridiculous at times.

surfdream.gif
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Anstalt

So, SWTOR is a trigger for me and whilst I can normally contain my impulse to complain, sometimes I feel the need. There are two main reasons that get me to complain about it:

1) Mis-information
I see plenty of news stories about the game that contain a lot of mis-information. Whilst I can let most of it slide, sometimes my desire to set the record straight wins over. For example, swtor is not an mmorpg, yet it is usually referred to as being one. A player cap of 75 is not massively multiplayer…..

2) Devs!
A side-effect of having a successful website like this one is that professionals from the industry also visit these sites. Thus, it is in my best interests to try and get my opinion out there in the hopes that someone important might read it and it hit home. If I can make my complaint, explain it in a concise manner and then offer solutions (i.e. constructive criticism) then there is a chance that I can make a difference.

It is this second reason that is the main reason I post my opinions online, positive or negative. In the past I’ve had good interactions with devs, particularly for LotRO, that resulted in changes in the game. I’ve had good interactions with other devs, like MJ on here when talking about CU. As I don’t work in the industry, this sort of interaction is the only way I have to influence the games industry and get my opinions across, so I’ll take that opportunity in the hopes of being able to play a game closer to my tastes in the future.

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rollnJ

Too funny -the headline Vague Patch Notes initially made me think that was the topic of the article. GW2 is famous for patches (fixes after a patch generally) that don’t include any patch notes at all. It’s like they don’t want you to know how bad they screwed up the content patch.

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P Jones

Games do not exist in silos. What creeps into one may eventually creep into all. Think F2P, Lootboxes, Microtransactions.
Releasing incomplete games lowers the bar for the next batch.

Lot’s of reasons to watch games you do not play