Massively OP Podcast Episode 319: A sadness prison for addicts

    
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On this week’s show, Bree and Justin talk about Destiny 2’s horrible transmog plans, dates for New Genesis, RuneScape mobile, and Odyssey, Jeff Kaplan’s departure from Blizzard, and the mother of all Blizzard critiques.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your question to the show, use this link or call in to our voicemail at (734) 221-3973.

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the_devil_knows_fire

I had to listen to these rants about Blizzard, here’s mine. And I know from experience it’s not a popular opinion, but I believe it strongly and feel it needs to be expressed — Blizzard gets far more hate online than could ever be justified, including on this podcast.

One second, you’ll criticize Blizzard for not modernizing for the current landscape, then in the next breath, you complain that they’ve changed too much from Vanilla WoW, that every expansion changes things around. You can’t have it both ways. You can criticize one or the other, but not both.

A lot of Blizzard criticism online these days falls into this pattern, of people saying two mutually exclusive ideas at the same time. It’s clear that “Blizzard Bad” has become more of a meme than an actual sentiment people arrive at through critical thought. As long as it’s negative, people just say anything that pops into their head, whether it makes sense or not.

Here’s another example: Overwatch has been trashed relentlessly by core Blizzard fans, from the day it was announced. And yet, those same people that despise Overwatch, wail and gnash their teeth at the thought of that game’s DIRECTOR leaving the company. “Oh, OW2 is in trouble now!” You can’t act like the guy’s been a total failure for the past 7 years, then turn around and act like he’s the one thing holding the whole project together. Those are opposite ideas.

I think Blizzard is held to an impossible standard, by fans who just wish they were 15 again, and still addicted to the fresh new game World of Warcraft. There is no pleasing these people.

Blizzard fans threw a tantrum because Blizzard….announced a mobile game. Think about that. Really, think about it. It’s absurd on about 50 different levels. The fact that this is one of the major data points that signals the “decline of Blizzard” is laughable. The game will be extremely profitable, and by all accounts it’s pretty good. In what universe is that a bad sign? Because they had a commercial in the wrong setting? And that means the company is dead or dying? It’s beyond absurd.

Another “failure” signaling the decline of Blizzard? Diablo 3 — you know, that massively successful and critically acclaimed game that any studio would kill to have made. What a failure! But hey, they had an auction house for a while, and it’s bright and colorful, so it’s basically trash, right? Better to have never made it in the first place!

Or how about Overwatch 2? Blizzard announced that OW1 players would get tons of new content for free, and people got mad at them! Fans decided it was some kind of trick, that Blizzard was conning people into buying an expansion and calling it a sequel (something they have no history of ever doing before, mind you). All this touchy-feely stuff about Jeff Kaplan rings a bit hollow, after seeing the absolute fear in his eyes at Blizzcon 2019, at the realization that his pro-gamer move had backfired, because gamers are so utterly irrational and would rather be ripped off in a familiar way than gain much greater value in an unfamiliar way. (BTW, Path of Exile is doing basically the same sequel model, but people don’t seem to be as upset about that one. Because like I said, Blizzard is held to a unique, and impossible, standard.)

Or how about WoW? To listen to this podcast, you’d think the game is on its last legs. You’d never know that Shadowlands was literally the fastest selling PC game of all time when it released. And I really don’t understand why people act like WoW Classic is somehow “cheating,” that giving players something they really want doesn’t count as a good thing, for some reason. “Oh, they’re just coasting off Classic.” So? Even if that were the case (it’s not), what’s the complaint? That people really like this thing, and they put it out, and people are happy with it? The horror!

I truly think 90% of complaints about modern Blizzard can be boiled down to, “I wish I was 15 and playing WoW or Starcraft for the first time again.” They’ve made a single bad game in their entire history, and it was a remake. They aren’t a “has-been” studio, their latest games are still amazing. Name any studio that wouldn’t be happy to have made Overwatch or Hearthstone. The idea that they are on some rapid decline has no basis in the actual GAMES they make, despite what the internet says.

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Ozzie

I can safely say I disagree with every single one of your sentiments. I like to think for good reasons, but too much to really get into. The one I disagree with most is the “I wish I was 15 playing WoW for the first time”. I’d rather think of this as people going “when I look at Blizzard as a whole over the last 20 years, I see a pattern and I don’t like it.” Because if you look at Blizz games in a vacuum, you aren’t wrong. You could probably say most of them fit in a fair definition of success. But when you start looking at their trajectory over time, that definition of success fits looser and looser.

When we were 15 playing WoW, I don’t think many people would have wanted the company to end up where it is now. The upcoming games aren’t anywhere close to ambitious, so it’s hard to be hopeful. At 15, we would have had MUCH more grandiose expectations for today. And I think the devs themselves would have had higher expectations too. That didn’t happen. Is that success? Maybe in a business sense, but not to me as a player. You can have success after success and still end up far from your mark. So much unrealized potential left on the table is not a success.

Thanks for mentioning WC3: Reforged at the end :)

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the_devil_knows_fire

“I see a pattern and I don’t like it” is exactly the kind of vague sentiment I’m talking about. It’s all about this abstract “feeling” people get. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s this rhetorical trick that just happens to be unfalsifiable — I can’t say “Actually you don’t feel that way,” so it’s impossible for me to rebut.

But what I can do is point to actual, tangible things in the real world, that indicate Blizzard is not even close to a failure or a declining enterprise. I can say your feeling is not based in reality, it’s simply a meme at this point. You can find 12 year olds repeating the same points in any Twitch or Youtube chat, despite the fact none of them have ever touched Diablo 2 or Starcraft — because hating Blizzard has become a social event, not an individual thought arrived at through critical analysis.

My thoughts on this are based on tangible reality, not some vague feelings I have about the Blizzard of my childhood. It’s incredibly strange to me that so many people seem certain about what Blizzard *should* have become over time, and how far they are from that ideal state — as if any of that is knowable whatsoever. No other company is held to this standard — “They aren’t what I thought they’d be when I was in high school.” OK, what is? They still keep their big franchises going, they still step into new genres and innovate, and all their games are good. Why is anyone entitled to more than that? What would “more than that” even look like?

Morhaime left, Metzen left, Kaplan left –OK, now tell me which studios have the same team they started with after 20 years. How is this a problem unique to Blizzard? Why so much hate for them, but no one else? With every criticism people have of Blizzard, the hate is amplified to an absurd degree, far beyond what other studios deal with. Even consumer friendly decisions they make (like Overwatch 2’s unique structure) are met with total vitriol.

I still remember Blizzcon 2014, and seeing the post-Blizzcon reactions to OW’s announcement from the hardcore Blizzard fans. It was extremely nasty and dismissive — and all for a game that sold something like 60 million copies, the consensus game of the year for 2016, that everyone on earth got addicted to on release. But the first reaction from Blizzard “fans” is always, without exception, negative. No matter what. It makes me embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with such a joyless, miserable group.

I truly feel awful for the devs that work on these games and have to read this stuff online, day in and day out. I’m not here to defend Bobby Kotick whatsoever, but good grief people, these devs don’t deserve even a fraction of this hatred you all so casually throw out into the world.

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Ozzie

Mate, all the criticism is pretty much solely directed at the unholy trio of Ion/Brack/Kotick, and not the devs (ok, and the pvp devs but no one’s sure they really exist). This very podcast is clear on that point.

I think OW is a decent game, and I remember the criticism on it. I think it’s fair when you look at it thru the morphing of project Titan. And this is exactly what I meant in my last post about expectations, both player and studio. It’s pretty clear THEY expected Titan to be a massive, ambitious game. It’s in the name, dammit! The players expected big things too. But it didn’t work out, and they shifted to OW. That’s fine, it was still very successful. However, the “…what if…” of Titan doesn’t go away.

Also, no other company is held to that standard? Mate, what are you smoking?! Up until Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt was basically a baby Blizzard. They were held to a high standard due to their past successes, their own standard btw, and was perceived not to meet it. Backlash ensues. It’s pretty much exactly the same scenario.

Personally, I think you’ve a hard time distinguishing between criticism and emotional/hyperbole criticism. They seem to lump together, one tainting the other. So you toss it all out and are left with the other extreme.

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the_devil_knows_fire

Setting aside the fact that you can’t even express general support for the devs without immediately undercutting that sentiment within the same sentence, let’s look at your one example: Titan.

The failure of that project has nothing to do with your so-called unholy trinity. Depending on your perspective, it was either a problem of being too ambitious, or a failure of execution — either way, developer/design failure. If the grand albatross for Blizzard is Titan, the absolute proof of their squandered potential, you aren’t really blaming Kotick or Activision or executive leadership at all. You say that you are only because you need this to have a moral component, with some grand villain to blame. But that’s not who you’re blaming, if Titan is the problem.

Again, this double speak pops up, where opposing ideas are spoken one after the other, with no regard for how they cancel each other out. The only constant is that fans feel they have the moral high ground to say any hateful thing they can think of, and it’s always justified.

As for CDPR, that’s no where near the same level of vitriol Blizzard receives for every little thing. Announcing a mobile game has never tanked CDPR’s stock overnight. Blizzard is on a whole other tier. Cyberpunk also did have a moral component, as they lied extensively about the game being finished. Blizzard gets that same backlash from releasing a god-tier FPS instead of the MMO of your dreams that was impossible to make anyway. They are not the same.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Woah, woah, woah! There’s actually a pretty decent playerbase still active in GW1. Some of the big guilds, like LGIT are always there. There’s also a group that does Alliance battles every Friday, and Fort Aspenwood/Jade Quarry on Saturdays.

I always shook my head every time I saw that video with Colin (I think) saying how they took everything we loved in GW1 and brought it to GW2, when literally the opposite was true for a lot of people – Heroes, instanced areas, large array of skills, some of the professions, etc.

The content Bree was thinking of was the Guild Wars Beyond stuff – the War in Kryta in Prophecies and Winds of Change in Cantha. I still have to do a lot of that on my myriad of alts. Anyway, you’re always welcome to come hang out with me and my super small guild!

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Guild Wars Beyond, that was it!

Where is everyone hiding? The monastery was dead, Spamadan was dead, GTOB was dead, EOTN was dead. Are people hiding out in guildhalls or something?

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I always see people in Spamadan. Granted it’s not like the good ole days, but whenever I log on I’ll run into a handful of other people in some of the major areas. There’s still quite a few in Pre-Searing. For the most part, I think the regulars follow along with the daily Zaishen missions, so whichever outpost relates to that. There’s definitely an uptick in people during the festival events.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I was expecting to see a lot in the monastery this past weekend because of the festival, but nope. I saw one other person besides me! And I was playing in prime time too. I swung by pre-searing too and saw only a handful, nothing like it used to be with multiple districts open. (I have two perma pre toons and was actually leveling one haha.) Very weird. Where are all you people hiding. <3

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Karunch

Good podcast. Justin, would you please kindly let us know the name / episode of the WOW podcast you mentioned which featured the X-WOW-BC developer. Thank you.

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Neurotic

It’s quite a thing when Bobby Kotick, objectively one of the most toxic people in the industry, is holding the purse strings to your entire studio, and yet your management are still the ones catching most of the flak for your decline and fall. How badly can you go wrong? Blizzard bad, that’s how.

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TomTurtle

End of podcast zinger! Oh how I missed thee.

flatline4400
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flatline4400

I’m sure I’m dating myself, but I always associate transmogrification with Calvin and Hobbes!

https://calvinandhobbes.fandom.com/wiki/Transmogrifier

1987 woo!

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PhoenixDfire

There’s been an update on the state of the Alpha build for Elite: Dangerous. According to the project lead in a livestream yesterday, the Alpha build we’ve been playing is a branch taken from approximately eight weeks ago and it included only a subset of the full functionality that’s coming with Odyssey.

The subset is being used to primarily test the networking code and various functions that needed a large user base to test. Once the Alpha is finished, they’ll merge those alpha fixes back in for the main release. Quite rightly, if Odyssey was going to be released in the same state as the alpha, I don’t think it would go down that well.

As it appears that the current build has at least two months of development time over the alpha build, this has reassured some of the community that Odyssey will be worth it.

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Arktouros

The transmog system decisions for Destiny 2 are certainly weird but ultimately in line with the rest of the game’s systems. The 10 item (2 full sets) per class per seasons checks the “fomo” box they tend to bake into their seasonal approach. The 150 grind itself on the surface doesn’t seem bad but no one knows the drop rates. The whole collect 150 things then come do a mission checks the “bounty” box. If you play the game it’s less convoluted than it seems is where I’m going with this.

Monetization wise…honestly not that bad but I’ve noticed Destiny 2’s community is extremely hyper sensitive to anything monetization related. Like I look at what Destiny 2 gives per dollar as well as what can be earned through in game play (for example I bought 2 costumes this season entirely via playing) and compare it to most other games and it’s extremely good. Most full set costumes cost $15. Transmog will be $10. Not great, but not bad.

I think the root of the issue is the place where people are starting from. Players are starting from the position they already earned this armor and thus own it’s look and should be able to easily use it at will. Bungie appears to be starting from the position that these are cosmetic options that are being created and thus new and have to be earned/paid for like other cosmetics.

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Hostagecat

Its the ship of Theseus, Justin……… and yes you guys are spot on Blizzard has issues.

AND BREE KEEP RANTING…. I COME FOR THE NEWS, BUT I STAY FOR THE RANTS.

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Danny Smith

It feels like every other week now someone writes in using Boomer in the modern “pushing 40 and sees the 90’s as their golden years at the youngest older generation” meme slang way and each time Bree either refuses to get it because thats a horrible realisation or ironically is going full boomer and isn’t down with the yoof.

Truly the mmo player is the most boomer of all.

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McGuffn

Damn millennials ruining all the boomer jokes by not recognizing they’re boomers now.

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Danny Smith

In a Infinity War moment the teen whispers “….ok boomer” and the 38 year old turns to dust and blows away in the wind.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I get that people are trying to make a joke – I just don’t think it’s remotely funny. Gaming has enough ageism without adding to it. And generational nonsense is particularly annoying. It’s cheap. We can do better!

Besides, the mid-aughts made all the best MMOs, fight me.

<3