Massively OP Podcast Episode 330: Swords of Crows Online

    
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On this week’s show, Bree and Justin talk about the dual launches of Crowfall and Swords of Legends Online, World of Warcraft’s latest controversial story arc, Elite Dangerous’ refocus on PC, and Fallout 76’s summer patch.

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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Paragon Lost

Blizzard has been training us for years and years that they never gave a damn about their lore and story. No one should be surprised by their current antics. :/ Though I will say I was amused by Justin’s comparison with GW2 and their storytelling/lore. I always thought that GW2’s was worse at least the character storyline, but I gotta agree that Blizzard did a “hold my beer” to GW2 with their latest storyline moves.

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Hostagecat

Story telling in games is very hard especially with an evolving game…like Star Trek Onine has good arcs, and some stinkers too…SWTOR, well the first 50 levels had great storytelling but as soon as the Hutts expansion shows up its starts falling apart.
Yeah story is important…but why lose your mind about it, the fact is none of the characters in these games ever has a consistent representation. Its the nature of the collaborative processes. Its sort of like the thing you did in school where one person wrote one paragraph, you wrote the next and the end of the story was nothing like any of you started with.

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Jack Pipsam

I ended up buying Crowfall because it has Australian servers at launch and I was reading from some others here that apparently they’re quite well populated as well.

I’ve always been happy to put my money where my mouth is and despite not really being a PVP player too much, I’m happy to give it a full on punt since the devs were willing to give us a punt.
These days it really does come down to if I’m willing to buy something at launch or not and Crowfall passed my minimum requirement test for purchase of a newly launched MMO.
And if the local servers do infact as I hope turn out as viable as we know they can be, then that might be further encouragement for others to do the same, including for my sake, Camelot Unchained (provided it ever releases >.>), having once had a conversation with Jacobs here on MOP in the comments on the article about that spin-off game he announced where everyone was screaming at him, he seemed quite happy to conversation with me about servers since I wasn’t implicating him in fraud haha like the rest of the comment section lol, he said that local servers should be entirely a viable and easy thing to spin up because of cloud services like AWS which CU relies on, so that using the AWS global network meant that CU could with little effort have a local server here or anywhere there’s potential demand.
So I’m hoping that CrowFall’s local servers do well enough to provide nobody else with an excuse not too.

At the very least besides that and for MMOs in general, it’s a good thing that a KickStarter MMO has actually managed to make it after all this time and plenty of doubt along the way, that level of determination should be commended that it hasn’t just disappeared into the void of all these indie MMOs currently in development or alleged development.

Of course now the real test begins of CrowFall’s future on the whole and I don’t think that a low player count at launch has to mean death, it’s better I think if can start off growing than if it starts off with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes 50+ servers for launch and then ending up at 1, but as long as they’re not expecting or putting all their eggs on this requiring millions of players it hopefully should do rather well for itself, the genre could really do with an indie hit as a boost in confidence for future ones.

PS. I still maintain the last time Warcraft had anything good in its story was the launch of Pandaria, original new lore, plenty of new characters and a lot to dive into, but as Pandaria ended with Orcs it set the stage for what would become Warcraft’s horrible trend downwards. I honestly in part blame the jokes about Pandaria at launch and the extensive hype leading up to WoD for the horrible change in direction WoW went in which even now they’ve barely been able to recover from despite trying hard to reset the stage a couple times.
Even the quality of the novels went down, despite often using the same authors.

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Peregrine Falcon

Starting at 1:01:40, Bree and Justin start talking about Elite delaying the console launch to work on the broken PC version.

While I missed the article about it yesterday, I did address this 4 days ago when talking about online player toxicity: “The human brain is literally physically designed to solve problems. So, since game developers have taught us that the only way to get them to address a situation is to flame, troll, and hack the other game that they DO care about, then that is exactly what humans who are using their brains are going to do.”

Whether or not the players flaming, and threatening, developers had anything to do with their decision to delay the console launch in order to fix the PC version, the timing is causing the toxic players to take this as a win.

So game developers are continuing to show their customers that being toxic is the only way to get what they want. That being the case, developers have no leg to stand on when they complain about toxic behavior. It’s the only thing that devs respond to, and they continue to reward this behavior.

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Bruno Brito

So…let’s me see if i get this right:

Developers get harassed and death-threatened and ratioed in their personal social media accounts only when gamers have a collective cause to stand on? Are you saying that toxicity and harassment doesn’t happen outside these specific situations?

Because on the specific thread you yourself linked, i answered your comment by saying exactly this:

“So…i think you should re-read the article, considering that Andy’s example doesn’t even concern feedback or devs:

A new guildie joins, discover one of the officers is a woman. He starts being extremely pushy and creepy about it, and she tells him to stop. He keeps going, even after she mentions having a partner. She kicks him. He moves an entire server chat against her because of how toxicity culture works.

This doesn’t involve feedback, it doesn’t involve devs, it doesn’t involve forums. It literally involves a culture based mainly on low-quality relationships that are easily manipulable and most gamers don’t even realize how easy they are to use as foils for more malicious idiots.

There is WAY more to toxicity and human behavior in general than just interactions between customer and company.”

I’m still trying to gauge what you’re trying to say. If you’re saying that toxicity is just a consequence of bad development, then that’s just completely wrong. If you’re trying to say that toxicity uses bad development as ONE OF the excuses to happen, then yes, you’re right, and that doesn’t change the fact that there are ways to ask for things, and to demand things, and being a complete asshat, a creep or a literal criminal aren’t those ways.

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Arktouros

You completely missed Peregrine’s point. Essentially it’s “the squeeky wheel gets the grease.”

Now it’s a little victim-blamey but fundamentally speaking it’s not wrong. If all your company responds to is something on the “Shitstorm Matrix” then us human beings are going to figure out that if we create a “Shitstorm” then we’re going to get things we want. If I write a 5000 word essay that’s well thought out and respectful but it’s entirely ignored why would I waste my time on that in the future when those guys created a Shitstorm and got what they wanted?

Now where your misunderstanding seems to come from is you seem to think this encompasses all scenarios for toxic behavior. Obviously that is not the case. Some scenarios people are just shitlords and they’re going to be shitlords regardless if they’re rewarded for it or not. The scenario they bring up addresses one aspect of toxic behavior, namely where it’s human nature to be problem solvers and if the solution is be toxic then people are going to do that regardless of whether or not they “should.”

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Bruno Brito

I didn’t miss the point. On the thread Peregrine linked their point, Andy literally prefaced the entire thread with an anecdote about the female officer in his guild, who was harassed because she kicked a creepy new member that tried to forcefully gauge her life status among other things. Andy then showed a research, conducted by a psychologist, showing in-depth facets of toxicity.

And Peregrine’s entire point was “the way companies and devs conduct their development is the biggest contributor to toxicity because human beings are problem solvers.”

Which i completely disagree. While there is some toxicity indeed embedded in the criticism, it’s not nearly one of the most prevalent reasons why people are harassed. I would argue actually the biggest factor in toxicity being so strong online is both the anonimity and the lack of exposure to the same groups of people that are harassed in the real world.

That’s my entire point: I would completely agree if it was one aspect being addressed. It’s not. If you accompany their starter argument, you’ll see it reads like excuse-making. Which is why i told them on the same thread to re-read Andy’s entire post, because a lot of it didn’t even bring up development toxicity, instead focusing on gamers relationship between themselves.

Also, i don’t think it’s some. I think the majority of toxicity has nothing to do with development feedback. As i bring from Andy’s thread here:

“And the perception is that toxicity is actually getting worse. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 81% of adults aged 21-45 who played online games say they’ve experienced some form of harassment. About 64% of those who experienced harassment said it impacted their gameplay experience, and about 68% of online multiplayer gamers experienced severe abuse, including physical threats, stalking, and sustained harassment. These numbers are higher across the board over the same report from 2019.”

These numbers are from gamers. They may pertain to feedback ( most people are toxic when harassing players they perceive as bad, but it’s not the only kind of feedback. Anedoctally, i have a friend who was literally chased out of shooters and Twitter because of being a female and for liking a specific sort of hentai. She got deaththreats, KYS messages, her account was locked and she still ran away.

I don’t think this behavior can be justified, because the numbers themselves in Andy’s thread show how much toxicity pertains to gamers themselves, who are powerless except in the game, than to developers, who also get harassed a lot, but more on specific occasions.

PS: I’m not, in no way, shape or form, saying that developers don’t do things that earn them harsh criticism. They do. All the time. Sometimes, that harsh criticism will come with a lot of bile in it, and if it comes from paying customers, well, they kinda made that bed, the customers deserve their money’s worth.

What i disagree with, is the concept that toxicity itself is primarily born out of necessity and let’s say, injustice, when it’s not. When Golden got harassed because of Sylvanas, i would harshly disagree that most people harassed her as a way to get Sylvanas fixed. Most of them harassed her as a way to blame someone for “ruining my favourite game”.

People are more than problem-solving skills. That concept is extremely reductive, both for toxicity as a issue and for people as entire worlds by themselves.

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Arktouros

“Biggest contributing factor” is, again, not the same as encompassing all scenarios with toxicity.

We all have our opinions on what’s the biggest contributing factor. For me I think anonymity and the lack of consequences is the biggest contributing factor. However, again, none of these wholly address or encompass the topic. For example obviously we can look at Facebook and other social media to see that anonymity alone isn’t the sole cause of these kinds of issues as some people have no problem being toxic without anonymity.

Peregrine’s point however is that people learn from behavior that works. If starting up the Shitstorm matrix works for a video game, would it work in interpersonal relationships as well? Even more pointedly: if you’re willing to be a shitty person in one scenario you’re likely willing to be a shitty person in other scenarios as well. And again, who has reinforced that being toxic would be rewarding…?

No one is trying to “justify” or defend toxic behavior. In almost every case it’s people trying to explain why they think it occurs. The reality is you two are talking past each other because you want to talk about these scenarios of extreme harassment and he wants to talk more about what gets people acting toxic in the first place as a broader topic.

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Bruno Brito

talk more about what gets people acting toxic in the first place as a broader topic.

Which again, i entirely disagree with what makes people acting toxic. People aren’t primarily acting toxic out of necessity. Cops didn’t beat Pride out of concern. We had TWO instances i remember of where players used toxicity to gauge functional responses from their developers: The most recent one is Apex Legend and Titanfall.

But i don’t know if you remember this, there was a PvP player in GW2 who acted extremely toxic through the timespan of 6 months, and got reported for everything. He abused what he could: foul language, racial epitaphs, disruptive behavior, match throwing, everything. At the end of the 6 months, he posted his findings about the report feature and how lacking the GM team was, even MOP featured it as newsworthy.

Even then, the comments were pretty polarizing. He needed to be as disruptive as possible, but the people in his matches didn’t deserve the ungodly ammount of vitriol he brought to the game, even as research. On my personal opinion, i believed that it was a necessary evil, hence why i’m saying that i can understand what PF is saying. I AGREE that developers tend to, i won’t say reward, but respond to bad behavior more than to focused and good-willed criticism.

I DISAGREE with the inherent belief that toxicity is initially bred from necessity. Like i said, i don’t even think it’s the main factor, and Andy’s numbers in the other thread support that. I also disagree that the toxic response is normally just a consequence and not gamers literally using a scapegoat to drop bile.

So, as you said on your own comment chain: “a bit more complex than that.”

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Arktouros

Seems to me that your GW2 example showing how the devs don’t negatively react towards toxicity and how much they let players get away with just reinforces his point on how developers establish what kind of behavior they’re willing to deal with which in turn reinforces using said behavior. It’s not about rewarding said behavior as much as it is teaching people if they want something to change then being pretty toxic can work.

That’s all Peregrine’s point was. It’s not that people are always toxic to get change. It’s not that people are toxic in all scenarios expressly for the purpose of change. Just that the more toxic behavior is seemingly rewarded the more people will act toxic because they know it gets results.

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Arktouros

Personally I find it’s a bit more complex than this.

On the one hand if you get feedback that’s negative, even if said negative feedback is expressed in a toxic manner, you can’t really not react to it either. You can’t really ignore a critical issue with your product just to “rise above” the toxic behavior of your customer base.

So it’s really a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of scenario which does give them a bit of a leg to stand on in terms of criticism. That said I generally do agree with you that developers don’t positively reward or respond to the kind of feedback they want to see enough.

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Danny Smith

“they can do a lot with those ingame models and engine for cutscenes” are you sure you don’t mean prerendered ones that are just video files? because WoW’s engine can do good things but ingame cutscenes are not one of them. The mouths flapping totally out of synch with voice acting, things doing 1 frame, no animation motion tweens for “movement” or the animation they do when you click on the npc on repeat for dialogue is abysmal. Its the sort of animation quality pokemon sword and shield rightfully got the piss ripped out of them for. They were bad when they were new and in Shadowlands they are just as bad if now worse with the new models highlighting just how absolutely piss poor the character animations are.

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