Over at Healing the Masses, J3w3l repeatedly puts out solid coverage of video games and the video game industry, way better than anything that I do over here. If you aren’t following her work regularly, you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice. She recently went off the training wheels and got off of WordPress. She’s now forging her own path with her own site over at Healingthemasses.net and what you need proof of it? Okay fine.
To highlight some of that work, she seems immune to the hype trains that I regularly fall for, and her article on the failures of Daybreak Studios, while something of a rant, is impossible to aruge. She discusses the cut over from SOE to Daybreak, and many of the promises that don’t seem to be materializing and right now feel like they never will. And while my affectionate fawning and crying over the firing of Dave Georgeson feels embarrassing and foolish in hindsight, I would argue that his departure from the studio has taken whatever momentum the games had and thrown it right into the toilet. Terry Michaels, the current project lead for the games is a competent game developer but you can tell just from his demeanor how much he hated the live streams and other outreach programs the company was engaged in before Daybreak took over. Say what you will about his priorities or managerial expertise, but Georgeson was a masterful salesman. Without him, the games look like concept pieces that had never been fully fleshed out, and announced way before they knew if they could even deliver on what they were promising.
She also lays into the hype around the Guild Wars 2 expansion as well. Her deeper dive into what’s really going on in that expansion is a welcome bit of reality, given the marketing hype that’s surrounded it to this point. I had always been dubious of the expansion to begin with: one class, one new major story area, and a boatload of balance-altering class changes were all that was on the schedule. Was this an expansion or just a content update? Also it’s NCSoft. Do I really need to say anything else? Finally, given the cost for this “expansion,” I feel like I’m back in the Cataclysm/Tales of Pandaria days and god please, no more of that.
Lastly she takes a shot at the Kickstarter craze and is seeing what I’ve noticed as well. Systems like Kickstarter (and Patreon) are especially vulnerable to co-opting by cults of personality. I’m glad she’s noticed the issues that this has caused and is advocating for a much more discerning use of the tool. With my own experiences with Pillars of Eternity, Bloodstained, Tales of Numinara, and a host of others that I haven’t backed, there’s a real bitter taste in my mouth from some of these projects with the way they took advantage of the tools Kickstarter offered, and more awareness around this is always good.
I would be remiss in not mentioning that she also pointed me to Ralph Koster’s site who had a deep in-depth discussion about Star Wars Galaxies that was tremendously inciteful. His comment have led me to buy his book on game design and have helped close several research gaps that I was pursuing on my own. Look for my first in a series of articles on MMO game systems next week. We’ll be focusing extensively on MMO economies and how they work and I’m looking forward to it. Later on we’ll get into crafting, pvp, loot, class building, society building, content creation and maybe even talk about a way to make weather work as well. I’m looking forward to the series and I hope you’ll hang around for it too. It’s an ambitious bit of writing I’m working on. See you soon.