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A Sea Of Quotes

February 10, 2011

A thought has been occurring to me a lot lately. It has to do with all upcoming games, especially the highly anticipated ones, and inevitably it always seems to hit me whenever there’s a big brouhaha about Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I guess it really kinda amazed me how one tiny quote had everyone and their uncle scrambling to try and define what “Spring 2011″ meant. Or when the prospects of PvP in the game were in doubt, fans scoured the internet for videos or articles for anything the devs said about the subject trying to argue it as proof of yes or no. Even I’ve found myself over-analyzing some of the things that have been said, like trying to dissect the “dozens of planets” quote six ways to Sunday. It’s what we do for the things we’re passionate about.

Hence I hold no grudge against eager gamers for their conviction in digging up and trying to extract as much information from interviews or even seemingly offhanded comments, and oftentimes I even sympathize, especially when news is so sparse. But I still can’t help but wonder if this has made devs become more guarded and diplomatic in their answers (er, that is, even more so) now for fear that anything — even a candid statement — can be misconstrued and cause a shitstorm on the internet.

Like, do they ever suddenly sit up awake in the night, face palming themselves remembering an interview earlier in the day, thinking, “@#%$, I really shouldn’t have said that”?

29 comments

  1. There’s actually one thing that really irritated me about SWTOR, quote wise, and that was back when they first (officially) pulled the cover off the project. One of the devs said something to the effect that they’d have crafting “because other games have it”.

    That struck me both as a stupid reason to have it, and a stupider thing to say, but I guess since that dev probably didn’t have much public exposure to the crowds, and because it was pretty much a love-in with the excitement and all, he can be forgiven now, in hindsight.


    • I remember that! I think I also wondered for a second whether it might have been a joke, which brings up another point I didn’t think about before — devs joke at the peril; so many times on one forum or another, I’ve seen people take everything in an interview literally or take a joke out of context.

      And yeah, sometimes it simply comes down to being thrust into the spotlight and being caught off guard. Yay for having designated official spokespeople or a PR team!


      • Yes, ultimate lame crafting because-everyone is-doing-it prize goes to STO. I’ve heard it is much improved since launch. But dang! it sucked.


      • I love STO, but yah, it really was a pretty big joke of a crafting system at launch :P I still vividly remember the big mess that was Commander Romaine and the help-I-don’t-know-how-much-data-I-should-give-her fiasco :P


  2. I think the thing that’s different now is that we are all so plugged in. The internet has been around for ages, but it seems to me that the trend of any tiny tidbit of information flying around the web and getting dissected by dozens of armchair observers is a fairly recent trend.

    For example, WoW was highly anticipated back in the day, and had a lot of really good buzz around it. However, when it launched I’m not sure I even knew what classes were going to be in it. I’m sure I could have found that info, but it wasn’t trumpeted in the heavens by a host of eager fanboys the way details of high profile games seem to be these days. I can list most of the SWTOR classes off the top of my head, and I haven’t really been paying close attention to it. If I were a developer I’d be a lot more careful about what I said than I suspect would have been necessary six years ago.


    • I do think that the degree of analyzing has gone way up, but I wasn’t just talking about big things like classes. I think it occurred to me the first time when I was at the SWTOR forums, and in the general discussion board is a stickied thread that holds everything known about the game so far, or something to that effect. It’s a very helpful thread, but admittedly at the same time, some of the entries there have made me think, “hmm, that’s reaching.”


      • Apologies for the lack of clarity. The point I was trying to make was that I feel like the volume has gone way up on everything recently.

        My poorly articulated example: Given that I didn’t know big things about WoW like what classes would be in it, I suspect that tiny tidbits of offhand developer comments would never have had a chance of making it onto my radar six or seven years ago.

        Things you used to have to closely follow a project to know about have become common knowledge (e.g., classes in SWTOR), and offhand developer comments few would have paid attention to in the past are cataloged and commented on. The “what we know” list you mention is a good example.


      • Oh oh I see, and yes, I see that too on the increase of volume on just pretty much EVERYTHING. It’s good in that information is so easy obtained and can be cataloged, but the bad of course is you have to sift through so much more to get to facts and not just speculation.


  3. People have been doing this for a long time. The earliest major example I can think of was Necromancy in UO. Some dev offhandedly said they were thinking about putting the system in the game, and some people took that as a holy promise.

    I can sympathize, because developers will work on a lot of ideas that never quite make it into the game. If every “what if…?” thing you talk about becomes a requirement in a game, then you have problems. As I understand it, when Necromancy was finally added to UO it was pretty lackluster; probably would have been better to not include it.

    Like, do they ever suddenly sit up awake in the night, face palming themselves remembering an interview earlier in the day, thinking, “@#%$, I really shouldn’t have said that”?

    Or, it’s likely that a producer or community manager slaps them upside the head and says, “@#%$, you really shouldn’t have said that!” ;) Of course, these days I think most companies keep their developers on tighter leashes than back it the day.


    • Hahahaha, well, I guess that was sort of my thought, companies keeping developers on tighter leashes nowadays :P

      I suppose everything will need to come with a disclaimer these days, otherwise it’s a bit of shame if companies can’t talk about “what ifs” anymore for fear it would be taken as “for sures” :)


  4. I don’t believe any press game developers or publishers put out or get too hyped anymore before something has been released. Devs tend to hype stuff up over promise on features and ideas that will never be implemented and in some cases make the game out to be something that when we see it upon release is clearly not what we were being sold before hand with missing classes, cities, and other core mechanics.

    I think we see a lot more picking over games and the information that is released because so often in recent history this has happened and people are trying to discern what is really the truth about a game and what is marketing hype and sometimes flat out lies.


    • I’d like to think that most companies won’t lie on purpose, sometimes the time and money available just can’t keep up with the ambitions. Perhaps it does let companies approach their action plans with a more care with budget and time frames in mind.


      • I agree. However to market something and tell perspective buyers that a product has features that aren’t there upon use of said product is wrong.

        That’s like Ford advertising that they have this cool car with a state of the are stereo system and get 50mpg. They ask you to pre-order it because its so awesome then when you have the car you bought delivered it turns out they gave you an old walkman because they ran out of money to install that stereo and it only get 24mpg.

        Companies should not sell games on features unless they are 100% going to be present in the game otherwise its highly misleading.


  5. I don’t think its just games development where people watch what they say, but sure, developers are definitely more careful now that they know they’ll be analyzed in depth.

    I don’t think its a bad thing. We’ll get more accurate information, they’ll get less community backlash if they have to go back on something that was said.

    Eventually all information is released anyway, its not like they hold back everything until the game is released, they’re just more careful about when and how.

    With a lot of games, gw2 of course would be what i’m thinking of, the vast majority of information has come from 2 sources. Interviews and the demo. Without quoting I’ve got very little.


    • Oh, dont’ get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything out of the ordinary with looking through interviews and quoting from them etc. It’s how we get the information. I was more talking about the over analyzing, reading between the lines to draw conclusions etc. I do that too, though I think you and I do more speculating than actually trying to prove anything.


  6. This is the only time I’m ever going to admit this, but I have literally face palmed at certain speculative statements, and sometimes I’ve had to take a deep breath and not jump in to comment on something that could really be put into perspective with just an ounce of common sense. I know that sounds horribly judgemental, but sue me—it’s a pet peeve of mine when someone steps up to the cliff, ready to jump, based on one statement that could be taken about a dozen different ways.

    I’ve always been a believer in withholding judgement until something is in front of me. In some ways, that’s just my “business sense” kicking in, but it bleeds into my life, too. I don’t like to dwell on possibilities; I prefer to work with what’s in front of me, and make my judgements based on established fact. If something new comes along that is confirmed to be fact, I’ll revise my opinion to factor in the new information. If I was wrong, I’ll retract my theory and craft a new one. Part of being sensible is admitting that you can be wrong sometimes, and adjusting to the change as it comes.

    Now, I realize some people have fun speculating. I have no problem with those people doing that. Hell, sometimes a little fun speculation keeps the perishables fresh—but I absolutely hate when someone takes some miniscule statement as proof of some great travesty. That takes the conversation from a little fun speculation, into a war of words and accusations. I am a fan of healthy conversation (which is getting to be rare on the internet anymore), and wholesale speculation doesn’t breed healthy conversation—it just takes otherwise healthy conversation, and turns it into hater vs fanboy/girl, cynic vs optomist, etc.

    Luckily, BioWare’s devs seem very patient. I’m sure some of that comes from their easygoing personalities, but the majority of is most likely due to the fact that they’ve done this before. Ever since they instituted their “we’re not talking about that yet” philosophy, they’ve dealt with the fervour of starved (crackheads) gamers who want a little bit more each time.

    Having said all that, BioWare’s devs are as human as the rest of us. I’m sure they do have their moments where they feel like “ugh, I really have to go talk to those psychos again?” But luckily, they are professionals, and they do a good job of not letting any of that come through if it is felt.

    I don’t get the sense that BioWare is more guarded because of the ever growing pack of ravenous wolverines that inhabit the SWTOR community. Ever since KOTOR, BioWare has dealt with this kind of reaction as a result of their decision not to release anything until it is ready. I’m sure they were prepared for it all along. However, it is documented that BioWare had to assign someone to scour every frame of every video they released since Darthhater did some of their first dissections.

    I don’t think that decision (to painstakingly peruse every single frame to make sure they aren’t releasing something prematurely) was motivated out of fear of fan backlash, but it is funny to think that a super zealous fansite had any sort of impact on BioWare’s releasing policies.lol


    • Wow, I wrote my reply to Hunter before I had a chance to read your full comment, and it’s kinda amazing how close my thread of thought matches yours. The way you approach things make me think of the scientific method, taking new information and factoring and revising your opinions etc. It’s how I like to think I look at things too.

      I know I take a lot of quotes and mull over them on this blog, hell, every Friday if there’s a dev blog or video, probably, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to use anything as “proof” of a stance. Or at least I hope I haven’t come across that way. It is my hobby to just speculate and write about what’s got the gears in my head turning. I think it’s fun to guess at what Bioware has planned for SWTOR, but getting into the whole war of accusations thing, not so much. It looks ugly on forums and the last thing I’d want to do is bring it on the blog, though sometimes I will play into things like bet with Hunter on space combat or planets, but that’s in the spirit of good fun :P

      Really, the way things are right now, the “we’re not ready to talk about that yet” philosophy is probably the best way for any company to go. No information can be frustrating, but personally I still think it’s better than saying something and not being able to deliver later on. It just feels like some people are less likely to forgive that than the former.

      And lol it is funny the kind of new practices that sites like Darth Hater has resulted in. Sort of plays into what I was pondering, with devs becoming more guarded and careful with what they release, in spoken interviews or otherwise.


  7. Seriously, Jaramukhti, you need your own blog. ;) Great insights.

    And yes, the poor devs have learned the hard way, that too much information is as bad as not enough. The fanbois and haters all pick everything apart like the fate of world depends on it.

    They remind me of that viral video of the teenager that threw a tantrum because his mom took away his WoW.


    • Lol, I haven’t ruled it out completely. But I haven’t the faintest clue what it would be about. I couldn’t see myself blogging strictly on SWTOR—I’d go out of my mind. (I love the game, BioWare devs, everything, but the constant back and forth conclusion jumping by the SWTOR community would probably drive me to bitch & rant about things near daily.)lol


      • Ah, see, Jara, that’s someone else saying you should get your own blog. It’s not just me :P

        Maybe a SWTOR blog when it launches, eh? :D


    • Oh yeah, picking things out to speculate, fine. Picking things apart like the fate of the world depends on it, not so fine.


      • “Maybe a SWTOR blog when it launches, eh?”

        Hmm…perhaps. I still wonder if I could keep from ranting too much. I’d probably be better off writing occasionally about the game, and about other stuff the rest of the time.

        I’ll have to really consider it when/if the time comes that I can conceivably maintain one.

        P.S. – Sorry to hear about your dog.

        Dogs, and any pets for that matter, have a funny way of integrating themselves into a family. After awhile, they cease being just little bodies running around a home. Pretty soon, they become as much a part of a household as any sibling, significant other, or relative. Things just don’t feel the same when they’re not around. They add their own unique vibrancy to the house, and life.

        It’s probably late for a small platitude, but here is one that always helps me: hold your memories tight.

        That dog will always remember you. Even if she isn’t with you anymore, she’ll never forget. But maybe it’s just time for both of you to make some new memories.

        Wish her well, and take comfort in the fact that she’ll have a warm bed to sleep in, and a household to look after her. Not all dogs are as lucky.

        Take care.


      • Hope you do end up starting a SWTOR blog when the game launches, cuz I’d be so honored to have you on my blogroll :D You have some really good insights into the mechanics and concepts behind the game, but I’d also be interested in reading about your character and your adventures, and see your take on those too.

        And thanks for your kind words about my dog. I actually found out later on that my mother had lied and told me a “nice version” to spare me, the truth was that my dog was put to sleep. I didn’t say on twitter, it was just too much drama for the night.

        In a weird way though, that actually makes me feel a little better. The dog was OLD, like she was already having some health issues that was what prevented them from taking her along on their move. I’d rather have her pass away in peace than have her die alone and afraid with strangers not understanding why she was left behind by the only family she’s known her entire life. I was angry and I’m still sad, but at the same time, I understood the reasons behind the decision. I’ve just been doing exactly as you’ve suggested, holding on to the memories. There’s nothing more I can do now, I’m just going to keep looking forward and just know that she had a happy life. I’ll be okay, I feel better already, probably some of it due to relief. Thank you for your comment again :)


      • I am truly sorry to hear the truth. It is never an easy thing to know you’re pet, or any loved one, is gone. I know that one personally.

        I am glad that you are keeping your memories close. Not all animals are lucky enough to live their lives in a home where they are loved and attended to. It sounds like your dog was one of the lucky ones. I can understand how you feel about the whole thing. Sometimes the right thing to do doesn’t make you feel much better, but at least it was right. She knew her family loved her all the while, which is an assurance all pet owners are supposed to give to their pets.

        You and all yours have my best wishes as you move forward.


  8. The great internet is a sharp double edge blade and it can cut both ways depending on where it swings. And since we are all so plugged in to everything and every opinion and every analysis, info release and umm just everything well people are often up in arms due to all that.

    With that, less if just often more.


    • Double edged sword is a good way to look at it. Like I said before, being so plugged in this day and age is nice when you can have all the information you need at your fingertips. On the other hand, more effort is needed when I look stuff up to sift through fact from speculation. I like to read both, but the distinction is obviously important :P


  9. One phrase comes to mind. “On the rails.” people shit a brick when they found out it wasn’t open roaming space ship combat. All the more, the more i went back and looked at SWG:Jump to Lightspeed. I hate to spray and pray, on the rails to me meant suddenly: “If i can get some loot out of it, then it may be another fun distraction.

    In digging and wanting, and searching for more. I notice people add more and more until they become disappoihnted when something they made up in their mind and a couple thousand people agreed, doesn’t come to fruition.

    If you want to reinvent the wheel in my book? Don’t throw a questhelper in the game, i’m sorry, but having a literal strategy guide to go here, do this just defeats the purpose of playing and enjoying the game to me.

    Further? Defy conventions of a trinity, defy me on end game people. The fact i can do this all by myself generally makes me happy.

    Call me messed up, but there’s too many OP things in mmo’s that require teamwork, and i’m sorry, soemtimes i just can’t count on anyone. If i want to do it myself….ya everything? I’ve got companions for that, i like that.

    Aside from my petty misgivings and perception, i just find myself hoping alot of what people say is true, or try to will into existence don’t taint the game. Bioware has done well not to react to every curve ball the community throws it, it’s a catch 22 anyway, you can’t please everybody.


    • Oh yeah, the “on rails” thing blew up big time. Also “tunnel shooter”. Hell, the words “space combat” itself caused a lot of drama and arguing about what it means.

      I think a questhelper system or at least some kind of guide will be okay, as long as it doesn’t hold your hand like every step of the way. Most MMOs that come out these days have this, so I wouldn’t be surprised if SWTOR will as well. What sucks is that it strikes me as the kind of game that will have all kinds of guides written for it within a month of release, completely defeating the purpose of discovering things for yourself. I guess the good thing is you have a choice not to visit those websites, like I won’t…but I know a lot of people will.

      I wonder how the game will balance between solo and group content. I like having the bulk of the content to be stuff players can do by themselves, but it’s an MMO so I also want plenty of reasons to group up and I want the rewards to be worth it.


  10. “The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.”
    ~ William O. Douglas



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