This is (AION) beta not Sparta (revisited)
Jul 06, 2009 18:03:16

Last September (2008) I wrote an article for Virgin Worlds called "This is beta not Sparta" and it seems that it is time to revisit the subject again. Let me start out with a quote from a talented guy named "Mark Jacobs" about another beta - the Warhammer Online beta:
"Why do some people feel it is okay to threaten, curse, abuse and be downright hostile to other people over a game, especially in this case when it is only over access to a game that is still in testing (Open Beta Test = Not Yet Ready For Prime Time, Players)? While I've become quite cynical over the decades, I still find myself amazed at times at certain people's reactions to stuff like this. I don't mind when people get upset but to treat other people in such a callous, mean and immature manner is really a bit much." - Mark Jacobs

Let me use a tired old buzzword from business to counter the same tired "buzz-phrases" that are already starting out there...time to be PROACTIVE. Here is my proactive message to my fellow columnists/bloggers/podcasters:

Give the B.S. a rest.

Let me quote another person whose opinion I greatly respect... my co-host:
"Talking to Paul Barnett has really opened my eyes about a lot of things." - Fran Kosac, co-host of the "No Prisoners, No Mercy" show

So what buzz-phrase has me hopping mad? What is it that has opened Fran's eyes? I am glad you asked. What has opened Fran's eyes is talking to Paul Barnett about how much hatred he has heaped on his shoulders by the gaming community as a Creative Director for Mythic. What has me hopping mad is the fact that I am already seeing the same tired, cheap shots starting out there:

WoW clone.

No my personal opinion is that Aion is about as similar to WoW (beyond simple game mechanics like using the "WASD" keys that all games share) as an aardvark is to a watermelon. But the major point here is what has come up recently in the gaming community and that is about reviewing a game. I certainly understand about discussing a game that has just come out of the NDA phrase; after all most times people who write about games (myself included) are anxious to talk about w hat they have experienced. But what is not fair to the producers, developers, coders, artists and anyone else who talks about a game is to start saying negative things about it that writers KNOW will have seriously negative connotation before the game is even finished. So while some of my fellow columnists/bloggers consider calling Aion a "WoW clone" (or words to that effect) before it even gets out of beta let me coin another phrase in defense of the people working on the game.


For God sake people if you are going to say something negative about a game before it even gets out of beta - and I have already seen comments that people are going to cancel their pre-order as a result, at least try and be original.

See you online (like it or not),
- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Jul 06, 2009 18:03:16 CST (comments: 16)


'Repainting the turd.' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-11 02:26:40 CST
While I have repect for alot of what you say, and you tend to be in the ball park on most of it, I just don't really agree with you here, and this is why.

First, I don't use the term "WoW-Clone" (I don't play WoW), as it IS over used, and a bit of a cliche. There is some degree of truth behind it nether the less.
Not that Aion in this case is directly copying from WoW as it implies, but rather that it is copying from the same tired old generation of mechanics that WoW is famous for. (which incidently preceeded WoW, by in large)

By which I mean, levels, classes, fed-ex/kill-ten-rats linear questing, mutliple severs, various social barriers, and in general the same old motherfucking grind present in all modern MMO's.

The problem is, that MMO's nowdays are all (well, mostly, with some noticable exceptions, such as EVE) just attempting to resell the same product, the same experiences to us, the consumers, that we've all had before....... several times before.
Where, they introduce maybe a handful of 'New' mechanics and ideas, with their own lore/story, world, art style, etc. Then they stop thinking, and copy pretty much everything else, and try to pass it of as some 'completely new and exciting'.
Where I think we've (the industry and playbase) have come to the point that we can see it for what it is, bullshit.

They haven't really made anything that we haven't already done to death, they've just repainted the turd. And I for one am sick of it.

In Aions case, it doesn't really matter wether it is in beta or not, because at this point we can see the core mechanics, and guess what, there pretty much exactly the same as every other MMO out there.
But not only that, but they just didn't seem to push the boundries, or add anything of any real value to the industry. So they have flight mechanics, whoop-di-fucking-do. Yeah, that's what I've been jonesing for these last 4 years, flight mechanics. Yeah......

Sure, I amit that Aion is beautiful and stable, but in this day and age, it's a given that we expect.
And yes, I relizes that at the end of the day it is our own fault, as our expectations have grown. But that's buisness for you, to meet the expectations of your consumers/customers, and at the minute, the industry is struggling to do that.
It could be that our expectations are unrealistic, or it could be that developers are just slack, or anywhere inbetween.

But ultimately, repainting the turd is just not going to cut it.

(This also doesn't nessercarily mean we know what we want, even thou I do, or how we can fix the problem, which I do, it just means the status quo doesn't work.)

So while I can't condone some of what is said to developers regarding this issue, as some people do take this too far, and just don't communicate effectively, I do understand it.
And sometimes there is just no polite way of saying "Stop copying the same fucking mechanics from 10 years ago!".

'Mechanics' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2009-07-24 19:18:38 CST
Back when I first played WoW in beta, the first thing I noticed was that it was just like EverQuest, but they fixed all the things that drove me nutz about EQ at the time and added some minor but cool new features. Mana and health regenerated faster, quests were logged in a book and displayed the reward in advance, there were no zone lines and the world was seamless, travel times were reduced with flight masters, and so on. Yeah, cool stuff, but otherwise it played JUST LIKE EVERQUEST. Why? because EverQuest, Ultima Online, Asheron's Call and all the MUDs before that defined the genre. Just like Castle Wolfenstein and Doom defined the genre for the first person shooter. There are certain game mechanics that define what an MMO is and will continue to be prevalent in MMOs to come. It's always been my stance that people who are frustrated with these mechanics, like Yoh, aren't looking for a ground-breaking next-gen MMO. They are essentially tired of MMOs and looking for a new type of game or genre.

'Swing and miss.' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-26 02:57:34 CST Want to try again?

I do see your point Seritaph, but I don't agree that they are set in stone as you imply.
And no, I'm not looking for an new or different genre, I really am looking for that next-gen of MMO.

And where I think it starts, is with ditching baggage mechanics which are holding the genre back. Levels and classes are chief among them, because in MMO's, they become social barriers, and thus work against the very idea of and MMO, people.

In the case of Doom and Wolfenstein, copying from the past isn't the problem, good mechanics and indeed ideas, should be propagated. And first person shooters have undergone refindment, but its fine to reuse the core mechanics if they don't cause any real problems and get the job done, which it does in this case.

The same cannot be said of the core MMO mechanics. (even thou MMO's are amorphous, and can take just about any shape one could imagen, so there is no 'real' core mechanics there)
They do cause problems, all the freaken time, and everyone damn well knows it. So my point is, why hang onto mechanics that clearly cause these kinds of problems that ultimatly hold the title back?

If anything, I would say lazyness. Either that, or they don't see it as a problem, because their either not looking, or don't play anyway. (with the latter, if the developer doesn't even play the game their working on, then they obviously don't believe in the product their selling, and don't know where the cracks are.)

Although, there is one other possibility, is that they DO know where the problems are, and simply don't care to fix it, because that takes time and money, and if they can get away with selling you the same product and hench, experiences, then they will. Then its the fualt of the consumers, for blindly eating up the crap these developers shit out.

Which is why I take the position that I do. If I see a product, which I so obviously just a rehash, with seemingly no effort made to push the boundries, or at least tell a good story or give a real new experience, then I have no interest supporting them in any way, shape or form. If fact, I'd even go so far as to actively cast dissent, if it's within a genre I actually care about, such as with MMO's.

There is room to cast legitimate dissent in this situation. I just wish people would do it in a more constructive manner.


'Ground control to Major Tom' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2009-07-27 15:13:43 CST

Levels and classes a social barrier working against people? On the contrary I think that's part of what pulls people together. So I disagree with that statement. Besides if you're looking for an MMO without levels or classes, then you're looking for more of a sandbox, like Second Life or Tale in the Desert, which are more like a Sim than an MMO in my opinion.

In regard to MMOs mechanics causing problems, well that's all subjective. You can't please everyone all the time. What may be an annoyance for you may be simply a challenge to overcome to someone else. But you're not specific about what mechanics bother you, so this is a dead-end.

And this conspiracy theory that developers are out to feed us all crap, well that's just paranoid. And I don't think they're lazy either. In fact, I would love to see the design doc you would come up with to launch the MMORPG into the next generation.

To quote Paul Barnett in the G4 MMO report, "Try writing the design document for Tetris, it's harder than you think. And if you want a puzzling question, try this one: You're in charge of the game of chess. What rule are you going to change, what are you going to change it to, and why did you do it? If you can do all that you're on way to being a designer. And then you can come and work here."

'Don't take it private' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-07-27 15:57:09 CST
Unlike what you often hear in forums where some one says "please take it private" my comment is just the opposite - please take it public. I would like to invite the two of you (Yoh and Seritaph) to be on an upcoming "High Noon" on the show to discuss the ins and outs of this issue for the benefit of our listeners.

In the mean time I see several good articles in the making here and I think I will get to it.


'Sounds good to me' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-28 10:36:22 CST
High noon it is then.
Let me go get my shotgun.

Actually I was getting to a point that I wanted to go on your show anyways, to cover this topic, as I feel it is indicitive of the industry as a whole.
Although I may want to listen to your last couple of podcasts with Pual Barnett, because I not sure wether I agree or disagree with him. But from what I have heard, he sounds like a reasonable bloke.

And there is a limit to how far you can accurately explain your position in text.
I'll have to get my good mic out for this. (which incidently, is still crap)

And needless to say, I still completely disagree with Seritaph's almost asine position.
Nice quote btw.

'In this corner' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-07-28 11:06:04 CST
I wouldn't exactly equate Seritaphs opinion with any part of someone's body - but if we can get Seritaph to agree we have ourselves a high noon. And show 40 with the last of the three part Paul Barnett interview is nearly complete. I am finishing the editing today.


'No thanks.' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2009-07-28 16:40:00 CST
Mostly because I've already stated my position here to my satisfaction. And though I admire Yoh's "passion", I find his demeanor to be a bit too aggressive (to put it politely). Not to mention, I like to keep a more ambiguous and distant approach, due to certain circumstances. But to a degree, I've enjoyed this discussion. Sorry to disappoint.

'Not a problem...' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-07-28 16:50:25 CST
Not a problem Seritaph. We (Fran and I) respect your position and certainly understand off.


'So no go, eh?' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-28 20:54:21 CST
Well that's unfortunent, I was looking forward to laying into you. ^^

But that's fine.

Would it still ok if I came on the show, as my original beef was with you anyhow? (although not to the same degree)
Maybe not high noon, but just a conversation all the same.

And it's cool Seritaph, you can call me an asshole, I am one, I fully realize that. Tact, I don't has it.


'Generic Post Title' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-07-28 21:11:11 CST
There is an old expression that says "It takes two to tango" or as Bugs Bunny put it once, "It takes two to tangle."

'Eto......' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-29 02:50:19 CST
Errrr..... so, no then?
I'm exactly sure what your driving at there Julie.

'Missing words' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-29 02:52:18 CST
Yeah, I really should proof read more.
Ment to say, 'I'm NOT exactly sure what your driving at there Julie.'

Geez, I rush things.

'Driving' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-07-29 03:59:55 CST
Me driving? People crazy perhaps but nothing more. No hidden meaning. You just can't have a heated debate on air with Seritaph if Seritaph will have none of it...and I can understand why not (as plainly stated).

'Ah, I see where your driving' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-07-29 05:07:35 CST
I thought that was what you were talking about.
Although I had already conceeded that that was not going to happen, as he had opted out, but then I sujested just a regular, old fashion discussion, between me, you and fran. Or did you skip over that bit?

Well whatever, it's your show.
But if you ever wanna chat, there is always email.

I think I'm going to go read up more on Paul Barnett now.


'AION vs WoW?' by PeZzy
Submitted on 2009-08-20 05:00:15 CST
If you want to compare AION with WoW, just create a starting character in each game. You should quickly see how old and backwarded WoW is compared to AION. A person who cannot see the difference in the graphics, animation, environment and combat needs to stop reviewing games.

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