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Default BioWare - David Gaider on Opinions

February 8th, 2013, 09:17
David Gaider has taken to his blog to write about the difficulty developers face making comments on the internet. It's not specifically about RPGs but a few readers might find it interesting:
On the occasions when I do speak publicly, however, I’m certainly not going to trash-talk decisions made by my company or my team that I happen to disagree with. Not only is that unprofessional, that’s highly suspect behavior. For one, I was there. I know how that decision got made. I’m aware of the issues that went into it, the ugly stuff and all, and once that decision’s made there’s really no point in continuing to bitch about it or airing dirty laundry in public. If we operated like that, we’d never get anything done… we’d be a group of squabbling children constantly pulling the project in multiple directions. Great for fan forums, not great for actually getting the project shipped. Secondly, whoever I’m talking about, whoever made those decisions, won’t be present to defend themselves. People outside the team would be listening to my opinion, getting half the story and bringing their own agenda into their interpretation and leaping to conclusions— which would probably be wrong. Some people might find it informative, but my experience on the Internet has been that a great many posters have the reading comprehension skills and self-awareness of a toddler. So that would be incredibly unfair and back-handed criticism to expose a co-worker to.
Then again, it doesn’t take much for fans to think that anything I speak on involves either my personal support or my personal condemnation (see above comment regarding reading comprehension on the Internet). If I say “this is what we’re doing and why”, that will be taken as me personally thinking it’s awesome, and that it was my idea. And the company is awesome for agreeing. And if you disagree with that, you’re a bad person. That’s actually pretty rarely the case. Sometimes I think these are good ideas and superior to other approaches, and I will say so, but usually I’m just explaining. Most times a given approach will have its upsides and downsides, and whether the upsides make it better overall really depends on the context (both of the given project and its other features as well as the preferences of whomever is reading). But I’m aware of this, and the fact that many people will equate me with BioWare itself regardless of whether what I’m speaking on is even something over which I have any control. I am the big, bad Godzilla rampaging over their sensibilities. Oohhh, run in fear!
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February 8th, 2013, 09:17
Sad, but true. The internet has a tendency to regress adults into whiny manchildren.
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February 8th, 2013, 11:05
Oh, how wonderful denial can be.

Dear Gaider:

You weren't obligated, sure you weren't. You didn't say Bioware was above criticism - no, but you might as well have.

In your position, you CAN NOT speak openly and honestly. That's true. Well, not unless you value your integrity above that of your job - but I know that's not the norm. Few would expect that.

So, just don't speak about the subjects about which you can't be truthful. If you DO speak anyway - that makes you somewhat dishonest at best - and a clearcut liar at worst. Why? Because you can't be honest about them.

There's no other way around it, sorry.

Not a big deal though. The vast majority of developers of AAA games who speak in public do the same all the time. They just don't whine endlessly about it in denial.

You're obligated to sell - and that's your function in public. That's what you did. Accept it and move on.

Sad, but true. The internet has a tendency to regress adults into whiny manchildren.
Actually, I'm afraid a lot of people ARE whiny manchildren. The internet makes it possible without much of a consequence.
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February 8th, 2013, 12:29
Funny but that's not always the case. I've seen a lot of public people (not from the game developer field) who're pretty much never thrashtalked or misunderstood. And some others are constantly getting flak. Mostly in depends on personality, timid people and troll-like people get different reactions.

In this case my guess is that people's behavior is an indication that people DO have a very serious issue with Bioware. On a personal level that might hurt, but it doesn't really have anything to do with personal level! Most people would talk to a member of a company as if they were talking to the company at large.
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February 8th, 2013, 12:36
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
Funny but that's not always the case. I've seen a lot of public people (not from the game developer field) who're pretty much never thrashtalked or misunderstood. And some others are constantly getting flak. Mostly in depends on personality, timid people and troll-like people get different reactions.

In this case my guess is that people's behavior is an indication that people DO have a very serious issue with Bioware. On a personal level that might hurt, but it doesn't really have anything to do with personal level! Most people would talk to a member of a company as if they were talking to the company at large.
Lots of people are idiots - that's true.

But he does represent the company when speaking about their products in public - and that's what he's having a hard time saying straight in that blog.

As such, he shouldn't be surprised when people make him responsible for his own statements.

He's been avidly defending Bioware all the way - and he did exactly the same on this very site.

So, if he's now saying that he didn't actually feel their decisions were worth defending - then he's a liar. But that's not what he's saying. He's being as unclear as ever. Because he's deliberately sidestepping EXACTLY how he feels about their changes and products.

That's what makes him so unreliable - and while I wouldn't call him a clearcut liar - I think it's painfully obvious that he's still partially in denial about his own role in his reception and he doesn't come off as honest in any way whatsoever.

That doesn't mean the general public is fair - because it never has been. The general public is a mob with no brain. You don't want to hope for a fair exchange from them - or you'll be disappointed every single time.

That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's ever spoken in public.
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February 8th, 2013, 13:19
Am I to gather from your militant post that you have a serious issue with Bioware?

I also dislike the direction they're slowly gravitating towards ("action with narrative and plot"), but I don't believe anybody will listen if I complain! I'm sure there were loads of people complaining about it already, there's no need to add another voice.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Lots of people are idiots - that's true.
Sorry but I never said that. If people bash Bioware and Gaider, they have a valid reason for doing it. And it's up to them and him whether they take away that reason or not.

David Gaider behaves normally in taking everything personally, though, anybody in his shoes would feel like this. But it's miscommunication. People want to communicate what they think, but the person they speak to takes it personally instead and defends himself. People feel that their words aren't getting through to the company and get frustrated, and he most likely, ahem, rarely repeats what they say to others in the company, indeed.
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February 8th, 2013, 13:28
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
Am I to gather from your militant post that you have a serious issue with Bioware?
Militant?

No, I have a problem with dishonesty. I have a passionate interest in gaming, and Bioware used to be a fantastic developer. So, when I'm met with dishonesty or a what seems like a delusional position from someone representing Bioware - I react with passion.

That is to say, I used to be passionate about it. Now, it's more like being consistent.

I also dislike the direction they're slowly gravitating towards ("action with narrative and plot"), but I don't believe anybody will listen if I complain! I'm sure there were loads of people complaining about it already, there's no need to add another voice.
One should do what one feels is right. If you have something relevant to say, I think it might be wise to speak out - but that's your own choice, obviously.

Sorry but I never said that. If people bash Bioware and Gaider, they have a valid reason for doing it. And it's up to them and him whether they take away that reason or not.
Oh, I don't think people always have a valid reason. Far from it. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about that.

An opinion is about as useful as it is informed.

David Gaider behaves normally in taking everything personally, though, anybody in his shoes would feel like this. But it's miscommunication. People want to communicate what they think, but the person they speak to takes it personally instead and defends himself. People feel that their words aren't getting through to the company and get frustrated, and he most likely, ahem, rarely repeats what they say to others in the company, indeed.
I'd agree it's normal behavior - as I said.

I don't agree everyone would react that way, however. I think it depends on how well you understand yourself and human beings in general. How capable you are when it comes to self-control and a rational position. Especially how true you are to yourself and those you communicate with.

So I don't think normal behavior is necessarily correct behavior - and I don't think it's necessarily better for anyone to behave normally.
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February 8th, 2013, 13:44
If you adore DA2 and ME3 ending - you rock.
If you dared to say anything negative about those - you're just whining.

In David Gaider's eyes I don't rock. And after reading his whining article, the feeling is mutual.

Toka Koka
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February 8th, 2013, 13:52
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No, I have a problem with dishonesty. I have a passionate interest in gaming, and Bioware used to be a fantastic developer. So, when I'm met with dishonesty or a what seems like a delusional position from someone representing Bioware - I react with passion.
I can understand that. But I think that when you react with passion, most often than not it's a warranty that others won't hear you. That tends to make others either defensive or angry.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
An opinion is about as useful as it is informed.
From what I gather, most fans speak about their personal opinions and so are fully informed.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I don't agree everyone would react that way, however.
True, and I'd be happy if communication was better. But would it ultimately help? Even if David Gaider starts behaving differently, I don't see any solution to this miscommunication. A different behavior of his isn't going to change Bioware's games, and people will continue bashing Bioware through talking to him.
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February 8th, 2013, 14:01
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
I can understand that. But I think that when you react with passion, most often than not it's a warranty that others won't hear you. That tends to make others either defensive or angry.
As long as I speak what I consider to be the truth (as far as I'm capable of establishing it) - I'm not concerned with the reception. Angry or defensive reactions tend to provoke more thought and debate - which is not necessarily a bad thing.

From what I gather, most fans speak about their personal opinions and so are fully informed.
So, if someone who has never played Dragon Age 2 - says it's a piece of shit, they're fully informed?

Ok, as I said - let's agree to disagree about this. We clearly have very different opinions about what it means to be informed - and that's ok.

True, and I'd be happy if communication was better. But would it ultimately help? Even if David Gaider starts behaving differently, I don't see any solution to this miscommunication. A different behavior of his isn't going to change Bioware's games, and people will continue bashing Bioware through talking to him.
It would help his image as far as I'm concerned. Whether that's "better" is of little interest to me.

Well, except that if it makes Gaider happier to know he's being received with less scepticism - that's always a nice thing.

I do care about people feeling good - and I would prefer that to be the case. Especially since he seems EXTREMELY concerned with his image of late.

But I don't think feeling good based on a delusional position is healthy. In that case, feeling bad might actually be better. This is what I think is happening to him right now.
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February 8th, 2013, 15:14
Gaider (and he is far from being the only one) milked confusion. He enjoyed wearing conveniently multiple caps.

Spokeperson: you only report what you are said to.
Involved in the development: you have the credibility of working on the stuff (but you can invoke anytime not working on the stuff you spoke about, just be told by colleagues)
Involved as a lead: not only you have the credibility of working on the project but you have the authority as you give direction (but you can always invoke your director's cut right being taken from you by the publisher)

Gaider enjoyed speaking while putting on one cap.

When it was about selling an awesome feature, the lead cap was so convenient.
When it was about explaining why this awesome feature did not make it in the game, the spokeperson cap was so convenient.

Everytime, credibility was reset (or hoped to be)

Bank account is now well filled thanks to PR stunts.

But it came with consequences: some were rightly confused by the change of caps, it had nothing to do with written comprehension skills, simply with Gaider's efficiency. Or others simply call out the BS, prefering to consider that no matter the cap, Gaider was talking.

So piece of advice: you do not want to face normal consequences of confusion? Simply stick to the role (and the limitations of range of actions that come with it) The little experience would also have helped for designing role playing games. No waste here. But less money in the bank.

And no opportunity to blog on the harsh world of the internet, under the cap of Gaider, the person.
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February 9th, 2013, 11:37
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
As long as I speak what I consider to be the truth (as far as I'm capable of establishing it) - I'm not concerned with the reception. Angry or defensive reactions tend to provoke more thought and debate - which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Does it work for you? I messed up a few of very important sure deals in my life (they would be sure deals otherwise) because of reacting with passion. And I took it as a life lesson. Venting your emotions isn't worth it if you can't get through to people any longer. But I guess there are different situations and you're right about it, sometimes it's possible to work things out like that.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
So, if someone who has never played Dragon Age 2 - says it's a piece of shit, they're fully informed?
I assume that everybody who gives an opinion about it has played it. Otherwise it's rather silly to have an opinion in the first place.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It would help his image as far as I'm concerned. Whether that's "better" is of little interest to me.
Why care for his image? Do you know each other?

Honestly, I don't care for Bioware employees that much. Especially now that they're ruining everything. DA2 is basically full real-time (pause is dysfunctional if everything is too fast and you have no command queue). The next logical step is to remove skill trees altogether, you can't use them to their full capacity anyway in a full real-time game. I found a Bioware reply to that, and it boiled down to the fact that they're trying to sell their games to people who prefer to play action games and won't bother with queue or pause. That's a lost cause, somebody who calls the shots only cares for money and is going to kill everything that made this company brilliant in the past for the sake of profit. Now why would I care about image of their employees when it's not going to change anything? I have no idea what David Gaider really thinks about it (it's not like you can talk freely in public), and neither I know him in person.
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February 9th, 2013, 12:26
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
Does it work for you? I messed up a few of very important sure deals in my life (they would be sure deals otherwise) because of reacting with passion. And I took it as a life lesson. Venting your emotions isn't worth it if you can't get through to people any longer. But I guess there are different situations and you're right about it, sometimes it's possible to work things out like that.
I'd be pretty stupid if I kept doing something that I didn't think worked out for me, after living life for 36 years.

In any case, there's a major difference between online interaction with strangers and real life interaction with people who can read facial expressions and tone of voice.

I'm not venting emotions. I'm using my ability to communicate in matters that I care about, because I'm emotionally invested in the subject.

I assume that everybody who gives an opinion about it has played it. Otherwise it's rather silly to have an opinion in the first place.
That's your choice. In my experience - many people are very eager to give their opinion - whether it's informed or not.

Why care for his image? Do you know each other?
I care about all human beings. But, as I said, it's of little interest to me - meaning I don't care very much.

Honestly, I don't care for Bioware employees that much. Especially now that they're ruining everything. DA2 is basically full real-time (pause is dysfunctional if everything is too fast and you have no command queue). The next logical step is to remove skill trees altogether, you can't use them to their full capacity anyway in a full real-time game. I found a Bioware reply to that, and it boiled down to the fact that they're trying to sell their games to people who prefer to play action games and won't bother with queue or pause. That's a lost cause, somebody who calls the shots only cares for money and is going to kill everything that made this company brilliant in the past for the sake of profit. Now why would I care about image of their employees when it's not going to change anything? I have no idea what David Gaider really thinks about it (it's not like you can talk freely in public), and neither I know him in person.
I'm not telling you to care about other people.

I don't care about people based on whether they're doing something I agree with or not. I care about people because they're human beings - subject to all the flaws we're all subject to.

As for being a Bioware employee - they're obligated to follow the company line and do what they can to sell their products. That's my entire point.

My problem with Gaider is that he doesn't seem capable of truly acknowledging it. To me, it seems like he wants his cake and eat it too. Either he speaks his mind OPENLY and HONESTLY - or he's being dishonest. That's what I'm trying to say.
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February 10th, 2013, 09:07
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
In any case, there's a major difference between online interaction with strangers and real life interaction with people who can read facial expressions and tone of voice.
For me being passionate always spelled failure online as well as offline. Maybe I do it the wrong way, though, somehow rudely? Who knows. Anyway of course I believe you that it works for you, and if it does it's a viable option.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
As for being a Bioware employee - they're obligated to follow the company line and do what they can to sell their products. That's my entire point.

My problem with Gaider is that he doesn't seem capable of truly acknowledging it. To me, it seems like he wants his cake and eat it too. Either he speaks his mind OPENLY and HONESTLY - or he's being dishonest. That's what I'm trying to say.
Isn't what you say the root of the problem with Gaider? You can't be entirely transparent that you're following guidelines (even if they don't exist on paper and you merely know what they are). Can you imagine someone saying "There's stuff I can and can't say", nobody would put much worth into his words after that. At least that's my take on it.

Anyway I can see your point.
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February 10th, 2013, 10:06
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
For me being passionate always spelled failure online as well as offline. Maybe I do it the wrong way, though, somehow rudely? Who knows. Anyway of course I believe you that it works for you, and if it does it's a viable option.
It depends on your definition of "works". If you mean it makes you a popular person around everyone - then it most definitely doesn't work "online". But that's not my objective - and I consider the notion of being popular around strangers strangely repelling. As for IRL - I've always been a relatively popular person, which is probably because my self-deprecating humor is much more evident, and it seems people can sense that I truly am what I say I am, where I'm encountering massive scepticism online.

But my ultimate objective is to simply speak my mind and share my thoughts. I prefer to provoke a response - rather than say something with so much diplomacy that the message is tainted or halfhearted. So, I always go for the straight-up message, and that does tend to provoke a lot of negative responses. That's the price of being truthful, which I really do believe requires a blunt approach. I know a lot of people disagree and consider themselves truthful - and all I can say is that I'm not seeing it.

I've struggled my whole life to find a way to be truthful and yet not be blunt - and I've failed every single attempt at it. At least, every single time the truth actually meant something.

Isn't what you say the root of the problem with Gaider? You can't be entirely transparent that you're following guidelines (even if they don't exist on paper and you merely know what they are). Can you imagine someone saying "There's stuff I can and can't say", nobody would put much worth into his words after that. At least that's my take on it.

Anyway I can see your point.
Well, what he could do is either resist being a public figure - or he could stop whining and pretend he was always being truthful.

But I'm glad you understand what I mean.
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