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Default Rock, Paper, Shotgun - The Ignorance Of Crowds

January 25th, 2014, 04:26
Rock, Paper, Shotgun takes another look at open game development. Now I hope this is satire, or I foresee many angry replies.

People like to think they’re pretty special. And people do tend to have a habit of thinking what they think is right, and those who disagree are wrong. In my case it’s actually true, but unfortunately that’s not always the case for others. And really, honestly, the very last thing I want is other wrong people to be influencing the games I’m going to play. Developers have to stop asking other people how to make their games.

Kickstarter is making this so much worse. This ghastly expectation backers now have that they should have some influence over the game itself: NO. NO NO NO. You’re a wallet, and that’s it. Hand over your money, accept the sheer unbridled stupidity of developers then showing all their promotional materials only to the people who already bought the game, and keep your mouths shut. If you’ve got some incredibly brilliant ideas for making a video game, then here’s an idea: go make a video game. But you don’t – you’re just going to loudly crap on about how important it is that there’s crafting. So shut it.

Developers! Stop listening! And damned well stop asking! I have no idea what started this colossal crisis of confidence amongst the development world, but good gracious, could everyone get a hold of themselves? You’re the CREATORS, so get on with CREATING. Have some bloody convictions! You want to make a great game, so go ahead and make it, and stop thinking you have to pander to loud-mouths back-seat-developing your game for you. LISTEN ONLY TO ME.
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January 25th, 2014, 04:26
I've got mixed feelings about this, but in some respect he's right. It's good for game designers to have artistic integrity and guiding principles about how they want to make their game. This also means they have to be willing to say no to the contributors. Maybe it is better to have a social director who can act as a filter.
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January 25th, 2014, 07:42
I suspect it's bitterness mixed with sarcasm and seriousness mixed with satire.

Developers have to stop asking other people how to make their games.

No, developers have to stop making games, and gamers need to start making games. If people who loved gaming were the ones making the games they wouldn't need to ask the game players what they should be doing, and they wouldn't need to be asking men in suits with briefcases full of money what they should be doing, either. But when you have random people who got computer science degrees or english lit degrees and couldn't get real jobs settling for low paid positions at game companies, then those kinds of people really kinda do need some hints because most of them don't know a damn thing about games, and aren't capable of coming up with any brilliant ideas about what would make a good game, because they don't care a whit about the subject matter.
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January 25th, 2014, 08:43
Yes, this trend has worried me too. I suspect it's because devs have seen backlashes like simcity, ME3, BF4 etc and want to play safe. The idea being that players won't complain about a feature if it was democratically chosen.

However this is a bad sign. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I wonder how the world's greatest works of art would look if the writer/composer/painter had had twitter and was crowd-consulting every plot point/note/brush stroke.

Imo this has arisen because the people who knew how to make great games with fun mechanics and addictive gameplay were pushed aside by publishers who wanted more shooters, more sequels, more DRM, and longer cinematics.
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January 25th, 2014, 08:49
Satirical style is required when you put something at risk. Not the case here.

The article aims at cheapening any comments, observations on the topic of crowdfunding.

The author takes the necessary steps to provide a canvas to shoot the messenger, and not the message.

He dissociates himself from the crowds as much as possible by not depicting himself as he is and not depicted the crowds as they are either.

So he is that parent guiding kids (the crowds) and that guy who the developpers should listen to at the exclusion of all others.

The treatment of the crowdfunding topic does not require anything like that.
Backers for most of them are not kids, most of them live on their own. They are not kids you need to provide experiences with to open their perspectives but grown ups with their own experience of the world.

So here goes the messenger: a know all messenger who dissociates from the crowds from no other reason than to expose how much biased, prejudiced he is.

Then the message: points that are valid.

The article gives a canvas to deny any person who raises those points. By reference to the article, a messenger bringing this message must be an ultra biased person because that author reported the same points and he was such a biased, prejudiced person.

Going the way this author did was unnecessary. Nobody was going to shoot him because he would have treated the topic without misportraying himself and the crowds.

Crowdfunding involves processes that cant simply work.

Quick example: here's a KS developper shooting screenshots and posting it on their forum to ask backers to select the pics they like from what they saw.
Players usually do not work on calibrated monitors so it is enough to change monitors for a pic that a backer likes looks different and no longer fits the taste of the backer.
How can that stuff work?

Useless to put that thing into action.
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January 25th, 2014, 08:57
Originally Posted by Gaxkang View Post
Imo this has arisen because the people who knew how to make great games with fun mechanics and addictive gameplay were pushed aside by publishers who wanted more shooters, more sequels, more DRM, and longer cinematics.
That's great. So crowdfunding that keeps exposing the situation is not at fault but the big bad corporations are.
All these with projects that come with no publishers. How bad, bad, those corporations are.

When KS started to be reported on this site, I raised the issue of artistic integrity.

Here's the situation.

With the advent of the internet, developpers are much less insulated from their potential customers' influence than they were before.

Developpers want their game to sell since they make money off selling games.
By listening to the customers, they somehow increase their chances to sell the game. Developpers even stage listening to the customers.

Developpers have loans on their backs most of the times and they want to clear them out. Heavy pressure on their artistic integrity.

KS was different, developpers get paid upfront. The environment might have been favourable to protect artistic integrity. But it was not because in order to raise more funds and make more money, developpers auction their artistic integrity.
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January 25th, 2014, 10:42
I agree with the message of this article.

In the country i´m living in (Germany) there is the discussion, if games are art or not.
What is art? It´s some kind of "sublimed" personality of one or maybe a few people, who have an idea, who want the transmit a message to an audience. They thought this through - from the beginning.
This aspect of art is - in my opinion - very essential. Can you consider a game, where the mostly "fast" ideas of hundreds or thousands of people influenced the result, as art? I don´t think so. It´s kind of "not pure", poluted with the minds of people who passed by and left as fast as they joined the process.

Would you like readers to work with the author on a book?
Should an artist ask people which colors to use for a tree?

If games want to be art they should be accepted as they are - the most people don´t respect what "being art" bringth with: diversity, being an individual experience.
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January 25th, 2014, 13:57
What I find more and m,ore worrying is the trend of people feeling entitled so much that they demand the developers of "their" game to bow before them and do as they wish.

I've seen it in the SWTOR forums and I'm seeing it there every other day, too.

People who believe that according to the money they have invested into the games, the developers are basically nothing but slaves to the customers' money.

The saying "the customer is king" has become / grown into something resembling the novel "She" by that horror authoir, Stephen King I think was his name.

I have never read that nove, but the plos outline sounds to me very much like an video games fan kidnapping an game developer to get HIS AND ONLY HIS things through - in to the game itself.

There has been a point reached where "entitlement" can really become "blackmailing", and the ego of those who "feel entitled towards the game" has grownh into sizes that their ego is pressing out life from everything else.
An ego grown out of proportions can become some sort of cancer within online communities, I fear. And exactly this is happening to some people.

Even worse : This all requires some kind of sturdiness from the developers that only the strongest will remain - and the more delicate = more creative people are bitten (is this the right form of "bite" ?) away by "the entitled crowd".

Unless they are shielded - some kind of "demilitariszed zone" for developers. Like in computing, where demilitarized zones mainly consist of Router / PC -> filtering PC (with firewall) -> work / home PC , there already exist a similar things for some developers - at least in the SWTOR forums, where the community guy there admitted that his job is to shield the developers from the nastiness that is going on in their fan forums.

In the end, any "entitlement" driven too far beyond the border (too far beyond any border - especially the border of politeness) will result in developer harassment. This is a logical consequence.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 25th, 2014, 18:00
I think the entire discussion is a bit off. Making mountains out of mole hills. Of course the developers should listen to the backers. Of course they should also stick by their vision. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

To let the community vote/discuss is a way to gather feedback that can be helpful to the game, and hopefully add ideas that make the game better in the end. But in the end it's up to the developer to make the game they had envisioned, so they have to have the right to put their foot down. I've yet to see one single Kickstarted game that's been "hurt" by he backers opinions. I have seen lots of angry backers that think the games aren't turning out the way THEY want, but that's to be expected. When I hear a developer saying "We wanted to do this and this, but the backers wanted that and that, so we changed it, and now it's no longer the game I wanted to make" THAT's when I might get a little upset. But I would blame the developer then, not the backers for stating their opinion.
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January 25th, 2014, 22:37
RPS has really gone down hill in the last couple of years. Losing Quinns and the other main dude has really lowered the quality of the writing.

If this was supposed to be satire, it wasn't funny, and if it wasn't supposed to be satire, it was pointless.
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January 26th, 2014, 09:17
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
The saying "the customer is king" has become / grown into something resembling the novel "She" by that horror authoir, Stephen King I think was his name.
I'm pretty sure that the novel you refer to is Misery by Stephen King. It's a great book. The film is also quite good. Much better than most Stephen King adaptions, I would say. The novel She by H Rider Haggard is also worth reading, though.

On topic, I completely agree with tomasp3n. Of course the developers should listen to the backers. And of course they should also stick by their vision.
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January 26th, 2014, 12:09
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
In the end, any "entitlement" driven too far beyond the border (too far beyond any border - especially the border of politeness) will result in developer harassment. This is a logical consequence.
The situation is different between games that are released in a near completion state and games that are influenced by feedback during most of the developpment stage. As it happens for KS and the sort.

In the second case, you cant tell that the developpers are harassed because they look for the situation. They want part of the backers to seize the direction of the game developpment. Developpers auction off the creative input.

In a KS, both the developpers and part of the backers work themselves a better deal at the expense of the remaining part of the backers.

The better deal is:
-for developpers:

raising more money by appealing to customers they intent not to satisfy

shielding themselves from criticism by relinquishing personal expression and substituting it for a conformistic point of view. They do what their major lobby like them to do. The threat of rejection is minimal since they conform.

-for the main lobby:
getting a better game the way they like at a discount since some other backers only exist to subsidize them in their main lobby's consumption habits.
Remove the additional funding due to the backers that were not intended to be satisfied and the project might not even been funded at all.

The situation is different here from a game that is released near completion with players that keep banging at the door of the developpers to change the vision their way. In this case, indeed, sometimes, the behaviour of those players can be depicted as harassment.

In a KS, you cant speak of harassment of the developpers because both the developpers and part of the backers work together to get themselves a better deal at the expense of the other backers. No harassment here.
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