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June 30th, 2008, 13:01
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Where exactly did I suggest that?
I thought I put a question mark in there..

I'm suggesting that when my two eyes see a rather disproportionately large amount of fans feeling alienated, then the company probably alienated them somehow. This happened between Daggerfall and Morrowind, and it happened between Morrowind and Oblivion, and it happened between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3. Whether or not it happens between Fallout 3 and Oblivion remains to be seen.

I'm not really doing any numerical study to back that up, tho', so it's just an impression.
Oh, I think we're in agreement that Bethsoft has alienated some of its fans at various points, but I think we're drawing different conclusions about why they ended up doing that.

If you try a change with the aim of hoping to make a better game but discover that a lot of people don't like the game so you change back again, is that abandoning fans? Intentionally?

Say you have two sets of fans that want different things, what do you do then?
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June 30th, 2008, 13:05
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
If you try a change with the aim of hoping to make a better game but discover that a lot of people don't like the game so you change back again, is that abandoning fans? Intentionally?

Say you have two sets of fans that want different things, what do you do then?
I honestly doubt that Oblivion was a huge leap towards gathering back Daggerfall fans. The majority of Oblivion fans are - I assume - new people, then carry-overs from Morrowind, and then maybe stragglers from Daggerfall.

To be honest, you're the first to even bring up the point of Oblivion being a carry back to Daggerfall. I certainly didn't experience it like that - and I don't know anyone else who did. So I don't have any sufficient answer to your statement, since I simply do not agree with the premise.
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June 30th, 2008, 14:56
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Blizzard likes to stick close to fans […]
I think you got that part of their business model wrong.
After one of the last GDCs slides by a few WoW designers became available. They made it clear that you should not do what the fans demand because they don´t really know what exactly they like and why. Listen to them, analyze what they are saying, filter out what they really mean. All fine. But then take a step back and do what you ( = the desgner) think is best for the game. Usually the majority of the players likes the changes, but that´s not the primary objective.
The "image" that Blizzard is closer to the fans than other companies is successfully created by marketing & PR. Not only their developers are the best in the business.
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June 30th, 2008, 17:43
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
After one of the last GDCs slides by a few WoW designers became available. They made it clear that you should not do what the fans demand because they don´t really know what exactly they like and why. Listen to them, analyze what they are saying, filter out what they really mean. All fine. But then take a step back and do what you ( = the desgner) think is best for the game. Usually the majority of the players likes the changes, but that´s not the primary objective.
The "image" that Blizzard is closer to the fans than other companies is successfully created by marketing & PR. Not only their developers are the best in the business.
Ah. So when they had a question sent out asking fans "Do you think the look of SC2 is too cartooney" (I think Zergs in particular), got a resounding yes, and then went and overhauled the graphical design of SC2, that was…PR spiel.

That first paragraph is the typical claptrap you get to defend companies that ignore fans - like Bethesda. It's got things completely backwards. Yes, the first priority is that you have a strong design vision and philosophy that the game's leads all agree on. And once you have that, you talk to your fans.

And this is where it goes wrong, and all that nonsense about inconsistent visions comes in. If the fans simply disagree with your basic vision, ignore them, they are of no concern to you. But if they have a suggestion or idea that fits within your vision, or if many of them show a reaction you did not expect, think about it and adapt where possible or necessary.

It doesn't matter that fans squabble over details, it matters from what basic perspective they squabble over. Here's what Ryan M Milner said about Fallout fans, which applies well here:
They fit in snug with Lévy’s propositions about knowledge communities and were all over the Fallout 3 forum. Most of the intense debates over the quality of Fallout 3 centered on the offer of information (such as a link to a screenshot or a quote from a producer) and the interpretation of that information. And in cases where there was no credible information to be proposed, speculation was a sufficient replacement. Even in the most heated moments of confrontation, information was a cardinal value. With very few exceptions, all the debates on the Fallout 3 forum were about knowledge.

An understanding of the Fallout universe was a paramount value on the forum. An understanding of digital-game culture in general wasn’t too far behind. And no matter how one felt about Fallout 3, being able to articulately and rationally discuss nuanced points was the only way to seriously enter into the conversation.


Knowledge community is a vastly important asset, especially if you work primarily with franchises. The common ground between knowledge community and design philosophy is that they overlap, and where they overlap is where - at least according to Blizzard's philosophy - you should be. It's not about squabbling over details, it's about finding the common ground in this widely outlined area. That is pure gold when you have that, and a competent marketing manager knows this as well as anyone.

Beyond that - is a lot of this just PR? Yes. But PR has always been a part of effective community nurturing - whether it be 2K Boston or CD Projekt Red. I know enough people inside Blizzard to say with some confidence that it does not work like certain other insulated companies, be it Nintendo or EA or Bethesda, and despite its size is shockingly close to the "family-model" of developing houses that we know from BIS and Troika and - to a lesser degree - early-time BioWare and Obsidian.

(of course I could be way off and it's all pop and bang show. I doubt you could sustain such community relations without actually taking your community into account in your design - hell, take the simple fact that SC II is pretty clearly designed primarily for the SC community, which surprisingly is not at all true for a lot of other sequels)
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June 30th, 2008, 21:04
I think you need to distinguish between listening to fans, and adhering to their wishes.

I definitely believe that simply following the wishes of fans is a sure way to not make the best game. Not only are vocal fans in the minory, they're also not designers and as such wouldn't know a good feature from a bad one. Certainly, some might understand more about the design process than others - but even so - without a few games under our belts, it means little.

Blizzard are great game developers for many reasons, but in my opinion NOT because they simply give fans what they THINK they want, but rather what they DO want in an absurdly polished package. However, we're mostly talking about the broad mainstream here - and I'm sure there are many hardcore gamers who'd enjoy Blizzard games more if they were less conservative.

I think the secret is more about having the resources AND the dedication to truly finish their games before releasing them, as well as being conservative in terms of ambitious designs. It sounds simple enough, but since they're in a very small minority seemlingly capable of such a feat - I guess it's not.

Naturally, it doesn't hinder them that they're amazingly good in the raw talent department either.
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June 30th, 2008, 22:51
I tend to agree to Gorath - at least in some points.

I heard IWD was made regardless - as well.

And the point of fans not really knowing what's the best for a game has appeared in some articles as well, although mostly those having to do with the so-called "fanboiism".
So this isn't new either.

I regard there is some truth in what Gorath says, although perhaps not in all points. But the core - maybe, yes. Possibly.

“ 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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June 30th, 2008, 23:31
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
hell, take the simple fact that SC II is pretty clearly designed primarily for the SC community, which surprisingly is not at all true for a lot of other sequels)
I think the real simple fact is that Blizzard games have always been aimed at the mass market. When we are talking about the "SC community" we are essentially talking about a sample of the mass market. That's why I believe that Blizzard has it much, much easier than most other developers in that regard. Other developers need to cater to the fans of a certain genre or (like Bethesda) have a legacy fan base that they need to drag around with them and that they can not possibly please any longer while making their games more mass market compatible. But Blizzard? Blizzard has no such worries.

Honestly, what could Blizzard possibly do to piss off their "fans" (read: the mass market)? Their games are already as simple as it gets. There pretty much is nothing to dumb down that anyone could whine about being dumbed down. Blizzard has invented the mass market appeal formula with Diablo. The mass market are their fans. Blizzard just need to stick to that formula of creating simplistic point and click games and they're fine.
These circumstances make it very easy to appear like you are a company that is "listening to its fans" (while in reality you are just catering and listening to the mass market like you always have).
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July 1st, 2008, 10:16
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Honestly, what could Blizzard possibly do to piss off their "fans" (read: the mass market)?
I think we're getting into a distinction between customers and fans then.

If you go by customers then you can't say that any successful company is pissing off its 'fans', because the customers keep buying the games in increasing numbers. Blizzard are no different from Bethsoft in that respect.

If you go by internet users reaction on company forums then Blizzard are as 'bad' as Bethsoft or anyone else - there is just as much vitriol.
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July 1st, 2008, 11:15
Yeah, but a trip to pretty much any forums is filled with things you would hope that the people saying it would be embarrassed to have associated with them after they got out of high school and moved out of their parent's basement at 35 …

— Mike
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July 1st, 2008, 11:53
So that begs the question: Who are the fans?

It can't be the customers if you say that x successful product pissed off its fans. It isn't the people who rant on internet forums. Are we moderates whom post on independant forums the only fans left?
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July 1st, 2008, 12:01
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Their games are already as simple as it gets. There pretty much is nothing to dumb down that anyone could whine about being dumbed down.
Again I agree with almost every point of Moriendor, and this here seems to be especially important.

There's nothing more that can be reduced of the games. There the "bare bones" already.


The ONLY way they could "piss off" their huge fan base is to make their games more COMPLEX.

“ 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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July 1st, 2008, 12:02
Just watch the battlenet forums, I'm sure they will have already started filling with complaints.
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July 1st, 2008, 13:41
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
I think the real simple fact is that Blizzard games have always been aimed at the mass market. When we are talking about the "SC community" we are essentially talking about a sample of the mass market. That's why I believe that Blizzard has it much, much easier than most other developers in that regard. Other developers need to cater to the fans of a certain genre or (like Bethesda) have a legacy fan base that they need to drag around with them and that they can not possibly please any longer while making their games more mass market compatible. But Blizzard? Blizzard has no such worries.

Honestly, what could Blizzard possibly do to piss off their "fans" (read: the mass market)? Their games are already as simple as it gets. There pretty much is nothing to dumb down that anyone could whine about being dumbed down. Blizzard has invented the mass market appeal formula with Diablo. The mass market are their fans. Blizzard just need to stick to that formula of creating simplistic point and click games and they're fine.
These circumstances make it very easy to appear like you are a company that is "listening to its fans" (while in reality you are just catering and listening to the mass market like you always have).
Well said. To analyze the comparison:

Company A aims to make mass market games. A wants to produce a sequel for niche game. A changes the game in an effort to make it a mass market game.

Company B aims to make mass market games. B wants to produce a sequel for mass market game. B doesnt change the game because its allready a mass market game.

Fans curse A and praise B even though both companies work with same goal. How hypocritical is that? You can hate bethesda for not wanting to make niche games (and for "changing" fallout) but the comparison itself is somwhat silly and unfair.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
"Those who dont read history are destined to repeat it."– Edmund Burke
Last edited by zakhal; July 1st, 2008 at 13:54.
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July 1st, 2008, 23:48
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Fans curse A and praise B even though both companies work with same goal. How hypocritical is that? You can hate bethesda for not wanting to make niche games (and for "changing" fallout) but the comparison itself is somwhat silly and unfair.
Why?

Who forced Bethesda to buy a franchise that has a history as a niche franchise to turn it into a mainstream franchise?

If the franchise doesn't fit their goals, why work on a sequel in the first place?

There is absolutely nothing unfair about criticising them for that. After all, they deliberately bought a franchise to which they had no intention to make a sequel of the same style. That means that to them, the fidelity of the franchise is secondary to their own style. Is the situation with Diablo different? Sure. But the point about the two companies' relative approaches to franchise fidelity still stands and - this is key - that is pretty regardless of their motives.
Last edited by Brother None; July 2nd, 2008 at 00:24.
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July 2nd, 2008, 10:26
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
If the franchise doesn't fit their goals, why work on a sequel in the first place?
You know that has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I doubt that the franchise has any significant mass-market appeal; certainly not in comparison to the more accessible high fantasy of The Elder Scrolls series. It's comparable to buying the Master of Magic licence and turning it into an RTS. The only business reason I can think of is that the Fallout license came with a certain amount of "street cred" for the purposes of marketing.
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July 2nd, 2008, 10:34
I don't think of Bethesda's choice of buying Fallout instead of making their own vision, as pure commercialism.

I think of it as half part artistic desire, and half part commercialism.

Obviously, they like the franchise and the post apoc style, but they also like money - which is why I think they went the way they did.

However, I don't think Bethesda has the competence to make a commercial success that sufficiently resembles a true Fallout, which is why I don't hold them in the same regard as I do Blizzard.

That said, I mostly admire Blizzard as competent craftsmen, and not artistic visionaries.

At the very top of my list of developers i hold in high regard are true visionaries, like Looking Glass, the Gollop brothers, and Simtex. But they were (sadly past tense) in another category entirely.
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