All right all you professional salt farmers! I hope you brought cheese today, because we got the whine! Popular streamer, YouTuber and Perfect World affiliate Garlaanx released a video yesterday that roasted Neverwinter and the studio’s lack of passion for the game. And all jokes aside, he made some pretty good points, as you would expect from a veteran player that’s been with the game for so long. I won’t go over everything in this piece, but instead like to add my own opinion on specific aspects. So please go watch the rant first and then continue reading!
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“You Can Always Quit”
It’s quite obvious that Garlaanx isn’t quite satisfied with the state of the game. One of the things that he addresses is why he still can’t quit the game. It’s an important aspect to me because far too often the “you can always quit” argument is thrown at players that express discontent, especially in a free-2-play environment. But the truth is that the more you’ve invested, be it money, time, emotion, or whatever, the harder it becomes to turn the corner. At a certain point, it even makes more sense to suffer through an extended period of dissatisfaction than switching games, as weird as it might sound. People that don’t get that are just ignorant.
Additionally it’s funny that even studios and devs use this argument when they actively enslave their players using mind tricks. I guess you can also always quit heroin then?
The Studio Lacks Passions, the Devs Do Not
I think Garlaanx makes a proper distinction between studio and devs with the stuff he brings up about passion. I personally do not believe that the devs themselves lack passion, but they are constantly working against cruel deadlines and hence simply getting the job done becomes their main priority. There’s simply no scheduled time to polish the game, and do those little things that create atmosphere and immersion. It’s very much an issue of management.
I agree there’s absolutely no excuse why you couldn’t have at least minorly tweaked the Summer Festival this year. Add a few more legendary and epic raffles with different rewards, there you go. Veterans would have a much higher incentive to go through the ticket grind again. Unless there’s some weird complications involved, this should be like a 30-minute task, shouldn’t it? (it’s probably not, but definitely feels like it…)
Constant Team Changes
One thing also related to content, specifically maintaining and extending the systems and features you have, are constant team changes. Cryptic lacks consistency. It’s a small studio and devs leave all the time, because they get better opportunities (and money) elsewhere. People are also juggled in-house. Today you might be doing class balance for Neverwinter, tomorrow writing story for Star Trek. Of course it’s not that drastic, but some senior devs for example have left to help with the upcoming Magic the Gathering MMO.
This also means it always takes time until a new hire or reassigned dev is familiar with a field. It obviously would be much better if the same dev or team would work specific areas for years. If you feel like the devs make the same mistakes over and over again, it might be because “rookies” just repeat “rookie” mistakes, or are unaware of what previous devs and teams have been doing. SoD is one of the best, and recent examples. The balancing team went back and forth on the power, and ended up with a state that caused exactly the same issues as last year. There’s no apparent learning curve.
Nobody Knows What’s Going On
Attached to the above bullet is the lack of general oversight. It often feels like nobody within Cryptic really knows what’s going on with their game. I do not share the notion that all devs have to be hardcore gamers of their own title, but a little knowledge obviously helps. More than that though, their approach of filtering and forwarding feedback, or analyzing their own internal metrics, is completely off. It takes way too long to understand that there is an issue, then too long to find a solution. And when they finally do, the person in charge probably leaves, and the cycle starts again.
Many exploits used to linger for months, and were often only fixed once they leaked. Issues with class balance, queues, and progression systems take modules to correct. That’s not ideal (to say the least). The way it currently works is that they release a feature or system, fix the most glaring and important bugs with the next 2-3 patches, and then move on. What should happen is that you monitor new features for 6-8 weeks and then do a full rework based on community feedback and internal evaluation. Additionally there should be a dev that monitors live issues all the time and bumps these things up their internal priority chain.
Last, but not least, this game has no true Community Manager. Julia’s title doesn’t fit her actions. Again, not her fault, but she should really be labelled something else. Giving the community a manager just creates the impression that there should be much more interaction and engagement. Sure, the “Community Manager” job comes with varying tasks based on your employee, but perception matters. And it’s not the first time this is causing irritations. So when will Cryptic learn and either schedule more time for community related activities or stop fooling everyone? It certainly feels like Julia is more of a Social Media Manager and Lead Secretary that also happens to do limited tasks related to community management.
That’s my take on Garlaanx’s video. Do you have something to add? Feel like we’re being too negative? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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