21/07/2012

More Positivity Please!

This post by Psynister caught my eye today. In it he talks about the state of his blog and his gaming. He has the following to say about playing SWOTR:

No matter how much you might enjoy playing the game, if you’re active in social networks where a large number of players are present or if you’re active in the bloggosphere then you’re constantly surrounded by negativity towards the game. Even when you’re having a blast playing it, there’s so much negativity surrounding it that it’s almost hard to still enjoy it. You almost have to escape into the game to get away from all the negativity being directed at it. It’s a bit ridiculous, honestly.

This touched a nerve with me as it's a subject that I've been meaning to write about for a few days: the woes of being a SWTOR fan. (First world problems, I know.) People like to moan about the many ways in which the game supposedly fails, but really, the only thing that's actually inhibiting my fun every now and then are generally people who don't even play the game.

I have to admit that this is something that WoW never prepared me for. Sure, you can find plenty of people who like to moan about WoW too, but for every negative voice like that there are plenty more positive ones, and more importantly, it doesn't really matter. Blizzard is pretty much beyond criticism these days. People will write thousands of ranty words about all the things the company supposedly does wrong, and then admit in the same breath that they bought WoW's annual pass and have been playing Diablo 3 non-stop for the past two months. Actions speak louder than words, and nothing can even remotely threaten WoW's status these days considering that even the people who claim to not like it keep coming back for more (not to mention the millions of people that do genuinely love it).

SWTOR plays in a very different league here. It's still quite a big game, but it's not unreasonable to suspect that EA might have expected it to perform better than it currently does. The game will have to work hard to both keep attracting new players and retain current ones, and people bashing it left and right is not going to help with that.

This is where some smart arse usually chimes in that nobody cares what some dude says on the internet, but put enough dudes together and it will affect public opinion. Don't tell me that you've never become curious about something that lots of people praised or were turned off trying something that a lot of people declared a waste of time. So people continuously bashing SWTOR affects me negatively because it contributes to actually putting the continued existence of the game in its current state at risk (Psynister has a few words to say about that as well).

I'm also continuously baffled by how much hatred people have for a game that they didn't even play for very long. I've always had at least a bit of sympathy for WoW curmudgeons because most of the time their bitterness is based on the fact that the game has changed over the years. If they liked it one way, played for years, and Blizzard took that away from them... well, they really did lose something in a way. Even if I don't agree with the particulars, I can at least see how that would make someone grumpy. Many of the TOR haters on the other hand openly admit that they only played for a couple of days/levels... and yet still seethe with more hatred for the game than even the most evil Sith Lord, even though they realised that it wasn't what they wanted almost from the start. Why they can't just move on to something else I don't know.

Then of course we have the ones who always sound very intellectual somehow and know exactly why the game sucks without even having touched it. They tend to remind me of my dear old mother when she says that internet people aren't real, and there's about as much point in arguing the point. I actually stop myself from commenting on certain blogs nowadays purely because if I mention SWTOR in any positive context at all I know that I'll just have my intelligence questioned by the author or other commenters there.

Maybe it's my own fault for hanging out in the wrong circles. I did "come over" from a mostly WoW-centric blogosphere after all. I suppose I need to search harder to find more blogs that are TOR-positive, focus on reading those and it will all be better.

Unfortunately from what I've seen, even some fan sites aren't unaffected by all the negativity, starting off many an article with lines like...

"I still love TOR but..." [insert countless reasons why this is bound to only be a temporary state]

Can you imagine many happy conversations that start with telling someone that you "still love them but..."? Me neither.

Or how about:

"We can all agree that TOR has many problems..."

Yes, because the first thing that always comes to my mind when I want to talk about something I love are the many ways in which it sucks! It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

This isn't meant to be a jab at fan sites. I wouldn't be surprised if I had started a post myself that way, somewhere, at some point. Neither is it supposed to mean that we shouldn't criticise the game as fans.

However, I think that we should focus on the things we enjoy, and just say what we have to say without sounding like we're constantly apologising for liking the game (or even for not liking certain aspects of the game), as if we expect nasty anti-TOR trolls to jump out of the woodwork even in the comment section of a tiny fan blog. We can't change minds that have already been made up, but we can try to be a good example for those who might not know much about the game and show them the many ways in which it rocks.

(And yes, I realise there is a certain irony in writing an angry rant about how people should be more positive. Normal and more positive business will resume shortly.)

22 comments:

  1. It's annoying that so many people hate Bioware with the wrath of a million blazing stars when to my mind they are still putting out really good games that I enjoy playing. I don't think you should have to justify playing a fun game and it's miserable that so many people seem so gleeful if there's bad news about it -- for no real reason.

    (With the WoW blogs, even though Cataclysm has been a disaster (sic) and Blizzard haven't put out any new content in a year, for some reason people are really defensive about how much fun they are all having, which I don't entirely believe but there you go.)

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    1. It's really strange how Bioware has got such a bad rep so quickly and over very little. People will defend Blizzard where they condemn Bioware for the exact same thing, or praise other MMOs for features that they complained about in TOR (very interesting to see in some of the recent TSW coverage).

      I don't think WoW bloggers should have to defend themselves either if they are enjoying the game. I can believe that it still covers certain areas of content well even with no updates in months. But yeah, it does tie in with the whole company bias thing.

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    2. Eh, I think Bioware's current bad rep is ... understandable. They've released three games in a row which had issues or were weaker than normal: DA2, SWTOR, ME3.

      You can say one weak game is an aberration, but 3 in a row just looks bad.

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    3. As opposed to, say, Blizzard's last couple of releases, which met and surpassed all expectations?

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    4. So, you think Blizzard hasn't been getting a lot of negativity also?

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    5. It does, but not in the same way. I covered that in the fourth paragraph of the main post.

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  2. It's an Internet thing in general I guess. I'm certainly guilty of moaning about games, but I do generally try and keep my blog positive, which is one reason why I post a lot on the game sessions I have. SWTOR is a lot of fun to play but I think the meta-discussion is suffering from all the negativity.

    Tera strikes me as an even more extreme example of the points you made here; sure there are issues with the game, but the only thing you generally find online are scathing commentaries on design features. Very few actual blogs about gaming sessions, it must be very disheartening for the people who enjoy playing it! The types of critic that you highlight are in evidence in large quantities for that game as well.

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    1. Everyone likes a good moan every now and then, it's the more pervasive negativity that really bothers me. Where people make throwaway comments about how X or Y obviously sucks, it's not even a matter of discussion anymore.

      Good point about Tera. I remember being quite surprised when I actually ran into a fan blog for it the other day, though I have heard a fair bit of praise for its combat system. I think it's generally been a bit more low key though, so while it's received little praise, it's also gotten fewer really scathing comments.

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  3. It's like the dude who keeps talking about his ex. If she's really that bad, why do you want to keep wasting your time talking about her? Don't like SWTOR? Don't play it. Geesh.

    What also annoys me is the CONSTANT speculation that the game is just BLEEDING fans and money and it's going to be shut down ANY DAY NOW. That just impedes my fun right there. I don't need the stress that suddenly I'll be out in the cold and deprived of a game I really like and put a lot of effort into (guild etc).

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    1. Hah, I know. This is why I used words like "might" and "suspect" when talking about that subject in this post, because we don't really know what's happening behind the game's scenes. However, if people keep repeating the same negative rumours as if they were fact and from all sides, it can really get to you after a while.

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  4. Ha. The other day, this exact subject came up in gen chat at Tatooine. (I had a companion's quest to take care of, and I was unaware of a neutral method of getting to the place, so I took my lumps and ran through an Imperial base. 'Dying through' is probably a better term, tho.)

    The discussion centered on how friendly an MMO community is, because some Republic player had been helped out of a jam by an Imperial player. Several people mentioned that it reminded them of Star Wars: Galaxies, but others said LOTRO. The one community that people agreed that it wasn't, however, was WoW. "The L2Play people came, saw, and moved on," one person quipped. "Good riddance."

    One thing that does bother me about WoW isn't how big it is, but that we don't know where the subs are from. There have been days that I swear that most of the players on a server are gold farmers, which gets me to wondering just how many subs are there to actually play the game and how many are there to farm for gold sellers. Since Blizz never releases those numbers by geographical region, we don't know who the subs really are. Blizz certainly doesn't care, because they're making money with every sub, but still....

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    1. Haha, I know exactly which quest and area you are talking about, because I did the same thing the first time. Of course I found out later that there is a safe route, but where would have been the fun in that...

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    2. Yeah. "Gift of the desert" my ass.

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  5. I totally agree. To some extent I think SWTOR is a victim of its own hype -- a lot of people for years said it would be the "next big MMO", and it hit at arguably an all-time low point in WoW's popularity. Mind you, that's no excuse for the weird vitriol I've seen about the game and Bioware.

    I'm going to be really interested to see in six months or so if people are disappointed in the hype around GW2 and have the same response.

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    1. It's weird to me because I didn't actually see any of the pre-launch SWTOR hype, probably because I was still too focused on WoW at the time.

      GW2 is the most hyped up game I've personally seen, and yeah, at the moment I can't really see how it would live up to everything people expect of it, regardless of how good it turns out to be. But at least GW2 fans won't have to worry about subscription numbers or any bad press associated with them after launch.

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  6. I'm baffled by the negativity. Most of the complaints I've heard are things that are true of every MMO I've played (including WoW) or made so little sense that I don't remember them. I don't get it.

    I particularly don't get it since it's by far the best MMO I've played. At least from the standpoint of my having fun. I don't know what people were expecting and every time someone says it was a "weak" offering by Bioware, I've got to wonder what their non-weak offerings look like. (Though, since their single player games all sound way too grimdark for me, I'll never know. Ah well.)

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  7. THANK YOU! The constant bitching about this game starts to really get to me. I am one of the people who were really disappointed by ME3 and a lot of the people I got to know through that game really want to see SWTOR die because BIOWARE/EA are EVIL. It got to the point where I have stopped talking to the most extreme of these people because whenever I dared to say that I like SWTOR I either get branded a traitor (lolwhut?) or get my intelligence questioned.

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  8. What gets me is that all this news is discordant with reality. Every piece of data I can find suggests SWTOR has a healthy population relative to other MMOs. But good luck telling that to Chicken Little. From the interwebs, you'd figure Hello Kitty Island Adventure had more players.

    On the other hand, I have to confess that I love criticism of SWTOR. Not kvetching, or whining, or funsuckering. But a real analysis of the weak points of a design. I could actually do with more of that.

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  9. I remember when I first stumbled across your blog in the early days of SWTOR. After google searches and links from other blogs, all of them seeming to say how much the game sucked, even though I was having a blast playing it, I came across yours. It was upbeat, and it showed through that you also loved playing the game. You actually had links to other sites that were also pro SWTOR. So I would just like to say thanks, because your blogs and others like them will keep the perspective needed in our community.

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    1. Thanks, that's quite a compliment. :) I think I do say when something about the game bothers me (like the way they initially handled the server transfers), but on the whole I'm really too busy enjoying all the good stuff to moan much about the little niggles I have here and there.

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  10. THANK YOU! I just found your blog today and will spend more time catching up. I am so sick of reading nothing but negative views/press on this game. I love it! After 6 years of raiding in WoW, I needed a place to relax and have fun. I found it in SWTOR. I have taken my time enjoying all the classes (only 2 at 50, 6 in their 40's) and the story lines. I just completed my first Op this weekend and it felt just as epic as any other raid. BW is improving the game every patch and I have been really happy since the server mergers. I just wish all the haters would move on to something else and we can hear some fair dialog again. Thank you again and stay positive!

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  11. Negativity is unavoidable, expecially on big games. The problem is that people often turn to writing to express their problems with something. That's actually human nature: when you're angry, when you need to vent, you do it. Notice how many times you read articles on a good marriage or on being healthy and not having any disease and so on? From just reading blogs on Internet one could think love is the most terrible thing to have occurred on earth. But that's just being human for you, happiness is something you truly realise you had only when its gone, and the same applies to gaming too.

    When Vanilla WoW was around, you didn't hear many people asking for Vanilla to be like, well, Vanilla. People complained it was too hard. People said they couldn't see all the content. And when Blizzard made the game less hardcore, another part of the community started saying "It's too easy now", "Why nerfing the boss encounters so that everyone can see them now?" and so on. Notice how the group involved here are different, this basically boils down to the old "you can't please everyone" saying.

    Then you get some more crazy stuff, like people saying "this game is so shit, I can't believe how shit it is", expecially after a patch that nerfed one ability / unit / aspect of the game. And those are the same people that have invested hundred of hours in the game, and that are still playing the game. Fanboys are just like that, in every single aspect of life. A lot of sport fans praise their team when they win, and then they say it's the worst team ever when the team loses.

    The key here is to understand the proportion of who's writing what compared to the silent majority thinking. Most online communities, even those related to online only games, are made by a minority of players. Actually what we take as a standard way of playing a game, is often a way experienced only by a small fraction of players. Raiding is something that's often discussed in WoW forums, but there are TONS of people out there that have never set foot in a raid, not even a LFR raid. In Starcraft 2 you get all kind of comments when a unit gets tweaked, but most people never played the game online against a human being. Most balance post are related to 1v1 balance, and that's even less played than the sum of other online modes. But what compose the playing majority is very different from what it compose the vocal majority.

    Speaking of SWTOR, the vocal majority is influenced by two big basic problems: 1) Bioware and EA are currently hated by most gamers due to recent and long time blunders respectively and 2) SWTOR was just overhyped as the WoW killer for too much time, raising the expectation bar to a level no game could have reached on release. Add to that a very big admission price and (my impression) a release timing that was chosen to try to save the financial situation more than "we're releasing this when it's ready" and you get the perfect formula for bad rep going all over the place all the time. Expecially cause people playing it are easily labelled as corporate fanboys, while detractors are the resistance against EA telling you the truth, making this kinda an uneven fight.

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