A View from Atlas Park: Expectations, The Care and Feeding of…

A View from Atlas Park: Expectations, The Care and Feeding of…

A new game comes out. It looks pretty. It’s attracting the attention of a lot of people. So you buy it. You take it home, install it and start to play. After a while, you find that you don’t like it as much as you think you would. Do you:


    A: Quietly uninstall the game, thinking to yourself that next time you won’t be so quick to buy into the hype?

    B: Log into the official forums, write an absolute troll of farewell post and wonder how much you’ll get for your copy of the game on eBay?

    C: Complain every chance you get on the official forums that the game isn’t what you wanted and therefore needs to be changed immediately, or already sucks too much to be saved, but keep playing until the end of your free period?

    D: Behave as badly as possible in-game to see if you can get yourself banned since the game suxx0r and why just stop playing yourself when you can ruin other people’s fun at the same time?

I’m sure that there are some people out there doing A, but it’s the B’s, C’s and occasional D’s that really attract the attention.

As someone who was in beta but is still waiting on their copy of CoH to arrive (don’t worry about it Amazon.com! I’m more than happy to wait for you to send me a copy whenever you get around to it!) I’ve had time to read through the newly-wiped forums. Not all of them and not everyday, but enough to see whine a-aplenty.

Look, I do understand how annoying it is when a game you’ve bought doesn’t work perfectly. But I find it hard to accept the amount of complaining that goes on about exactly the same topics, especially when they are known bugs that the devs have commented on eg Task Forces. Perhaps it is the apparent entry of new players into the MMOG genre through CoH, so some people might not know that MMOGs aren’t like single player games. They are much more complex in a number of ways (eg network code) so bugs that wouldn’t get through a single player game might get through into a MMOG.

So I don’t sound like a complete apologist here, I do think that another month of beta would have been a good idea – there were some bugs that shouldn’t have got out. However, you can say that about almost any MMOG and CoH is reportedly mostly stable at launch, which is more than can be said for some other launches…

A lot of the complaining comes down to player expectations. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a game to work when you buy it. If it doesn’t, you should complain. But you should complain in a reasonable fashion. Give Cryptic a bit of time to sort the problems out and fix them. It’s only two weeks from launch and it may take some time to sort out a patch that fixes some things without breaking others.

If you do complain, do it once and in the right location. Nothing is more irritating than seeing one poster continually hammer a point home in thread after thread, always bumping a thread (or two or three) so they stay on the front page. The /bug function is there for a reason – use it.

As for other player expectations… it’s been said that the best time to get into a MMOG is six months after launch. By that time the devs have added an expansion or two, players have (theoretically) gotten past the honeymoon period and can provide more in-depth reviews. If you dive head first into a MMOG, trying to be first in line for everything, you should expect that you might run into some problems down the line as you find a bug that no-one else has hit yet. After all, no-one else has been where you are before, so no-one else has had the chance to trip over it in front of you.

In short, manage your expectations. Realise that for two weeks into launch CoH isn’t in such bad shape. Calm down a little bit in the forums. If there are still the same problems occuring in a couple of months time, then sure, CoH will be in a bad state. So far Cryptic have done a pretty good job with CoH, and I’m more than willing to give them 30 – 60 days to fix some of the problems that currently exist. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll even have my copy of COH by then…

For those who missed it – Crimson Death, a Fire / Devices Blaster, has hit lvl 40 (the max level at this point). Sure, s/he may have have used an exploit to assist his / her character to get to this point, but it still took about 14 hours a day.

[p]So congratulations for being the first player to get there, Crimson Death! I hope one day to also reach such lofty heights, but it’s certainly going to take me longer than two weeks!

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