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It Looks Like You Guys Aren't Serious About Developing This Game

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#1 Accujack


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:53 AM

Okay you can relax, this isn't going to be a rant about how my favorite mech XXX is broken, or how my frame rate is low, or how weapon W is broken and MUST be nerfed OR ELSE!

Rather, I'm just going to share a few perceptions about this game. Strictly speaking, the logical points anyone writes in an article or post should stand for themselves, but people like to think they're listening to an expert. I don't know if I qualify, so very briefly, I'll say I'm a career IT person who has been everywhere from management to development (IE programmer) and who still works in IT daily. I've also developed some few games, although nothing professionally, and I'm familiar with 3d graphics programming and network code.

What I want to say with this post is this: It doesn't look from my point of view like the Powers That Be on Mechwarrior Online are really serious about building this game into a major success, into THE online game in the genre.

I say this because of the following facts:
  • The game is currently in open beta (recently transitioned from closed beta), but is not feature complete, even with the limited set of features most folks would think necessary for a "1.0 release".
  • In the time I've been playing (only about three and a half months, admittedly) the game hasn't significantly changed, during a time when it should have had a lot of code and artwork visibly added.
  • There are some items requested by players and others which could have been done to improve the game in that time that don't need significant skills to implement and could have been done with minimal resources, but weren't done.
  • The game company (or companies, not sure how it divides up) have taken in some funds (not sure again, could be millions, could be a few 100k) from the Founders' program, providing in theory money to accelerate development. There is no apparent change in the pace, however.
  • Despite apparently having funding, the dev team is apparently not growing. At this point in development I would expect a big "push" to get the game ready for release. More artists, programmers, etc. should be added at least temporarily to generate the content and do the "boilerplate" coding to flesh out the game once the "rock star" programmers have done the heavy lifting. But the PGI web site currently shows two openings, one for a net coder, and one for an intern.
  • Most of what is being deployed in patches seems to be tweaks and fixes, some of which don't work at all. New systems being deployed like BAP aren't really new systems, they're just buffs to existing play mechanics. The same with Artemis IV, it didn't really add anything new, it's just another thing you buy for more firepower.
  • Many existing bugs aren't being addressed, they keep existing from one patch to the next.
I'll explain the points above a bit more, but my perception is basically that MWO is a partially finished game where development is being done by a very small group of people at a slow pace, possibly due to limited resources. At this point, I can't think of why it should be that way, because in theory PGI should have the money to go faster, and not doing so is shooting the company in the foot. The player community for MWO and the buzz around it won't last forever.

I don't think this is what you intended, at least from the interviews and articles I've seen.

What's really happening? How many people are working on this game, and when are more going to join in?

Expanding a bit on points above:

Game improvements that could be added without skilled developers: There are a lot of these in any major program, because programs consist of both code and data. Once the code is written, the data can be altered or added to for a big game effect at low resource cost. An example is changing bitmaps for in-game objects. Sure, it takes a real artist to do a mech model from scratch, but drawing a new kind of tree branch should be doable by anyone who ever took an art class and can run a mouse.

Another example is the maps themselves. Cryengine 3 includes a very nice Sandbox based world editor - WYSIWYG even. Yes, making a good map requires more than just the ability to use that app unless you use canned buildings, bushes, and the like. At this point in development however, the art assets for the other maps should be usable.

It should be possible to make significantly different maps using the work already done as a base, and it doesn't need someone with programming skill or software engineering knowledge. They just need basic training on designing a team based combat map for good gameplay. There are dozens of mapping tutorials out there for counter-strike and similar games that cover this.

One of the big complaints from current players is the lack of map variety and map sizes. New maps shouldn't be a Big Deal, but they're not being done.

Mechs are a similar feature. Yes, not everyone can design one or do the great artwork that seems to be the baseline quality for mechs in this game. At this point in development though it shouldn't be *hard* to add new mechs. That is, a new mech should be entries in a database, skeletons for animations, texture maps for coloring, and models for shapes. IE, data, not code. If the artist that builds them is too busy, have a couple office folks help, or hire some assistants. Make It Happen.

Using cut and paste or similar an intern modeler or noob artist could build new mechs or new variants pretty easily. All a new mech variant consists of seems to be hardpoints shifting, different loadout, and a slightly altered model. Not hard for even a new guy to do, compared to the lead artist.

Of course, it's possible that each mech design is hard coded in the game, and that adding a new mech requires actual programming... if that's the case, then this game is definitely not headed a good direction, as that violates a lot of software engineering principles.

We keep hearing how the devs at PGI want to make this a great game. Many of us are emotionally invested in it becoming at least as good as Mechwarrior was (which is a 10 year old game, I remind you), but it seems to be all talk and little effort.

Why is this?

If it's lack of resources, let the community help. Many of the beta testers would work for Free.

As an example, there are talented people in the community who could build incredible maps using Cryengine. Sure, they're not MWO maps, but they can't be hard to convert. Likewise you could have a mech design contest. Let people submit 3d models and textures which serve as the base for new mechs.

Please do *something* and tell us you're doing it. Right now, it looks like you just Don't Care, and telling us how much you do won't cut it. Show us, don't tell us.

#2 dF0X


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:18 AM

Personally I think it is two things: lack of resources, and lack of organization.

These issues have been brought up since at least the last month of closed beta (when I got in) but I haven't seen any movement. just like you point out.

Maybe they'll wake up.

#3 Sable Hawk


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:27 PM

A very well written, reasonable, and rational post. Thank you for providing this valuable, neutral, and constructive criticism. This is exactly the kind of post PGI appears to want (particularly after listening to Russ Bullock his last [color=#959595] [/color]Mechs, Devs, & Beer We can only hope that they are sincere in their request.

I have said it before and I will repeat it here..
MWO appears to be on track for being the biggest grossing game never released....
(and I will stick by this assessment until management gets serious about fixing problems and adding real content instead of 'flash' and bobble heads)

#4 Xerxys


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:29 PM

Love the post Accujack. I think you're dead on with your analysis.

I really think that PGI is dropping the ball here. They seem to be more interested in adding fluff than actual content and the maps need a major overhaul. They're way too small, and lack of any other mission objectives is kind of a bummer. I was really hoping to have an active map where battle was constantly running and you had to hot-drop in to add your power. I guess I was hoping a mechwarrior style showing of Planetside 2, and that would have been a gaming "Shock and Awe".

I truly think PGI's issues originated when they tried to convert from TT rules and screwed the pooch. It feels as though they've been trying to make a broken system work when it should have been done completely different. So much time and effort seems to go into weapon balancing (and they're still not there) that they can't move forward to new content. Sometimes it's quicker and easier to try a completely new system than it is trying to tweak and adjust one that just doesn't work. When I was welding and something went wrong it was often time more efficient to scarf the work I'd done, clean it out and try again rather than trying to grind out patches, re-weld and grind some more.

Edited by Xerxys, 21 November 2012 - 05:32 PM.

#5 Ratmaniak


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 08:57 PM

It's wonderful to see a logical, rational post. Bravo!

Gamers, if they are anything like me (and the volume of games that come out boasting huge player numbers suggests this might be the case), attention span for games is finite. New games have a honeymoon period where interest is high, popularity is excellent, and times are good. After a while, though - players move on. See Assassin's Creed 2: Brotherhood for an example of what I mean - great community, fun multiplayer, but it just.... dries up.

With games in iterative development, however, look at any EVE Online expansion and the subscriber numbers / logged in player metrics. Each time there's a major iteration on the game, the honeymoon period begins again (albeit potentially for a shorter time than the first one). When the game stagnates - even if there's bugfixes and minor additions, player counts will drop, the communities will shrink, and the game fades into the background of new releases.

I'm worried that MWO is burning up the Just-Released-Game-Yay-Novelty-Value interest and playerbase while in this incomplete state. The casually interested gamer may test it, might even buy some MC, but will get bored of the repetitive game-mode, exploits, AFKers, lagshields, FOTM weapon boats and other complaints bandying around the forums. The casual gamer, once MWO goes into the "meh" pile, is highly unlikely to dig it back out - even once the Jesus-Features deploy.

Ah, the fickleness of the mob! Their love, once gone, is gone forever.

#6 Bhael Fire

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

View PostRatmaniak, on 21 November 2012 - 08:57 PM, said:

The casual gamer, once MWO goes into the "meh" pile, is highly unlikely to dig it back out - even once the Jesus-Features deploy.

+1 for use of Jesus-Features.

#7 JustAStick


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:26 AM

I don't think that it is necessarily an issue of not having enough resources, but an issue of not having enough motivation. They devs at PGI shouldn't be having any issues with creating content and fixing bugs at all, even with a small team. If they cared at all than they would be pulling all-nighters trying to make the game great. When WETA digital was working on the lord of the rings many of the employees would go to sleep every other night so that way they could get everything done that needed to be done. The guys at PGI are entrepreneurs, that means they need to believe in the product they are making and that they need to be invested in the game on an emotional level if they really care about making this game great.

#8 Hetfeng321


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:53 AM

Well, there we have it, folks. This is the wake up call for PGI. Everything said was absolutely true and that is a horrible fact.

This game could be the first real MechWarrior game since 2000. The MechWarrior community needs this and I don't think PGI is ready for it or has the dedication to make it happen. PGI has been solving most of the games problems by simply pushing them under the rug. Example: Ramming was not handled properly and needed to be fixed. What did PGI do? They completely removed any sort of mech-to-mech physical contact. This issue has yet to be resolved as I write this.

PGI started building a game with a broken base, the table-top board game BattleTech, and the game has continued to break. You can't have a strong building without a sound foundation, which BattleTech is not. The game is producing more and more problems and PGI is attempting to fix them with a broken tool, a broken formula. What happens if you build a structure on a shoddy foundation? It crumbles down as the structure gets heavier and developes. You can prevent it from crumbling if you stop trying to fix problems at the top and start fixing problems at the base.

I don't want to see PGI fail. I don't want to see MWO shrivel up and die like MechWarrior 5. It is not too late for PGI to ditch the broken tool that is BattleTech and reach for something that can make MechWarrior Online what it was destined to be, the first MechWarrior game in over 10 years. It must not disapoint. The community will not let it disappoint if they are allowed to help. Start answering the questions that matter in Ask The Devs. "Why do you guys have to be Canadians?" Seriously?. Get serious, PGI.

The clock is ticking. The release date is on the horizon. It is now or never. No more laziness. No more bull**** Ask The Devs answers. No more empty promises. Show us what you can do. Show us...

Edited by Hetfeng321, 22 November 2012 - 01:22 AM.

#9 Hoshi Toranaga


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:08 AM

Wow what an excellent and well written post. +1

#10 ButcherPete


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:11 AM

I agree completely. I've given up on Mechwarrior Online, frankly, and after reading this post, I've finally sent in my request for a refund. At this point, I don't even know if I can get it but I think making the point in the right way to the right spot is really the way to give PGI a wake up.

Now, this post wasn't what started it. That was the game development itself, so don't blame this guy. When the devs started doing the damn "Drinking with the Devs" series when the game had all these problems with the game and all these features completely missing, I knew they weren't taking it seriously.

I think that stroke by the Devs themselves shows how much "hardwork" they actually put forth in their games. Quite frankly, I've seen people who do mods for free -- as a damn hobby -- do a better job than this company. And those modders would do a hell of a better job if they had the same resources, no doubt. Maybe we'd actually have all those features that they promised us months ago.

#11 BaDkaRmA158Th


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:35 AM

" Quite frankly, I've seen people who do mods for free -- as a damn hobby -- do a better job than this company. And those modders would do a hell of a better job if they had the same resources, no doubt. Maybe we'd actually have all those features that they promised us months ago."

You got that right. Also sorry about that, you're probably not going to get your money back for being a founder, you see...when they went open beta by law they don't have too. cute huh? ;)

Anyone notice one of the main features going from closed beta to open was? you guessed it, the ability to start you're timer. And when you did, you rendered your money null and void,no refunds for you. BUT..at least they made it a option, and didn't start everyone's time regardless, they get a brown star for that one.

I also wonder why the player counter was removed, it never went over 3,000 and never under 1.2k that i ever saw, and i played at the time, during all hours. "had to get them hunchies elited!!!!!" Did it never work correctly? was it going to show a rapid gain in player numbers,or a rapid loss?

All i can tell you is all my lance mates have left, a long time ago. I cant get them back into the game no matter what pictures of new mechs, or posts about whats being added or whats been changed. Because they keep asking ME the same question's.

Are the support mechs still used up close? yes. Is the game still running very low fps on new computers? yes. Do mech's still lag and warp around when moving over 60kmph, yes. Does the client still lock up and OR, CTD at random times forcing a hard reboot that corrupts data and makes hard drives loose sectors? yes.

Then the final question, so..whats changed? nothing. Nothing that drove you away has changed.

After that the subject is simply dropped and we go on and play some other game that interests us.

#12 Tyrzun


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:38 AM

Well said OP. I had come to that same conclusion.

The broken repair costs. The coding already done, all they had to do was change a freaking variable. to bring the costs in line for the "super-over priced" items. There have been other realtively "simple" solution to some of the problems offered up as well... all apparently ignorned.

Many good questions have been asked in the ASK the DEVs section and they are almonst univerasally dodged while they answer stupid garbage like, does your dog **** on your rug?

Edited by Tyrzun, 22 November 2012 - 01:40 AM.

#13 skamage


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:57 AM

Honestly, I'm not sure why they aren't hiring more. With all the founder's money they should have, but there was an article that said some of that got sent to other projects. What would probably work best is if they communicated to us what the focus of the patch should be. This way since we are still in beta, we could actually do our jobs as beta testers and tell them if an issue is fixed or not and give them the data they need to track down the issue.

I'm with you though, it seems to come down to how this project is being managed by PGI and IGP. They need to focus on the big bugs to get the game stable. People shouldn't have to worry about the client crashing on them or the fps issues and it doesn't seem like they are utilizing their players to troubleshoot these issues. Communicate PGI!

#14 Ratmaniak


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 02:31 AM

View PostBaDkaRmA158Th, on 22 November 2012 - 01:35 AM, said:

Then the final question, so..whats changed? nothing. Nothing that drove you away has changed.

After that the subject is simply dropped and we go on and play some other game that interests us.

And that's the concern - PGI is going to start bleeding players, and they're not going to come back easily.
Nerfing gausscats won't fix it, fixing framerates won't fix it, balancing missiles isn't going to fix it - these are minor problems that yes, need addressing, but the fundamental premise behind MWO is wearing thin - new game-modes, fixed hit detection and something to keep playing for is what is going to turn things around.

#15 Hoshi Toranaga


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:20 AM

Well the fact that we are still roaming the forums, should tell the company that we still care about the franchise and still hope they turn the corner.
So I will continue to roam the forum prolly daily, but I am surely going to play something else tonight and prolly also the rest of the week (and I have not even maxed my centurions).

#16 DivineEvil


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 06:00 AM

Well, accounting to all being already said, I personally believe, that the worst of the worst problem of current MWO development proccess is BUGS. It is naturally to see new bugs occur when new features are implemented, bu in case of MWO, there are bugs that have been there for months. These are seemingly not adressed at all, regardless of massive prove of their existence as well as reproduction methods and some waypoint to search into.

While these persists from patch to patch, new bugs are appearing as new content is delivered. That make the game gradually unplayable. Some of bugs are present based on the technical specifications, which means that high-end PC users have an obvious advantage over low-end ones, even if they're barely affect the actual in-game performance. I am, for one, have played MWO on my low-end notebook, capable of good performance and relatively ok statistics for a PUG-only player with constant FPS issues and same common bugs (memory leaks and freezing), which I humbly used to.

But right now, after the latest patch, my MWO runs terribly bad even on lowest possible rendering options, minimum possible screen resolution, on a fresh Windows start-up, with absolutely no software running in background but system processes that are cannot be disabled by definition. That forced me not to give up on the MWO, but to give up on playing it until all those bugs are adressed properly and some flexibility of options given to low-end computer users. I hope that I don't need to note, that not every guy out there can afford a brand new PC or major hardware upgrade each year. And it's really unusual, weird and unfortunate, that game which have been fine in closed BETA becomes unplayable with time.

It's a general rule and a basic etiquette of game development, that Alpha stage is focused on developing of playable game engine, Closed Beta stage focused on fixing technical issues and bugs, and Open Beta is focused on general game balansing in order to prepare the game for Release stage, where focus is given to provide additional content and features. This etiquette is completely wrong with the MWO, as new content is given in raw shape, without proper testing within PGI dev team, while none of the considerable process issues are adressed at all. There's not even notes about trying to fix something up, despite given aknowledgement of their existence.

As my personal opinion, every and all effort must be given right now to just make game stable, smooth and affordable for people with lower performance machines, as there's a lot of present-era games (WoT, EoN, SC2) that are based on high-end hardware capabilities, while capable of running fine even on more lower hardware setups. Otherwise the player base will eventually wither out down to minority of MW fans with high-end machines and the game itself will seize to be profitable for the developers.

Edited by DivineEvil, 22 November 2012 - 06:02 AM.

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