Saturday, 17 August 2013

Developer Harassment is a grave situation indeed

I love games.  Cannot get enough of them frankly.  I own a lot of games, not as many as some but I consider myself something of a collector and armchair expert when it comes to gaming.  That isn't to say I know more than most, just that I understand both sides of an argument when it inevitably starts.  Many gamers today have a strong sense of entitlement probably brought on by a mixture of both economic pressure and a wider social media presence in today's society. 

Console gaming is largely the playground of younger gamers or those who cannot afford to regularly upgrade a gaming computer.  Launch issues rarely occur in the console market because developers only have to work on the same hardware year after year while being able to squeeze the best possible performance and graphics out of the system.  When things do go wrong it becomes a front page story on most websites such as IGN, Eurogamer, Gamespot and more.  The issues Skyrim had on the PS3 version related to DLC or the lower resolution textures both the PlayStation and xbox suffered from became hot topics online for both journalists and gamers.  It was a rare issue suffered by the console crowd and the rage there was high to say the least.

PC gaming however has never been a smooth ride simply because no gaming PC is exactly the same.  Whether that is to do with hardware or software the mix is near endless and for developers this can be a headache of monumental proportions.  When developing you need to decide a base set of system requirements for users who have older or cheaper systems.  This means you have to gather user data on the types of systems most commonly used and then create a minimum and maximum specification from this data.  Obviously this can change many times during development and when it does the team have to make changes to their program until eventually they settle on a final set of specifications. 

Because of this setup some gamers computers have trouble running a new game or find it may not work at all.  Of course it's frustrating when a new game you have been waiting for doesn't work and you spent money on it and yes that customer should be able to get a refund because of this.  But this doesn't mean said customer can become a self entitled little shit on forums about it.  Too many gamers today act as if the developers owe each and every one of them personally, as if their single purchase of the game is what kept their business afloat.  This entitlement has become rampant today with every new launch being plagued with "disappointed" little people complaining and harassing the developers for weeks if not months.  And when I say disappointed I don't mean those who have trouble running said game, I mean players who built their own expectations up so high that the game could never live up to it and thus they feel cheated somehow.

Payday 2 which launched on the 13th of August is still awash with such disappointed little shits.  They throw out words like scammed and cheated like they have some legal higher ground on developer Overkill.  Users actively rage at community manager Almir as if he has personally pissed in their morning tea while taking money from their wallets.  Now yes Payday 2 had a few launch issues like the occasional crash or lockup and it missed a couple of features to meet the deadline.  As a whole though the game works well, has plenty of content and the early bugs have either been patched within a day of launch or will be fixed soon.  The missing content such as safehouse expansion will also be added at a later date.  Not only that but customers who preordered get the first piece of DLC for free.  This isn't enough for these forumites who still demand some kind of compensation from Overkill.  Almir responded to the community attitude with this post which I commend him for entitlement doesn't end there with Mechwarrior Online being a literal hive of entitled players all sitting around taking turns bitching about almost every element of the game on a daily basis.  It's even gotten to the point that some users have signatures under their posts mocking the developer PGI as being idiots who don't know what they're doing.  I mean are you fucking kidding me here?  These whining assholes bitch and moan all day about how the game should be and I don't see any of them starting their own company, getting the funding and making a better Battletech game.  Of course it's easier to just jump on the bandwagon and join in with all the hate.  Heaven forefend you have a differing opinion from these people because doing so means you are clearly either a PGI fanboy or moronic, not someone with a valid and more positive opinion.

I don't know what this kind of attitude does to developers.  I imagine it isn't anything positive, I guess it would be like working at a theatre and every night people are allowed to shout insults at you, bring signs that questions your morality and squat in the front row giving you the finger, all the while paying for their seats and complaining about your reaction to said insults.  I don't see these people rallying online to demand refunds from movie producers if a film is shit or didn't live up to their expectations.  I wanted to see Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha in Pacific Rim kill some Kaiju before they were destroyed, it didn't happen so am I now entitled to send complaints to Guillermo Del Toro?  I mean Pacific Rim isn't what I imagined it to be or didn't include content I thought would have been better for the film so clearly I am in the right to attack everyone involved in the production surely?

The worst part of this entitlement has been seen more recently with the Mass Effect 3 ending and recent changes to Call of Duty Black ops 2.  Now I made a post about Mass Effect 3's ending way back when and yes I was annoyed with it.  Not the developers personally, just the sheer stupidity of the events of the ending and the massive gaps it left with zero explanation.  I was very happy with the extended cut addition and now find Mass Effect 3 to be one of the best games I have ever played.  But some users went way overboard with regards to the ending.  Creating facebooks groups demanding a different ending, making sig's about characters deserving a better ending.  What I was saddened to learn was that some players had started sending death threats to members of the development team.  These people are complete scum and if it where possible I would permanently ban them from accessing the Internet for the remainder of their lives.  Eurogamer yesterday posted a brief interview with Jennifer Hepler who was harrassed by fans of Dragon Age 2 culminating with death threats and other forms of abuse.  She has since left Bioware and rightly says:

That's the biggest risk in my opinion: that we will lose out on the talents of people who would make fantastic games that we would all be the better for playing, because they legitimately don't want to make themselves into targets.
"A lot of the best artists and storytellers (and quite a few great programmers too)," she said, "tend to be sensitive people - we shouldn't lose out on their talents because we are requiring them to be tough, battle-scarred veterans just to walk in the door."

The aftermath of Mass Effect 3 was probably what pushed the likes of Greg Zeschuk out of the games industry simply because of the bile that was spewed from supposed fans of his game.  I don't blame him for leaving to be honest but I feel it was a great loss to the gaming industry as a whole when you look at all the great games Bioware brought to the table under his leadership.

Black ops 2 recently had a patch which altered how certain weapons functioned in multiplayer.  These changes brought on a somewhat unexpected response from the community, namely that of a incredibly hostile and outright vile attack from what could only be described as human scum.  These so called people began posting death threats and worse to David Vonderhaar who is one of the higher profile staff members of Treyarch studios.  He took time out of his probably very busy schedule to answer questions from fans and generally interact with them when he could.  The comments are frankly too graphic, offensive and infantile to post here and I wouldn't want to give these low lifes the pleasure of seeing their posts shown here.  Suffice to say that the attacks where wholly inappropriate and again these users should be banned for life from any online activity, or if nothing else banned from ever playing Call of Duty again.

Fellow Treyarch staffer Dan Amrich posted that these rather vocal minorities not only alter the view of the community as a whole but the worldwide view of Call of Duty as some negative little hole for violent youngsters and other miscreants.  Alright he didn't use the word miscreant but he is right to say that these people only hurt the industry with these completely over the top and unnecessary attacks on people who only want to create computer games.  I would go one further on Amrich and say it isn't only Call of Duty, it's all games today seem to have this core of vocal losers who think everything should be the way they want it to be.

Company of Heroes 2 started a buzz with Russian players who refuse to see the truth of the events of the second world war, shrouding their complaints toward developer Relic and Publisher Sega with nationalism.  They claim Russia was some form of wonderful hippy commune with freedom and equality for all, while the truth is plain for everyone to see if they watch documentaries such as the world at war, or read history books from across the decades.  The complaints have actually resulted in the game being pulled from sale in Russia, which may or may not be a blessing.  But these players continue to demand an apology from Relic and SEGA along with changes to the entire game to show a more friendly Soviet Union.  If it wasn't so sad it would be fucking hilarious, but again this is what happens when a vocal minority demand something long enough they start to get their way and they shouldn't. At least Russian players haven't started harassing Relic staff members, but only because most of them cannot speak English so I guess twitter based Cyrillic insults would only be perplexing rather than insulting.

Some developers do deserve to be called out on their bullshit, it's never a one way street.  Not every decision made by a publisher or dev is the right one and examples can be seen all over.  Ubisoft and it's ridiculous DRM solutions deserve to called out.  The War Z publisher (now called Infestation survivor stories) Hammerpoint interative lied and actively tried to silence gamers on their forums and the steam forums.  Of course these kinds of actions do deserve a measured response.  I wouldn't go as far to say they should be sent death threats or the like, but they should be made to answer for their actions.

To all of you self entitled little shits, you are the minority in online gaming.  You're the person always bitching about balance, complaining about patch dates, DLC pricing, preorders and expansions.  You don't represent the majority even though you claim to with every pointless thread you create.  The reason forums are full of people like you is because everyone who enjoys the game are playing it, while you all sit around posting about how much you hate the developers or the game.  Fuck off then if that is your attitude, we don't want you, you're surplus to requirement, you're annoying and you add nothing to the conversation.


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