Context Matters: Respect or Vilify A Developer

Secretz

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#1
So do we vilify a developer when they ignore gamers' requests and desires by refusing to change their game or do we respect them for sticking to their creative vision, and how do we decide what we think about them? Currently, it seems like the prevailing idea is the former when it comes to State of Decay 2 and things like fate cards, sieges, enclave harassment, character customization, ect...however, when it comes to Cyberpunk 2077 and CDPR's steadfast decision to not include a third person option (despite acknowledging a large number want it and because of health reasons, some even actually need it), some people believe it's the former.

How do you guys arrive at your opinion on the matter? Do you even have an opinion on the subject? :unsure:
 

chikawowwow

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#2
So do we vilify a developer when they ignore gamers' requests and desires by refusing to change their game or do we respect them for sticking to their creative vision, and how do we decide what we think about them? Currently, it seems like the prevailing idea is the former when it comes to State of Decay 2 and things like fate cards, sieges, enclave harassment, character customization, ect...however, when it comes to Cyberpunk 2077 and CDPR's steadfast decision to not include a third person option (despite acknowledging a large number want it and because of health reasons, some even actually need it), some people believe it's the former.

How do you guys arrive at your opinion on the matter? Do you even have an opinion on the subject? :unsure:
IMO it largely depends on the context of the requests and the design competence of the developer.
When people make requests it’s important to understand exactly why rather than assume the problem is what was stated. The game design example that gets thrown around is Super Mario 64 where initially through the play testing the consensus was the platforming in 3D doesn’t work. However getting to the core of the problem, rather than assuming the complaint was valid, they discovered it was because people had trouble accurately calculating jumps. The solution rather than cancelling the game was simply to have that shadow directly underneath Mario to project his location on the ground.
This isn’t unique to game design, if you tell an architect exactly what house layout you want the chances are they would need to analyse the reasons and present something equal but different to account for the principles of their craft.

For design competence I simply mean are they correct in their assertions. Given how vast game design itself is, covering multiple disciplines, a failure in one regard doesn’t mean total incompetence.
Looking at @Lassteph ’s post about people complaining about a LOS mechanic because of misunderstanding it. Not knowing the game or community I would assume either: the designers haven’t accurately reflected the target audience for the game so people with perhaps less intelligence than intended are playing the game. Or, the devs haven’t elucidated the important mechanics in the game.
I want to say that I’m not intending this as being judgemental of people or designers, using words like competence and intelligence are the most concise ways to represent such concepts.

I said in another thread that I believe games belong more to the player than the designer (I may come back with the link). Without presenting the entire argument again simply consider that games are experiences designed for a player, without a player the game literally does nothing, which is unique to this media. So desires of the players are more important than desires of the designer. There are caveats like mentioned above and sometimes developers just know better, but if they assume they know better without any evidence of that being true it leads to trouble.
When The Sims idea was presented to a focus group they thought the idea was terrible, but now even if you don’t like the game it’s hard to argue against its success. Those designers knew better..

Moving away from game design completely one last consideration is what is referred to as internet culture or the need to give an opinion without any examination of the problems with it. 1000 people could give an opinion but yielding to it can cause more problems than not yielding.
 

SwissArmyKnife

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#3
So do we vilify a developer when they ignore gamers' requests and desires by refusing to change their game or do we respect them for sticking to their creative vision, and how do we decide what we think about them?
For me personally, it comes down to the developer's public words and actions. While I have been quite harsh on State of Decay 2, I have tried to not pull anyone's name through the mud directly. That's because none of the members of the team at Undead Labs have made specific promises, even Jeff Strain, and come up woefully short on them.

I didn't have a dog in the NMS OR Star Citizen fight and still don't, but what their teams' leaders have said and done publicly with regards to trailers for things that they had no intention of releasing (NMS) or for projected modules that have been scrapped entirely (Star Citizen). I think it's fair to throw some villainy words on them because they invite it upon themselves. That is not to say that we should throw death threats and dox their families. It's also a strange jump in history with the world becoming more internet-based to see how toxic the culture can get.

As an aside, doxxing used to be just on Usenet in the early '90s and it was only to out people's real names, when someone was lying about who they were (such as a guy pretending to be a girl). It never went as far as telling the world what you did, where you lived, who your family was, where they lived, who they worked for, etc until 2004, around when Napster was shuttered and the internet turned on the MPAA and their leaders' families. It got an official dictionary definition in 2008.
 
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#4
There are ultimately some things that can be excused as deliberate choices for tonal consistencies and the creative direction of the developers (i.e. Character creation/customization) that could fairly be argued against despite the requests for it, however when there are objective (objective) problems with your game design that create numerous undesirable problems for gameplay (such as how little zombies show up during sieges regardless of what your threat level is at) you have to either fix the problem or own up to the problems created by said problems.

Sieges aren't much of a concern in most cases, AI handles it themselves without player intervention. The side-effect here is that most of the noise mechanics of base operations are largely ignored. Additionally, there is little reason to plan your community around noise as whether or not a siege happens does not affect the rate you construct.

Point being that the developers can't enthuse about an addition to the game mechanics that doesn't alter the way the players play in the hard majority of cases. There have been few times where I have seen or been a player that was actually prevented from going through with regular gameplay because of the sieges as the player does not have to be home to deal with them, neither do they spawn a sufficient amount of zed for the weakest of AI to deal with themselves even when the attack is being rendered.

While I can't criticize them for wanting to add in these potentially interesting mechanics, I can criticize them for being entirely inefficient about it and not compensating the player with additional gameplay in exchange for these features existing.

For every large-ass update we get I start to wonder where that memory actually gets used, I've had to clear two games from my Xbox to make room for this and so far it still clunks like a student driver who has been paired with a stick shift.

Haven't heard about Cyberpunk 2077 but POV has never been much of a concern for me, would need context into the issue as to whether I support the developers or those with disdain on that one.
 

Dunadain

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#5
I feel SOME stereotypes of developers have been earned over the years, like Evil Associated, or Bugthesda. I'm not ready to do this with UL yet, as they have a great first game and an Improving second, whatever disappointing points we find with it.
 

Secretz

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#6
I try not to cast any company as the bad guy for decisions on their game, because let's face it; no one that creates anything wants to be told how to do it, especially if it drastically changes the game. However, I do kind of take issue when a developer ignores problems that many, many people tell them about that can be solved if the developer makes some minor changes that doesn't really change the core of the experience...that just shows that a developer doesn't give a damn about the customer, which leads me not to give much of a damn about them. UL is slowly but unfortunately surely approaching that level.

Then again, it's actually worse when the developer acknowledges that there's a problem or that there's a sizable demand for something in their game, yet refuses to do anything about it, basically telling their potential customers to go screw. In the case of CDPR and the request for a third person option in Cyberpunk 2077, that's pretty much what's going on in a nutshell. They released that 48 minute gameplay demo and at the end of it asked for people to tell them if they liked it and if there was anything they could do to improve it. A virtual tsunami of requests for an option for a Third Person Perspective later led them to shut the 25+ page topic requesting it down on their official forum and forbidding any mention of the topic under threat of deletion and banishment. Not as drastic as UL shutting down the entire forum but sort of in the same vein, right?

CDPR claims the First Person Perspective is needed for maximum immersion...but is maximum immersion really more important than maximum enjoyment, which seems like would most likely occur if more people were able to play the game their preferred way, much like Bethesda games allow? Anyway, to sum it up...while I do believe developers should follow their artistic vision, there are certain points when sticking to that vision is being a little too obstinate and isn't a good look for them.
 

Kizig

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#7
I think I've got two baselines.
  1. Creators ultimately get to do what they want. If they don't feel like fulfilling an audience request then too bad for the audience. I think it comes down to their being able to say "I'm not your dancing monkey, I do what I want to do." This assumption makes @chikawowwow's comments I saw in the other thread, about the centrality of players, really interesting to me.
  2. I'm keen on criticism but much of the barking at creators gets really dramatic and overheated and is bad form. You can disagree and analyse and complain, but you don't have to be a jerk about it.
That said, I'm not a big fan of "creator's vision" arguments. Thanks to @Secretz I've looked into the Cyberpunk dispute and I find the insistence that 1st person is superior for immersion exasperating. Maybe some players find 3rd more immersive; I think I might, settling into a place where I'm both participant and observer of the character, and having wider FOV substitute for peripheral vision and body awareness. 3rd might make it all more real to me, to say nothing of players who'll get physically sick in 1st. How the hell does it make the dev sad-faced if I like watching my character move about?

I've seen the same with opposition to difficulty sliders: "you should play the game at the difficulty level the devs intended." Setting aside something like Dark Souls where the difficulty is kind of the brand/point, what's the dev care if I play it easier or harder? Suggest what they think is best experience, sure, but it's no harm to the creator if I find my own fun.

I think it doesn't help that designers with visions tend to strike me as tiresome authoritarians. There's that thing in Rust where you get assigned a randomly generated character you have to use forever. Okay, fine, you can explore some issues here, and a resource argument was given, but the implementation leaves the player as a passive lump. It's boring and disempowering (to be fair that does seem to be the overall Rust play experience BA-DOOM-BOOM-CHING!). What if you instead give me 3 random characters and I can only choose from them? What if I'm given the option every couple months to re-roll? SOMETHING to make me a participant. I've got a native distrust of visionaries, they seem so keen on sledgehammers rather than whispers.

So overall: compromise is best. Where possible, let the player do their own thing. But, when you get down to it, the game is the creator's work and they're free to do as they please, in which case the player's only option may be to walk away.
 

SomeRandomGuy

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#8
Developer vision is fine, if I like it I'll play the game and if I don't then I won't play the game. For me the issue is when a developer asks for input then either ignores it and does their own thing regardless, straight up says "We hear you, but too bad, we're not going to listen", blatantly lies (E.G. No Man's Sky), or does a kickstarter/early access with lots of promises, then abandons the game, takes the money, and uses it for something else entirely (Kinetic Void).

UL is a bit of an anomaly. They listened and took our questions, comments, requests, and input seriously and made changes or additions to SoD based on it. But now? It's the total opposite. We know pretty much all of the communications blackout is due to MS, but we don't know how much creative freedom UL has over the brand, and how much is MS saying "do it this way or else". Is MS pulling all the strings and telling them 'You'll develop the game this way or else", or is MS giving general guidelines and allowing UL to do it their own way?

We just don't know, so all we can do is go off of what we see and hear from them on streams and such, which are probably at least somewhat scripted by MS.
 

Dhamptastic

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#9
Developer vision is fine, if I like it I'll play the game and if I don't then I won't play the game. For me the issue is when a developer asks for input then either ignores it and does their own thing regardless, straight up says "We hear you, but too bad, we're not going to listen", blatantly lies (E.G. No Man's Sky), or does a kickstarter/early access with lots of promises, then abandons the game, takes the money, and uses it for something else entirely (Kinetic Void).
I generally agree with this.

There is no onus on a developer to do what prospective customers want. They can choose to, or choose not to. The market decides if they're right.

Further, there is a fine line to be tread. Fans are not game developers, and the louder people are almost always the most outlying. Remember early MMOs. Fans would complain, the developers would change the game, the game would collapse from balance issues. More recently, Darkest Dungeon ran into this problem with the endless tweaking reminiscent of an arena shooter but aimed at pleasing a handful of loud people instead of siding in the interests of their own game. Granted, a balance issue created by a third person view, for instance, for Cyberpunk is inconceivable, but we have all seen the inarguable effects of developers listening too much.

To sum up, their job is to put out a product for the market to test and not to please anyone. And trying to please people has a tested history of failing.

Unless they choose to. And then they've made commitments. And commitments are remembered by the market.
 
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