Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – The End of Smed?

Daybreak Games confirms that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined. Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided.

RadarX, EverQuest II forums

l go away for a few days and this happens.  While I was down at Pismo Beach watching the beach bunnies and avoiding the horde of German tourists… seriously, they were everywhere… only to come back home and find that Smed is out as the boss at Daybreak.

I will cut you

The Daybreak era Smed

There is plenty of speculation about why he is out, where he will end up, and how it may or may not relates to his run-in with Lizard Squad and the deletion of his Twitter account.

Smed was, of course, a pillar of the MMO development community who helped make EverQuest possible.  He was also a staple of “Quote of the Day” posts here and not universally loved, having run SOE and Daybreak through various controversial periods including the NGE, the transition to free to play, the current era of early access sales, and the sale of SOE to Columbus Nova Prime.  While he has fans both inside and out of Daybreak, not everybody will be sad to see him step down.

But that just brings us to the next question; who will replace him at the helm?

Smed was at least a gamer through and through.  Russel Shanks, another long time member of the Daybreak team is stepping up for now, but it is not clear to me if that is a permanent move of not.  So the next person running Daybreak may not be cut from the same gamer mold.  And while Smed stepping down may have had something to do with his online conflict coming home to roost at Daybreak, it could be about something else as well… something like money even.

Having worked for a company that was acquired by an investment group in the past, I can tell you that I was often reminded of that scene from Goodfellas:

Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.

This may be simply the first round of, “Fuck you, pay me.”  Or it could be something else.

What will Daybreak be without John Smedley?

 

Quote of the Day – The Dreaded Rear Admiral

Most who don’t understand how the industry works, the technical challenges etc, were quick to discount this as just another Derek Smart rant, or hyperbole. Regardless, even those who doubted the statements, were forced to stop and think. According to online metrics, this single article, has set practically every gaming forum talking about this game, and the impact it will have when (not if) it fails.

-Derek Smart, Interstellar Discourse

It would be hard to argue against the fact that, in his attempt to shine a bright light on the on things, Derek Smart did indeed get people talking about Star Citizen, the promises, made, and what crowd funding is, where it may head, and what those who fund projects in this way really owe people.

As I noted in the comments of my previous post, even the team at Cloud Imperium felt the need to respond in the forums to the issues  he brought up.  They did not address him directly, but it was clear that Derek Smart’s post set the ball rolling and put them on notice.

At which point a mere mortal might think the job was done.  Pot successfully stirred, people talking, issues being discussed, recognition of some sort from the developers in question, and some “yeah, what he said!” sentiments still ringing in the Star Citizen forums, meaning the question wasn’t just going to die off with a simple “Everything is fine” response.

But this is Derek Smart, and the quote at the top is from his second post on the topic, another epic collection of words under the title Interstellar Discourse, from which Massively OP distilled a central theme and a list of seven demands.  (The full, yet to be shared list is reported to be a beyond-Wilsonian 33 points to date.)  And then the comments section for the post at Massively OP went through the roof, drawing in Derek Smart himself.  It is past the one thousand mark with no end in sight.  I hope Syp gets paid by the click.

In an addendum to the post, it was announced that Cloud Imperium had disabled Derek Smart’s account and refunded his money allegedly because he was using his posts… on his own blog… to draw attention to Star Citizen simply to promote his own game.  Kickstarter’s terms of service allow companies to refund money and lock those deemed “trouble makers” out of their campaigns.  And so Derek Smart’s rank as a Rear Admiral was revoked.

Your credentials are now invalid

Your credentials are now invalid

(Image from Derek Smart’s blog, for which he no doubt holds any copyright, and which I have used without permission.  But I cannot resist a Simpsons reference.)

And it is certainly true that Derek Smart makes reference to his own games, including his upcoming title Line of Defense often and at great length, arguably beyond the point needed to establish his credentials or support his points.  But that is a pretty subjective line.  I could personally take 90% of what came under that as read, but I have above average familiarity with the topic of Derek Smart.  Somebody unfamiliar with the him might need all that background and more.

And lest you think that things are over, with RSI having evicted the dreaded Rear Admiral, there is a mention of a third post in progress from Derek Smart and legal issues and even a theory that RSI plans to refund all $2.1 million in Kickstarter pledges to rid themselves of any crowdfunding FTC issues.  The fun never stops.

It is summer.  This is the silly season.  At least we have entertainment.

Addendum: Some are looking at this more abstractly than others.

Quote of the Day – Smart Money

To the rest of you, I only have this to say: stop buying virtual items for a goddamn game you don’t have. What in the holy phuck is the matter with you?!? You know how many indie games you could’ve bought and supported and been PLAYING by now?!?

Derek Smart, on Star Citizen

Derek Smart, no stranger controversy and visions unmet, weighs in with an epic post on his own blog about Star Citizen and getting to where it is headed and what the game will be when and if it gets there.

Yeah, there are bigger, headline quality, money quotes in his post.  Expect to see this one show up a lot, with or without context:

Without disrespect to anyone, I’m just going to say it: it is my opinion that, this game, as has been pitched, will never get made. Ever.

And yes, there is also a good deal of self-promotion in that post as well.

But he does cover a lot of ground on just how difficult it can be to get to where your vision wants to take you with an open world, multiplayer, “be all the things” space simulation, something he spent most of his own adult life trying to create.

Star_Citizen_logo

And it also opens up the discussion, picked up by Damion Schubert, about what something like Star Citizen, which has raised $85 million dollars so far, might end up doing to the crowdfunding scene should it fail to substantially deliver on its vision and promises.  A lot of people bought virtual ships that they really, really want to use.  The backlash could be bad.

So what do you think is going to happen?

Quote of the Day – F2P Insight

…acting like some sort of free-to-play evangelist who’s trying his best to convert the unwashed masses is exactly the sort of smarmy, duplicitous behavior that has earned free-to-play the bad reputation that it carries today and that it will carry into the future.

-Jef Reahard, The fallacy of ‘F2P insight’ in the MMO market

To a certain extent, the F2P ship has sailed.  You have to be special snowflake, premium, and deemed worthy by a big enough following or you have to be free.   That is the dividing line in the MMORPG space, with scant few left on the monthly subscription side of the fence.  The market is too crowded in our favored niche, so for many games it is go to the cash shop or go home.  So it is a necessary evil, if evil it be.

Which isn’t to say that F2P doesn’t deserve some of the reputation it has acquired.  As “Facebook game” has come to mean “spammy piece of shit” to a lot of people, “F2P MMORPG” ends up sounding a lot like, “Cash shop focused, lockbox hyping, hucksterism.”  So I get when Jef looks at the MMORPG world and comes up with gems like:

Cash shop “convenience” items are the equivalent of buying a mop and some Ajax from the guy who purposefully crapped on your kitchen floor so you’d need to buy the mop and the Ajax.

I can see where he is coming from.

And yes, you can make a parallel argument about subscription based MMOs.

The point is that, as much as some people want to insist that the business model is a separate and distinct thing from the game, in the MMORPG sphere it seems clear to me that the business model drives the game.  If you have a subscription model, you come up with things to keep people subscribed.  They may be horrible, grindy, ill-conceived things, but you can see the hand of the business model in the design.

And if you have a cash shop driven business model, you need to get people to use the cash shop if you want to get paid… and then you offer up a subscription in order to bypass some of the more onerous hurdles designed to send you to the online store while continuing to wave lock boxes in your newly subscribed customer’s face.

Quote of the Day – The Power Blocs Will Never Die

Break the power blocs down and they’ll only build themselves up again, he shrugs. It’s human nature.

The Mittani to EuroGamer, Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones

EuroGamer gets a good deal of deserved mocking from time to time due to their sacrificing quality/depth of reporting in order to keep up with the pace of news on the web and the need to be able to be first (example one and two), but they have a post up today about the EVE Online meta game titles Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones that makes up for some of their shortcomings.

Reinforcements bridge in

Blocs Battling at 6VDT-H back in 2013

The article runs through some of the realities of the big null sec power blocs and is a decent read if the topic interests you (certainly more so than that article in The Atlantic that ran along as though the CSM was central to the meta game), though you have to remember that the focus is just on one aspect of EVE Online.  Null sec is just a slice of the pie.  And yes, there is some smugness to be had for CFC pilots as the article displays a tone of exasperation when it comes to our traditional foes like Black Legion and NCDot.

There are a couple of takeaways from the article that are important to remember.  One is the social bonding aspect and how a lot of people run ops more for the people they play with than because EVE Online is full of fun and exciting game mechanics. (It is objectively a pretty poor game in the regard on many fronts.)  That one comes out pretty clearly in the article.

The other one is stated less directly, but it is one I have brought up before. And that is, in any game where being organized and working together brings advantage, groups that can do so in the long term will tend to dominate in the long term.  Such group will tend to adapt to change better and will continue to succeed, which leads to the quote at the top.  Making the game more difficult for the organized groups will tend to harm the less organized groups even more so.  History has born this out.

And if you’re dying for more on the topic, there is Sion’s presentation from Fanfest about diplomacy, coalitions, and the meta game, now up on YouTube.

Quote of the Day – A Treasure Trove of Turbine Turmoil

LOTRO’s launches in Japan and Korea were so disappointing they were immediately and quite effectively brushed under the carpet and never spoken of again.

-Aylwen, LOTROCommunity forums

Well, if you were looking to kick Turbine while they were down, Massively Overpowered linked to some forum posts earlier that will both set the “down” scenario and give you plenty of targets to kick.

In fact, if there is some Turbine issue you want to pick at, you’ll probably find it.  Infinite Crisis as an ill-conceived disaster that is hemorrhaging money?  Check!  Self-destructive rivalries between groups?  Check!  F2P conversions that did not meet expectations despite the external hype? Check!  Cheaping out on expansions?  Check!  Blizzard induced paranoia?  Check!  Leadership problems and rampant self-deception?  Check!  Neglect from corporate overlords?  Check!

It is like Ikea!

Bad marketing ideas? Well, we had proof of that already, didn’t we?

I picked the quote at the top because that was an event I couldn’t even recall.

And while the author of these posts, a former Turbine employee, says he is not disgruntled, this does feel like an EA Louse-level event for Turbine, and I haven’t even gone through half of it yet.

Quote of the Day – If You’re Selling it, We’re Reviewing it

If I had paid money for H1Z1, I’d be pretty pissed off right now. Some players have already taken to demanding refunds. And I can’t blame them.

Polygon review of H1Z1

I laughed out loud when I saw that Polygon put up a review of H1Z1 on their site this morning.  But I have to admit that a review is a fitting response to Daybreak Game Company selling the game on Steam.  Not that Polygon hasn’t been on the H1Z1 beat already.

H1Z1Disaster

Yeah, yeah, cry me a river about that “Early Access” disclaimer.

I wouldn’t dream of endorsing a review of a product that was in alpha or beta and testing with volunteers.  But my view, and this is an opinion that I hold pretty strongly, is that once you are charging money and have a cash shop setup, trying to hide behind words like “Beta” (the long time Zynga ploy… do you want to be like Zynga?) or “Early Access” is a bullshit move.

The “Early Access” disclaimer has to compete with the pie-in-the-sky marketing vision about what the game might be some day way down the road when it is finished.

Tell me about H1Z1 please...

Tell me about the reality of H1Z1 please… I hear it isn’t actually an MMO

A “fully transparent” approach to game design would require the equivalent of “Warning: Lark’s Vomit” on the Steam store page and the SOE web site. (Since there is no Daybreak web site yet.)

And Daybreak Game Company is out there with not one but two early access events, with Landmark having mucked about in some sort of limbo for over a year at this point.  And to echo the quote at the top of the page, after my free time in Landmark I was pretty happy I didn’t pay any money for it.  And don’t get me started on the irony of a company whose motto is “Free to Play Your Way” and has a subscription program called “All Access” that doesn’t actually give you access to all of their games.

Yeah, I am on a bit of a rant here over what is probably a pretty small item in the grand scheme of things.  And it would certainly be fair game to ask how I reconcile this with Kickstarter campaigns and pre-orders and whatever other industry practices I don’t seem to take issue with that share some similarities with early access.  My primary goal in all things of late is the finished game, something I even mentioned in the earlier post about Crowfall.  I already have a day job in software development, I don’t need/want to keep fretting about code when I get home at night.

And who knows, the whole early access thing might work out.  I’m just not convinced right now that paid early access is a good thing for the industry, and it is Smed’s handiwork with Landmark and H1Z1 that has pushed me in that direction.

Anyway, cheers to Polygon for having a policy about reviewing early access games so people know what they are getting for their money.  How do you feel about that?