Listening is fun. Listening makes people happy because they know they’ve been heard. Listening works. And listening makes you successful.
-Scot Lane, New World Game Director in a guest post at Venture Beat
The title of the post from which I drew that quote is New World: What we’ve learned during our first year, and it is one of the most anodyne and self-serving posts I have ever read.
Sure, it is up on VentureBeat, which has incredibly shallow journalistic standards. Vacuous and self-serving is practically their brand when it comes to guest posts. But this post sets a new standard for vacuous.
This post made me mad.
Not hot headed, rage mad, but the cold, irritable sort of mad that comes when somebody thinks you must be some kind of idiot, that you’re such a mark that you’ll believe whatever they’re selling to the point that they aren’t even putting any effort into the sale, they’re so sure you’ll just buy it.
I don’t want to over-sell my anger. I am not on a mission here or anything. But I felt the need to note this down in order to remember it.
We can start with the quote I chose, which is the most quotable bit of text in the whole thing and really the theme of the post, how much they are listening.
And with a post focused on how well they listen, how much fun it is to listen, you might think it would be filled with example of their listening prowess… and you would be wrong.
It isn’t devoid of examples. The post goes early on to mention how the game changed from a crafting/survival game to a full fledged MMO based on feedback. That is actually a solid example of some sort of listening, though the post-launch experience tends to argue for the fact that the team didn’t know what they were getting into. As I noted before launch, they went from possibly being a big-league Valheim with server rentals to pay the bills to another MMO.
They sold a lot of boxes, but I am not sure that counts as a win in the long term.
Then he quickly goes into the easy wins that were based on feedback.
Things like easier leveling, accessing inventory while running, removing orbs (keys), low-cost fast travel, increased run speed and many more have all come about based on player feedback.
I never experienced half of those during the months we played (no listening then) and the other half were being asked for in beta and took a long time to get into the game, and all of them were pretty trivial to implement.
The lesson doesn’t seem to be “we listen” but “eventually we listened when things were going badly and we needed some quick wins.”
Then there is the third example of listening, which is in the big finish section of the post under the heading Adapt and Improve where it is explained that people thought the architecture in towns was too monotonous. This was the bit that the author said kept bothering him. So they added some buildings that were not of the same style.
That was the closer, the point on which the whole post landed in the end; buildings were too same-y. And that was where my anger began to seethe.
What a waste of an opportunity. What a way to demonstrate the lack of listening. What a whole bunch of nothing.
Now, I didn’t expect somebody from the team would come out and remind people that they went from 900K people online trying to play the game (and largely failing due to server queues) to 20K six months later, or that their attempts at fixing game and economy breaking exploits either caused more problems than they solved or rewarded the exploiters and punished the rest of the game, or that as the game population collapsed that they merged servers so quickly that returning to the game is a chore.
But I did kind of expect that a post about listening would include a bit more concrete evidence of actual listening.
Oh well, making me happy clearly wasn’t the point of the post.
No, with their new Brimstone Sands update launching today, this was a puff piece to cast the illusion that everything is (and always was) fine and dandy and problem free in New World because they did all that listening.
I am sure those that are coming back will enjoy the new architectural options.
My character is still broke, stuck behind a pile of grind, and on some server somewhere behind a long queue. Any desire to return is overwhelmed by that and the memory of how little the company actually did listen when they were making bone headed changes to the game.