A Sea Change at Cryptic Studios

A Sea Change at Cryptic Studios

The company that brought you City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Champions Online is trying a new process with Neverwinter, making it playable as soon as possible.

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Maybe try polish? No? Okay then, destroy my favourites then. One at a time.

They can give it a shot, they have a few under there belts, but, if they think they can beat over WoW they have anoyher thing coming

In order to draw gamers in and get them to stay, Cryptic needs to vastly alter its process of development. What worked for City of Heroes just doesn't cut the mustard these days.

Sorry Emmert, that's wrong. What worked for City of Heroes worked. You just didn't carry on with it.

The early halcyon days of CoH were cool. Yes, they were buggy. (I've still got logs where my damage was measured in %s) but it was GREAT.

Like Star Wars: Galaxies there was a real feel of adventure in there. No-one gave a damn about what you SHOULD do or what you COULD do or what you WOULD do. They just had fun.

And then you did something awful.

You "balanced" it. To make it "more fun".

And something died.

I don't know if it was Enhancement Diversification - Really? You really didn't expect us to slot 6 Damage Dealers in our blast powers?

or the Global Defence Nerf, where you stripped all the armour down to nothing after Statesman promised that ED (released around the same time) wouldn't affect it?

Or if it was something as simple as making Lusca so bad ass and such crappy xp because people were "farming" it.

Or pumping the AVs up to inhuman regeneration levels were it took 6 of us ONE AND A HALF HOURS beating on Dominatrix before we gave up, logged in a Rad/Rad and kicked her ass within a minute.

All I know is that I used to go out and have fun shockwaving Cogs all over the place. Then things were made "FUN" and I lost all interest in the game.

Now standards have changed and what happened with STO and Champions, internally we felt 100 percent confident, but when people played it and reviewers, The Escapist included, said, 'Wow, this is really unpolished.' We looked at that and said, 'What the hell are you talking about? Did you play City of Heroes?'"

Yes. I played CoH just out of Beta. I also played Dungeon Runners, City of Villains, Auto Assault, Guild Wars, Star Trek Online and Champions

Champions is STILL a god-awful mess and you'll find 80% of the CoH community think so.

Because it's not fun. Nothing to do with polish at all. That's where WoW beats you. And will keep doing it because people no longer trust Statesman. He's sold them out. Even Lord Recluse jumped ship.

I returned to City Of Heroes a few months ago, and my well trained En/En/Fo Blaster got ripped apart by a -2 AV.

Had I been a Granite Tank, Fire Brute, Rad Controller or Dark Mastermind, I could have taken on a +2 AV for a light snack; while my Blaster went back to Lusca and popped off some shots at her.
Unfortunately, she still sees me coming while invisible and instakills me because it's MORE FUN THAT WAY.

Listen to your players, Jack. You owe them that. They're the one's who know what fun is.

Champions Online is not liek City Of Heroes. They changed almost everything except the charachter customization. Its problems were not wheree it was like CoH, they are in how they changed it. CoH is still more popular than Campions and STO combined, and thats running on systems four years older than the cutting edge requirements of Champions.

The problem with WoW's competitors is that they each have glaring faults, and then the game designers say "well, our game isn't as big and polished as WoW so that's why it isn't doing as well."

WAR had horrendous lag, busted PvP combat, as it's main claim to uniqueness, RvR combat, involved DPSing wooden doors. Instead of fixing that they go off and make some Egypt-like expansion that confused the RvR system even more.

Champions Online, while successful for roleplaying superheroes, there is only so much superhero roleplay you can do, and then you are left with extreme imbalances in PvP combat that Cryptic pretty much just chose to disregard as unimportant even as the forums were lighting up with the problematic abilities. Okay, fine, we won't PvP then, but how about endgame raiding?... again, there was just nothing there, no gear or bosses of substance. Even though Champions was kind of on the easy side I had an enjoyable time reaching level 40, at which point, there is simply nothing left.

Those are the two non-WoW MMOs I spent a lot of time in, and even though BOTH were among my favorite releases of 2008 and 2009, they had huge, obvious, well known, and fixable flaws limiting long-term replayability that their developers were choosing to ignore.

I don't think MMO players are demanding the next WoW, I think we'd be willing to forgive a lot for something different. But it does have to be a good effort that is responsible to the player base.

That said, I'm totally looking foward to Neverwinter.

Blizzard has it right in the sense they say, "Screw WHEN people want the game. They will get what they WANT from the game when we're done making it." They have a really long beta testing for their games, collect data and make changes based on the data or the feedback. I can't say that I've played the games from Cryptic Studios. I thought about STO but I read a lot of reviews where it was a bad rating for the game.

If they're going to take a page from Blizzard, they need to take their time and listen to the feedback their beta testing is going to give them. Don't flood the market with garbage. There are other companies that can do that to help you. LoL

The problem with WoW's competitors is that they each have glaring faults, and then the game designers say "well, our game isn't as big and polished as WoW so that's why it isn't doing as well."

WAR had horrendous lag, busted PvP combat, as it's main claim to uniqueness, RvR combat, involved DPSing wooden doors. Instead of fixing that they go off and make some Egypt-like expansion that confused the RvR system even more.

I also play WAR since Beta and it was great until they refused to fix the bugs in RvR. Eventually, the player were fed up with getting facerolled when they tried to take a keep because the developers didn't fixed the problems and nerfed the wrong classes into the ground. If you were a Bright Wizard it was 'GG' for the other side.

I had more fun in the lvl10 bracket for WAR because you weren't worried about getting nuked when you walked outside and even looked at the enemy. I think I still have my free account.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can't compete with WoW. If a developer tries to deviate too much from Blizzard's format, they'll get raked over the coals by the fanboys for not using a system that they're familiar with. However, if I got a high-five for everytime I've seen a game dismissed out of hand as a "WoW clone", my arm would have been ripped from the socket from overuse long ago.

In short, the only way that Blizzard will ever lose its lion's share of the market, will be if they screw it up themselves. All other developers will just have to be happy with the scraps until then.

Playing STO from it's beta, it is very clear that cryptic is chaging a lot of its focus. Initially they were pumping out content as fast as they could but they were letting in catastrophic bugs that broke the game occasionally and much of the content wasn't fun (for instance they're having to re-design the raids because not many people play them)

However, in the past month or so, there's been a greater focus on the quality of the content- redesigns of the PvP system made things far easier and balanced when playing other people, the diplomacy system so you can solve puzzles and interact with other races intstead of blowing them up to advance and the new weekly series of linked storyline episodes are deep, well designed, fun and have a very engaging storyline that's had the community desperately trying to solve the mystery.

Also, the interaction from the developers has stopped being a "this is what marketing is saying" to, "this is how it really is right now, this may change and it may not be what you want to hear but it's what we're doing" and that has been refreshing. Some developers are going above and beyond to get what the fans want: one guy is even going through all of the ships just to make them look exactly like they do on the shows/ films to please the fans. The executive producer is regularly in the forums talking with the community about how to improve the game and what is possible and what isn't with regards to community suggested improvements; he also keeps a public list of all the features in development and how far they are along the cycle. Cryptic's games still have a very long way to go before they become close to the quality of blizzard's releases, but the change in attitude at the developer is very welcome and very real.

Hopefully this game turns out okay and Atari will then go on to make a single player D&D video game with turn based combat and the works.

This is just me, my issues, but I have a soft spot for flawed yet inventive games that fail to live up to their potential. Hence I played Champions Online for a few months last year. Hence I am playing Elemental: War of Magic now.

I bring this up to illustrate the differences between Stardock and Cryptic. Stardock has been following closely the threads on their own Elemental Forums. Stardock has acknowledged it was a highly faulty release, and has outlined the problems according to the more rational and prevailing forum complaints, has given us their step-wise plans to correct them, and in a short time has been making good headway toward fixing the issues.

While Cryptic did a good job at fixing the bugs, there was pretty much no acknowledgment of Champion's problems, and looks like there still isn't, and by the time I unsubscribed there was no noticeable headway toward creating better balance among the abilities or end game content.

This is just me, my issues, but I have a soft spot for flawed yet inventive games that fail to live up to their potential. Hence I played Champions Online for a few months last year. Hence I am playing Elemental: War of Magic now.

ME, too - and I fully agree. To quickly digress, other than graphically, and boy is it pretty, I didn't feel like E:WoM had evolved from MoM.. really, we didn't learn anything?
And Champions, well, even Shamus while mocking it admitted the combat was a BLAST ( and ironic, as much as most MMO's rely on combat, that in most the combat is SO BORING )... but wow,

But back on point - one thing i have really noticed is an odd dichotomy -
unless someone can "out-WoW WoW" - which I doubt; they are going to have to offer a different play experience that appeals to other kinds of players.
YET, mmo's are expensive enough to make that almost no one CAN be satisfied with a smaller niche. CoH cut it's niche, but...
After all, isn't this why so many mmo's are changing to a different business model?

HOWEVER - the point i wanted to make was, in my time in D&D Online, what i kept seeing was people who came from WoW, tired of it , saying they wanted a different play experience -

what i found most illuminating however, was that in almost any way that was different, they would then COMPLAIN ( particularly about the difficulty )
- which i found somewhat humorous in that most of their complaints boiled down to " this is not what I am used to / have come to expect".

Not always, not everyone, but quite frequently. I have heard this said in other mediums - that people say they want innovation but punish it.

Just a thought.
( and a PS: I lost interest in DDO, but mostly because of the ways it was TOO MUCH like other mmo's - my personal opinion is that they gave up too much of D&d to make it so. I felt the same way about the warhammer game as well. We'll see if GW2 breaks the "lets copy EQ but improve it" mold... I am leery of this project, but hoping to be pleasantly surprised )

The Amazing Tea Alligator:
Maybe try polish? No? Okay then, destroy my favourites then. One at a time.

I think the idea here is to build it one shiny layer at a time and trying not to scratch what has already been done, and ripping back to that point if scratching occurs.

I Think this is the winning philosophy, Valve certaintly does it, with almost everything(they don't really "do" original lately) and Blizzard mastered that art ages ago.

Besides the novelty factor of a few people playing an MMORPG that's NOT WoW, I think competitors might as well not even bother. I don't know what the financial aspects are, but it would seem like a lose lose situation. Either dump a ton of money into a game hoping it'll be as good as WoW then find out for whatever reason that it's not, or make a game on the cheap and have people realize all that much quicker that it stinks.

The one facet of this game that acts as a glimmer of hope is that it's not an MMO.

What a joke, the man actually has the gall to blame WoW for the abysmal failure of Champions and STO, rather than the poor balance, lack of content, terrible storylines, awful graphics and terrible customer service?

Here's an idea; if you're getting hammered in the MMO market, try making good games, instead of derivative trash. And while you're at it, try doing it with original franchises, so you can stop shitting all over the ones I like, you talentless hack.

Star trek online was not a horrible game it just was not a great game. But they took a AA title game off another company and agreed to get it done by XX date, who does that? So they had a game at release that the pve fed side was pretty fun, the klingon side was nonexistent. And they were promising one or two more races to boot, should you not get the 2nd race done and fleshed out and blanced before you worry about telling us about playable romulans or whatever?

While i think it would be a great world if all companies kept things until they were done, we live in a real world where games cost real money to make, and you usually have investors that want to see some return on their money in their lifetime, unless your are a blizzard that has suckered more money than god out of wow players by selling them the same game over and over and making them pay a sub(i mean how the hell do that convince people that game is that good) you get some breathing room if you want to take 10 years and prefect starcraft 2, cause you have this big cash cow over here feeding your coffers every month.

Cryptic does not have that and probably has less of that now, with co and sto not doing so well as they had hoped. I mean it is good that they woke up and said to themselves why dont our games retain players? It is a very bad sign of fail, that it never ever occured to them that if pvp was going to be part of their games, that balance should have been on the table from the get go.....i mean from the first rpgs new editions were about balance, d&d got big because the game was deep and classes had a sense of balance to them, 3rd ed sr got canned cause adept trolls were so op as to make the game unplayable for anyone that was not an adept troll.

Balance was been a basic tenant of rpgs from the outset, it seems rather obtuse of cryptic in any capacity to say well we just made classes that were fun to play and never even considered that people would be fighting other people with these classes.

"Cryptic's track record hasn't been all that stellar, especially over the last two years. Champions Online was meant to be the successor to City of Heroes, but critics didn't think that it had much depth beyond the robust character customization. Star Trek Online had a great license with a ready fan base, but even though the game was generally fun, it didn't cash in on that license to keep high subscription numbers. Compared to WoW, these MMOs just felt like sub-par products."

"When those games were made, there wasn't a lot of testing between different classes or game systems and Emmert admits that led to an unpolished feel when they were released."

To the first quote: They didn't just feel like "sub-par products," they were sub par products. And not just compared to WoW, they didn't stand up to pretty much any other MMO that had ever been created, even free ones. ST:O and CO were broken unbalanced and, frankly, unfinished games released way before they should have been, assuming they should have been released at all.

And to the second quote: Dude, WTF? Both games underwent extensive and vigourous beta testing from players who really wanted to love the games (such as myself). All systems (that were actually released for testing) were thoroughly put through their paces, broken down and commented on by said testers. Cryptic chose to nearly completely ignore even the most intelligent, well researched and well spoken beta testers (such as not myself). Don't lie and say the game didn't receive enough testing just because you chose not to listen to testers who said you were making a broken trainwreck of a game.

Greg Tito:
Writers Room: A Sea Change at Cryptic Studios

Teddy Roosevelt notwithstanding, is a monopoly ever a good thing?

Not the focus of the article I know but answers some issues the developers have.

Monopolies are obviously bad in developed industries but MMO's are a fledgling technology market a none controlling monopoly is just what the area needs.

Why? Monopolies give everyone a benchmark and focus, attract new customers easily and allow the market as a whole to develop. When there is thousands of games all of equal calibre and fan bases how does one choose which to use? in most markets that's not a problem you just poke around and find one you like but in a new technology your looking for the least broken.

While there's a monopoly around new competitors have to release games in a fully functioning state to be able to even attract a minority of players. Just look at the genre; the games have the least broken launches we've ever seen in the MMO market; the launch states of everquest and ultima online would have been disastrous if done today, now games are at least fully playable if imbalanced and bug ridden.

Monpolies force the industry to stop making shoddy also rans because making and launching a game that simply won't sell is inefficient.

Wow isn't the perfect MMORPG. It's a very long way from being that but it can guarantee players coming back even when they've had enough, simply because everyone else is on there. You can't compete simply by hunting the WoW player base as they are already tied in you need to catch them as they get bored and drift away.

You have to shift the world to new rules, genuine large scale innovation delivered as a truly polished product and marketed in it's own right not as an alternative or clone of existing game features of WoW.

History shows time and again that a certain amount of monopoly is good for the development of a market and that entrepreneurs will adapt through innovation.

The direction Cryptic appear to be going in this article is a very good start but it's not going to break WoW any time soon.

I will paraphrase a professor I once had "Good ideas doesn't make a good product"

This also stand for video games. The idea that Superheroes are fun to play is a sound one, but that alone doesn't make for a good game.
In order for (as an example) Champions to have worked, they should have analyzed what made Superheroes cool. Instead they made you LOOK cool, then put you into a poor WoW knockoff world, that felt very little like neither Marvels or DCs Universes.

Please spend some time BALANCING the classes on the Federation side for STO PLEASE.

Hope they didnt go full bore with Neverwinter and straight up forget about STO :(

The red shirts are terrible Starship captains T.T

I can't care about Cryptic. I'm still too pissed that they even considered a subscription fee for a game that's not even an MMO. Greedy fucks.


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