Weird Question of the Day

If you’re an MMO dev (or on the team in some capacity), wouldn’t you get burned out playing your game far more quickly (and perhaps be less enthralled, since you can see “behind the scenes”)?  What happens then?

9 thoughts on “Weird Question of the Day

  1. I’ve wondered the same thing, but (based upon what little I know) I think that it would be more true of QA than Dev. QA test the game pretty much all day every day (when they’re not reporting on what they found), whereas Devs don’t get to play the game (at work) much. They are designing and working in the code most of the time.

  2. That’s like saying “if you are the grill cook at a fine restaurant, would you not eat at your fine restaurant, which has plenty of other amazing things on the menu besides meat.”

    I agree with Murren, though. It’s QA that would likely not play in their off time. Still they are forced to play the game in usually very extreme, hardcore ways (even when trying to mimic a casual group).

    I know some GW devs (possibly QA too) that do play, but they are ultra-casual with very few achievements. Another GW QA guy I know has a Hall of Monuments in GW better than mine. So really it depends…

  3. I am not an MMO dev. I use to be a MUD dev though. I loved it and played for a long time on the same MUD. Eventually, I moved into a ‘wizard’ role and started to develop new features for the MUD. The magic was quickly lost. I ended up spending more time socializing rather than actually playing the game. Still built new features though 🙂

  4. I work for a largish MMO company. I feel that you do have a quicker burn out period on a game if you play on it commercially – partly because you’ve played it at length in work in a very focused way, not just as QA but content and to a lesser extent graphics. You know what challenges are coming and the ways to overcome them best. It removes the journey of discovery a lot of folks relish in a new MMO, it removes any illusions you might have about the game and suspense in character progression – more often than not you wander though and see flaws which you note down and address at work later.
    This is probably a lesser issue for staff of games which shirk the linear approach like EVE.

    That said: it can be really nice going in game and seeing folks enjoying the stuff you’ve worked hard on, it’s also pretty important to take forums whines with a killer dose of salt.

  5. Depends on the person. Dr. Richard Bartle has often said that he can’t just play a game to enjoy it anymore, the designer part of his brain is always trying to pick it apart. I’ve heard other designers say the same thing.

    Luckily, I seem to have the ability to play a game and mentally file away design observations for later so they don’t distract me while I’m in the middle of having fun. I seem to be rare in that regard, although I like to think I can be just as insightful as other designers.

    As for playing my own game, I think that the complex nature of not only MMO system (which also leads to a lot of bugs) but also of player interaction keeps things exciting. The biggest problem I had with playing M59 was not mechanically playing the game, but worrying that someone would figure out who my character was and harass me for the glory of killing me. But, there was always something interesting to discover in the game, even though I had seen behind the curtain extensively. It might have helped that I wasn’t one of the original developers, but then again I did extensively rewrite some of the systems so I did know them pretty well.

    Hopefully that answers the question enough. 🙂

  6. MMO devs play their game?

    I always though they never had time, but instead passed that on to QA leads while they were busy working 80 hour crunch weeks to get the next expansion live. You’d think that would be the source of burnout.

  7. That’s exactly what happens, at least in my case. I’m largely an explorer type, so in knowing a lot about the world ahead of time (and having had to test it quite a bit already), much of my fun is already spoiled.

  8. I’ll second Psychochild on this one, noting that I work on XBox Live games, not MMOs. It’s like watching a movie; I’ve been trained to make movies (Pixar style), and as a result, I can’t watch movies just for the spectacle any more. I reflexively dissect them as I go. Ditto for books, as I’ve read a LOT of books and written many, many papers and short stories. For games, I’ve never worked on a game I don’t wind up actually liking, but I definitely see the warts more clearly.

    Sometimes I can turn off that analysis, but since I reflexively pick things apart, it’s a conscious effort to avoid doing so, and as a result, I’m not just focused on going with the flow.

  9. This in ability to set the two apart can be a real cold sore. I used to mod quite heavily for Deus Ex, then StarCraft and then Max Payne I & II) when they came out. And over the course of time I was unable to distinguish where I was having fun, and where I was just appreciative of the clever little trick the developer/designer just used.

    It’s only natural. Our dissection of video games only stems from our need to see more quality titles. I for one just wish I could play a game and completely ignore the warts, blatant or otherwise, a skill that is much valued, now that it’s long lost.

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