Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Trolling

Turns out that there is an unwritten rule in the SWG Official Forums that states that "NGE threads create trolling and fighting and are thus discouraged". Such threads can and will be locked, and the writer shall be told "Please post on something relevant." At least we have such objective rules.

The offending post is contained here, in it's entirety. Is this a troll?

Was the NGE actually a smart move?

I read over the weekend that NCSoft's Tabula Rasa will be closing down in February of next year due to failing to meet expectations. I only ever tried the 14 day trial, but I had a lot of fun with the game and even toyed with subscribing up until I read of the shutdown.

The game had a fairly original system mixed in with the standard MMO feature set. Overall, it felt pretty unique in my opinion; it stood out in my mind in terms of the content, rules and interface.

And that's when it struck me: Blizzard is the spawn of Satan with their World of Warcraft.

Thanks to the success of WoW, all MMOs shall now be measured against their success. Most games now offer copycat systems of WoW, even if WoW did not conceive of all its features. They have, perhaps, figured out the formula to reach the broadest possible audience; to make their game easy to learn and even addictive. Other games will attempt to take part in their success, without any real hope of knocking them from their perch.

Face it, Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to have a WoW-like system. Sure, sprinkle in a few new things to liven up the recipe, but for any company to "think" that they will have success, they will study and emulate the gold standard in the industry, and that is Blizzard's product.

So, considering that Tabula Rasa is failing to generate the target revenue, it's pretty safe to say that any company would pull the plug on a product that was leaving them in the red. In other words, Star Wars Galaxies is likely turning a profit for SOE, even if it's a smaller profit then during the first year.

Maybe the NGE decision was actually a smart move, in retrospect. By switching over to a WoW-induced system, the appeal may have broadened at the cost of cutting off the existing, and restless playerbase that came first.

It's possible that declining subscription numbers from the Combat Upgrade forced SOE's hand to not just save a sinking ship, but rather switch over to a smaller, sturdier ship built in WoW's image.

I am a fan of the old sandbox, open-ended, and big-galaxy feel from the pre-CU, but I felt an urge to play the Devil's Advocate and suggest that the NGE could have saved SWG in the long run.

Now we owe our "thanks" to Blizzard and their target audience for dumbing down the MMO genre for years to come. We can only hope that a daring company will buck the system, attach themselves to a hot, creative intellectual property and build an MMO that proves that not all games need to be created equal for them to be successful.

Hang in there SWG. If SWTOR turns out to just be a WoW clone, you just might be in a position to take the Star Wars MMO ball and run it in for the score.

But let's get everything aligned properly first. Let's capture the pre-CU goodness, without the loads of pre-CU badness. We're stuck with the WoW-like features thanks to an NGE that may have kept SWG's head above water, but it wouldn't take much to keep adding general expertise (ala Beast Mastery) to achieve some of the sandbox that made SWG pre-CU such a success.
Here is the reason for the lock:

What's the point of creating yet another NGE thread? That was several years ago
and many of our players had no part in it. NGE threads create trolling and
fighting and are thus discouraged. Please post on something relevant.

Say wha? Did he even read the post? If the NGE was several years ago, what game am I playing now?

Just to be sure, here is SOE's Forum Rules regarding trolling:

Don't be a troll. "Trolling" is defined as: Posting with the intent of stirring up trouble or to incite disruption. An example of trolling would be posting to a thread without the intent to provide constructive suggestions or comments and instead making disruptive comments.

And also their definition in the Forum Rules regarding relevance:

Rule 3: Be Relevant
Please stay on topic. These Forums are provided to enable members to help each other in sharing their passion for the game. Please refrain from discussing personal matters, abusing any company or product, or, in general, from posting in a manner unrelated to the direct purposes expected in the Forums.

So I drew a comparision between the failure of non-WoW-type games to the success of SWG after switching to a WoW-like format and this is considered trolling. Oh, and there are also "a million posts like this" according to the "moderator".

I take great pride and utilize equal amounts of care when I craft a new thread. I attempt to be original, thoughtful, helpful and entertaining if possible. To be blatantly called a troll and locked without any Forum Rules to govern such an action is quite offensive.

Should the point need to be driven home any further, I should gladly like to do the legwork for the afforementioned moderator and locate scores of senseless, baiting and flaming posts that are in direct violation of the existing Forum Policies but were not locked down.

I am still waiting for a better explanation of the locking; I feel I deserve at least this much.

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