Craig Talks the Play Test Process at MMORPG
View Single Post
Join Date: Dec 2007
06-06-2009, 01:47 AM
The communication is appreciated.
On the positive side, it's good to see that the value of playtesting is understood. This is known to be one of the reasons for the success that Valve has had with their games -- apparently they bring in people by the truckloads to test their games every step of the way.
And while I personally consider a creative designer to be pretty valuable, and that depth is not the same thing as "complexity," the rebuke to us who enjoy discussing the possibilities of a major MMORPG is not unfair. Some ideas won't work, even if they sound great on paper, and a good team is able to set them aside in favor of what does work... but I would add that a great team doesn't give up easily on a worthwhile idea.
On the not so positive side, there were three things that bothered me.
First, I'm still not happy to hear references to "powers." It makes me think that Star Trek Online is being designed as though it was just a reskinning of a superhero game like Champions Online, whose engine STO is re-using. It also gets me wondering whether too much emphasis is being placed on character abilities as activatable "powers," rather than on the smart use of technology to solve problems.
Second, it's a bit depressing to see "Aimed Shot" and Engineering gameplay apparently being conceived as mere "buffing." Is it really necessary to limit opportunities for interesting gameplay mechanics in STO to cloning gameplay from other games? This is probably not a big deal; it's possible that there are plenty of other gameplay actions being created that are uniquely Star Trek. But those weren't mentioned.
And finally, and of most concern to me, is the fact that everything mentioned from this week's playtest was about combat. What is the status of non-combat content in this game? Here we are in June, just six months away from the end of 2009, but when some Official Person does reveal specific gameplay features, those features are related to combat. Why no mention of any non-combat content in playtesting? Is it pushed out to the end of the schedule where it will have little time for deep implementation and even less time for testing? Is there no designer or programmer assigned to STO who actually enjoys non-combat content enough to push the production staff to let them design it, implement it, and promote it in public?
I'm not unhappy with many of the things we've heard are being implemented.
It's the things we're not hearing anything about that have me concerned.
All just my opinion, of course, and no more or less important than anyone else's.