Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Patch Day! It seems nothing brings more excitement and fear to the MMO gamer than patch day. I’d also be willing to bet nothing causes more people to quit than patch day.

In a perfect world, patch day is the day when the bug that has been driving you crazy finally gets fixed. It is when new content is added. It is when the “too powerful” get nerfed. It is when the “too weak” gets buffed. It is when you get that new game feeling again if only for a moment. All in a perfect world.

The reality of it is that patch day breaks things. It breaks the UI. It makes more lag. The class/item you have come to love does not work as well as it used to. It makes you revise previous successful strategies. It makes previously worthless items priceless and previously priceless items worthless. It adds content you finish in 3 hours. This is not to mention the headache of getting the patch downloaded in the first place.

In general, people don’t like change. You create a game and rules for play. The players learn the rules and play according to them (not talking about cheaters here). On patch day, the rules often get changed. This upsets players who had been playing by the rules. They get tired of the game having the rules changed each patch day and they quit.

Patch day often will have small changes that would originally appear to be minor. Changes like the voice of a character or the revision of a custom logo background. People get used to things and when you change even the little stuff it becomes a big deal to them. They liked the old logo background. The old voice was fine, why did you change it?

A new player would not even notice these items. In fact, they will get used to the way it is currently and would likely get upset if you changed it back.

I’ll cite a recent example from EVE Online. They just had a patch come out. In this patch, the power of missles was changed in various ways. Now you need to buy some skills to make them work as well as before, and they deal damage in a different way. Big missles are not as deadly to small ships.

Now, I already read the patch notes and recognized the missle changes so I just avoided missles for the most part. It is how I prefer to deal with change. After the patch came out, I started training missle skills and I do not notice any issues with them. People that had jumped all over missles because they were so powerful are currently upset. Even though the patch notes were available and a test server was in place for people to see how it would impact them.

Another thing they changed was the voice of the ship computer. I rarely played with sound up so I do not recall much of the old voice. I like the new voice, even though she sounds a bit apethetic about everything. I half expect her to say, “Oh bother, I suppose I will request yet another permission to dock for you.” But still, the player complaints abound.

To be expected, people will quit. It happens at every patch when you change something people like. The truth is, almost everything in the game is liked by someone for some reason. No matter what you change, you will piss someone off.

I’m glad I’m not a dev.

– Ethic

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Ethic

I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I’m more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

5 thoughts on “Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes”

  1. It’s simple, there are short-term choices and long-term choices. Radical changes are always about the second.

    Sadly on the internet “the moment” is always more important than the long-term. We have no memory. This is why these discussions are often “blind”.

    Peoples don’t like changes only apparently. If you don’t follow the development of something on the long distance you will get only the sudden reaction. And we all know that mmorpgs are to be judged on the long-term.

    You can choose to not risk and keep the players satisfied on the short-term, till it lasts, or you can choose to risk and let the game grow and expands its potential, becoming more successful with the time. With the growing pains.

  2. I’m one of those folks that are resistant to change. I can freely admit that. In life, and in my games. Small, gradual change over time does not really bother me. And in introspect, I think even a large change is acceptable given time to absorb it.

    I like continuity. I like stability. I eat the same thing for lunch every day too.

    I think continual introduction of some new things (content, missions, items, etc) is a good and healthy thing for any game that plans to live long-term. And I tend to go back to games that do that. However, games that make radical changes on a frequent basis give me pause. If I cant get comfortable with a game, I dont enjoy it.

    I’m giving EvE time. I’ll see how easily I can hit that comfort zone again before I make any judgement. Maybe I’m starting to become more mellow, or maybe I’m just tired of game-hopping. Heh.

  3. This is how it always is in every MMO since there’s been MMO’s. The first game I played went largely unchanged for years and a ton of people complained “When will these things you promised be implemented?!”. Then as soon as they started making changes to the game (mostly because they suddenly had competition with the release of UO) about 5 years later everyone yelled and screamed. There’s no making gamers happy, but the one big mistake this game made was to release game information including things that were “planned”. When you put in a “coming soon” feature, some people decide “I’ll play this character, because some day they’ll be able to summon demons!” then don’t implement them for seven years people will naturally get angry.

    It’s a no win situation, and there’s no way to please all of the people all of the time as the saying goes. I’m just happy that I’m blissfully ignorant of Eve enough to not even know nor care what they just changed. Seems the longer you play a game the more you realize “hey this sucks” when you didn’t before. It’s like a relationship, at first it’s all fuzzy dream love, then sooner or later ugly reality sets in. I say enjoy it while it’s enjoyable, if it really bugs you enough move on, why waste your time in a forum screaming about the things that piss you off in a game, further re-enforcing your annoyance? Seems like all people in WoW forums do.

  4. UPDATE: It’s been 6 days, and the initial shock has worn off. Hehe. I’m still having fun, and finding new ways to compensate for the changes.

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