For those of us fond of allusions, “hope springs eternal” is always a winner. It sounds positive, but it is one of the darkest sentiments you will find. The full quote is:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest
In other words, (vain) hope is all you have; the blessing is never coming, always in the promised future. It gets better: this entire section of the Essay on Man is about how bleak the future is. The lamb frolics in the morning before going to the butcher in the afternoon, licking the hand that raises the knife. This is the kindness of a God who cares no more about the death of a hero or a sparrow, the bursting of a bubble or a world: at least you have fruitless hope and are too ignorant or stupid to see doom coming. This is, by the way, intended as an optimistic argument, because hey, you have that hope, and it will be worse if you ask for more.
You can see the connection to MMO development, so I am moving to the next analogy. Here, we deserve it because we do not demand better. You say you have hopes for improvement, but what you are buying is buggy or broken content, and new players are more attracted to new (also buggy) content than to bug fixes. Ysharros, friend of Kill Ten Rats, accepts complacency thus:
The recent 1.0.6 patch broke a few things it was supposed to fix, but since that’s always the case with patches I wasn’t too worried. The day I see a patch implemented with absolutely NO follow-up hotfixing and “server maintenance,” I’m heading down to my bunker to wait out Armageddon.
If you are happy to pay for patches that do equal parts harm and healing, you will get them. And hey, if you are happy, who am I to complain? I pay nothing, and the lamb is only getting fleeced. Relatedly, Eric Drexler recently started blogging, addressing how we cannot even imagine it being better (while others are working on making reliable systems):
In a world which increasingly relies on computers for everything from medical devices to national governance, it will be be important to get these foundations right, and to do so in a way that we can trust. If this doesn’t seem important, it may be because we’re so accustomed to living with systems that have built on foundations made of mud, and thinking about a future likewise based on mud. All of us have difficulty imagining what could be developed in a world where computers didn’t crash, were guaranteed to be immune from virus attack, and could safely download code written by the devil himself, and where crucial pieces of software could be guaranteed to not leak data.
I am unfair to the industry. Blizzard seems to be capable of putting out a polished product, and they have the millions of customers to show for it. We talk about AAA games, but do you know what that means in baseball? The minor leagues. AAA MMOs are the farm teams, working out some ideas while the very few pro teams put together a real product. Do we have more than two pro teams here? Bioware is looking to be #3.