I read Ben Miller’s blog post today. ArenaNet’s golden rules of development sound like they would be stone-forged on the groundbreaking of any MMO studio. I’ll rewrite the rules real quick : 1) prop world is boring, 2) solo MMOs will never be as good as single-player games, 3) pixel bitching sucks, especially in MMOs, 4) copying World of Warcraft is dumb, 5) slap-shod work is only worthy of seppeku, and 6) love thy customer.
Seems pretty obvious for the most part. I think the big missing link is why Miller took the time to write what gamers would think would be as evident as kindergarten rules. Except for rule 6, they can all be distilled in to the conundrum of all work. Quality, cost, speed – pick two.
There is another way. Many whisper it’s name as Valve time. Apart from Steam, which is a cash cow of its own, Valve’s games are generally regarded as elite-tier quality. Blizzard generally falls in this area too (although one wonders about Diablo III’s misgivings). These studios are built to output games without the overbearing conundrum.
ArenaNet’s latest blog post emphasizes much of the qualities of a studio on the so-called Valve time. Yet, the most interesting part about the post is that it is at the end of a development cycle. Oh, let’s not kid ourselves… the Reese’s and RedBull are likely flowing through IV’s in this two month period to launch. Still, to say that ‘we adhered to these principles for years of development’ in this age of copycatting, rubber-stamp sequels, and vaporized studios is noteworthy.
I applaud Miller because it is probably hard to explain in words why ArenaNet is a great game development studio. How to describe something felt in your core, especially for such a long time? It’s easy to say these are your ideals, it’s another to say these are what we’ve held to for the long game.