Signs of a Good Developer

Video game developers are put under a large amount of stress when they are creating a new game, or even a new expansion for an already massive game. Not only do they need to make sure that they new content that they are making are up to the standards that players expect from their company, but they also have to do it in a timely manner. At least, usually that’s the case. One such developer has not released a date that they are even considering putting their game into an open beta, and it’s the best decision that they could have made. Unfortunately, video game media outlets are famous for their stretching of the truth, and players are famous for making quick assumptions. Luckily for both, the company that’s working on this game cares a lot, and wants to set it all straight.

As mentioned in previous coverage, Guild Wars 2 is currently in the works by ArenaNet, creators of the original Guild Wars. In recent game news, it was said that the production of Guild Wars 2 had been delayed, and that they weren’t planning on releasing the game until 2010-2011, instead of the supposed sooner date. Executive Producer Mike O’Brien released a letter to the fans just today, explaining that “ArenaNet has never given a release date for Guild Wars 2 other than ‘when it’s done.'” I like this kind of developer philosophy a lot, personally. When game developers put themselves into a position where they’ve released a date that they expect the game to be ready by, it tends to force them to stick by that and release the game by that time whether they’ve completed the game to what they wanted or not. If it comes to something like an MMO, a PC game, or a console game, they would easily follow it up by considering that they could just release a patch later in the future that would either add the content then, or make it into paid downloadable content, which is something I have been against for quite some time (but that’s a whole ‘nother entry). There are many developers out there who figure that they can release a date, and then if they aren’t done, they will just push back the release date over and over again. One such company is Blizzard, who has become famous for pushing release dates back on their games. While this has been a good thing, because they have succeeded in making the games better due to their delays, it would have just been easier if they wouldn’t have given a date for release. They could have focused on the idea of making the game the best that it could be, instead of making a deadline. While some investors look for release dates to know how hard the company is working on a game, if the investor is good, they will give them the time needed to make the game. Releasing a good game is better than releasing a game on a strict schedule and hoping that it catches with the players. This letter has been very reassuring to me, at least, in knowing that ArenaNet is determined to make Guild Wars 2 into one of the best traditional MMOs created yet. Unfortunately, that kind of dedication takes time, so with a little patience, fans will be given what they’ve been waiting for for years now.

But ArenaNet isn’t the only company who looks out for the fans. In fact, in another piece of previous coverage, I discussed how a new expansion is coming out for CCP‘s popular MMO, EVE Online. On their own website, CCP has been releasing something called the Dev Blog, which has been keeping players up to date on the status of the newest expansion, as well as giving them a behind the scenes look at all of the interesting steps that have to be taken to create a brand new expansion for their game. Lately, they’ve been releasing information and screenshots on new features that they’re adding to the game, but they’ve also been talking about some of the exploits that players have used, the hardware used to create their new website and game, and much more. I also like this approach to game development, because it gives the player an idea of all of the hard work that the developer must go through to create their game, as well as it keeps the hype way up for their game. Releasing features and screenshots isn’t exactly a new approach to keeping players interested in their game, but it works. CCP doesn’t just half-ass the work that they do though. Recently, an exploit was found in the POS structures, which create resources for Corporations. Doing extensive research, they explained every single little detail on how it affected the market, what the exploit did, and what action was taken against the players who did it. It’s an outstanding read, and if you have the time, check it out.

Of course, there are many other game developers out there who do it right, such as Criterion Games with their ever-continuing support of their massively popular racing game, Burnout Paradise. This game has been out since early last year, and with at least three expansions over the past year that have been free, and another one that began their premium content, they still are not ending support for their game. Just this year alone, they already have at least three or four DLCs lined up for players to keep the game new and fresh, including an entire new island added to the city which includes brand new events to keep players interested and playing. I’ll admit, even from the very beginning, this game has been so deep to me that I’ve been playing for 100% completion for that entire year now, and I’m still close (but not close enough). This is one of the few console games that has kept me hooked enough to actually care enough to keep playing, and Criterion continues to care about the fans and wants to give them more, instead of deciding to release five new games, each with just a few new features and set at full price. In fact, they recently released the Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box, which contains all of their free expansions to this date, and they did it all at the Greatest Hits price of $29.99 still. That’s an impressive feat, and will most definitely continue to bring in new players who haven’t picked it up yet.

I have great respect for game developers who work in those ways. While that isn’t all of them, those were just a few of the best ones that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Now, I have a few more things I want to talk about, but I’ll save that for a post until later tonight, including a chance to win a FREE VIDEO GAME, information about donations, and possibly a new feature! Stay tuned! … also, I leave you with a kick-ass video.

PERVS doing lowsec DD” by Nurffe

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