Friday, July 16, 2010

Rift - The Customer is King

MMO Gamer released an interview yesterday with Trion's Russ Brown (VP of Development) and Cindy Bowens (Sr. Community Manager), and this has to be one of my favorite interviews to date. While they're not releasing much as far as game features we didn't already know (except for dwarves!), the article mainly focuses on their views of the customer and community.

Cindy discussed the value of community feedback and that major changes may in fact be made as a result of polls. While I love the community there now and the polls to date have been more representative of my play style, still I hope they use their best judgment on some decisions rather than us fickle forum posters. Rift does have a relatively small forum community compared to other MMO's on the horizon, with a good lot of us seeming to be EQ/Vanguard refugees.

This portion of the interview, however, was what really had me cheering:

Russ Brown: I also think it’s important, as I rant against other companies sometimes, I never understand why companies change things that are popular.

The customer is king. If they like it, encourage it. If your game has something else, oh well, they like it!

So many times I see companies say, “Oh my god! Millions of people are exploiting this! Or doing this in the game!” And yes, they like it, they’re enjoying it, encourage it. They’re the customer. You are a service, that’s what an MMO is.

The MMO Gamer: That’s very similar to the position of Craig Morrison, the game director of Age of Conan.

We had a very long conversation last year, revolving around the question of “Why can’t MMOs just be fun?”

His position was that designers generally spend the bulk of their time trying to keep people playing the way they want them to, as opposed to just letting players find their own fun—even if some might consider it to be “not as designed.”

Can I assume based on that answer that you’re more of the let the players play the game the way they wan—

Russ Brown: Damn straight.

The way I’d like to see it work, the way I want it to work, is that as long as players aren’t griefing, or totally making it terrible for other players, let the players play the way they want to play, as long as they enjoy themselves.

As long as they make it a fun place to be, and a fun place to play.

I love these guys.


Bhagpuss said...

In a decade of playing MMOs I think Scott Hartsman is probably the only developer I've been aware of who can balance both what's good for the health of the game and what players find fun.

The guys behind Guild Wars also seem to have a handle on this most tricksy of balancing acts, but they don't seem to have much of a personality cult going so I can't remember any of their names.

Rifts and GW2 are the big MMO hopes for the next few years - I hope at least one of them lives up to the hype.

Aspendawn said...

Me too. I still have a hesitancy with GW2 mainly because of my past experiences with NCSoft. But considering there is no monthly subscription, if it turns out well, I could see it being my second mmo to play occasionally.