Tobold's Blog
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Thought for the day: Polish

I just started playing Allods Online, which by an extreme stretch of semantics is still in closed beta, but that closed beta is now open to everyone. And I wonder: How it is that Allods Online, a Free2Play game in beta, is already more polished than some other games I know which you need to pay $15 a month for to play?
Because they care about their game, they bit off what they could chew and they were given enough time to make it happen. Rather than try and reinvent a physics or graphics engine, they went with a simpler but still beautiful WoW-like style and polished the combat and everything else.
"How it is that Allods Online, a Free2Play game in beta, is already more polished than some other games I know which you need to pay $15 a month for to play?"

Polish is about project management. Lack of polish comes from pushing games out of the door before you have really finished all the game elements.

80s games that were coded in a weekend could manage polish simply by knowing what they wanted to do then doing it.

A recent extreme example of the opposite of polish was when Champions Online launched and Cryptic panicked at the last second and nerfed everyone. Generally if you're still changing your mind at the last minute you're not going to have polish.
Hm, i wondered the same thing when i first logged in an played the tutorials on both factions. It felt that it was build on the virtues of WOW yet hat an interesting own twist in races, setting (i absolutely love the Ostblock-Steampunk-theme!), combat and talent builts. Bonus for me ist the announced astralship combat as PVP-endgame.

I think it's a huge mistake by the big studios, that the start the hype machine so early, so the set themselves under pressure of delivering all the armchair-developing ideas that the PR guys/Publishers/DEV-GUY-In-Charge feeded to the masses half a year ago, thereby forgetting to ACTUALLY WORK to make the core elements of the game interesting, polished and FUN!

Or maybe the western studios are nowadays yaded by a 10+ years history of mmo-designing, having deverloped a grade of sloppyness is the last 4-5 years. No courage to develop fresh ideas, cause for them the $ plays a bigger role than creativity and fun. I have the feeling that thay assume the customer will buy every crap as long as there is somewhere the tag "MMO" and "plays somewhat like WOW" or "has 543798 active accouts on CBT" attached to the game (Cryptic anyone ?).

Or maybe there is somewhere a russian oligarch - former baseball champ - who was huge WOW-fan an had all the money to develop his own WOW-vision in his own time. Or, to say it otherwise:

"What might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their MMO-children too."
Silly. I read it as People from poland (polish) And i kept waiting for the link between the game and them.
Wasnt this game already released in Russia so they have had plenty of time to give it a nice polish
Money. They had enough financing to keep the game in development long enough to polish it. I'm sure that every developer wants to make their game as perfect as possible before they release it but when the money runs out, they have to let it go.

Plus it was already going in Russia for a while so they time to perfect it.
One of my best friends is Polish.
Imho polish requires good project managing. Good and experienced project managers are generally very rare and since they know that, they are also somewhat expensive. My guess would be that in an industry that is already notorious for very low wages, good project managers simply don't happen.
The answer to the question lies in reading Dwism and George together:

The designers are Russian and thus have lots of experience with the Polish?
I've loved Allods since it came out. I have yet to find someone that I've introduced to it not say "Wow."

I've converted 4 people off of WoW already.

And I don't know why - ostensibly, it's not that different from a lot of other games, but they just get it.

Also, Russians. They're hardcore bastards. I mean, they came through Mexico to conquer the US. Would have worked if those damned Wolverines hadn't gotten in the way....

I'm half russian, so I'm hoping to get a position of power in the New World Order.
I have yet to find someone that I've introduced to it not say "Wow."

"Wow" or "WoW"? :)
How about telling us more about this wonderful new game? I haven't heard of it until now and I can't be bothered to look it up but if you like it, a review would be nice.
Check out keen and graevs blog they have a collection of facts about allods online on thier forums. I believe allods is on a more advanced period of beta or maybe it already luanched back in Russia and that is why it is so polished.
How about telling us more about this wonderful new game? I haven't heard of it until now and I can't be bothered to look it up

Wow. Just wow!! That comment alone is a reason to not review the game, Tobold :)
Allods isn't perfect by any means, but it is "Complete" in a way almost no recent, or even not-so recent AAA MMOs have been when they launched.

It has a very coherent, focused idea of what the game is and who it's for. It has excellent art direction that gives it a wonderful visual impact. The quest text and lore is professional and entertaining. Gameplay is simple but satisfying, with complexity coming from the player's decision-making not from an oversupply of data from the game itself.

Overall, though, the main difference seems to be that it hasn't been rushed.
Was a nice article by Scott Jennings last week that touched on this:

I personally have speculated that as games are created by businesses, and those businesses have to operate by the same rules as any other business in the world, then the latest release date of your product may not necessarily be soley down to the developers and project managers. The businesses finacial backers, be that a bank, venture capital or a publisher and/or IP holder, may have contractually agreed the time frame in which they get a return on their investment. Obviously you can blame the games company for not delivering on time, but I do not beleive it is as simple as delaying the product.

Only the big companies with plenty of cash in their coffers get the luxury to "release when it's done". And if that cash runs out...well see Duke Nukem Forever.

The telecoms company I work for recently went into administration, they were still profitable, but they were not meeting the targets agreed with the bank, and the bank pulled the plug.
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