Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 30, 2016
 
The curse of continuity

Some people claim that World of Warcraft ruined the MMORPG industry. My take on that is that the fundamental problem is that nobody, not even Blizzard, understood what made World of Warcraft so successful. And that led to hundreds of millions of dollars wasted by several companies trying to make another successful game by simply doing everything the same as World of Warcraft. Monumental failure in both concept and result.

I watched the new Top Gear last night and realized that they have the same problem: They have no idea what made the old Top Gear so successful, and so they decided to do everything the same as before: The same running jokes now told by different people, the new moderators adding new lap record times on the board that still has the old times in Clarkson's handwriting on them, the same scripted stunt contests that would have been funny with Hammond and May, but just looked lame as a contest between the new moderators that lacked the chemistry. The whole show looked as if a bunch of new guys had gotten hold of the scripts while the old moderators had stepped out for a coffee.

While the chemistry is impossible to reproduce, for me it is clear that the old Top Gear worked because Clarkson, Hammond and May were true to themselves. They didn't play a role that was foreign to their nature. The new moderators don't allow their personalities to show that much, they emulate rather than create. And the result is disastrous. Everybody hated it.

And it isn't as they were all that pressed for time. They had months to come up with a new concept, throw out all the old decorations and jokes, redesign the track to make it new and different, and come up with new elements of the show that focus on the personalities of the new moderators. Trying to make the "Clarkson, Hammond and May Show without Clarkson, Hammond and May" simply doesn't work. Continuity is not a recipe for success, it is a curse.

Comments:
To be fair, Blizzard wasted hundreds of millions of dollars trying to make a successful game by doing everything different. And that was a monumental failure too!
 
The old Top Gear was execrable. A copy of it could at best be execrable too.

On the other hand, many of the WoW clones were great fun and lots of them are still running so I don't see how that was money wasted.
 
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your eyes are known to be different. I was talking measurable, objective criteria of success, aka making money. The old Top Gear was the top grossing TV show of the BBC. Few of the WoW clones reached even 10% of the peak subscribers of the original, which cannot have been the business plan.
 
Everyone I've talked to in the past about Top Gear (British or otherwise) wanted Clarkson to walk off a bridge. He was an isufferable wanker.

You just now view the show like we did in the past; as a mediocre show carried along by its fandom.
 
You do know that Top Gear has more viewers worldwide (350 million) than Game of Thrones? Would you say that Game of Thrones is a mediocre show carried along by its fandom? Isn't *every* show carried by its fandom, only that some shows have millions of fans, and others have far less?
 
Yeah, I've always wanted Clarkson to fall off a bridge, too. Preferably, right after he finishes yelling at someone for no viable reason.

But the show was popular not in spite of that, but because it worked.

This is why you cannot "engineer" a society, you have to let it evolve organically. Any attempt to pigeonhole people into the "proper" course of action will always fail miserably.
 
It is the business clueless gamers who say "WoW killed MMOs." We no longer have 20-minute boat waits and no maps because that is what the customers prefer. Cheeseburgers are not more popular than Brussel Sprouts because of McDonalds. McDonalds sold over a hundred billion cheeseburgers because the customers preferred cheeseburgers.

Blizzard's success was not a cause but a result of gamers' tastes.
 
"Cheeseburgers are not more popular than Brussel Sprouts because of McDonalds. McDonalds sold over a hundred billion cheeseburgers because the customers preferred cheeseburgers.

Blizzard's success was not a cause but a result of gamers' tastes."



Could not agree more with this. People seem to act like the tens of millions of WoW players would all be doing hardcore raiding if WoW hadn't come along. In fact, I would largely attribute WoW's (accelerated) downfall to Blizzard's attempts to do just that. The hardcore players saw their content dumbed down in an attempt to include the casuals, the casuals saw themselves being brushed past their preferred content in an attempt to make them raid. Nobody was happy.
 
I'm amused by the idea that Blizzard doesn't cater overwhelmingly to the hardcore raiders by making it the only way to continue to progress your character's power growth. The minority of hardcore raiders have the final word, but they're not satisfied with that? Hilarious/Disgusting.

Also, the idea of WoW 'ruining the industry' is a little weird, considering that 'the industry' at that point was basically dominated by EverQuest (affectionally known as 'EverCrack'), which peaked at about a half-million subscribers; at that stage, numbers its competitors could only dream of.

Wow did the exact opposite of ruin the industry; it made it viable, where what used to be considered the 'crowning success' of an MMO's numbers is now merely 'a respectable niche', with room for everyone to have their tastes met. Yes, even the minority of players who are hardcore raiders and FFA PVPers.
 
Tithian: "You just now view [Top Gear] like we did in the past; as a mediocre show carried along by its fandom."

Except that now it has alienated its fandom.

Cam: "I'm amused by the idea that Blizzard doesn't cater overwhelmingly to the hardcore raiders by making it the only way to continue to progress your character's power growth."

Isn't there a whole separate power growth mode in PvP?

Besides, incremental power growth at max level has an actual *function* in raiding (and to a lesser extent dungeons). Other players can get to grow their pet numbers, wear the gear that looks best, get married in Stormwind Cathedral, and so forth...

 
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