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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Meet the Press

There's a lot I could say about being interviewed, having been a member of the press, I find it particularly fascinating now that I have to turn around and talk about my game.

And I think talking about the press/developer relationship before a game launches (which is really the only time there should be a relationship), naturally leads to a discussion about the point of previews.

Previews are generally positive and have always been generally positive (or neutral). There was buzz some time back surrounding an interview between EGM's Shoe and Peter Moore, where he had been particularly aggressive about the 360's problems, and for a brief period of time it seemed like everyone had latched onto the idea that the developer vs. press knockdown dragout fight should begin before games even come out.

I didn't agree then, and I certainly don't now, because I think it's unfair to judge a game before the developers are ready to say it's final. I think you can tell as a game progresses, whether it's moving in the right direction or not. And I think it's fair to mention when a game has very little in it that you find enjoyable, but how do you know what's being worked on and when? Or what changes might suddenly push everything over the edge? I certainly wouldn't ever want reporters to feel like they have to lie about a game, but I also think that it's hard for people unfamiliar with game development to cast any kind of projection on what the game will be when it comes out, and ultimately that's all that matters for the fans.

Previews of WAR have been largely positive. And more than that, previews of the developers, as well as the game, have been positive as well. We recently had to do our self-evaluations and I referenced an MMO Gamer interview in my own review:

The next time Carrie Gouskos is up for a promotion, "lack of passion" will most decidedly not be an issue at her review.

I know that might not matter to any of the fans, but it makes me feel really happy to have that come across. I do love working on games, and this game, and I am really passionate about the work that I do. Sometimes it's exhausting to give interviews, when an interview or demo comes up on the calendar (and there are periods where we're giving several a week), sometimes I feel like I'm not going to be capable of talking about the game the way I want to talk about. Because I do care, but being enthusiastic is exhausting, even for someone as extroverted as I am.

I have to say this week I gave probably my favorite interview ever to Mike from Massively. Instead of asking me to rehash the features in the Tome (he had done his homework), he wanted me to talk about passion and emotion in game development. He wanted me to talk about Xbox 360 achievement points. I think his concept for that article serves the fans in a lot more ways than simply a bullet point of feature items we're working on and whether or not *I* think they're going to be cool. To me, it feels like that's the kind of conversation you should be having at preview time, what are the developers working on and what are their objectives? Who are they trying to attract and how have they accomplished it? Even using in-game examples to show off how they're achieving those goals. Leave the excessive use of adjectives and the KILLING MY SOUL for the reviews.


Milkman519 said...

As for the positive previews, I think previewers should say exactly what they felt while playing the game. If something sucked, they should say it sucked. And then developers should read these previews and then try to improve. And once they improve, they give the press another preview session.

As for you, I don't think you ever lacked passion in anything you have done, Carrie.

Paul said...

Passionate describes Carrie Gouskos.

Steve Crews said...

Glad you enjoyed the article enough to quote me, Carrie.

Based on the extremely vitriolic fan reaction to the piece (The guy said he liked it, but he didn't say he liked it enough! BURN THE HERETIC!) I was worried that inside Mythic a meeting was held where the topic was "We've got to get this Crews guy and shut him up good!"

Carrie said...

Haha, no worries Steve. I think you and I are held to the same standard by the fans, everything must be perfect! But I certainly wouldn't hold it against someone for speaking their mind, unless I felt it were totally unfair.

Dante Kleinberg said...

I'd rather the preview attitude be more "generally neutral" than "generally positive." That way, when something does look good, and the preview-er says so, it's believable.

As merely a player, I don't understand why there needs to be previews or demos of things that aren't good yet. Demos especially. I understand when a flawed game goes out into the market because they need to recoup costs as best they can, but why are there bad demos? If the demo isn't very good, just don't release a demo. Every single demo I play, even the ones for crappy games, should be awesome.

HektikLyfe said...

The more the video game industry becomes like the movie industry, the more it distances itself from it.

I enjoy preview opinions. I believe I speak for many when I say that you have to take those opinions, and occasionally well founded concerns (Too Human,) with a grain of salt.

If developers fear the backlash of a negative preview, then release a public demo instead of an exclusive preview. Let the gamers decide for themselves.

One of the other benefits of "Gaming 2.0" is that you don't have to wait for the media outlets to mold a public opinion.

Give us the benefit of the doubt and let us try the game ourselves.

Syp said...

Carrie, it would utterly make my month if you'd do me the honor of taking a few minutes for an interview -- either for my blog or for the ChaosCast podcast. Pretty please? Sugar on top? The Tome is my number one reason I'm interested in WoW, and I'm bursting to pick your brain about it.