Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mythic - A company built on failures

Let me start off by saying that I didn't play DAoC, I didn't care for the idea of it and I didn't care to leave UO to try it.I was one of the first closed beta invites for WAR, and was hoping for the best... Was at this point i started getting the idea of how Mythic actually ran.

There was many times during closed beta in which myself and others mentioned the severe lack of shine for WAR, especially considering the game was to be going up against AoC, WoW Xpack, and a few other big names at the time. We tried offering suggestions, saying WoW, FFXI, AC2, and other games did things differently and better in some respects. Did we get listened to? No, the very opposite in fact. The beta testers got threatened with bans if we even compared WAR to another MMO. Obviously Mythic knew better then the testers as shown by the massive server closures and horribly slow patch cycles though. The Mythic fanboys of DAoC sure didn't help the cause though by flaming anyone who dare mention Mythic might not know what they were doing.

Anyways, I even put up with playing WAR for a good number of months, because I actually do enjoy the Warhammer world, and for a while mythic kept true to their promise that RvR encircled both PvE and PvP. As soon as the population dropped though you saw mythic start back pedaling, paying less and less attention to PvE. pvE was never that great in WAR, but over time it went from okay to awful as bugs weren't fixed, AIs got screwed with, ect. Once again people keep asking for better PvE fitting of the Warhammer world, and once again mythic more or less tells those people to blow off since WAR is suddenly a primarily a PvP game. Also, the WAR/Mythic PvP fanboys yet again join the ranks to scare away anyone who dared mention Mythic should put some focus on making the PvE aspect better.

So eventually we get to bigger news about EA, a while after I quit thankfully, that somehow they borked up and was charging some folks 40 or more times for their monthly charge. Mythic of course said this was because of whoever takes their fees, but strangely enough this wasn't the first time things like this happened apparently. Back in DAoC era Mythic over charged people before as well, and yet history still managed to repeat itself only a few years later.

So enough about Mythic's complete failures from that stand point and move back to their way of dealing with forums. It was well know Mythic (Everyone from Andy to Mark Jacobs) had thin skin and would constantly take their ball and go home if you so much as mention their game's short comings. The would stop posting on things like the IGN boards for months at a time because people their somehow hurt some devs feelings. Strangely enough, it didn't get any better once the 'official' forums went live. Mythic still hardly spoke out in regards to actual issues, more often then not, if there was any responses to be had, it was some troll response to another far less important thread about nothing.

Of course you can't forget the ever present textbook statement of mythic's to try and get people to quiet down for a bit. 'We have lots of important changes we are really excited about on the horizon, we just can't tell you about it'... That is completely unacceptable on so many levels. Sad thing is that even after the mass population drop they kept that line. Gameday they repeated it yet again. it seems to be the only thing they are sure of how to type when they have nothing else left to say. I do often wonder exactly how much of the patches are the exciting parts almost each time I read new patch notes.

Mythic's biggest failing though, something that you would think they would have learned a long time ago, is the fact they never try and stop rumors. the forums burst to life with a new rumor, and people get hyped up and actually excited. This can be literally days to months in advance, plenty enough time for Mythic to step in and squash them. However Apparently mythic doesn't care about how they look, and the hype keeps building. Finally the news comes, and everyone finds out it is nothing even close to what they were hyped for. Great examples were the Skaven addition which turned out terrible, and the most recent about the game announcing it was going F2P the day they invited all the bloggers over this week. of course the second issue they told the bloggers they were under NDA (Why even invite them then?), and used their standard response of 'Exciting stuff on the horizon, just can't tell you'.

Mythic as a company is completely terrible, and I don't say that lightly. I put up with a lot from companies, and Mythic's way of handling any problem is usually the worse possible way you can imagine, like they are intentionally trying to hurt their own reputation.

Mythic's problems are just a few steps away from being fixed though, if only they would listen to others.
  • Get rid of all the yes-men core testers they currently have. You want something tested, get the people who already are looking for a reason to keep playing.
  • Listen to the community, when they are telling you the campaign won't work out because of XYZ, don't blow they off or threaten them because you're insulted. Strangely enough players do know that other players like to zerg, if we warn you about that, LISTEN!
  • Be active in the community. If you see a false rumor, squish it ASAP, but without using the stupid 'On the horizon' line. Just say you haven't heard about those plans and move on. When you give a forums for classes to report issues, then it doesn't hurt to actually respond to those threads, otherwise it's just a waste of bandwidth.
  • Don't try and turtle when things go bad. Acknowledge things happen and explain what you are doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  • It is okay to throw your customers a bone once in a while. Stop hiding behind the 'Can't tell you yet' line, and let them know what's coming. It will save yourself humiliation when you release the patch and find out people never wanted it to begin with, or make people actually excited for good reason when something is coming. Better then trying to leave them in the dark.

Those few steps would go a long way towards actually making the Mythic group seem like people and not just peons and grunts for EA. Other companies manage it, no reason Mythic should think they are exempt.
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