Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jeff Smith's "Bone" Collection

I just ordered the complete Bone collection in one volume off of Barnes and Noble. I feel exhilarated. Bone was one of those comics during my youth that I was never able to find, but always heard about. Now someone has gone to all the trouble of putting the entire series into one volume just for me. I'll update after I've gotten my copy with impressions and musings.

Did I mention I'm a closet comic geek who thinks the next evolution of literature is awaiting the arrival of more truly great Graphic Novels like Smith's work, and that of Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and many other talented artists writers alike? I didn't? Well now I did.

And to wrap this post up, and because I like to recycle my writings, here's an article I posted on the LotRO Vault inspired by Cuppycake. Just because it's important enough to me that I feel it should be posted twice.

Polish: The Key Ingredient

No, I’m not talking about the sausage or nationality. The polish I’m referring to has nothing to do with Poland. I’m talking about what you do to your dress-shoes, your hardwood floors, and if you’re a game developer, what you absolutely need to do to your games. As pointed our by blogger Cuppycake, there have been some interesting chats going on at the GDC this year, in particular one between several icons in the MMO genre, like Raph Koster, Marc Jacobs of Mythic, and even Rob Pardo of Blizzard. The topic was what, if anything, developers can learn from World of Warcraft’s titan-esque success. The general consensus wasn’t anything to do with copying them, making a WoW clone as it were, but rather that the biggest detail Blizzard got right, and that other companies need to take to heart, is polish.

As our friend Cuppycake pointed out, Marc Jacobs said it best:

“Here’s another thing: you don’t have to out-content them. But you do have to polish. If you don’t, even if you have a really interesting game, the people who play WoW won’t be impressed. This is really, really crucial. Polish it until you can see yourself from miles away.”

So often these days, and only in the PC Gaming arena, publishers seem to be forcing their developers to release unfinished content at the sake of saving some cash. If only they realized that there would be more money to make from a polished and complete product rather than one rushed out and patched later! But the problem is no one but the developers and the gamers seem to know this. I mean how many of you out there have ever bought a bugged game and said to yourself, “Gee, this would have been much more worth the cash if it was done right in the 1st place.”

For single-player games, maybe that’s not a necessity. Because once they’ve (the customers) have bought the box, you owe them nothing from that point on. But when you’re a developer and publisher of a major online game, one that asks its players to pay a monthly subscription, you had better be on top of every little bug like a cat on a glorious pile of nip-stuffed toys and baubles. Polish is not an option in the MMO space of games; it’s an essential ingredient in the games we all love. Especially more so now after over eight-million people have flocked into Blizzard’s megaton game and seen just how clean and crisp it is. In the post-WoW era, you can’t come out with a product that’s not ready to see retail and just expect people to be okay with because you’ll “patch it later”. Brad McQuaid and crew at Sigil games ran out of time and funds, and had to come to an agreement on a release date with Sony Online Entertainment. But looking and the potential that Vanguard has, I would have fired whoever was in charge of making Sigil push forward with release instead of optimizing the client first.

The point I’m getting to, and I thank you if you’ve read this far, is that if games and more specifically MMOs are ever going to be more than the media’s whipping boy “hawt new addiction”, the publishers of said games had better start taking a serious look at the quality of their products before pressing the “It’s Gone Gold!” button. Polish your games, developers. And EA, Atari, Midway, Vivendi… all you rowdy lot, let your game makers do their jobs. It’ll be nothing but good for you all in the long run. Polish won’t guarantee your game to be the next Warcraft, but it will guarantee that the gaming community doesn’t turn its nose up at you and scoff when you release an unfinished version of a game and charge us fifty dollars for the wrapper.

Rant off.

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