Archive for March 19, 2010

“Massively Sneaky” or “Cryptic’s Cryptic History”

March 19, 2010 5 comments

Massively, in their regular segment The Daily Grind, asked players what they thought of Cryptic, developers of the superhero simulator Champions Online and the space-based Star Trek Online. You can find the user comments here. Here are some interesting snippets:

  • “After 3 MMOs, I firmly believe that they do not make good games. I think of them as the “bench players” and BioWare or Blizzard are the “star players”.” – gerkshz. [Bronte: I agree with the fact that they don’t make good games for the MMO genre. But I think it is unfair to compare them to BioWare. Although Star Wars has a rabid following and astronomical hype, I still don’t think it is fair to judge a book by its cover. Especially if that book isn’t out yet!]
  • “They are good at giving players customization options and individuality. They are bad at putting in interesting content to keep those individuals engaged. They are good at making visually appealing worlds. They are bad at hiding the real reason they make their games is to squeeze every penny they can out of you.” – FrostPaw. [Bronte: I think this encapsulates my feelings on Cryptic the best. Cryptic is all about sticking to harsh development schedule without paying nearly enough attention to what the players may want. Also, although I only played Star Trek Online beta, I think this review from PC Gamer sums up my experiences with the MMO the best.]
  • “Cryptic are the “own brand diet cola” of dev houses in my experience. They make pretty enough games, but seem convinced that writing a handful of missions and then vaguely re-skinning them is enough to keep people long term. It’s not, and at least for me I’d rather go back to “the real thing” after a couple of months in a Cryptic game (CoX, CO, STO… the similarities are glaring… and not in a good way).” – whitcombe. [Bronte: This is precisely the kind of thing I addressed in my experience with Champions Online on Are We New At This. Read up on some of my past posts on CO here.]
  • “When Cryptic makes a mistake (and they do that often) they hold up their hands and admit to it. A lot of other MMO companies could learn from this.” – Renko. [Bronte: I agree. Cryptic may push unpolished content out the door, be insidious when it comes to squeezing every dime out of your pocket and may provide uninspiring gameplay and rehashed content, but they always admit their mistakes. That being said, what’s the point in accepting a mistake and having an open dialogue on it, if the next iteration suffers from the same inherent issues?]
  • “I think Cryptic needs to take their in their development and not rush. Two years of development for STO is not enough, they need another three or four years to develop the game. For Champions, maybe another two or three years. Both of those games still feels like it’s in alpha and beta.” – Vlo. [Bronte: That is one of the biggest concerns I had with CO. It always felt like the product was in beta stage, being tested live, but with paying subscribers.]
  • “Personally, I think they make solid games but not good subscription MMOs – nothing they’ve made (including CoH) has had any lasting appeal for me.” – Vulturion. [Bronte: Again I have to agree here. Champions Online could have been a great single player (or even multi player) game. It had decent lore, an incredible costume creation tool, and other innovative elements. However, it was a terrible MMO. Social interaction was limited, you could solo 95%+ of the content and the zone chats were densely populated with crickets.]
  • “Having experienced Cryptic at its finest, I will never waste my money on a cryptic product ever again.

    (I) Massive game changing patch with no warning => i.e. the infamous Champions Online launch day patch. Way to break player trust from the very beginning.

    (II) Perception of greed. Full sub + item shop for a game that offers significantly less launch content at launch than its competitors? Now that’s just silly. Every announcement about cryptic seems to be another money grubbing news item, Charging for ‘mini expansions’ which most other games include in the cost of subscriptions, charging for races like the Klingons and Ferengi, what a public relations nightmare.

    (III) The perceived firing of Community managers. Once upon a time Cryptic had a pair of very excellent community managers. In spite of seeming to receive contradictory messages from their superiors, they worked very very hard and maintained a positive outlook. Then one day they disappeared without warning! What did the big bad Cryptic do to them? We will never know children. we’ll never know.

    (IV) Lack of content. One should never have to chose between grinding mobs or completing every single quest in the game. *cough* Champions

    (V) Some bugs should be caught and addressed quickly. If you have a bug that causes player mail to be eaten, it really should not still exist two months after launch.

    (VI) Dismissive attitude towards players => certain Devs are more responsible for this than others.

    I’m just going to stop the list right there. I went from a player who had been following STO from its development at Perpetual and prepared to plop down the cash for a lifetime sub product unseen, to someone who will never touch another Cryptic product ever again. If the two months that I played out of my 6 month Champions online subscription was worth anything, it taught me two things: That first that customization is something that every MMO company should put more effort into, the second is that I now know the true value and quality of a Cryptic product.” – marquis.montrose. [Bronte: I think this guy absolutely nails it. Well said sir!]