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General: Developer Perspectives: We Plan To Fail

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,637MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In today's Developer Perspectives, we take a look at the fact that any time a game is being created, failure will happen and that it can happen in so many different places. See why it's important for devs gird their loins in preparation for this and find out exactly what the 'bus factor' is and then let us know what you think in the comments.

If I had to name the most useful thing to plan for during the development of an MMO, it would be failure. Unfortunately, this requires the management team to develop multiple personalities, because the only way to have enough CS/QA/billing support/hardware/content is to plan for stupendous success. But if we want to actually get to our launch day with our sanity and budget intact, we need to assume catastrophic failure will occur at regular intervals.

Read more of Sanya Weathers' Developer Perspectives: We Plan To Fail.


Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • 77lolmac7777lolmac77 Herp Derp, PAPosts: 496Member

    If you read these forums you would think every game is a failure

     

    except Guild Wars 2 of course

     

    I did read the article though and it sounds like your team has a good outlook. It's better to expect the worst and hope for the best than to live in a fairytale land and think "it'll be fine". Too often this is labeled as being pessimistic these days when really it's just called thinking one step in advance and planning for setbacks, because they're going to happen whether we like them or not.

  • PerfectBlendPerfectBlend Philadelphia, PAPosts: 49Member

    Originally posted by 77lolmac77

    If you read these forums you would think every game is a failure

     

    except Guild Wars 2 of course




     

    Its because every game IS a failure....... except Guild Wars 2 of course!

  • jeremyjodesjeremyjodes antioch, ORPosts: 679Member

    I would say if a game releases then it's a succes in that area of thinking. People tend to want games that are designed out of a genre they normally  wont play to fail becuase they want that genre to always be the way to make a game.

     

    The bigger the hype the more these types of people flock to explain and of course troll. if you have allot to loose (money) then the desire to rush a product to the consumer will leave the door open for them to stamp fail on your design.They never really intended to sub to that game anyways.

    You can not promise something you can't deliver at release. First big mistake you can make. tell them it wont make it and may possibly come at some later date once the bugs are sorted.

    For example I love sandbox genre. we don't have many and it seems games like TOR and Wow dominate the thempark genre. I somtimes tend to dislike a game (themepark genre) and try to explain why I do, and thats sometimes makes me a hater. truth is i never intended to play the game in the fist place. but explain my thoughts or dislike of why this game or that game will fail if they don't start thinking like me :)

    Bottom line is you can't please people all the time. you just have to make the game and keep supporting it. if it fails? then you never really had any sense of why your forums are lighting up like a xmas tree in the first place.

    We have to many examples of not listening to constructive criticism  about in all those troll post

    I was going to list but you get the idea.

    image

  • divmaxdivmax JhbPosts: 106Member

    Wow, as a software developer, I have to agree 100% and also add that I don't think these points hold for only game developers. All these scenarios exist in almost every non-trivial development project.

  • LhynnSaintLhynnSaint CordobaPosts: 119Member

    Originally posted by PerfectBlend



    Originally posted by 77lolmac77



    If you read these forums you would think every game is a failure





     





    except Guild Wars 2 of course










     

    Its because every game IS a failure....... except Guild Wars 2 of course!




     

    you are going to be so disappointed when it comes out.

  • AutemOxAutemOx Fullerton, CAPosts: 1,704Member

    That is what a good dev does, but the board of the companies that gives the dev $$ don't want to hear any of that conservative crap, they want to hear that the game is going to be huge, release soon, be written perfect, and be within budget.  And you wont get the $$ for your game unless you tell them these things because if you do not then someone else will.

    Play as your fav retro characters: cnd-online.net. My site: www.lysle.net. Blog: creatingaworld.blogspot.com.

  • gaeanprayergaeanprayer Somewhere Out There, PAPosts: 2,320Member Uncommon

    It's so true. I'm in my last year of graduation and have been dealing with production teams left and right and, while I love it, the trips and stumbles the teams have experienced so far have me fearing what I'll be dealing with once the real fun starts. I understand why many people who work in games end up burned out within a decade, and go off to work in cinema or teach...or really anything that's as far away from putting a game (especially an MMO) together as possible.

    That said, I think if you go into the project expecting these kinds of failures, you're better able to move past them. Sort of like, expecting to worst makes the little successes seem that much greater. It's good to remember that in the end, you and your team are human and sometimes things are just out of your control.

    I'd take a small team with a positive outlook over a larger one throwing money at me any day. The last thing people need when under all that pressure already is someone breathing down your neck for things you can't help.

    "Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Pittsville, VAPosts: 5,215Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by wormywyrm

    That is what a good dev does, but the board of the companies that gives the dev $$ don't want to hear any of that conservative crap, they want to hear that the game is going to be huge, release soon, be written perfect, and be within budget.  And you wont get the $$ for your game unless you tell them these things because if you do not then someone else will.

     Managing expectations is a critical part of the planning for failure  process. Not just your expectations but everyone elses too. If you do it right your game comes out on time and on budget. It's the most common failure for MMO designers. Most corporations have a more pragmatic view than you might think. The cost of failure to them is very real.

    "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  • JaggaSpikesJaggaSpikes LabinPosts: 421Member Uncommon

    welcome back :)

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon

    Failure is just too strong a word.  Yes, you have to plan for unexpected issues, but issues can be surmounted, failures, not lilkely so.  

     

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 18,028Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by 77lolmac77

    If you read these forums you would think every game is a failure

    except Guild Wars 2 of course

    I did read the article though and it sounds like your team has a good outlook. It's better to expect the worst and hope for the best than to live in a fairytale land and think "it'll be fine". Too often this is labeled as being pessimistic these days when really it's just called thinking one step in advance and planning for setbacks, because they're going to happen whether we like them or not.

    That isn't true. But depending on how you count most of tem often are.

    A company usually sets a sum on how much they expect to earn on something, and there almost all MMOs fail to reach the sum and are in the companies eyes a failure.

    In my eyes any game that earns money after paying it's debts and running cost ain't a failure either, even if it just earns a single dollar. Far too many MMOs don't do that either, sadly. And those games are failures.

    Many people here say that a MMO is not a failure as long as it is up and running, but that is rather stupid. Something that loses money is a failure no matter what.

    Anyways, of course devs need to plan for problems, anyone who doesn't usually get nasty surprises.

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,927Member Uncommon

    we need to assume catastrophic failure will occur at regular intervals.

     

    And it will.  I'm convinced Murphy was a network administrator.  :-)


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • KaezKaez Nepean, ONPosts: 80Member
    "Plan for the worst and hope for the best" live by it and you'll never go wrong.
  • JuicemanJuiceman Prescott, AZPosts: 167Member

    pretty inciteful, thanks for the article

     

  • dronfwardronfwar Shitty, DEPosts: 316Member

    The biggest problem is that you have a ratio of 5:1 project managers to developers. 

    I sound arrogant but all of those project managers are incapable to create. They do meetings and shit and try to tell people something that they don't know shit about. Talk about deadlines, make stupid plans and unfunny jokes...They used to be car mechanics or waiters and they think their job is to write emails or supervise the freaking facebook account.

    All those guys have nothing to do in the game industry. Shit they have nothing to do in any industry. It used to be different in the 90s and early 2000s but those developers back then became the project managers of today. It wasn't even called an industry back then. It were just 5 guys in the basement.

    I think ArenaNet does better because they try to keep their focus.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 20,008Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by dronfwar

    The biggest problem is that you have a ratio of 5:1 project managers to developers. 

    I sound arrogant but all of those project managers are incapable to create. They do meetings and shit and try to tell people something that they don't know shit about. Talk about deadlines, make stupid plans and unfunny jokes...They used to be car mechanics or waiters and they think their job is to write emails or supervise the freaking facebook account.

    All those guys have nothing to do in the game industry. Shit they have nothing to do in any industry. It used to be different in the 90s and early 2000s but those developers back then became the project managers of today. It wasn't even called an industry back then. It were just 5 guys in the basement.

    I think ArenaNet does better because they try to keep their focus.

    ROFL, hate much?  I'm willing to bet most game development efforts are lucky to have any project managers, start up teams frequently skip hiring them thinking that Developers are able to manage the project Development tasks themselves, which probably explains why these projects either fail outright or under deliver so often.

    Proper project managment is essential to any good software effort and failing to plan can only lead to project failure.

    I'm not saying there isn't bad project managers out there, but overall the process of project management brings far more to the table than it takes away, but of course Development generally resents its intrusion to their secret kingdom.

    Yes, I'm a project manager, (Program manager actually) who has been responsible to corralling "cowboy" development organizations and I understand what it's like to bring them kicking and screaming into the fold.

    In fact, this article is all about a key Project Management Module, Risk Management, and all of the items brought up and then some should be considered by all development teams, and risk mitigation strategies put in place to deal with each of them.

    BTW, our job is to write emails and of course, rat you out to your boss when you miss blow the project schedule, so we're loved sort of like auditors are.... no too much of course. That's OK, we have thick skins and can take it.



    Edit, oh yeah, and my education background/work experience was in Economics and Finance, Transportation Engineering, Sales, Quality Assurance, Documentation and I couldn't fix a car or get your order right if my life depended on it. image

    (but I do have over 20 years developing software...but of course, I know nothing about it) image

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • NipashnakaNipashnaka shepherdstown, WVPosts: 169Member

    You know, now I'm actually kind of curious what games / game  studios the author of "Developer Perspectives" has worked on / for.

  • NipashnakaNipashnaka shepherdstown, WVPosts: 169Member

    Originally posted by Kyleran

    Yes, I'm a project manager, (Program manager actually) ...

    What division at Microsoft are you in?

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon

    9/10 Project managers cause more problems with a project than solve them.  Agile development is where it is at these days and we don't use them anymore, they just clutter up the project.  The team develops the project timeline and goes from there.  If you are employing a project manager in this day and age you have bats in the belfry.

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,371MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

    Originally posted by Nipashnaka

    You know, now I'm actually kind of curious what games / game  studios the author of "Developer Perspectives" has worked on / for.

    http://eatingbees.brokentoys.org/about-2/

    Thar ye be!

  • NipashnakaNipashnaka shepherdstown, WVPosts: 169Member

    Originally posted by BillMurphy

    Originally posted by Nipashnaka

    You know, now I'm actually kind of curious what games / game  studios the author of "Developer Perspectives" has worked on / for.

    http://eatingbees.brokentoys.org/about-2/

    Thar ye be!

    Thanks!

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