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6 years 10 months ago #157 by Exile
Exile created the topic: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

wildcat wrote: Jeff "Father of the NGE" Freeman is now out of the industry.


I'm not out just yet - not even out of Spacetime, as it happens.

Even if I were one of those who were "let-go" (hate that phrase), I wouldn't be out of the industry.

I probably won't be until I retire, or die. I had several recruiters contact me the same day that we got the news NCsoft had canceled, for example...

Lord knows I don't have any sort of talents, skills, or abilities that I could use to feed myself outside of the game industry - so this is what I'm going to do 'til I'm not working at all any more.

Really, career-wise, I'm in fine shape.

I know you don't want to hear that, and I'm not saying it to rub your nose in it, or anything like that... it's just the way it is. No point throwing a party every time I leave a place just to throw a wake when I turn-up some place else.

Unless I win the lotto, I'm going to turn-up some place else. Even massive mistakes don't blackball designers from the industry, unless they show-up to every interview thereafter in denial, pointing a finger of blame in every direction but toward themselves.

So that's all bad news for anyone wishing there were a bar exam for game designers, and that I were dis'd from it.

Sorry.

On a brighter note: I am avoiding management-level responsibilities, so as not to find myself in over my head.

You might take that as recognition on my part, that at points in my past I have found myself operating at a level beyond my comfort zone - that is, the point at which I feel confident in my own competency.

Not "enough" perhaps, to make you happy... but maybe it's at least one or two things on the list of wishes, if there's a list and not just the single hope for my becoming a hobo.

I suspect, most of you here don't want me to do anything, at any level... and I'd gladly satisfy that wish if I could.

In the meantime, I hope that my not doing anything stupid at a high level will suffice.

Please don't celebrate or wish for bad things to happen to my coworkers just so bad things will happen to me. That's so mean.

I'm sure some bad things will happen to me that don't hurt other people even more. Enjoy those.
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6 years 10 months ago #158 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

wildcat wrote: It sucks to lose a job. I've lost one myself when the company I worked for failed. But I had a new one within days. Why?

Because I'm competent. In fact, I'm damn good at what I do, in this small area with limited IT talent, I'm known as one of the best.

Perhaps you should pursue another calling? Maybe game design is not for you? I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but I'd suck at rocket science, brain surgery, or yes, game design too.


Oh, I am good at what I do. Believe it or not, other people in the game industry also consider me to be good at what I do, and most often even better than I consider myself to be.

But other people tend to look at everything I've done in my entire career, and base their assessment of me on that.

So that's why Raph, for example, has said he considers me to be a good designer that he'd work with again, despite his opinion of the NGE being the same as yours.

No, you knew perfectly well we'd hate it. It wasn't us who you wanted anyway. You guys took the calculated risk that we'd leave QUIETLY and be replaced by the simpler "target audience" crowd.


I am sincerely ashamed of that.

I wish at the very least we'd have been open and honest. Like, for example, told you, "Hey, you will probably hate this, but here's what it is."

Automatically canceling all existing account billing, then giving them all a free month of NGE, would have sent the message that the old game was going, the new game was coming, and that pissing on you and telling you it was raining not only wouldn't fool you, but would insult you, too.

None of that messaging was my call. The only reason I'm ashamed of it, personally, is because I at least should have realized it was a bad thing to do, even if how I felt about marketing, pr, and community management never made a difference anyway.

We made GEORGE LUCAS back down... You guys are pikers compared to him.


Oh, I don't feel it was a bad thing to do just because it didn't work out entirely as planned, but genuinely because it was a bad thing to do, regardless.

Would I have made that realization if the wildest hopes and dreams and wishes and such had been realized?

Maybe, but not for a very long time, I bet.

All the evidence in the world was there for you guys that would have exactly predicted your current predicament: Loss of most of the player base and ALL of you having tainted reputations. But you chose to ignore it.


Losing the player base never bothered me. It's their company, and if they wanted to rolls the dice and take the chances, then I figure that's their business.

I mean, games have shut down, too - purely for business financial reasons, taking away the game that the people playing it were enjoying, and it sucks for them, but I still don't begrudge the decision.

For me, the shame of it's purely, solely, that one thing up there. That's what I did wrong...

There are very few devs as "accessible" as I am, and so really very few with any sort of public facing reputation to get tainted.

Among that small handful of folk, their reputations within the industry are far more important to them than their "public rep".

So it's most likely I'm the only one particularly bothered by having a tainted reputation, and nope... didn't predict it. Should have. Duh.

Also, shouldn't have had to predict it, but instead just cared anyway.
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6 years 10 months ago #159 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

Had you walked out of there the day "The man" gave you the NGE to work on, you'd be a hero right now.


I know. But I didn't.

I'd been on expansions since about launch, didn't like the combat revamp, or for that matter, a few other changes that had taken place. I didn't hesitate to obliterate it all, given the chance.

So I won't pretend "given the chance" was really "given the task", and I was just doing my job, yada yada.

I even find "it wouldn't have mattered" a lame defense.

I might not, had I thought it all through and through, even if I just shed a tear for the players, and went on to do the same things for the same results.

I had a lot of loyalty for Cao, and knew he needed me.

But at least then I could say, "I knew it would hurt, but what I knew didn't matter. Had I left, it only would have made the implementation worse."

That's a lot better than, "I would have known it would hurt, had I cared enough to think about it. Since you've brought it up... hmm... wouldn't have mattered."

You'd have had your reputation and integrity.


If I'd had integrity, I wouldn't care if you knew it or not.

Situations like that don't build character, they reveal it.


Of course. To believe otherwise is to credit those who behave the worst with the best character, and vice versa. That's just ridiculous.

Which is why the outrage was so big and continues today. We aren't going to get our game back. We accept this. That is the consequence we face. But as you have found out, you guys also are paying a price as well.


As I said, I don't think a company is wicked for choosing to shut-down a game, and even if I did, the decision is so far above me that I couldn't feel personally responsible for it anyway.

What I'm ashamed of on a personal level is of just not giving a shit about the players.

Even when what I thought wasn't important... not caring revealed my character to me to be pretty lacking.
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6 years 10 months ago #160 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

I mean, what the hell? Was there some gun to your head or something? Was the CIA involved? Seriously. There just isn't any rational explanation other than mass insanity in your building to account for it.


An almost complete change in upper management at the studio-director level resulted in a few of us who had made the SWG that launched, had no input on the changes since then, suddenly empowered (ordered!) to change the game it had become.

Since we didn't like that game, and director-level management change was a very strong exec-level, "We do not either," we enthusiastically tackled the challenge of remaking it.

"We" few. Most of the designers were not enthusiastic about it.

And when taken completely off the leash altogether, with almost no boundary to how radical we could be... yeah, it was nuts. The only options off the table were 1) Doing nothing, and 2) pre-CU or 3) another combat-revamp.

'Cause they wanted something done, pre-CU had been tried already, and a combat-revamp had as well.

I was "team leading" a team of mostly me, and sometimes me and one other guy for most of the NGE's implementation: on the live team.

At times I was the only designer assigned to live, everyone else either on an expansion to the game, or the NGE.

It makes being labeled "father of the nge" pretty funny to me. I tackled quick-fixes on the live game throughout most of it.

To be clear: I never sought to cause players angst and drama. When I say I never thought about you, I mean I really just didn't think about you.

That was, I know, horrifically unprofessional anyway. I just don't want it to seem even worse than that.

I was operating under the assumption that you would leave soon regardless.

As directed to, of course.

I'm sorry to say gleefully doing so anyway, though. Might even have done it for free.

I very much disliked the combat revamp.

That's no excuse, though.

This is why, I have decided, even the patently ridiculous accusations still manage to bother me - when otherwise I am an old-school, thick-skinned, online veteran kind of flame-retardant sort of guy.

I did you wrong.

And I didn't need to be a hero. I should have just cared, for starters.

If I'd done that then I'd feel no guilt, regardless how it all went down. If you called me out for not being a superhero, I'd tell you I think you're a loon.

But instead, when you rant how I let you down, all I can think is that I did.

When you get time i would mind knowing more about your project. My main concern is the system itself,how things are looking for publisher,an will it have 250 skill points too spend???( this be important to me)


I believe that Spacetime is ramping-up to release a lot more info about the game (more and much sooner than we would have otherwise) as a matter of building interested in it.

But I definitely don't want to jump the gun on that and risk causing problems with them wrapping-up loose-strings with NCSoft...

So, all I can say at the moment is watch the spacetimestudios.com website. We're converting it over to WordPress from whatever god-awful thing they've been using, so at least there'll be an RSS feed to subscribe to (within the next day or two), and probably within a month or so I'll be more at liberty to discuss it, too.

Im curious Dundee did you expect the worst when you posted?

Did we shock you in our responses?

See how honesty an being straight up no matter what helps?


I didn't expect the worst when I posted, but then I did a few seconds after posting and even more so by the next morning.

I kept trying to remember specific things I'd said and imagine how they'd look out-of-context on the front-page of MMO News Blogs...
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6 years 10 months ago #161 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

Are you the only one out there in Dev land with a freaking clue on how being involved in your community is beneficial?


Oh, not at all... but most companies control who can talk, where they can talk, when they can talk, and what they can say pretty strictly. So it can seem like a whole team of dozens of people don't want to interact with the community, even if most on the team actually do (or are even lurkers or anonymous and such out-and-about, where their participation has to look just like non-participation due to company policy).

Sometimes policy even changes, too. I recall UO devs used to roam the net willy-nilly, then one day all got reigned-in... but the devs that had been out there didn't all just suddenly change their opinions.

Sometimes policy even changes, then changes again, and later changes again, and even from allowing interaction to mandating it to prohibiting it back to allowing it and then to mandating it (especially if none of those who were originally communicating with the players voluntarily opt to make themselves look like jerks).

If a dev posts a "Hello! My name is-" introduction after a lengthy period of silence, and you're thinking, "Man, what a prick." 'cause this is the second or third time he's done that...

Second time, he might think that he looks a bit like a jerk, but is too grateful to be allowed the interaction to realize that it's going to happen again, and he's going to look like a jerk again. There's a very small chance that breaking his promise the first time was his own idea.

By the third time, there's a 100% chance he's thinking the same thing about whomever is making him do that.

And he is definitely being forced to do it, because even those who want to communicate with the players aren't dumb enough to fall for that three times.

They'll realize, "But if I promise to listen to them and communicate more - which I really want to do! - then if you make me cut-off communication in a month - which you have done twice now, before! - then I will look like like an ass for the third time."

(Those who don't even want to do it will realize the same thing, but with much more profanity).

Hypothetically, I mean. Not that such a thing has ever happened.

Wildcat wrote: Basically the Dev team attitude at the time was even WORSE than "fuck the players". They didn't regard us AT ALL...


Not the whole team, or even a majority of it.

I only know that I didn't, but I wouldn't even suspect most people on the team of being that way.

I'd bet a number of folk felt bad about it, sent out their resumes, then did whatever tasks were assigned to them and hoped to be gone by dawn.

I was a genuine jerk, but I think most of the team were much better than that.

My God, how can ANYONE who's income depends COMPLETELY on people NOT hitting "cancel subscription" en mass EVER adopt that attitude?


That is the exact same decision that has been made every time an MMO has been canceled: boot the players that are still playing it out, assign the resources (i.e. employees, mostly) to making something else, which hopefully other people (and more of them) will like.

The only difference at all is in terms of communication with the players. Canceling a game and then shipping a different game later is straightforward, open, and honest.

I mean, that has never pissed you off, has it?

Well, I'm willing at this point to grant Jeff his.


I am... surprised, to say the least. That was really unexpected.

But uhm... thanks.
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6 years 10 months ago #162 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

Prime8 wrote: Dundee
Not dishonest , maybe trying to massage some egos here to get on side , why ? I dont know , do you have a game coming out soonish , oh i'm such a cynic , if your really being honest great , but in my experience the leopard never changes its spots .

cheers


Oh, I suspect if any of you liked it but hated me anyway, your reaction to it would be, "Yay! Those other guys at Spacetime didn't let him screw it up. Now let's all make them promise he's not in charge of live... ever."

Or if you didn't like it, "Ha! Figures. He sucks and his new game sucks, too."

I mean, maybe I'm completely wrong about that ... and if so, I don't mean this as a challenge, but I haven't ever thought any future release with my name buried in the credits would be judged by anything other than its own merits.

If my name were on the box, then sure... but buried in a list of names (and behind a number of designers that maybe you do like)?

Again - maybe you're thinking, THAT'S RIGHT! - but I certainly wasn't thinking that was the case.

As for it coming out any time soon... well, maybe within a couple of years before last week, if you consider that "soon", and now there's just no telling if it'll be finished at all.

The timing of this visit had nothing to do with that, but rather with my name popping up on the internet. And links to my blog are like rubbing a genie's lamp.

I don't think those particular spots ever were mine.

This isn't meant as a declaration of some fantastic transmogrification on my part that I'm begging you to take my word as having happened.

I am a fairly conscientious person. Misbehavior is not the norm for me.

Still, yeh, I always feel the same way when someone tells me they agree with my negative judgment of something they've done. Like, Do they really agree, or are they just saying that so I'll stop thinking of them as the person who does that thing?

Or if not always, at least if I don't know them well enough to know better (and if knowing them well enough means knowing better).

So, ok, totally understandable...

Obee wrote: How many games that were making a profit have been canceled to make room for a new game in the hopes of making more money?


Just about all of them that have ever been canceled, and almost none of them, depending on how you look at it, and who you are.

Seriously.

Most that have been canceled would never have earned back the money it cost to make them, and so in that sense were never profitable and never would have been.

But...

It's easy to run a game without losing money every month. You scale down live teams and hardware and of course bandwidth and customer service, etc. scale themselves down.

But a jazillionaire doesn't see ten employees bringing him $100 a month (after their salaries and benefits) as anything but a waste of ten employees' time. Maybe especially if they are working on something that cost him $30 million dollars to make.

Naturally, the employees don't see it that way at all - that game is buying their homes and sending their kids to college...

Any one wanting to tell you that running the game you love doesn't cost them anything, keeps a number of people employed, etc. won't have the authority to tell you that.

The guy making more or less nothing from the game is the one that'll make the call to shut it down, imply it's costing money to run. Even if stating it just isn't profitable enough - is failing to point-out that it's as profitable to the people working on it as anything else they could be doing (to them)...

But then too, in the sense that if you spend $30 million to make something that is returning $100 a month or so (profit, after paying salaries, etc. for a gang of folk), it's not really a lie to say that it isn't profitable.
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6 years 10 months ago #163 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

I would have to think that a company telling its customers 'This game is doing fine, we just think we can make a different game and make even more money with it.' would piss quite a few people off.


Well, they never say its doing fine though, do they? They say it's "just not financially feasible" and "this was a difficult business decision to make" and so on.

That doesn't mean they were losing money on it.

Doing either one and not offering refunds to customers who pre-paid for game time would likely result a lawsuits and possible fines.


Oh yeah, no question.

Though in my experience, for most players it's not about the money.

Kilrathin wrote: If you happen to still be reading, I do have a question. You mentioned you hated the "combat revamp". Are you referring to the CU that was implemented in April/May 2005? Or the CURB that was discussed with players for which GreenMarine drew up an unofficial design doc online but was never implemented?


The one that was actually implemented.

I'll confess to bias, though. I thought that much less could have been done much sooner by way of addressing the issues with combat and the ancillary systems.

For the time it took to design (not even implement, just design), it'd have had to have been one heck of a mystical experience to play with in order for me to have liked it.

Wolfmann wrote: I really only have one question..

The Imperial cap.
What was so difficult about it that made it take 1.5 years to even make it wearable? (Not mentioning that it also was built with palette changes in mind for both hair and cloth).


The "right way" to implement it was everyone's first choice, but hats are expensive as heck to make in a game with so many strangely-shaped heads.

1.5 years before it was "fixed"


I guess that's how long it took for the realization to sink-in that there'd never be so many artists with so little to do that making another hat (with no critical deadline in particular) would take priority over anything else they might be doing (such as creating assets for an expansion that had better not slip even one day).

Don't you just love that kind of optimism?
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6 years 10 months ago #164 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

I bet Dun..Freeman wasn't the one doing the ductape fix on it, but surely he, eh you musta known about it :grin:


I wasn't much for setting-up items, and especially not if they were crafted... I knew about it, and heard it was finally added to the game, but that was about it.

Playing a Wookiee at the time, news of hats didn't interest me much.

My focus was generally on AI behaviors, the pet system for example, and for one expansion I felt like all I ever did was spell-check NPC dialog and fix any scripting-logic puzzle that other designers couldn't crack.

Obee wrote: I believe that every former SOE employee that has commented on the NGE have said the game was in no danger of being canceled when the NGE was inflicted on the players (I even believe Dundee did so on the MMORPG.com forums). The only person who ever made the claim that the NGE was necessary to the future of SWG was the Smed in a post on the OBoards when he posted something to the effect that SWG wasn't a viable business in its pre-NGE state as a Star Wars game because there weren't enough players for a game with the Star Wars name on it. I think that was the same post where he admitted WoW's subscription numbers had an influence on the decision to implement the NGE.

I really wish someone who has interviewed him in the past two years had asked him to reconcile his post with the fact that the subscription numbers are much smaller now than when he made that post.


I have no inside knowledge on this, but as I recall as having been stated publicly, I think there was a projection of where the population would be at some near-future date, and that was a place at which the contract between SOE and LEC declared "game over!"

Contracts can be renegotiated, of course... but then that's the sort of thing no one would want to renegotiate unless there were some potential for mad-cash tied to the new agreement. Like, we'll go halfsies on this lotto ticket, but only if you agree to continue putting up with my shit even if it doesn't win.

I don't know that's what happened, but it wouldn't surprise me.

SWG's team is much, much, much, much, much smaller than it was before, with fewer "seasoned veterans" (which cost more to feed their special diet of orphan blood) than ever.

I think they probably just weren't allowed to run another SW game, 'cause that license is worth more than all the oil in Iraq.
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6 years 10 months ago #165 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

Kzinkiller wrote: In a nutshell, there is the essence of the fraudulent behavior of SOE that will keep me from ever paying them another dime for any product.


doh! I didn't mean it wasn't being supported. The team size was massive then, and about at its peak... but live support came mostly from programmers (rather than designers).

Point being, "live lead designer" didn't prep me much for a lead position, not that I was in a sort of Home Alone version of game support.

Obee wrote: You're beginning to parse posts in the same way that made everything fall apart when you posted on the MMORPG.com board. A game that pulls in $100 a month over monthly costs, but cost $30 million to make, is not, nor ever will be profitable.


I don't mean to be.

There are games running now, which have been running for years already, which are not and will never be profitable.

They're still running though, because they bring in more than 0 dollars per month, whereas shutting them down brings in 0 dollars per month.

They will never earn back what they cost to make, but it's not as if shutting them down will get you that money back...

Plus it works both ways:

There are also games which recouped their development costs right away, and long ago, and after much profit and many years, later were just above breaking-even. They had been profitable, they were not losing money, and they were canceled anyway.

For a game to be even potentially profitable, it has to be earning enough monthly revenue over monthly costs to be on track to recover the initial investment within a reasonable amount of time (what's reasonable will differ with the individuals involved).


Agreed. I guess what I'm saying is that games getting shut-down is more often a "What have you done for me lately?"-kind of thing.

Oddly enough, SOE tends to have a better track record for sticking-with their games than some others, but then when they are the publisher and the IP owner, then they can do that.
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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #166 by Exile
Exile replied the topic: Re: Jeff Freeman Revelation Archive

Owen-Lars wrote: Where do you think the level of community involvement is going these days?


You mean in general?

My gut feeling is that it's going to diminish even further for a while.

The model of running a farm of parallel universes as though they were one doesn't allow you to address Bob of Universe 1 and Sue of Universe 3 individually. If you react to Bob, your reaction to Bob is the answer Sue gets to her issue, too.

And it's all out of the question if you have 400 parallel universes.

Eve Online has it right, but funding for development looks at them and looks at WoW and generally gets their heart set on owning a WoW.

I have hope for more personal-service oriented business models some day, but I think after a wave a WoW-wanna-be's, there'll be a wave of Kiddy-games, and only after that, with the next wave of clones (I mean, in the next major trend), is there a chance the thing being cloned is that model.

Or

If MMORPGs follow the MUD life-cycle, then by that time, for $15/month you can run your own MMO (and otherwise play any of a thousand of them for free).

The idea of paying $15/month for one game will seem as ridiculous to us then as paying $15/hour seems to us now.

Either way, it'll seem like an archaic pastime to most people, who play their MMO-type thing on consoles.

My predictions for the future, based on nothing substantial.

Owen-Lars wrote: With the Ranger Revamp? Did people know that it was going to be deleted anyway?


I'm still bound by the NDA (and will be forever technically, or until no one cares one way or the other practically).

I only meant to shed-light on my own thoughts, then and now, about what was already public knowledge.

Otherwise I've engaged in a bit of speculation here and there, which shouldn't be taken as eye-witness reporting. If I knew for sure about this or that, I probably couldn't talk about it.

It's difficult to resist the temptation to defend old coworkers and friends and say, "No, so-n-so is really a stand-up guy and that was all not as it appeared" and so on... but I'm thinking I better shut my trap, and you probably don't want to hear any of that noise from me anyway. Heh.

I didn't mean to give the impression that I was in a position to confess on behalf of anyone but myself, nor apologize for anything but what I personally did, so I hope no one has taken anything posted here to mean that.

Wildcat wrote: Although I don't think that it's realistic to believe that there will suddenly be hundreds of "run your own MMOs" though... On that scale you are basically running a FPS server with a dozen or two people at most. That's not a Massively Multiplayer game.


Oh, I agree. I should say you'll be able to run your own potentially-M MO.

That is, following in the MUD footprints.

There are still thousands of MUDs running, right now.

Most of them have 0 users most of the time, and if we could all throw up our own UO servers right now, which we could, so would they. :grin:
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