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Author Topic: Interview/Postmortem with Adam Carpenter of Auran  (Read 26646 times)
lamaros
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Reply #35 on: December 11, 2007, 10:27:49 PM

2) If you had paid *any* attention to the last 10 years of PvP MMO's, you would have seen a direct correlation between the success of the game and the amount of things *besides* PvP the game allowed you to do.  The closest parallels to the game you were making were Planetside and Guild Wars.  One has nothing but gankage, the other has lots of PvE.  One is successful, one is not.  For a "Creative Director" of a PvP-oriented game, the conlusion should not be rocket science.

I agree, but it depends how you define PvE and PvP. I think you can add a lot more to a game while still keeping the focus on PvP, and that PvE doesn't have to always be some sort of idiot-proof quest/grinding system.

Otherwise you make great points. If things fuck up then a large part of the blame has to be shouldered by those with authority.

And when those people are idiots...

Quote
We also worked even harder to try and get more keys out and more players into the game. Just think about that for a minute. We know players are having issues with the game, we know its not at a state that we really want to show it off, yet were trying to get even more players in as we need to do scale testing and the like. Its a total Catch-22.

That isn't a Catch-22. That's idiocy. Using the one word to describe different things doesn't make those different things the same.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2007, 10:34:21 PM by lamaros »

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Reply #36 on: December 12, 2007, 04:46:11 AM

I feel like I just read a Mcquaid-sized wall of text that basically said "the team didn't completely see our Vision".

When are game developers going to learn what people actually want to play before  they begin creating a game.

It is imperative that game designers begin researching a playerbase and their habits/likes/dislikes before a single line of code is written.
Khaldun
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Reply #37 on: December 12, 2007, 07:06:41 AM


Sorry, but it's a little disingenuous of you to spend 20 paragraphs explaining how the game failed because your subordinates were lazy and/or stupid, then get all self-righteous about the malcontent that went to Angry Gamer and spilled the beans. 


Let me add to this one other observation.

If people, including reviewers, don't play your game "the right way" when they're given a chance to look at it, that's your failure, not theirs. And by your failure, I specifically mean the lead designers/creative director. There is simply no excuse at this point in the history of game design, particularly MMOG design, for walking down that path, or offering that as an alibi for commercial failure. If some players whom you need and want as customers aren't seeing "the real game", it's because you fucked up in some respect. And it's worth considering what quite a few people are noting in this discussion, that the reason some people on this project might have seemed unmotivated is that they could see this failure coming. Maybe some even tried to tell people above them in the management hierarchy about it.
t0lkien
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Reply #38 on: December 12, 2007, 11:11:24 AM

Any company that blames the failure on a project on the desire of its employees to do anything but work 18 hour days deserves every bit of failure they get. To imply that if you're passionate about a project you are willing to sell your life out to get it made (so others will benefit financially and professionally from your sacrifice) is complete bollocks. EA Spouse lifted the lid on that type of thinking long ago.

Those of us who have worked in the industry for years, and who at various times have paid for the lack of leadership by crunching 16-18 hour days for months and sometimes years at a time, know the stink of this particular line of crap. Projects don't fail because people aren't willing to live and sleep at the office, and expect all their familial relationships to tolerate and understand that sort of insanity. They fail because of bad leadership, flawed premises, and bad ideas. You can't polish a turd - or you can, but it will still be a turd.

All I have learned from this article is that I never want to work at Auran (though I already knew that), and I will remember the name Adam Carpenter. If I see his name anywhere near a lead position on a company roster, I'll pass.
KallDrexx
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Reply #39 on: December 13, 2007, 01:23:27 AM

Tony Hilliam: The Facts About Auran's Closure

What's done is done.  Hopefully the people that need to learn and grow from this experience actually do.

Edit by Trippy: fixed link
« Last Edit: December 13, 2007, 07:24:57 AM by Trippy »
termite
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Reply #40 on: December 13, 2007, 01:39:39 AM

It's breathtakingly clear Adam Carpenter is kicking himself he didn't have the foresight of the 9-5ers he's blaming. They knew it was a pile from the start.
geldonyetich2
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Reply #41 on: December 13, 2007, 02:55:15 AM

Seeing how they plan to continue Fury and their train simulator, they're probably going to rehire the folks that weren't the 9-5ers they blame for Fury's lackluster launch.
t0lkien
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Reply #42 on: December 13, 2007, 09:44:58 AM

...or not: http://www.doolwind.com/blog/?p=86

Noone should be surprised (the company has been propped up by obscene and dishonest siphoning of government funding for years), but still, it's a sad end. I remember the days of Dark Reign, and back then Auran was a really exciting company - possibly the first company in Australia to really do something big. It's all a sad shame, and a Scrouge-like parable of the evils of greed and mismanagement.

I want to know where Greg Lane is. He is directly responsible for a lot of the mess.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2007, 09:48:14 AM by t0lkien »
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Reply #43 on: December 13, 2007, 07:13:36 PM

As far as I can see, Auran Developments is shutting down (which is why all those people are getting let go), but Auran Games continues. What the distinction is, I don't know.

To further explore some of t0lkien's claims about Greg Lane, I came across this, but that was 7 years ago.

But anyway, Auran's failure will see those let go likely end up at other Australian gaming studios - as I said, the pool here of experience programmers is very small - which will hopefully see a boost to local output.

Ghambit
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Reply #44 on: December 14, 2007, 01:18:12 AM

As for dogging 9-5 people, most have already said what should be said about that. But to add to the general thrust, the games industry's biggest fucking problem (and the tech industry in general) is that it too often equates passion with overtime, but refuses to compensate that "passion" accordingly. If you want your team to put in overtime, fucking pay them for it and don't bitch like a scolded dog when your team doesn't want to work overtime on a game it doesn't take Nostradums to figure out is a trainwreck.

Your post is spot on...
It also brings me to this next point.  What's one of the main reasons games can and do get developed in America?  Unpaid, forced overtime.  Companies arent required by law to pay their employees for overtime, they can simply fire them if they refuse to show up.  The only folks who are exempt from this are those in Unions, and guess what... there arent any for game devs(at least in a REAL sense).

Soooo, as long as there arent any Unions and games keep getting made in America... we'll see unpaid overtime, no matter how good the game development is.  And the moment there are federal restrictions and/or Unions applied, the big-money guys will move offshore, or cut pay.

As for these 40 hour work-week statements, America's 40-hour workweek is amongst the most brutal in the developed world.  Most developed countries have moved to the 30-hour work week, with mandatory paid vacations, breaks, and/or daily siestas. (along with required overtime pay).  Many countries (especially in scandinavia) dont even work year-round...  yet it seems some of the best code there is comes from Scandinavian countries. 

So all this "extra overtime to make a game" bullshit is really just a function of good ol' American Capitalism, "phuck over as many people as you can so you can get ahead."

 

"See, the beauty of webgames is that I can play them on my phone while I'm plowing your mom."  -Samwise
ynot
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Reply #45 on: December 14, 2007, 01:36:15 AM

Many countries (especially in scandinavia) dont even work year-round... 
cause they live in the dark for 6 months... 
on the other hand Many countries  (china india) are becoming popular for sub dev /art ..
« Last Edit: December 14, 2007, 01:38:52 AM by ynot »
Yoru
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Reply #46 on: December 14, 2007, 10:01:07 AM

This thread is suddenly a knife's edge away from a split and Politics-ing.
stray
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Reply #47 on: December 14, 2007, 11:11:11 AM

So all this "extra overtime to make a game" bullshit is really just a function of good ol' American Capitalism, "phuck over as many people as you can so you can get ahead."

If it was good ole fashioned Capitalism, then these companies (and the industry as a whole) would be running a helluva lot better. All I see is a general lack of business sense.
Vinadil
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Reply #48 on: December 14, 2007, 12:56:38 PM

I remember the days of Dark Reign, and back then Auran was a really exciting company -

Wow, these guys made Dark Reign?  Man... that is a game worth talking about.  It is the ONLY RTS to date that I have seen implement certain very cool features... like "When you get x% hurt go back to the heal station".  They were also one of the first to be very liberal with the "auto-move-here" type of commands and queues for production.  Man, have not thought about that game in a while.

Not on topic I suppose, but the evil of the American work week is just not as interesting to me as new features in RTS games... those guys need to make another one!
ZedMonk
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Reply #49 on: December 14, 2007, 05:44:19 PM

Hmm. Sounds like a whole lot of ass covering and insubstantial evidence. He doesn't complain about specific issues, he blankets the whole project with negative projections. From a psychological standpoint I believe projection is the appropriate word. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

If he gave examples like, "Furys lobby failed because it was incorrectly implemented and was intended to be fun in these ways..." then maybe I would have some sympathy. As it stands he didn't say, "The swords didn't look sharp enough to kill people so I blame the art department." He didn't say "The balancing and skills economy failed because I filled it with fluffy bullshit in order to make it look like we have a progression and item wear was the only way I could think of to make people buy more shit."

The bottom line is that this game is not creating half the buzz they bought from the gentle pre-release interviews, people are not stark raving craving it as a business model, game type, or genre. When I played it at e3 it felt like button mashing and I'll be honest, I haven't picked it up since. If they are going to retrieve this, not just from the brink of disaster but wholly already going head first into disaster, they have a lot of customer inquisition to do.

In the end, it's probably tale told by an idiot...  "It is a tale full of sound and Fury; signifying nothing.
Montague
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Reply #50 on: December 14, 2007, 05:48:50 PM

Hmm. Sounds like a whole lot of ass covering and insubstantial evidence. He doesn't complain about specific issues, he blankets the whole project with negative projections. From a psychological standpoint I believe projection is the appropriate word. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

If he gave examples like, "Furys lobby failed because it was incorrectly implemented and was intended to be fun in these ways..." then maybe I would have some sympathy. As it stands he didn't say, "The swords didn't look sharp enough to kill people so I blame the art department." He didn't say "The balancing and skills economy failed because I filled it with fluffy bullshit in order to make it look like we have a progression and item wear was the only way I could think of to make people buy more shit."

The bottom line is that this game is not creating half the buzz they bought from the gentle pre-release interviews, people are not stark raving craving it as a business model, game type, or genre. When I played it at e3 it felt like button mashing and I'll be honest, I haven't picked it up since. If they are going to retrieve this, not just from the brink of disaster but wholly already going head first into disaster, they have a lot of customer inquisition to do.

In the end, it's probably tale told by an idiot...  "It is a tale full of sound and Fury; signifying nothing.



When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross - Sinclair Lewis.

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We all have the God-given right to go to hell our own way.  Don't fuck with God's plan. - MahrinSkel
waylander
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Reply #51 on: December 14, 2007, 06:31:58 PM

Ok the much awaited Dec 14th patch has ushered in the following:

Massive repairs for old gear = most can't afford to repair it
Low gold rewards for match victories = no real change here
Shitty loot for match victories = no real change here
Massive cost increases to create custom gear = big big change (requires you to buy gold from auran to keep up)

1v1 elim has sucked the life out of all other tournaments so no one's playing them

The gear overhaul was replaced by even more powerful gear (for those who can afford to make customized gear).

HP increases were negated due to the massive damage boosts from the new gear.


Now for those who don't know, you can basically go to an NPC called an Artificer in fury. You tell him the item you want, and select an approximate power level. You are charged gold, and then its pretty much an item lottery to see what you get. So you can spend massive amounts of gold to try to get uber gear, but walk away broke and with shitty randomly created items.

What this patch is going to do is drive away their few remaining hard core players probably by the end of the month. I had more gold than most people (400 gold) and I blew through most of it today just to get a few shitty mid tier items. Imagine how less fortunate players or new players are going to feel after paying 20 bucks for gold to Auran while getting virtually nothing due to the costs and randomness of the item generators.

I am probably going to end up writing a post mortem on how NOT to make a PVP arena based MMO.  There is a market for this type of play, but Fury missed the mark on nearly every level once they stopped listening to their tester community last June.






Lords of the Dead
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waylander
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Reply #52 on: December 15, 2007, 10:16:11 AM

In a follow up to this horrible patch and change of direction Fury's top 10 guilds all publicly quit the game within 24 hours of this patch going live. Many are going back to WoW, CoV, and GW until something better comes along.  I'm not sure who's left at Auran to blame for this terrible patch, but it cost them the remaining loyal customers they had from their best competing guilds.

Lords of the Dead
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Montague
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Reply #53 on: December 15, 2007, 02:35:29 PM

In a follow up to this horrible patch and change of direction Fury's top 10 guilds all publicly quit the game within 24 hours of this patch going live. Many are going back to WoW, CoV, and GW until something better comes along.  I'm not sure who's left at Auran to blame for this terrible patch, but it cost them the remaining loyal customers they had from their best competing guilds.

If newbs are getting rolled in 5 seconds then perhaps that was the intent.

When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross - Sinclair Lewis.

I can tell more than 1 fucktard at a time to stfu, have no fears. - WayAbvPar

We all have the God-given right to go to hell our own way.  Don't fuck with God's plan. - MahrinSkel
lesion
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Reply #54 on: December 15, 2007, 03:57:55 PM

Now there's a design strategy I can get behind.

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waylander
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Reply #55 on: December 15, 2007, 04:41:21 PM

In a follow up to this horrible patch and change of direction Fury's top 10 guilds all publicly quit the game within 24 hours of this patch going live. Many are going back to WoW, CoV, and GW until something better comes along.  I'm not sure who's left at Auran to blame for this terrible patch, but it cost them the remaining loyal customers they had from their best competing guilds.

If newbs are getting rolled in 5 seconds then perhaps that was the intent.

Newbs or vets can be rolled in under 5 seconds, but that's a game play mechanic.  The reason that Fury couldn't attract enough people to create a low, middle, and high tier of competition is well documented in its many fansite reviews.  The average player played less than 1 hour, and then gave up on the game.  In some cases they were matched against vets due to low populations, but in many cases they got fed up with lag, crashes, a confusing skill system, a faction and gear grind, and lack of choice of PVP content.  So they didn't hang around to become veterans because the game itself wasn't setup to help people's PVP progression.  But over half the people we knew who picked up this game mainly left due to the horde of tech issues that were never ironed out, and that just comes from Auran's willingness to try to use a game engine they couldn't master.

Lords of the Dead
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pants
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Reply #56 on: December 16, 2007, 03:11:31 PM

For anyone who's interested, theres a podcast interview with an ex-employee of Auran at http://www.australiangamer.com/podcast/Australian_Gamer_Podcast_103.mp3.  This was recorded on the day he was fired, so not surprisingly he's pretty drunk and rambling, but he blames the whole thing on the 'Lead Designer/Creative Lead/f13.net interview yank who screwed a good company with a good history and is hightailing it back to america'.  Vaguely interesting, but nothing earthshattering in it.
HaemishM
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Reply #57 on: December 17, 2007, 02:33:44 PM

Now for those who don't know, you can basically go to an NPC called an Artificer in fury. You tell him the item you want, and select an approximate power level. You are charged gold, and then its pretty much an item lottery to see what you get. So you can spend massive amounts of gold to try to get uber gear, but walk away broke and with shitty randomly created items.

That sounds like a giant epic fail sandwich.

Hoax
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Reply #58 on: December 17, 2007, 05:40:08 PM

I hope there are a few more writeups about Fury around here, while the game itself never mattered much the lessons that will not but really should be learned from launches like this are plentiful.  I saw this type of amateur hour bullshit all the time back in the land of f2p K-MMO lobby+gameroom pvp-only games.  A genre I am quite fond of in many regards and always wanted to write something about but the lack of people who could get past the Korean part around here was always a stumbling block.


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