When I first heard about the game Defiance about a month ago I was immediately suspicious of the title as it was a console and PC release that I hadn’t heard of.
Let me explain: all true game developers and publishers suffer from something I like to call fear. Fear that their title will not make back what money they’ve put into it. That’s why major publishers will spend years developing a title after announcing it and even threaten to cancel it. It isn’t because they’ve found bugs or simply suffering from financial straits. It is entirely to put the consumer into frenzy about the game and keep interest.
So when a game like Defiance comes out that doesn’t subscribe to the advertising through fear system it means that the studio behind it doesn’t feel fear, which means that not only do they think they have security (which is an elaborate lie told to them by the publisher’s lawyers) they also think that what they’ve developed is so good that it can stand under its own merit. That is, of course, the highest order of bullshit. All video games need press just as the developers need to feel fear because fear makes them work harder and produce better product.
But… enough of me bullshitting you. Let’s talk about Defiance.
Defiance is an upcoming MMO or Massive Multiplayer Online Game. It will be a shooter developed by Trion the same guys who made Rift an actually respectable MMO by those standards. Now the idea of an MMO shooter isn’t a bad one. It could be a bit fresher, I suppose. Really the only way to survive in the MMO market is to not be like World of Warcraft less your audience becomes bored and starts comparing you to it. Which is basically a sure fire way to guarantee your title will become free to play.
The problem is actually part of what I said earlier. I know nearly nothing about Defiance. I went and researched the game and annoyingly the least information was actually on the game’s website.
Oh, but I can see all of the sponsors right on the main page.
From videos I found about the developers prattling on about how the game was a constantly evolving open world and didn’t have an online lobby (which is standard issue for an MMO) there wasn’t much that showed how the game distinguished itself in terms of unique abilities or weapons or even the in game prompts and menus. The game comes out in April and its March. Though, it is neat that you get to drive vehicles on command.
An MMO is a massive undertaking for any company with the need for online severs, idea poaching from other MMOs, unruly player base, you know, all that fun stuff. The condemning blow though, is that this game is actually a tie-in game for a TV show on the Sci-Fi (Oh I’m sorry, Syfy) channel that will share the same name and continuity.
Tie-in games are a good idea, conceptually. Allowing a player to explore an established world they love is an exciting idea and adds a level of immersion that no other media provides. However in execution they are notoriously flawed. This is because most tie-in games for movies and television are given remarkably low production time for what they need to make a functional game. This is why they receive a bad reputation and are often failures. Heck, even the ones that have decent production time still have an uphill battle.
Defiance however has a unique feature that, once I read about it, made me stare at my screen for several minutes in shock. People who play the game can actually affect the plot of the show.
If you aren’t stunned by that sentence go back and read it again a few times.
Now I don’t want to say that MMO gamers are notoriously evil but if you ran a Google search on “dick-moves” and “MMOs” you would get at least three Cracked articles on the subject. If you tell players that they can, in any way, affect something in the real world by their actions they will likely turn your in-game world into the second, third, fifth, and seventh levels of hell. Then they will get creative.
It is a nice idea but it’s one that is just too easy to ruin and too tempting for the right player base. And that’s if the game is fortunate enough to garner that kind of attention. Otherwise Defiance is cursed with many of the same problems as so many other MMOs that have come before it and is sadly fated for the free-to-play option. The game certainly needs many more “secrets” to be leaked to get players salivating for a new type of MMO. I understand marketing decisions to not release development data and such but when you are developing a new game in a genre many consider stagnant and only good for a quick boom profit at best then you need to give the audience more to distinguish yourself. Developers should be in a frenzy to leak secrets about this game as well as possible class builds (if such things exist), skill trees and stating options so that the players that do try on launch have at least an idea of what they want to create when they get in.
Though, as of this writing, Defiance has only shown that it is worth attention. Not that it is worth interest.
But we’ll see.
And so too does this work exist.