Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Busting the Myth: No MMO is really ready to launch.

I've been hearing about this a lot lately regarding MMOs...especially in podcasts. In particular, I hear it when it comes to Vanguard. We all know that Vanguard was not ready for launch. Brad McQuaid himself even hinted at this in forum posts. Yet, I still hear people making excuses (yes, thats what they are) and dismissing the release of Vanguard by saying "Well its ok because no MMO is ever ready...blah blah blah". Now, don't get me wrong...Vanguard is NOT a bad game. In fact, we all need to watch this one very closely.

Vanguard, like every other piece of software had internal project, design and verification (or testing) milestones to meet during its course of development. This is just the way things work in software land. Date W is when design specs are to be done, Date X is when features are delivered to verification for testing, Date Y is Verification complete, Date Z is when we do regression feature testing and then we make a ship/no-ship call based on quality. What is quality and how do you measure it? Well, quality comes from good design...you can't test quality into a product, no matter how many test cases you throw at a it. Regardless, most verification/testing/project groups will say that a product is ready to be shipped when the test failure rate is below 3% (for example...pick a low number) and there are no outstanding critical issues.

Now, relatively speaking, Vanguard was way below the curve for a launch. From all accounts, the launch itself was good...no major issues. From all accounts though, the Vanguard team is still adding huge patches to the game post launch. I really haven't seen this much patch activity after the launch of an MMO before. Since Jan.30, they've had five big patches.

Maybe they're right...no MMO is ever done. It's a live world thats contently evolving and changing over time. I think that's what I like most about MMOs. However, we're talking about two different things here. Let's not confuse the launch of an unfinished MMO with one that is finished and now needs to evolve. There is a big difference between saying "An MMO is not ready to ship..." and "An MMO is never ready...". One statement implies a quality standard...the other doesn't.

...any thoughts?

D out.

1 comment:

Tami "Cuppycake" said...

Couldn't agree with you more.

There is a huge difference between a game with some promised features not added and some mechanics that need tweaking vs. a game where you can't make it to level 5 in the newbie game without falling through the world 4 times, happening upon 3 unfinishable quests, countless UI and chat glitches, constant pathing issues, and the like.

VG is a good game, but its definately not a finished game ready for retail.