Posted by Asif on May 26th, 2011
I’m all for game developers using social media to interact with their fans. Theoretically, it should lead to a feedback loop that lets developers know when they’ve done something good or when they’ve screwed up so badly that they should probably give up the whole game building profession, shun technology, and live off of unhomogenized cow milk for the rest of their unshaven, love-handled life.
However, somewhere between those two possibilities, there is a third option where developers can fix things based on customer feedback and not give up their dream of making mediocre games. Usually that process doesn’t occur until a game is actually out. Well, the Command and Conquer team has taken a radical new approach and implemented a mind-bending Minority Report-style system to ask fans how to fix their game… before it’s been developed. The crazy, drug-abusing, eyeball-stealing Tom Cruise of game development sent out the following tweet:
“Tell us your idea on how to improve future cnc games. Maybe it will be your idea, which changes everything!”
The thought that should enter the mind of any Command and Conquer fan is, “Wait? Don’t I pay for these games so someone else can design them?” Instead, what’s entering some fans’ minds are the words, “Make it more like,” followed by the name of their favorite game in the series. I’m not sure it’s occurred to these people that they can actually load up their favorite game right now, without someone spending millions of dollars on a harebrained scheme to relive their youth.
The tweet and subsequent forum are the equivalent of the developers throwing their hands in the air and crying “Uncle!”. They’ve given up, because someone at EA has mandated that there will be more Command and Conquer and, unfortunately, somewhere between the first C&C game and hiring Jenny McCarthy’s implants to appear in one of the sequels, they ran out of ideas.
Here’s the problem with their plan: these are people on the Internet. This is not your highfalutin game designer roundtable meeting. The only expertise these people bring to the table is how to play Command and Conquer games, not how to fix them. Here’s a better question to ask: what don’t you like about the recent Command and Conquer games? It’s a subtle difference, but the key here is that once problems have been identified the game designers can think of ways to fix those problems, which is their entire job.
I don’t want to tell anyone how to do their job, other than all I times I’ve already done it, but if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re asking the audience for help, it’s probably time to shut down the Command and Conquer factory, light it on fire, and collect the insurance money. Then, maybe use that money to hire someone who can design a Command and Conquer game.
Alternatively, the existing development team could try making a game they actually want to make. Maybe that’ll inspire them to have some great ideas or, really, any ideas at all.
With all that said, I think the real lesson here is that if anyone is a big enough fan of Command and Conquer to post on the official message board, it’s probably time for them to reevaluate that part of their life. I don’t know if they’ve noticed, but the commander of the Command and Conquer ship might not know where the steering wheel is.
[Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun]