The Hateful Haters

The Hateful Haters

Any resemblance to real people’s opinions is purely coincidental

COMPREHENSION NOTE: The open development chosen by Epic for Unreal Tournament is not an easy choice. The amount of Haters approaching the project is copious and steady. But do they have a point? We divided them into 3 categories, let’s analyse them.

The catastrophists are, notably, the most passionate and brutally offensive group of Haters. That alone would be enough to put them in the wrong and ignore them, but let’s give them a chance anyway.

Their protest stems from the fact that, in their opinion, there is no noticeable progress since UT development started. Of course you only need a quick glance at one of the very first videos to prove them wrong. So what’s causing all this bad blood?

I think there are 2 main reasons. First: it’s not easy to notice all the progressive tests that has been done for those that are not closely following the project. Second: I noticed that very few people actually understand how the real game developing process works, and Unreal Tournament is also a very atypical case since we’ve seen “everything” from the very first few hours!

Let’s get clear on these. At this time we’re still in Pre-Alpha. This phase essentially is a huge prototype where even the craziest ideas are tried, game systems are starting to be implemented and the team starts to think on how they could be expanded. This is one of the longest development stages (sometimes even 5 years!) and it’s usually kept hidden from the public because features come and, if they’re not working, go. And it’s never an easy task for the audience to accept that you’re going to take away something you gave them.

The Alpha stage will come right after this one. A game reaches Alpha when its key components are implemented but still incomplete. Some extra features can be added but if something still needs to be completed it will be usually discarded. This phase can be called done when every piece is in place.

After Alpha comes Beta, a much more familiar stage to gamers. This is where the most visible progress takes place, since all the artistic elements are added and every placeholder will be replaced by their final appearance. The game will be feature complete and there will be a lot of bug fixing. It’s possible (and extremely likely) that there will be more gameplay adjustments based on community feedback, since the community will have a substantial growth by this phase.

In short, it may not seem like it, but we’re still on track!

Let’s move on to the “Listen to me! I’m Important!”. Fewer than the previous group but louder!

The vast majority of this group is comprised of long time UT players that ask for one or more features they liked on the previous games. Among them, sadly, there’s also me. Specifically asking for a faster weapon switch speed.

It may not seem like it but the Epic guys are reading everything that happens on the forum and they are aware of every request. We’ve seen evidence of this multiple times on Discord.

They’re just not willing to put everything in the game only because someone asked for it, especially if they have some alternative ideas to try out first.

Unfortunately we have no way of knowing how these priorities are laid out. Obviously internal tests and usage statistics are playing a big role there. Of course sometimes we see some tweaks that are hard to explain (like more flak cannon buffs, even if it’s already extremely powerful) but how can we criticize these changes without knowing their general plan for them? They could even be incremental changes on a version of that weapon that are going to be scrapped after some months of public test.

And now we come to the “No Steam, No Party”. Well, yeah. The most played MMORPG in the world (World of Warcraft) is on Steam, isn’t it?

Better yet, let’s make an example with a direct competitor to UT, Toxikk. This is on Steam, but it doesn’t seem like it’s automatically enjoying a resounding success because of that.

Anyway, the bottom line is always the same: it’s good to get passionate about the development and ask for a feature that you want to see in the game but let’s do it right! Not angrily, because it won’t work. Giving reason to your request and (if you’re able to) creating a mutator with your idea for everyone to try out.