6 Rules for Enjoying Hype (and some cool videos from GW2 and Clone Wars)

Some people just don’t deserve hype.

Here we are, stuck in the doldrums of the MMO year and going through the motions in games or expansions where the shine has long since worn off. You’d think that injecting some optimism and excitement about upcoming games would be welcomed with open arms, right?

But some players (and bloggers) seem to take it personally every time their expectations are raised and then shattered on the jagged rocks of a cruel reality that may ship with bugs and not offer some random class/ race option on which the player had set her heart.  This is precisely NOT the way in which to enjoy well presented hype. It’s a thrill ride, a trailer, an insight into the hopes and imaginations of the artists and producers. That’s all it is. Not a promise graven in stone.  Sometimes it’s more fun to go along with the ride and then – just like a rollercoaster – enjoy the inevitable emotional fall through the floor later on.

Film style trailers have become a big part of game advertising. They range from gorgeous high budget “artists impressions” that bear no resemblance to the game, all the way through to Bioware style mini-documentaries about how some part of the game was made. I think the Mythic crew have a lot to be proud of in the way that their regular videocasts used to promote different aspects of Warhammer Online and why fans might be excited about them before that game was released. It has obviously had an effect on the rest of the industry.

A couple of trailers released this week did a particularly good job of capturing my imagination:

  • Guild Wars 2 Manifesto – manifesto implies some actual promises and debate and the GW2 team don’t disappoint. It is also gorgeous. The game looks as though it’ll be great, although I don’t quite understand (from the voiceover) how if you love MMOs you’ll love it, and if you hate MMOs you’ll love it too.
  • Star Wars Clone Wars – this is SOE’s Free Realms style Star Wars game that is launching next month. This trailer sold me on it and I’m definitely going to check the game out. It just looks FUN.

But what happens when hype seems to promise something that no real world game can deliver? Whose fault is it really if people are disappointed when they see the real thing and it fails to live up to their hopes? It’s our fault. We are not naive little flowers. We know how the media works. We know how advertising works. We know that trailers intended to sell you on an idea and a setting may not be 100% game accurate.

So here are some basic guidelines to help you enjoy the hype for what it is, and not let the hype ruin your experience in the game when you see it later on.

  1. Enjoy playing the game in your head. Trailers are meant to be inspiring and to encourage you to imagine how the game world might be. If one catches your imagination then enjoy the ride.
  2. But play the game in front of you when/ if it arrives. You can choose to either look for the fun in the game you have, or complain about all the ways in which it fails to match the game in your head.  For example, people who complain because hunters in LOTRO don’t have pets, ignoring the fact that there is another ranged class which does have pets that they could also play. Sometimes you have to either say, “No this is not the game for me, I must have a bow class with a pet,” or “OK, I can change my concept a bit.”
  3. Don’t take the trailer too literally. Just because you thought you saw a blurry shot of an elf with a broadsword doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to play elf fighters as PCs. A dev team may also not be able to implement everything exactly the way they would have wanted it when the trailer was released. It’s not a guarantee.
  4. Take the trailer literally. Don’t assume that it implies something which the narrator didn’t say or show. For example, Gordon wonders how much instancing will be used in GW2 to let players feel that they affect the world around them. We don’t know the answer to that yet (although he’s probably right), as the trailer didn’t touch on it.
  5. Enjoy the emotional journey. We’re fans. This is our hobby. Getting worked up about trailers and arguing the minutae of minor lore details is what we do. If you read general MMO blogs you’ll notice that a lot of bloggers position themselves quite early on in the hype cycle as either fans or cynics. That’s the most fun way to ride the hype out. (I’m a huge Bioware fan, for the record. They won my heart with DAO and I can’t wait to play a smuggler in SWTOR. So I’m not going to post anything too dismissive of that here.)
  6. But don’t take it personally if you later change your mind. It’s OK to hype a game and then find, when you actually see it, that you don’t enjoy playing it much at all. Laugh and move on, on to the next wave of hype.

18 thoughts on “6 Rules for Enjoying Hype (and some cool videos from GW2 and Clone Wars)

  1. But really, is there any aspect of the game in the GW2 trailer that isn’t proclaimed to the second coming of Jesus?

    There’s hype, and then there’s batshit crazy hype that promises more than a politician on election day.

    If every new MMO takes my expectations, run them sky high, and then shatters them, shouldn’t I take it personal after a while? I let the game prove all those points to me when it’s released, and more often than not it fails at them.

    • I take it personally that buying perfume doesn’t transform me into a supermodel! Surely there’s a point at which you say ‘OK, they’re selling the dream’.

      And that’s partly why I love trailers like the GW2 one. Even if the game the finally create is disappointing on every count, we’ll know that people developing these games do share the same dreams about what they could be like, and know that we do too.

      As long as that keeps happening, the genre is still moving forwards.

  2. Am I the only one who thought “oh my god, it’s Deathwing” at the end of that GW2 video?

    That aside, while I’m not actually particularly interested in the game I still thought that trailer was fun to watch. It does look very pretty, and it’s nice to see a female game designer stand in the spotlight for once.

  3. It is easy for me to set my expectations of the hype for a game like Guild Wars 2.

    No sub

    If I am able to get 40+ hours of gameplay out of this title AND have others around me in a persistent world, I would have gotten twice my moneys worth.

    People set expectations based on previous games (and we all know what game everyone always uses as the comparison..”/// oh my god, it’s Deathwing” – uh…sorry, not even close ///) and this is how they set themselves up for the game to fail in their eyes.

    When I read about Dragon Age, my first thoughts were not…”This better be as good as if not better than Diablo”…because that is not the games audience.

    GW2 is NOT WoW’s audience, but is offering something “different” if they happen to like an MMO. Just like Dragon Age may be a game you may enjoy if you like Diablo. GW1 is different enough that I never think of WoW..

    Everyone else needs to do the same.

  4. Mythic’s WAR videos are a great example; lots of interesting and useful stuff from several members of the team, I particularly liked some of the class overviews from Paul Barnett who’s a fantastically charismatic and funny presenter, but…

    His video about collecting bear paws was a real highlight, ever so funny, showed they really *got it*, saw the absurdity of killing a million bears within view of an NPC who’d then send you to kill ten more, they wouldn’t be having any of that nonsense. Except when WAR’s released it’s just as crammed full of “Kill 10 of X” and “Kill 20 of Y” as any other MMOG, only there are a few kill collectors around who give a bit of bonus XP for some random other mob kills. I’m sure Barnett wasn’t deliberately setting out to create false impressions, but somewhere between the design intent and final implementation things just didn’t stack up, and the end of “kill 10” quests gets chucked on the ever-growing pile of “Cool MMOG Features Devs Talked About But Never Made It Into Games”

  5. Pingback: Snipe the Hype « Bio Break

  6. The Clone Wars looks great. The speederbike races look really fun and its FREE to play! I am so psyched to have LotR and Clonewars to play soon and not have to pay!

  7. Hype is a funny old thing. It’s an essential marketing tool and can be a lot of fun but equally it can inflate people’s expectations and set them up for a fall. At the end of the day though what pushs our hype buttons or what we finally end up liking or disliking is a very personal and subjective thing.

    For me, I prefer trailers that are more transparent about their offerings. I’d by far prefer to watch a trailer of solid gameplay than listen to the visions and claims of a designer or developer, regardless of however admirable they might be. Telling me what a company hopes to achieve and showing me what they’ve actually achieved are two totally different things. One could possibly even claim that the former is a form of false advertising.

    Ultimately you’re right though – being cynical and negative doesn’t do anyone any good. It does make for some bloody good blog articles though 🙂

  8. Pingback: Hype | Kill Ten Rats

  9. My problem with hype, particularly the type that turns out not to be true, is not that simply draws attention to a game, but rather that it tends to obscure other games. As an indie developer, this is an important aspect to me.

    What happens is that the big games dazzle people with pretty movies and then promise the world. Then we know what happens next: the game absolutely fails to deliver and frustrate people. Meanwhile a lesser hyped game that doesn’t make stupid promises gets overlooked. And people wonder why there’s nothing new on the horizon….

    Ultimately, it’s up to the players and fans to stop rewarding hype. Marketers use what works, and it’s obvious that hype builds attention for your game with minimal effort. This is why people shouldn’t just “give in” to it, because it distracts from real analysis and interest in things that could make real differences.

    This isn’t to say that GW2 or the new SOE Clone Wars game are going to fail or break promises, but let’s just say the industry’s track record makes a certain outcome more likely….

  10. I have a good friend who doesn’t believe in hype. “ill see the game when it comes out, if reviews are good and friends like it, i’ll try it”.
    He didn’t even try out wow untill late TBC.

    I think one of the best forms of free time time-sinks, is getting hyped over games. Searching for tidbits of information in ‘the secret world’, seeing e3 videos on in-game play in sw:tor. I think I learn a lot about myself and what sort of games i’d like, just by looking at what different set of hype gets me the most excited.
    If you aren’t looking forward to things, whats the point?

    I very much disagrees with mr green above me. Half of what I pay for most of my games, is the fact that they have made me excited for 6months before the game even came out. We have a saying where I come from: “the greatest joy, is that of expectation”. So when a game gets (over)hyped, I just take it for what it is: somethinh to look forward to, something to enjoy, even before it’s released.

    And if that game, ultimatly turns out to disappoint me, I’ll reboot an old favorite game instead.

    The problem with gaming isn’t the hype before a game is released, it’s the remake of a remake of a remake of a game we have seen 50 billion times, that is the problem (oh hello there ‘brothers in arms’). But that is another discussion for another time.

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