Failure Is An Option

Tobold’s post today is concerned with the nostalgia aspect of being a MMORPG player. It is a post in which he raises some good points. But he also makes an interesting comment. A comment I have heard a lot regarding MMORPG developers, or just game developers in general. And this highlighted something I’ve been thinking about lately.

while Camelot Unchained will only have the PvP part. Does anybody really believe this is going to be a huge success? Especially since Mark Jacobs previous attempt to make a new DAoC-successor, Warhammer Online, was such a big success…

It seems to be a common theme that when a developer lets down the player audience by producing a flop, then he suddenly falls into the category of “will never create a good game again.”

Whenever such an announcement is posted on a gaming site such as RPS, the comment section is immediately filled with butt-hurt comments stating how he failed on such-and-such a game and “I’ll never buy a game he’s made again.”

So Tobolds point of sarcasm in his post stands out and surprised me a little coming from someone who works as a scientist. After all science is not only built on failure, it depends on failure. And if we really think about it, so is life.

The thing is we sometimes learn more by failure than we do by success. Edison when he was asked about all his failed attempts to create the light-bulb said that he didn’t fail on each attempt, in fact with each failed try he learned a new way not to learn how to make a light-bulb. Could we say the same thing about Warhammer Online?

Does the fact that Jacobs has failed with one attempt to create a successor to DAOC mean that all subsequent attempts will also be failures?

On the contrary, for Mark Jacobs, Warhammer Online was an experience in learning how not to make a successor to Warhammer Online. Doesn’t this increase the chance that the next attempt will be successful assuming he learned the lessons of WO?

I just wonder, if Edison had listened to a gaggle of followers who continually complained about his previous light-bulb attempts and how any light-bulb he created was doomed to failure, then would we all be still living by candlelight?

Will Jacobs succeed or fail this time around? Who knows, but if he listens to the naysayers, then we’ll never know, and who knows we may even be deprived of the greatest game ever made.

Everything we have, all our conveniences and necessities, were built by people who failed but then tried again.

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  1. Tipa

    *cough* Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb 😛

    Jacobs seems very aware that Camelot Unchained will be a minor, niche title. He’s not learning from failure. He is redefining success.

  2. Stropp (Post author)

    Ahh yes. Sorry about that, poor choice of words. Edison refined the concept and ‘invented’ the first practical (commercially viable) bulb. He also claimed (patented) others inventions, so it’s sometimes confusing what he did or didn’t invent.

    From further reading it does look like Jacobs is going off the beaten track with Camelot Unchained.

    Redefining success?

    If Camelot Unchained is commercially viable, perhaps. But my point is that previous failure isn’t a predictor of future failure but a step on the road to future success.

  3. xXJayeDuBXx

    You make some great points. I know I was one of those pessimistic ones when I first read about Camelot Unchained.

  4. Stropp (Post author)

    That was my first thought too, not so much about success or failure, but about the been-there-done-that factor.

  5. Tobold

    Well, in all fairness my comment was about the possible commercial success of yet another PvP game. I didn’t say that Mark could never make a good game again. Although if he sticks to PvP games, he’ll probably be limited to at best make a good niche game.

  6. Stropp (Post author)

    @Tobold, well that one comment did equate the potential success of the new game against the old which I thought was a little unfair.

    I think you’re right about the chances of the PvP side of things. I don’t think unrestrained, free-for-all PvP is what players want, regardless of what they say, and any game that uses that model will be extremely niche.

    But that may be what Jacobs is going for, and success is always measured against the goals that are set. If the goals for Camelot Unchained are 50K players, it may be a great success despite others saying it failed because it only managed to get 75K players.

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