It’s pretty funny watching all the latest clips and reddit posts regarding the various quality of life (QoL) features the Chinese Client version of Path of Exile provides with the recent race. Much of the features to modern companies probably wouldn’t be discarded in the blink of an eye as any sensible company would want a high degree of standards for their game. But the level of simplicity yet massive improvements demonstrated show that there probably is a level of stubbornness and (more than likely) incompetence on GGG’s behalf where these could easily be implemented.
From what I understand, a few key QoL improvements on the Chinese Client version are 1) pet that picks up loot; 2) customizable macro for flask; 3) expanded stash tab, 4) 1 click auction; 5) unlimited skill tree re-spec before level 70; 6) useful leveling loot from side missions; 7) in-game skill tree planner and have managed to reduce botting/scamming using BoP (bind on pickup) currency through story mode.
Looking at these features, it’s basic ideas that seem to deserve to go into the core game. With all the commotion being raised right now on reddit and Twitch about the different mentality here, it’ll be amazing to see whether GGG chooses to ignore the player base and put out another stupid manifesto explaining their position of one market vs the other.
The reality is that the constant defense from GGG (and so-called GGG White Knights) is that QoL does not impact profit. So what about the pet that picks up loot? I can’t see how GGG can justify their position after the Chinese market showing what something like that can bring.
And before people refute that “yeah but that makes it pay to win…” is it? How many people on forums constantly complain about RSI because the in-game pick up is god awful? If you pay to win here, then it’s paying to win crippling wrist surgeries in the future.
But the more I read into this, the more I believe that you have these bozos in this 80s era of “hardcore” gaming where you played from an Atari 2600 and used a stiff joystick, being unable to save and starting from scratch while liking it. I mean the game progressively has gotten worse as they added features. What game degrades as badly as this? Even a shitty game like Ultima 8, which was shrink wrapped software, eventually got a downloadable patch to fix the horrible platforming.
I mean the direction of the game seems to focus on 2013 Kripparian, even though he too long moved on and became realistic once he got a life (and a wife). It’s like they’re stuck on this cycle where their best usability study was from 2012 as an anti-Diablo 3 response.
But now, they’ve become poised to dominant the ARPG market (if they haven’t already) and are lost in a poor business model that has outdated itself. Similar to the Chinese Client thread, another issue has come about related to MTX where people have pointed out that you need to pay to turn off features for the game to perform better. What kind of ass-backwards thought process is that? Either the developers are really this bad or GGG is this corrupt. I’m leaning in the middle.
Nonetheless, I find it funny how Tencent put money into here when it’s clear that GGG does not want to expand their business. I mean if I were in charge of GGG, the first thing I would do would be to get that investment money and start hiring overseas. As both a company and as someone who wants the best product possible, I would try to acquire the best talent I could afford. It worked for the WWF back in the 80s, Blizzard, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.
Instead, the game just lacks that polish. GGG seems proud of it. It’s like taking the biggest poop and showing it to your girlfriend. Yeah it might be a great personal accomplishment, but no one is going to want to look at it nor smell it.
Here’s the sad thing: I think the game has so much potential. The core ideas of the game of having highly customizable characters is the best I’ve seen in a long time. They have a good long term outlook because the game does a good job ensuring that getting the ultimate, perfect build is impossible.
Where they fuck up the most is holding steadfast to this archaic notion. I have a variety of friends who have tried the game and they like it. But the game is so badly unpolished and unfriendly that it’s punishing. In the end, the quit and move on. How many players have GGG lost because of certain this stubbornness?
Let me provide an analogy to this. I often listen to Jim Cornette’s podcast because he provides a great deal of insight and history for the wrestling business. However, some of his views are clearly outdated (e.g. his true feelings of women’s wrestling, non-white wrestlers, high spots, etc.). Even though he has great genius about booking and understands the business itself, he’s limited to a very specific era. If he was running a promotion, most likely it would fail because he refuses to update his dogma. It’s not just about how a wrestling match looks but how the business should be looked at.
GGG, for all their intent at attempting to preserve an old school, “hardcore” mentality, in reality will probably die out or Tencent will eventually replace key people once they fully own them. Of course, someone like Chris Wilson won’t really care at that point because he’ll have made his money. But I think the company would have longer staying power if they listened to their audience.
The other thing is that QoL does go a huge way. I work at a company which has tremendous tech debt. The focus has always been on adding features without regard for performance, usability, stability or anything that the end user probably needs (as opposed to what the sales person and some sucker agree to). The mentality is not much different where features seem to equate to money.
But we’ve lost clients too because the system performed terribly, lacked stability, had poor usability and was very difficult to customize without significant investment by the requestor. I want to say a good deal of this can fall under QoL; in short if the system runs smoothly, the end user will remain a happy customer.
I can tell by the way the game has become cripplingly bad in terms of performance and sheer bugginess that the tech debt lying underneath is killing the system. I think all the new features that are added do not receive good QA to avoid things like the current herald stacking meta (which I think is hilarious). But GGG has no one to blame but themselves because they refuse to put in actual effort on the QoL side.
Now, compare that to D3. D3 does not receive the updates at the level of a PoE league. But the game responds quite well for what it’s worth. And the new stuff seems reasonable compared to outlandish unbalanced scenarios (e.g. too much/little player power or monster power).
The thing for me is that I truly enjoy Path of Exile. Which is why I get frustrated. If I hated the game, I would just quit and find something else to do. I want to see the game get better but I don’t think sugar coating my words about GGG’s mentality will help motivate them in the right direction. The people there just need a major wake up call. Keeping them on their feet and reminding them to be humble is the job of the community so that they continue to produce a quality game rather than remaining a 2nd rate indy shop.