OpEd: On Expectations & Hype

OpEd: On Expectations & Hype

Today, Hello Game’s Twitter account tweeted out six words that created a chaotic firestorm of speculation, rumor-mongering and derision:

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There’s contradicting information flowing around the internet at this moment. Originally, it was assumed that Sean Murray himself published the tweet, though Hello Games claimed hacking via LinkedIn is to blame. Emails and tweets are contradicting each other, so I hesitate to say if anything is the truth but one thing is clear: Hello Games is in turmoil.

We’ve stayed out of the No Man’s Sky discussion for the most part, not having reviewed the game, and only talking briefly about the PR nightmare surrounding the game in Episode 103 of the Indie Game Riot Podcast as a guest host.

 

 

The cycle of hype, bloated expectations and the eventual destruction of artistic spirits must stop.

In a community that feeds on support and creativity, the hype-engine that has grown over the years only serving to find sacrifices every few quarters for  a communal expectation that no independent developer could ever hope to match.

Are there problems with No Man’s Sky? Absolutely, very serious and legitimate ones.

Did Hello Game and Sony fail to address or curb audience and press expections? You betcha. This case should studied in the future by aspiring game developers as an example ofwhat not to do.

Did Hello Game’s falsely advertise the final product that was received by reviewers and gamers alike? I say yes.

There is truth to the statement that perception is reality, and the perception of many is clearly that No Man’s Sky was a mistake.

But here’s the thing nobody seems to be saying or thinking: That’s okay.

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We’re talking about independent game development, a field a where mistakes are made, game’s are scrapped or retooled daily, and people who have never made a game before dream of making games to rival the scale of No Mans Sky. The freedom to make mistakes is what makes independent development so damn fascinating, what drove us to start IndieHangover, and is what makes Indie games feel so human.

I want to see what else Hello Games has in their heads, what other worlds and wonders they’d like to explore. But I doubt we’ll ever see those things. I doubt that Hello Games will ever really recover from No Mans Sky and the maelstrom of hype and animosity surrounding it.

Is Hello Games without blame? Of course not. They promised too much, didn’t deliver features that they told the public they would see, and absolutely bungled the immense and incredibly difficult task of managing expectations. But we didn’t help. When I say we, I mean all of us: the gamers over eager to explore the world of No Mans Sky and let their imaginations dictate what they expected in the final product, the press who heralded the game as something it could never be, and those all to eager to throw anger at a developer, and in many cases, one man alone.

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No Man’s Sky may have been a mistake, but it was a mistake made by both the developer and the public. Mistakes should be learned from, not criticized to the point of abuse.

One of the most important parts of the development process on any game is the post-mortem; a critical look at the game’s performance, what was done well and what went wrong. A exploration of how things could have done better.

I’m sure Hello Games will be conducting an official post-mortem on No Mans Sky.

I think that a lot of people in the community should think about doing their own personal post-mortem as well.

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Written by
Editor-in-Chief of IndieHangover.com. With a soft spot for epics, sagas and tales of all types, Jacob approaches games as ways to tell stories. He's particularly interested in indie games because of the freedom they have to tell different stories, often in more interesting and innovative ways than Triple A titles.