MMN 13/03 Comments Speculation

[#][F] RichT - 3/15/2017
Folks, my comment in the MMN blog comments was a specific reply to Dwight, and was in response to his complaint about us not giving release dates. It was not about Exalted, and I am very aware that Exalted was at the one end of our development process closer to the old, non-transparent WW days. It is disingenuous for anyone to suggest I'm not aware of this, since I'm the one who has had to explain, a lot, that different dev teams have different levels of comfort with how open they are and that Onyx is not about to force them to develop in a way they are uncomfortable with.

As for the ZakS situation, we at Onyx Path were not involved with nor informed about his involvement with projects for a licensee of the new White Wolf. In the same reality of different licensees not impacting each other, we have never been told by the new WW how to handle our development teams, nor who to use. To underline this: there is no connection between our plans for EX3 moving forward and the new WW, except that they, like all of us, also would like to see more books coming out soon.

[#][F] RichT - 3/16/2017
Originally posted by SpruceStripedGoose View Post

I dont think anyone is trying to say you are unaware of the problems, you clearly recognised them years ago and have been reiterating that you still recongnize them every other month for three years now it seems. But people are still asking about it because recognizing problems is not the same as solving problems and it really doesn't feel like they have been solved in all these years since you first commented on them.

Maybe this round of behind the scenes changes will be the one to fix things, but we have heard things were going to change before and nothing really came of it. My honest impression is that if anything exalted's development feels quite possibly more opaque and stalled than it did during the development of the core, at least then we were hearing what John and Holden were working on month to month.
I guess I wasn't clear because I was trying to respond to three different posters (and related followups). The nature of how open development is is the call made by the development team, and while I have encouraged developers to post updates and Open Dev blogs, it's not a mandate to the dev teams. Some fans really want that sort of dev interaction, others really don't, I think it's a good practice for devs, and some devs disagree. But the amount of open devving a team does has never been a problem to be solved, and if I've referenced it "for years" it has been those times I did get the Exalted devs to agree to communicate more with you all, only to have circumstances push that back down. Some of those circumstances were the tumults in their personal lives, some were negative interactions on social media or professionally. Regardless of the reasons, they took the course each time that they felt best enabled them to keep working on Exalted.

So will our new plan involve more open development? I very much hope so, but again, the dev teams we have need to use the Open Dev Process like any other tool: at their comfort level. Far more significantly, we want to have a release schedule that delivers much more EX3 material to all of you than we have been delivering (without diminishing the quality, for those of you were concerned about that, as if we'd ever go that route).

[#][F] RichT - 3/16/2017
Originally posted by SpruceStripedGoose View Post

This is very much my problem, I know you get it Rich, I think we are very much on the same wavelength of what WE would do to make things better. But so long as the absolute discretion lies with the freelance devs and not you the owner of Onyxpath I just can't be optomistic that the changes and opportunities you are providing institutionally will be embraced.

I dont like dealing with patrons who have outstanding fines at my workplace, I find that is where most of my daily confrontation with a patron will occur, but I still do it because I know it needs to be done and because I have a manager whose job it us to make sure I am working in such a way that best serves the institution.

Onyx Path is a great publisher, I love what you are creating, but I feel like every time I would go to praise something you are doing company wide I have to add an asterisk of "*except exalted". It honestly feels like they are the petulant child of the Onyx Path who gets away with all the bad behavior.
I don't think we're ever going to come to an agreement on this. My sense of your position is that you think I should demand Open Dev from every development team, and if they don't like it, too bad. The business demands it.

Except, it doesn't. There is not one bit of evidence that proves that a game company that always puts out updates and has open development of some kind is more successful than one that doesn't. Anecdotally? Maybe. There's an equally valid line of thinking that says that throwing a complete new thing at fans like a surprise hand grenade gets folks even more excited and talking about the projects than the slow progress of showing each stage of creation.

Onyx Path does it the way we do because, right now, I like how we are doing it. I like hearing from all of you and giving you a chance to contribute thoughts and ideas and that creativity that is so much a hallmark of our hobby. And I want Onyx to be a place where creators feel like they can create without feeling like they are being attacked by their audience, so that is why we give devs the leeway to engage with you all in the ways they feel they can.

[#][F] RichT - 3/16/2017
Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

Thanks for the heads-up Rich.

One thing I always liked about White Wolf back in the day (as opposed to many other RPG companies) was that many of the authors, developers and artists were a part of the general community. They would post on the forums and share their thoughts and their work. You could have a chat with them, ask them about what they were thinking when they made something, and even offer suggestions that (once in a great while) would see print. Being able to interact with those authors made White Wolf feel less like a fancy restaurant where you just order your food and they bring it to you, and instead more like a neighborhood diner you've been going to for years, where you're on a first name basis with the chef and the waitress and you can chat with them about anything while they get you your food.

Exalted especially had a history of many of the authors and artists engaging with the community, and it tended to make White Wolf/OPP feel like less of a game company and more like a little piece of your life. The authors and artists weren't just nameless people, but rather were acquaintances or even friends and you'd get happy for them when good things would happen to them. Other RPG companies have started doing that more and more, with authors being willing to engage directly with the customers, but White Wolf was one of the first RPG companies I found willing to do that.

So the lack of open development and the way that the Exalted dev's don't really interact with the community much these days does feels a bit unusual and a bit depressing in comparison. I'm grateful that you're willing to respond to people on the forums, and of course I'm grateful to Vance, Stephen and all of the other freelancers who come on here to post about their ideas and thoughts on the game.

But I can see how some long-time Exalted and OPP/White Wolf fans can be left feeling like they've been left struggling in the dark, at least when compared to other RPG companies with a more open development process, or to the old days of 1st and 2nd edition where it felt like there was a lot more communication between authors and the community, or even to other OPP gamelines that have a more open relationship between the developer and the audience.
So how does your memory of the old Exalted forums relate to the fact that both previous developers during the WW era actually quit the forums? Essentially decided that the abuse was not worth it? I'm not trying to attack you, or your memories of those times, but to suggest that there are other narratives that exist suggesting that not everyone was happy at your diner.

[#][F] RichT - 3/16/2017
Originally posted by SpruceStripedGoose View Post

Do you feel any responsibility to steer them in a different direction though as their...mentor isnt the right word...supervisor? I get the impression that you like open development and would like more of it if possible no? If you say "hey guys you know this could engender a lot more positivity and optimism, and nobody else at OP is having major issues doing it", and they just say "NOPE", is that the end of it even if it goes against what you think is a better course.

I just see how well it's working for everyone else, and a distinct lack of these supposed bogeyman Exalted fans. Even right now the only reason I am bugging you is that we haven't seen more than glimpse of something new from exalted for what 9 months, what else is there to talk about? You personally have released a handful of art from the quickstart which is nice, but is there literally no other sharing that could be happening?
See, right there. You're debating the "bogeymen fans". As if you have the right to decide whether the devs' reasons for disengaging are valid, and you've decided they aren't. The thing is this: you don't get to make that call. I don't get to make that call. Only the devs do.

Let me put it another way, and this has to be my last word about this with you, I think. Some people get energized creatively by interacting with people. In the past, these creators would be labelled Extroverts, but I understand if that's too simple a definition these days. Some creators are drained, simply unable to create, by interacting with the community. And that's not even negative interaction, it can be positive but still exhausting. These would be your classic Introverts. (And then there are creators like myself and Eddy Webb who actually are introverts, but who shift to extroverted behavior when the situation calls for it. But let's stick with the dual system for now).

You can't force an introverted creator to be extroverted for any extended period and expect that they can then turn around and create excellent work. They are exhausted creatively. Consider that most developers were/are writers, and that most writers are writers exactly because writing gave them a way to relate to the world by means of pretty much a solo experience. Frankly, it's a wonder that we have as much sharing and open development as we have.

End of the day, what I need from our creators is awesome work. And I need that, by and large, after their regular jobs are done for the day and on weekends. If they feel unable to deliver that awesome work because of also having to deal with online interaction, then I'm going to support their shifting things so they can do the awesome work again.