This morning a title update went through on Black Ops II on Xbox 360, and I expect this patch will propagate to other platforms soon as well. Here's what I found on Twitter this morning:
"Here are the patch notes…Let me put some perspective into your life because I do care about what you say." Hmm.
Okay, so I head off to read the patch notes. Most of it involves some needed tweaks to Buried, but apparently this is the part that has people violently angry:
Multiplayer Game Balancing
- AN-94: Damage slightly reduced.
- DSR 50: Rate of fire reduced.
- Ballista: Rate of fire slightly reduced
That's an assault rifle and two snipers that have, according to players who hadn't even tried it yet, been "messed up." The negativity that followed is as melodramatic as you might expect.
So are the weapons truly messed up, or balanced? They are clearly altered, but to what degree? Vahn explains:
You know what? They are not.
One of Vahn's many responsibilities is to keep the game as balanced as possible. Weapons are designed with pros and cons; they perform in specific ways for specific reasons. But if, in the course of millions of hours of gameplay and the data to go with it, weapons are found to be more effective or less effective than they should be to keep that performance balanced, they are adjusted. This has happened with every Call of Duty game that's come out for the last few years, and it will continue to happen -- a gun's stats being adjusted should not be a surprise to anybody at this point.
Yet Vahn often gets told he should die in a fire or kill himself or is a horrible person. If anybody thinks for a second that this is okay, it is not. But if the loudest voices in the Call of Duty "community" act like an angry mob instead, guess how the entire world views Call of Duty? Now consider that these Internet Tough Guy rants and demands are not unique to COD, but exist everywhere, in many gaming communities. This is why the world often does not take gaming seriously; this is why gamers are assumed to be immature, whiny a-holes. Because the immature, whiny a-holes are louder.
Take a look at Vahn's Twitter stream today; look at how he has responded to the people who found issues and sent him calm, useful feedback. It's clear that many gamers understand basic human communication, and it's doubly clear that developers respond positively and gratefully to this kind of feedback. Maybe Vahn is super patient. Maybe Vahn is super human. Maybe Vahn is heavily sedated. But the fact that he focuses on the useful feedback, puts that intel to good use fixing the problem, and doesn't irrationally lash out at the immature, whiny a-holes is amazing.
Role-play this for a second. When you make a mistake -- because you do, we all do -- or someone finds something wrong with something that you created, whether it be a meal or driving instructions or even a blog post, how would you prefer to find out that there is an issue? Would you like someone to just say "hey, I noticed this and I think it's not quite right; are you seeing what I see?" Or would you react better to having someone scream in your face that since your mother didn't have an abortion, you should commit suicide instead? This is not the way to show a developer that what they do matters to you. Not at all.
If you enjoy your games, have a little respect for the people who make them -- and stop threatening them with bodily harm every time they do their job.