Subject: The Morpheus Choice – Two routes for content creators
Posted on: 2020-01-14 05:04:36 UTC
I recently watched a video by a channel on YouTube called Internet Historian talking about No Man's Sky. A game that was panned by audiences and critics for being...well, a piece of HoH...and then was redeemed in the eyes of everyone through the work of its small indie team. Watching the video, I realised something about content creators in general. Not something that applies just video game developers, but for film/television writers, authors, and anyone else who creates media for mass consumption.
Now, for those who somehow missed the massive tidal wave of excrement that was the No Man's Sky Launch (or just weren't interested), I'll give a brief summary. No Man's Sky was a indie game that was overhyped to the point where the game devs were overstressed, overpressured, and underequipped to deal with the situation they found themselves in. The end product was about as hyped as Fallout 76, and failed on launch just about as bad as the aforementioned AAA game.
Now, here's where we run into what I like to call the "Morpheus Choice". Like the red-pill or blue-pill of The Matrix, there are two routs that a content creator can go down. The first choice is to give up on the product, and proceed to either insult the members of the audience who didn't like it, start trying to suck as much money out of it before people wise on, refuse to fix the issues present with the product, or just give up and move on without even fixing the tiniest of flaws. This is the path that Bethesda took with Fallout 76. They chose to make a lacklustre attempt at fixing the issues present with the game, and then proceeded to make much of the content that would have improved the game premium content. I predict that Bethesda will soon give up on 76, and just move on to the next disaster.
Or, you can take the honest option, and fix your issues. Fix the problems, take criticism to heart, ignore the people telling you to go die in a fire; and just keep on improving and fixing your work. Make it a product of love, not a product of greed. This is the route that Hello Games took with No Man's Sky. The game is far from perfect, but they took a game that was hated by so many people, and they turned it around.
In the last few years, we've seen many works in the media that exist because some corporate overlord thought that they could milk a few million dollars out of an audience that they could see. I've already ranted enough about the more infamous examples, and I'm not going to make the same mistake again. But there are other examples to use. Fallout 76, as previously mentioned. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (whose creators chose to call anyone who didn't like the movie "toxic fandom", and completely ignored any constructive criticism). Basically any content creator or organisation who uses the terms and phrases "toxic fan", "only members of [insert hate group here] dislike this [insert media here]", "man-baby", and anything meant to deflect criticism or accuse large groups of people. It's the same stuff parroted by badfic authors who don't want to accept criticism of any kind.
In the end, it comes down to a choice: Either whinge about the issue, or fix it. You can't do both without sabotaging yourself and your product. This is the problem I have with modern content creators.