This is a sentence that I abide by in almost everything I do. Even in games I don't like, I can usually find something that really wows me and makes me appreciate the developer's work.
I know Darkfall is one of those games that many people just really don't like. I'm the same way -- I don't care for the way the game handles itself. But where it failed in game design, it didn't fail on unique vistas and sharp combat. Sure, the graphics aren't top notch, but there are still areas in the game where you just have to go, "Wow, that's an incredible sight." Plus, it's real time combat in a MMO. That's really, really hard to do and kudos to an independent developer for pulling it off.
"You've heard that everyone's a critic, yes? Well everyone's also apparently a game designer."
Although... there certainly are gaming exceptions to this rule...
2. Because it doesn't help anybody
This is the part where people seem to totally and completely miss the boat. And when I say miss the boat I mean that the boat as totally pulled away from the dock, is 500 feet away, and people still run off the dock and jump into the sea holding their suitcases.
Nobody benefits from aimless criticism that amounts of nothing more than the screaming of biased opinions. You get to look like an inconsiderate idiot, the community gets irritated at your groundless claims, and the developers learn nothing about how to improve their game.
Bad criticism isn't bad as long as it's appropriately constructive. It's actually some of the best stuff you can possibly get in regards to your product. Positive feedback means you're going the right way, but constructive feedback shows exactly what's going wrong with your current design and where you can improve.
"If you think making any game is easy, then I challenge you to sit down and start making your own pen and paper roleplaying game, or a board game, or a card game."
1. Because you may not know what it's like to make a game
You've heard that everyone's a critic, yes? Well everyone's also apparently a game designer. Everyone knows what's best for a game, how to balance the design, and how to make it so "X class doesn't suck."
I think that many people think it's super easy to make a game. Slap some abilities in, render a few areas, get a server, and you have an MMO, right? Heck no! You have programming bugs, design bugs, art asset bugs, pathing to worry about, scripts to run, a whole set of connections between servers to worry about, and much, much more.
So here's my challenge. If you think making any game is easy, then I challenge you to sit down and start making your own pen and paper roleplaying game, or a board game, or a card game. Share it with your friends and see what they say. But, above all, see how long it takes you to make a "simple" game. Include with that the testing you do with your friends, the fine tuning you may make to the rules. You'll find it's more work than you probably through it was. Believe me, I know, I'm doing it.
So next time before you rocket fire your hate mail out onto the intarwebz, think about a couple of these things before you trash someone's game. You might just find yourself holding back, just because you understand a little bit more about gaming and a little bit more about how frivolous it is to hold such pointless grudges.
Colin Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who hates aimless hate. When he's not writing here for Massively, he's rambling on his personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at colin.brennan AT weblogsinc DOT com. You can also follow him on Twitter through Massively, or through his personal feed.