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Posted: Aug 13th 2009 8:11AM Pyrii said

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It could just be a co-incidence or personal thing, but I myself wonder if internal studio politics is pushing people out. NCSoft is miles away from ever becoming #2 in the market, especially as lately they've done nothing but go backwards.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 9:02AM Tom in VA said

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Guild Wars was the best game ever to hit the net, in my opinion. It incorporated many features to endear it to MMO players who aren't devoting their lives to gaming:

--map travel (get to any location in the world quickly, once you've been there at least once)
--an overarching STORY (something, let's face it, that WoW sadly lacks)
--cut scenes (I always enjoyed these)
--story missions (these were always very clever, challenging, and involving)
--armors that looked really good (and that matched [!] and that weren't easily "out-uberfied" by other players who were grinding high-level dungeons)
--creative, challenging, and often very funny quests
--heroes/henchmen, who allowed any player or couple of players to form a full instance group at any time
--no spamming LFG endlessly (unless you felt like grouping or needed a group)

I really can't say enough good things about Guild Wars, and I credit Strain with a lot of this. Strain recognized the need for a game "for the rest of us". Now, I also like WoW and LotRO, too, but there's so much in those games that's effectively off-limits to casual players like me who do not want to grind or waste precious playing time pleading in LFG for assistance.

I don't have the link, but Strain made a statement a few years ago about his philosophy of making MMOs that was music to my ears. If he goes on to develop some new game somewhere else, I'll want that game, I'm sure.

I can't help thinking that his departure from NCSoft has to do with philosophical differences, as I think Aion sounds like just the kind of MMO he would have *avoided* making. Just my 2ยข.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 9:09AM JohnD212 said

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Can I have his stuff?

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 9:33AM NeoDodge said

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Hmm. Feels strangely familiar. Someone leaves NCSoft, a game gets axed. Well, I sure hope the latter doesn't happen, really, but... one never knows.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:13AM arnavdesai said

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Well the difference here is that GW2 was not helmed by Jeff Strain & unlike TR it was & I believe still is fabulously successful for ArenaNet & NCSoft. I love their business & consider it one of the best in the industry as it makes the designers & developers of the game really work hard for getting your next 45$. Other than actual "content" there was nothing forcing the gamers to keep coming back for this game. No uber items you might loose if you stop paying. Also, the best part was the fact that all weapons/armor were leveled so the toughest dungeon did not give you "better" stuff. It might give you cooler looking stuff but it was not better. It was fun awesome. Also, PvP was very well segregated & emphasis was on different styles of playing rather than pure stereotypes.
What is interesting like someone already pointed out before that it was the philosophy of their founders which made GW the game it was & although both of them signed off on what will be GW2, I have to wonder if there was some things Jeff did not want & was maybe overridden by the parent firm.

Although they have promised GW2 will not be subscription based, I wonder if NCSoft had asked ArenaNet to look into microtransactions to run GW2. I hope not and the presence of Mike O' Brien gives me hope that will not be the case but NCSoft knows they have an ultra successful franchise (not as much as WoW of course) & maybe monetize that brand even more than what they already do.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:19AM cray said

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As someone who has invested a lot time and money into NCsoft's MMO's (all 4 Guild Wars expansions, City of Heroes, and Tabula Rasa) I see Strain's departure as sign of bad news.

I've seen it once too many times from NCsoft when the company says "Everything is alright and business as usual, please continue to play our games." Then a month later it turns into abrupt discontinuation of a MMO (Tabula Rasa).

Logic would dictate that I should be wary of Jeff Strain's departure. You don't leave a company unless you are retiring or there's a better situation out there. Of course this doesn't automatically mean something is bad going on with NCsoft. But given the history of the company misleading statements, and the fact that Jeff Strain is no typical employee. He's the President of Product Development or he was. That's a vital position and any time you lose a person with a position of power, things don't continue as usual.

Changes are made with the incoming replacement, sometimes these changes trickle down to the consumers, sometimes they go totally unnoticed. Given NCsoft's history, we consumers are likely going to feel the effects of these changes.

I hate to paint this as doom & gloom situation, but it's really not too far of a stretch to feel like something is wrong with NCsoft. Only time will tell and I don't think we are going wait too long to hear about it.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:26AM Macabre 13 said

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Water under the bridge...

I'm more interested in what he's off to do next.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:32AM (Unverified) said

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I'd love to hear that as well -- I'm sure it will be worth watching. Sadly, it will probably be a long time before we hear what he's doing, and even longer still to see the fruits of his labor.
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Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:31AM (Unverified) said

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He probably went from what he loved doing -- working on actual games -- to managing other people working on games... And then realized managing people is not fun.

Or NCSoft fired him and are pretending he amicably resigned, like they allegedly did to Richard G.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:31AM Lateris said

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I can speculate that people leave a company when they see a change in the culture or direction. It would be interesting to know the facts. A disagreement in development or direction for the north american market can lead to a request to leave a company. I see it every year. This is why I believe in the independent studio with a garage mentality for game studios. Get it done without "the man" looking over your shoulder. Stay away from the big houses .It is full of red tape and plain old BS. But again I don't know the facts. I just read the spin released from NCsoft. Typical Corporate Spin. TCS.

I think Arnie brings up a good point about GW2. I have to wonder myself if it will become subscription based. As soon as I have read about NCsofts earnings last year I assumed they would try and milk GW2 for North America, Australia, and Europe with a subscription model.

Personally I wish GW was independent from NCsoft. I would support them any day as I support CCP and Turbine.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:33AM (Unverified) said

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Maybe these guys simply got better offers from other companies. There are a lot of upcoming new games over the next few years and I don't doubt the companies backing them are looking for top talent. Instead of problems at NCSoft I'd be more inclined to think they simply got hired away. Considering how poorly most games launched recently have fared, it seems like a good idea to hire some people that have some actual successes on their resume.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:37AM Lateris said

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Wade your probably right. Or he might be starting a new venture?
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Posted: Aug 13th 2009 10:55AM (Unverified) said

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With this guy's track record, he probably left on his own accord to start another "project" NCSoft is going through a lot of changes atm, both good and bad, with projects like Blade and Soul, Aion, etc. He could've possibly just not liked how NCWest is taking on a more joint effort to import games rather than create new IPs from the US side of the mmo-table.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 11:07AM (Unverified) said

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We would like to announce that Jeff Strain has returned home to blizzard - I feel this will be coming very soon...

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 11:07AM Anatidae said

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People leave their jobs because they want something more elsewhere or they are just unhappy where they are. So it could be no big deal.

But the way he is portrayed in the press seems sort of... secret. Maybe NCSoft is just trying to keep things quiet to keep their Aion launch as smooth as possible?

One thing I do know is that when the "high ups" leave a company, normally their employees are told that everything is fine and they go on as usual. But sometimes there is a cancer in the company that the peons just don't get to see as easy as the executives. He could be leaving before the NCSoft ship hits an iceberg. You never know.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 12:06PM (Unverified) said

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Hard to say when we do not have any facts to go on but NCsoft is really having a bad time this year. First we had Worlds.com issues, then the departure of Richard Garriot and now Jeff Strain. I don't trust NCsoft at all and if thre was a way for Arenanet to leave them I would do it in a heartbeat.You start surrounding yourself in controversies and start getting rid of top notch people it definitely means soemthing is really wrong here.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 2:17PM mszv said

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Oh I don't know - not happy about it, unnerving, but I have no insider information. On the company, now I am wondering about GW2, though I'm going to see if I like Aion. I love how Aion looks.

I agree with what Tom said about GW - for me it's such a great game. I started GW (and MMOs in general) much later than most of you so I'm still working my way through Guild Wars. Of all the MMOs out there (tried a few, sometimes play a few) GW is the one I play the most. Given my somewhat casual approach to MMOs, and limited time, GW just works for me.

I'll be looking to see where Strain ends up.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 2:24PM (Unverified) said

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I'd be running from NCSoft too. Not a company I'd want to be involved with.

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 4:30PM (Unverified) said

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Jeff's move from ArenaNet to NCSoft West was presented to Guild Wars players last year as "having our guy at the top." Sure, he wasn't going to be involved with the minutiae of GW, but at least someone in a position of leadership was going to have the interests of Guild Wars players at heart. That's the main reason his departure is a question mark: if we weren't just being "sold" his move as part of a PR campaign, how does it reflect on the relationship between NCSoft and ArenaNet?

AutoAssault and Tabula Rasa going under has caused some GW fans to wonder if ArenaNet hitched their money wagon to the wrong horse, and the upcoming Aion US release aren't exactly allaying those fears either. "Make Aion #2" is well and good in terms of the game's performance, but hasn't NCSoft been touting Guild Wars as the #2 MMO (based on copies sold)? Fear spins the rumor mills...

Posted: Aug 13th 2009 6:53PM (Unverified) said

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I believe people aren't seeing the actual picture here, NCSoft as a company (korean base and start up) is actually doing EXTREMELY well. Its NCWest that is taking the major plunge down the crapper. I've met some of the NCWest dev team at Comic-Con and they are really awesome people, they aren't any different from you or me, hardcore gamers that are in the interest of us as a player rather than a cash crop (which has been noted through all their long running games - CoH, GW, etc) there are games which fell through, whether it be there aren't enough people playing as the case was for Tabula Rasa and Auto Assault.

NCWest is what's doing bad, with the failure to successfully launch and maintain a user-base for 2 of their more original IPs, but it doesn't necessarly make them a failure or shady in the least. They were trying to put new IPs out that had unique gameplay, its shooting and taking a risk, which is pretty good considering every other company now a days is sticking to the WoW method of gameplay (not that i have anything against WoW, its a huge success and deserves their credit), but I think NCWest and NCSoft are trying to pull away from that form of thinking they need to have a game that rivals WoW, which shows in their #2 to WoW positioning for Aion, rather than saying they are Aiming to beat it, they just want the same success on a different level.
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