Damned If You Do

I will start with a link to Twitch, of a particular section of the Anthem live stream.

For those not understanding what’s going on, the new Stronghold (dungeon) comes with 2 chests and a final boss.  Chests are where most people think good gear should come from.  In this particular case, the loot is 4 epics (100% useless for anyone who’s been level 30 for over an hour), and some materials to craft items.  In particular, 2 Masterwork Embers.  My math is probably wrong on this, but I recall it taking 20 of those embers to craft 1 item.  Long story short, the chest may as well have been empty.  This is the #1 issue players have with Anthem, extremely poor loot (many issues, but this is the big one).

And frankly, you’re allowed some bad luck rolls.  And it sucks when it happens on a livestream where you’re trying to show progress.  It sucks even more when you can read body language… and the 3 of them go into awkward silence (the only silence in the stream), realizing what’s going on.

For the full stream – including the chat that is spammed with the word “loot”- find that here.  In the entire stream, 3 MW dropped.  ‘nough said.


BioWare also put up a post explaining that they are going to concentrate on fixing the game rather than deploying their roadmap.  Math-wise, that’s 1 of 14 items that is delivered.

Again, this makes sense.  Anthem has some foundational issues that simply will not get addressed through more content additions.  It makes little sense to build on shifting sands.  That they are going to deploy a test server makes tons of sense.  Even this recent patch (1.1.0) is chocked full of bugs that are easily reproducible.  Intermittent bugs… fine.  100% reproduceable, every single patch… I’ve personally demoted people for this.

The general tone here is that the devs over-promised and drastically under-delivered.  It takes no responsibility for the game, or the culture.  It provides no timeframes for the next update, and the biggest feature – Cataclysms – no one knows at all what it means.  It’s one of those “we’re late, we know, but we have no idea when the next stuff will be ready”.  Which is fine when you’re in dev-mode.  It’s the opposite of OK for managing a live service.

Forest for the Trees

I’ve managed a particular service where it was more or less on fire for 6 months.  My team was spending an insane amount of overtime to get things semi-stable, trying to get some of the users in a better state, dealing with vendors and suppliers.  It was coming from all directions.

My job was to take the beating, give updates, and to give as much a space / tools for my team to do their job.  Won’t lie, I made my management team’s lives difficult, but it was a thousand times less difficult than if the clients were able to get to them.  We got out of it, bruises and all.

The good news is that the team was able to focus on the problem instead of the noise around the problem.  The so-so news is that the team grew closer together through some interesting conflicts from the stress.  The bad news is that it nearly broke me to get through that.  The largest lesson learned was that honesty/transparency was the best path forward, along with regular updates.

When I look at Anthem, I see a similar situation.  The fire has been going on for many months, but the job of being “the face” didn’t really exist until 10 weeks ago.  There was a ~2 week honeymoon phase, where there was some good faith.  That’s long gone.  Players rarely care about the large scale view, they care about themselves.  And there’s a serious gap in BioWare as to how to manage that expectation.

There are some clear examples on how and how not to manage a community.  I can only guess as to why BioWare is insistent on repeating the mistakes others have made.

I do hope that the development team can take some pride in what they have accomplished in the short time frame available to them.  I also hope that BioWare has an internal plan on how to address the various issues (or at the least has identified them), so that the dev team can track progress moving forward.  And move forward in a healthy way.

This is an ultra crappy situation to be in.  Entirely self-inflicted, but still crappy.


3 thoughts on “Damned If You Do

  1. That clip of the stream… Hooboy. You’re so right. You can see it in their faces as they see the loot drops, especially after working up to it for a moment waiting for someone else to open it. Then quick glances at the chat and sure enough the expected replies stream in immediately.

    I still hold some hope for Anthem’s future, but it is a difficult thing to hold onto at times like this. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say I have adequately detached myself from Anthem that I don’t really care too deeply what happens to it now, so holding out some hope has no real impact on me if it turns out to be falsely placed.


    • That awkward silence is at least somewhat refreshing. It shows that they all know there’s a problem, and moreso, that they are told not do discuss that problem.

      I hope it comes across enough in these posts, but I do want the developers to come out of this with some level of achievement. Making games is hard. What Anthem is today, in the time they had, is frankly amazing. That last room in the new Stronghold looks amazing.

      The issue, from my perspective, is and remains poor leadership. It’s amazing to me that the leadership thought it was a good idea to put these 3 in a stream, and told them not to talk about anything, and instead refer to a Reddit post.


  2. I’m detached as well. At this point I can wait a year. As long as they don’t backtrack and offer something they have to charge for. I did buy The Division but the gameplay is so opposite of Anthem that I am having trouble getting it to stick


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