A Short, Open Letter to the Community and Developers

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Strong Alone. Stronger Together.

To the Anthem Community:

Hello! Some of you know me by the guy who does stream write ups on Reddit and archives them on my site. For those of you who don’t know me, I am happy to be able to meet you!

As we celebrate the holidays, the end of 2018, and the ever approaching release of Anthem, I wanted to take some time to step away from reporting news and talk directly with you all about the game we will soon come to play. Let’s start with some basics, as I like to include people who may not know who BioWare is, or those who may have just gotten into gaming, and this piqued their interest.

As much as some may try to tell you, Anthem does not have an identity crisis. Anthem is a co-operative looter shooter role playing game from BioWare. In the case for this game, it means you’ll be assuming the role of a human who pilots exo-suits called Javelins. These humans were created on this planet, they are not from Earth. They do not know how to travel through space, nor do they have microchips to create computers to do so. You will use your Javelins, of which there are four at launch, to progress through the campaign (critical path) and then continue to run endgame content repeatedly, constantly moving to higher difficulties to chase down weapons and gear that have better and better stats. This is known as the grind. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not expected from everyone to do this. Some of you will play the story and call it quits until they release the continuation of it. Some of you will play on lower difficulties and enjoy the scenery, combat, or music of the particular area. Some of you may be exploring every nook and cranny in free play. The point is that while the endgame is there for you to chase, Anthem is set up in a way that allows you to chase it in the way you want.

Quick aside, for those who are interested, you can read up on where you fit into the Bartle Taxonomy or read up on both the Bartle Taxonomy and Keirsey Temperaments. These were fundamental when exploring the concepts of Multi User Dungeons (MUDs), and as our world and games have become so interconnected with the internet and multiplayer, these fundamental building blocks of the Unified Model help explain existing games, as well as how they are us designing new games.

I’ve been playing games for 26 years. Looter Shooter games are something I have come to love. I am not a hardcore player, but I have been in the past. I work long hours and come home to wind down with some quick activities that help push me along, even if it’s a small boost to my item level, power level, etc. Whether the activities are pinnacle, aspirational, casual, anything in between, I do try them at some point and have enjoyed some of what has been offered. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always strive to ask for more. As the industry is moving towards Games as a Service (GaaS), and with the transparency that BioWare has shown so far, we, as a community, have a chance to come together now and tell the developers what we want. Do people want more story focused on a certain character or faction? Do people want more challenging repeatable content? Social hubs? More plaid-weave cosmetics? Do people truly want PvP?

I’ve always been an actions speak louder than words kind of person, as I assume a lot of the gaming community is. However, it has to come with understanding. Insight into the gaming industry as well as some knowledge of software development quickly allows you to realize that fixes aren’t instant. Bugs will exist and they may not be as easy as tweaking a number or changing configuration on the servers. It’ll take time, and it’ll be on the developers to communicate with us on how things are progressing. It may not be daily updates as things may not have progressed that much, but it will be on them to let us know what is going on, and communicate it clearly. It’s on us to listen and be patient.

I had recently spoken to BioChris, a lead designer of Anthem’s social systems, in the Anthem subreddit’s discord. Here’s what he had to say about accountability and communication:

”To reiterate @TheAssyrian – definitely take everything I say with a grain of salt. Because it’s true: actions speak louder than words. Hold us accountable once we launch. It’s a two-way relationship. We owe you communication and transparency and you owe us good, honest feedback on how we’re doing. I speak in terms of what we intend to do, but what we actually do is definitely more important.”

So to the community of Anthem, while I understand we’re a large mob of people with different ideas on what makes a game great, or what makes a BioWare game great, and we all enjoy different aspects of gaming. Whether you’ve come from Destiny, Division, Warframe, or other games in the genre, let’s work together to help the developers prioritize what we want to see Anthem to grow to be. It’s not going to be a short road, or a quick one, but it will be something we can say we love to play, alongside the other titles we’ve come from. The tools are there, we just have to pick them up and start building those bridges.

For those who want to ensure they don’t miss anything, here is a small, curated list of people I think are really good to keep tabs on for Anthem news and updates. Some channels are not exclusive to Anthem Content:

Freelancer Codex
Anthem Insider
Your Anthem
Starbuck
iGame
Ukumio
Dantics
Ryan Central
Arekkz
MyNameIsByf – FOR THE LORE!
Fort Tarsis (this is me, hello <3)

To The Developers:

Hi! I hope you’ve all been having a relatively restful holiday. If you haven’t seen it yet, the creator community came together to wish you all a Happy Holidays! I am not a video type of person, but it was fun to watch it get made in real time. Now to what I wanted to talk about.

I know this is a scary time. Crunch kicks in, although we all hope not too much. Deadlines need to be met, marketing ramps up to 100%, and your teams are working hard to get that last bit of polish done. You’ll get hit with negativity left and right on release (EA Bad, praise Geraldo, upvotes to the left please). You may get criticized about certain design decisions, or spectacular bugs that were caught in testing, but weren’t easily reproducible, and now that one person has that YouTube video with thousands of views showing it off, but they are the only one that has hit it since release. Some of you are no strangers to it, it comes with the publicity, but it is still scary and can be difficult to deal with on both a company level and an individual level.

I hope you understand where some of us have come from. Games as a Service has been a scary phrase for a lot of players, as we’ve seen it done very poorly in a lot of the AAA market. Some of us trust you know what you’re doing, but some are still skeptical. As we move on from the age of loot boxes and season passes in the new year, it’s going to be on your team, as well as select others, to shape the way we play and what we strive to achieve, as well as what to expect in this form of entertainment.

I wanted to say that I believe, as a community, we are here to rally around you and help bolster you to your highest potential to make the game that you will be proud of and that we will love. You’ve already put in several years of work, and your transparency, from a AAA company, has been admirable. Whether you’re a lead producer, a community manager, or even an intern that has only been there for a short time, your work has been important towards making something great.

I want you to know that your core is here already. We’re excited to see what you have created. There will be issues, sure, but that is what we’re here to help you guys iron out. I am sure you guys have a running list of community requests already, and we’ll keep piling them on for you guys just in case you get bored. As a community, we are here to rally around you and help bolster you to your highest potential to make the game that you will be proud of and that we will love. You’ve already put in several years of work, and your transparency, from a AAA company, has been admirable. From what we have seen, you’re willing to listen and take action on those items relatively quickly. The live streams, the Q&As, and engagement on Twitter, Reddit, and Discord has been phenomenal.

You’re about to embark on something that is an evolution of all you have learned from your history as developers and a company. We wish you the best, and we’ll be here alongside you for the ride!

Sincerely,

TheAssyrian

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