Every video game message board holds its own share of contempt. Frustrations, opinions and at times anger can be put forward for the internet to see. Yet a for the majority of these instances, those who are on the receiving end are ignored.
During a recent interview with Edge, Raul Rubio, the Creative Director of the upcoming Rime, spoke about how one of the most popular message boards, brought him to tears. During the feature, Rubio spoke about how reading two years worth of NeoGAF was an emotionally draining experience:
[quote]Even so, If I had read Neogaf at the time the game probably wouldn’t exist. I spent some time six months ago going through two-and-a-half years of comments on Neogaf, and I was literally crying for two days. Partly because I just don’t understand the cruelty, but more importantly because I could see those years over those two days, and I began to understand that maybe people can love something so much that they can hate it.[/quote]
It is rare to see a developer be so open about how online comments can affect them. There are many instances throughout the decades of many a face in the games industry accepting the internet for what it is. The silence that usually follows is taken for granted and thus it continues until the next individual takes the torch of being the internet’s target. Hearing Rubio be open about the emotional turmoil is heartbreaking. To condense two years of comments into two days is nothing short of painful.
The reason for the cruel comments started all the way back to the initial reveal of Rime. Anyone who has paid attention knows of the tumultuous tale of development Rime has undergone, but the problems all started at Gamescom 2013. Rime stood out in the show, an indie game that captured viewers with a distinct and gorgeous look. From the obvious inspirations of Team Ico with a style of an animated Studio Ghibli film, it was something everyone took notice of.
Yet it was not long before that good grace turned into outright vitriol. The rumour mill started about what was a less than heavenly partnership with Sony, who was then publisher for the game. For years Rime went dormant with very little in the way of updates. It was last year that the big news hit about developer Tequila Works regaining the rights to the game, and then looking for a new publisher which they found in Gray Box and Six Foot.
Yet with the sudden change, many were deeply concerned with the direction of development with Rime facing more issues than the average development cycle. It only got worse for the studio with each new update taking a harsher and more negative turn with internet reaction. Rumours starting coming up and the big revelation was that the initial trailer was completely fake. It was a “proof of concept” according to rumours, that had many perking up, was one long “bullshot”.
Many a forum goer likely felt swindled, that a game that stood out so much turned out to be nothing more than a cinematic trailer. NeoGAF was one of the early places to find and spread the rumours, and at times throw Rubio directly under the bus. Tequila Works was under fire with extensive abuse directed at the studio and the game. It only took one comment to get the ball rolling on the dog pile.
If the initial trailer was nothing more than a concept of what would come, then there is right to criticise. This is all according to rumour and based on all research there has been been proof to the claims the initial trailer was not real in terms of development goal. Yet many took it to heart considering the lack of update that followed from 2013 and some looking for any reason to get upset over how the development had been handled. As the quote of Rubio indicates, love can easily turn to hate as hype can easily turn into anger.
Regardless of development hell or rumours, to hear a developer go through hell is never easy to read about. Frustrations and criticisms are fine but Rubio became the Video Game industries bogey man for a hot second. It may not have lasted long, but it definitely came with unnecessary abuse. Hearing a developer speak of how this affected him really drives home that those who are the target of abuse are not immune to cruelty. Sometimes as people tap on the keyboard, it is easy for forget the repercussions of each post shared online, especially on an individual level.
Rime was recently Re-revealed with a whole new look and a firm release date for next month. Despite a strong shift from the initial reveal, the game still looks utterly fantastic. It is set for release on 26 May this year on all major platforms with the Switch version coming a little later and a marked up price. Hopefully those who frequent forums can remember that there are other people. Criticism is all well and good but there is a fine line before it goes beyond the grounds of reason.