I just want to point something out, as a former Sierra & WON.net employee (who was one of hundreds laid-off when Vivendi had to admit its 19 BILLION-dollar "financial irregularities"):
Yes, Sierra is a big corporate company (or, at least it was).
Yes, there is (or was) a LOT of mediocre middle and upper-management.
Yes, they ARE concerned about the bottom-line.
HOWEVER, please remember that the VAST majority of people in the company are just regular joes trying to do their job - given the restrictions of time, money, and orders from the management. The core of the company is still small groups of people "getting it done". Without them putting in a lot of work, a lot of the games you love would not make the shelves.
So keep that in mind before you flame someone - ask yourself "If I was working there, how would I take this message?" You'd be amazed at how much more info and cooperation you'll get out of folks if you treat them with respect... Asking questions like "Why wasn't this like X?" will get you a LOT FARTHER then accusations like "You shoulda made this like X, you #$*&@ idiots!!"
As one who had to deal with the community on a few occassions when WON.net was getting the shaft, I can truthfully tell you that its HARD to sit there and just take baseless criticism over and over. Or have people announcing rumors as "fact", or make totally false accusations (don't even get me started on the whole Soldier-Of-Fortune thing)...
You can't always talk details, due to legal issues; and if you try to defend yourself you either inspire more criticism, make the company look bad, or sound rude. The inability to really respond IN PERSON is harsh - if I could, I'd love to round up all the gamers out there and walk them through some publishing companies, and development studios - so they could see a few of the difficulties, restrictions, and financial realities that have to be balanced when making a game.
Most of the game players out there have never been - and never will be - involved with the creation and sale of a software title. Due to the young demographic, most don't even understand normal business practices or the economics & legal issues involved with games. It makes having online communities a VERY "double-edged sword" - as EVERYONE has an equal voice to pronounce "facts", even when they have no qualifications or information.
Now, I'm not saying that we have to *like* big corporations or anything - but to those who think that games don't have to be driven by the "bottom-line" at all, lemme ask you this: Are YOU going to put up the $2,000,000+ that it takes to make a "Triple-A title" these days? And if you DID, and then waited 2 or 4 or 5 YEARS for the title to actually be made - don't you think you'd be a WEE BIT interested in making your money back? Stop and think for a minute - I mean REALLY THINK about those numbers. Can you think of all the things you can BUY with $2,000,000? How about the YEARS of work - think back 4 years and try to remember everything you did every day of the week for that entire span. Can you concieve of working on ONE THING that entire time, from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday?
Now with these numbers in mind, wouldn't you be interested in making to pay off, when good marketting of a title at conventions and such before release could mean the difference between making a $1,000,000 profit, and losing a $2,000,000 investment (news flash: only the top _5%_ of all games break even or make money!!!)
I'm willing to bet that a LOT of you out there aren't even making a salary that's 2% of what most games cost... I'm not criticizing your income - I'm trying to get the point across that money is a SERIOUS DEAL in gaming. You don't have to like all the side-effects that this entails; but you do have to realize that this is a reality.
Okay, enough ranting for one night. Take care,
--Noel "HB" Wade