At launch, MAG was a game that, while very enjoyable, needed some updates. You know, just one of those games that could use a tweak here and there. Just over eight months later, I've basically given up on ever seeing those changes. While I suppose that “postmortem” implies the game is dead or finished in some way, and that really isn't the case, I'm at a bit of a loss for a more apt title. The game is still quite alive.
Sigh. Where to start on this? I've been taking potshots at it for a while now, but I never really condensed it into a blog. When MAG dropped I, along with IronPikeman, started the Dtoid SVER clan. It seemed that most people gravitated toward Raven and we switched over to consolidate the more active players. I then played some sixty-three levels on Raven. As a result, I'm convinced Zipper doesn't have a fucking clue how to make video games. Perhaps that's kind of harsh. They can program things that function remarkably well; I have essentially never had any lag in MAG. They simply have no good ideas. I actually kind of hope someone from Zipper reads this and realizes they've convinced someone that was pumped about SOCOM 4 not to ever buy it. Seriously. That shit is going to need to roll on 10s across the board for me to even consider dropping money on it.
MAG is fun, but after numerous updates and even a big 2.0 patch that basically overhauled how the game's skill and equipment systems worked, Zipper has failed to fix even the most minor of problems. Just as an example, on Raven's Domination map, the first default objective is on the other fucking side of the map. This thing has got to be a variable, a scant few lines of code to actually change at worst and a check box on a map editor at best; changing it should take minutes and yet literal months have passed without a fix. I've actually made a diagram:
A: Where you start.
B: Where the default order should be.
C: Where it is.
The dashed line represents one of the few effective paths between points A and C.
Now, looking at this without any experience with the game might not seem terrible, until the size of the map comes into play and the need to navigate past a major enemy inroad and the highly contested anti-air guns. Can this be changed? Yes, your squad leader can change it to whichever objective they like. Unless they get jammed at the start. The only reason I feel such a minor thing is so damning is the ease with which it could be fixed and the obvious, binary nature of its incorrectness. Is it on the right thing or the fucking wrong thing, Zipper?
They've also taken to kowtowing to the players, SVER primarily. Most people are on SVER because SVER has the advantage in basically every respect. The forums were filled with complaints about imbalance, but anytime something was changed, SVER would whine and it would get changed back. I hear they put up a vote about making domination maps faction neutral (simply, you will defend on all of them instead of just your factions) and that was shot down because SVER, having the strongest map and the most players, didn't want to give up their easy wins. I've also heard about people getting banned from the forums for complaining about these things.
Obligatory picture to break up the post!
Take that policy of useless faffing about and impotent administration and apply it to literally every other aspect of the game that needed-slash-needs work. Maps and weapons still need balancing but it won't happen because Zipper will buckle as soon as someone complains. The skill system is still inherently flawed to favor some factions over others but there's no way to fix it without some massive "3.0" patch and I doubt they can handle it. MAG is still that game that launched back in January, but slightly different. The things that needed work still need it. It's still good-but-needs-a-patch. I just don't believe it's going to get that patch anymore. The game is still good, but it's always going to be a little broken—I'm not sure how many times I need to restate this to get the point across effectively, but it always feels like one more is about right. That doesn't prohibit a good time playing with friends, because, ultimately, playing with friends is really the strength of any game. Better the douchebags you know than the douchebags you don't.
Speaking of, MAG bros (and sisses? Broettes? Is 'bro' really a gender qualified term anymore?) I've noticed our teamwork has gone to shit since the faction switch. I'll be going for the frago, which is somewhat irregularly updated only to look down and see the map ringed with sky blue triangles going off in other directions. Maybe you want to whore points with randoms instead? Last night, I had better teamwork with a blue dot I could only sort of talk to with prox-chat than I have with any of you since the switch. As squad leaders, you've been changing fragos to get yourself extra repair points. If I wanted to play with disorganized randoms, I wouldn't wait to spend double-XP happy hour with you guys.
UPDATE: You know what? Here's my final thoughts on the topic of MAG.