SMITE Art Director: data mining “wastes time” that could be used “to improve other aspects of the game”

SMITE’s latest argument is between Art Director Chuk Vinson and the official SMITE Datamining Twitter account.

Data mining is the practice of leafing through a game’s code or the developer’s website and finding assets or files that can reveal information about future additions to the game. The SMITE Datamining site has been at it for years and has been the first to discover new gods, skins and details about future events.

Twitter: the root of all conflicts

The argument began with a tweet from SMITE Datamining. Hi-Rez has now hidden god names within the code (instead using nicknames like “God 94”). SMITE Datamining commented on the situation. “It’s sad not knowing the name, but it’s actually more interesting I guess,” said SMITE Datamining, to which Vinson responded, “If by sad you mean you can’t spoil everything.”

At this point, both parties seemed to be teasing and relatively professional. SMITE Datamining responded to Vinson, “Jokes aside, it’s been always a personal preference knowing who’s next. I just think it lets the community build up discussions and theorycrafting around the god before it hits SMITE.”

SMITE Datamining then went on to say, “Wish it was hi-rez who spoiled it earlier, not the same day,” implying that Hi-Rez should reveal gods sooner to create more hype.

That escalated quickly

This seemed to anger Vinson, who replied in a series of tweets:

“Psssssh. We’ve had a lot of big reveal moments and it’s sooo annoying that to create those we have to spend a lot of wasted effort working around data mining. It’s like someone going through your email and then telling your girlfriend you’re gonna throw a surprise party.”

SMITE Achilles
Achilles, the latest SMITE god

“You know how annoying it is that we have God packages called “God94” instead of “GOD_Achilles”? It’s miserable.”

The thread blew up both on Twitter and the SMITE subreddit, with most concerns coming from Vinson’s comment that Hi-Rez has to “waste effort working around data mining.”

A SMITE-exclusive problem?

Most popular games are no stranger to data mining, MOBAs especially. Some companies believe data mining helps build up the excitement for future announcements instead of defuse it. In fact, most clever developers are so aware of data mining’s existence that if something is visible in the game files, it’s more likely they are hoping players will see it — do you really think something like this is an accident?

It sounded like Vinson just blamed SMITE’s notorious problems — matchmaking, servers, bugs, the list goes on — on the extra effort spent hiding important reveals from data miners.

*Argument intensifies*

SMITE Datamining ended the conversation with a mic drop: “Didn’t want to be rude here, but since you were. Learn to pack a game properly and then we talk.”

Following that, the SMITE Datamining account released a few sarcastic tweets that said they were “announcing a new collaboration with Hi-Rez” to stop data mining for a month so Hi-Rez can fix SMITE’s other issues.

The morning after

The day after, SMITE Datamining took to their Twitter account to talk about data mining versus developers more calmly. “I’m sure [Vinson] is a great person and he’s better than the comment he threw off last day, I was trying to be polite in the first moments saying I understand his frustration, cause I do, but the solution isn’t blaming dataminers.”

The account went on to say that Hi-Rez had fixed several of their security holes that never would have been fixed without data mining’s existence, for example, “you could just browse their website uploads in 2013-2015.”

SMITE Scrub’s take

Yes, every other game deals with data mining. No, it’s not a valid excuse for anything. While Hi-Rez had part of the community’s sympathy for years because they were a relatively small company compared to their competitors — namely Valve and Riot — there is no excuse for SMITE’s problems this late in the game. And as far as made-up excuses, data mining is pretty low on the tier list.

Vinson’s frustrations are understandable even if data mining is something with which every developer deals, but lashing out a community member is never the way to express these concerns. This also isn’t the first time the Art Director’s comments didn’t go over well with SMITE players, and more professionalism is badly needed here.

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