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Reader Comments (31)

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 12:23PM (Unverified) said

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It's ALL their fault, isn't it, LFG? I lose more and more respect for you as this event moves further. What happened was for a reason, and you seem to be caught up in your own world. Man up and take responsibility for what YOUR actions did or didn't do. And there is no excuse for publicly presenting developer information on your site. They entrusted it to you for a sole purpose. Your childish acts of posting all the developers information was stupid.

It's called respect.

"I wasn't even aware he had the ability to do that" - How do you not know this? You run the site! Even if somebody helps you with the web content, you still run the site and can see that!

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 12:42PM (Unverified) said

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LFG didn't post dev info, someone else did. Just like somebody could post 10,000 credit card numbers right now if they wanted to there. The post was delted, they screwed him over, a better post was created that revealed SoE devs give handouts to NPU. Thats fair.
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:02PM (Unverified) said

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I just want to clear something up. Alot of people seem to be making the mistake that LFG posted up a list of information about the developers identities that he had received via the Influencers Program in a "childish backlash" for being kicked out of the program.

This is not the case.

It was another individual poster on EQ2Flames who posted a summary of developer information on the site, not LFG. And as far as I am aware, that individual obtained this information simply by collating a combination of publically available information from places such as Google, the EQ2 website, the developers own public blogs, and from people who the developers had revealed this information to in game.

Not taking sides here btw - just wanted to point out the inaccuracy of saying the LFG posted up "insider" info that he shouldn't have....
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 12:55PM (Unverified) said

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@jay: I've read plenty, including this entire article, and based my feedback on it all. But thanks for providing some great feedback yourself and running to save the day. *thumbs up*

@pet: LFG is responsible for that website. He allowed all of that contact information to remain present. That's a huge sign of disrespect, and you can't ignore that.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:21PM (Unverified) said

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He allowed nothing to remain. He removed every post that had dev info from it THEN amended his site rules to ban anyone that posted that info.

THEN after all that, SoE cut ties with him. He removed the new site rule and Snark posted everything.

You are commenting on this and your comments and timeline are 100% bogus.

Do some research.

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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:30PM (Unverified) said

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I know LFG cut ties with SOE. EQ2Flames is still a site that revolves around EQ2. Just because they part ways, doesn't mean that one side has to jab a knife into the side of the other. Especially when it comes to maintaining a personal information list thats designed to get back at SOE, when the reason for this event isn't even on all of those employees to begin with.

Both sides needed compromise, but one side really blew the chances out of the water.
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:05PM (Unverified) said

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I also run a fan site for a SOE game, although not as well trafficked as LFG's. I've had some of the same experiences and made some of the same observations about Crosby in particular. He's a brick wall between SOE and what they want to see, hear, and say and the community.

It's best to distance yourself officially from SOE as a fan site operator, as being close only subjects you to the carefully-crafted corporate speak of the SOE community bots. I've always tied to run my site by my rules, and have never taken instructions from SOE or Sigil before them when it came to NDA-breakers. I was on the same page as they were anyway, so it wasn't like they had to strongarm me.

LFG, I think you made a mistake in outing SOE on your site. I've always felt a fansite should be free of politics from both sides. If you don't have a blog, this would have been a great opportunity to start one. Frankly it's a little unprofessional what you did. You had a rule against posting private emails and PM's didn't you? Why isn't that rule as important as the other ones your site has?

I admire that you have built a community over there, I know how hard that is. I think you were done wrong in all this, but I think your reaction has just served to create drama.

You didn't really need to embarrass SOE, I think they do a pretty good job of doing that themselves.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:34PM (Unverified) said

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LFG did not out anyone.

There was no rule at all on his site since it started that you were not allowed to post developers in game character names. He made it a rule after somebody posted one EVEN THOUGH the community voted against the rule.

After SoE cut ties with him the next day, he removed the rule he put in place to protect them and the floodgates opened.

SoE has no one to blame but themselves. If devs didn't want players to know who they really were, they would have kept that info private. They chose not to.
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:32PM (Unverified) said

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Wouldn't it make sense for devs not to inform anyone of their identity on their personal accounts? Once you let anyone know, you put yourself at risk. I don't have a problem with the devs playing but they should keep an extremely low profile.

What LFG might of done was wrong, but it doesn't excuse this air of secrecy that SOE has developed around the dev team and the interaction with other players.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:09PM Pagan said

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Dave,

Best stop posting as you're making a fool of yourself. Your reading comprehension skills are severely lacking.

Is anyone surprised at the outcome here? This is SOE's track record with their MMO fanbase. There is a reason MMO players have great distaste and distrust of SOE. That reputation has been well earned.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:41PM (Unverified) said

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Genda your comments sound really familiar to The Grouchy Gamers comments on the latest Shut up we're Talking episode.

Though it was unprofessional I can't say even going out and starting a blog to post about this would be any more unprofessional of him to do so. It would be no different if Massively or Kotaku did the same thing and both of them are simply in there most basic form blogs about gaming.

I think what is happening over at EQflames now is just happening out of anger and spite. In a month or two no one will remember it even happened.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:49PM (Unverified) said

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Somebody in a month or two will remember what happened. Heck even months from now they will. Whoever collects a check at SoE.

Subscriptions being canceled and them losing even more of the 1.2% market share they hold. I bet they drop down below 1% after this and its not just because of Eq2flames, its because they don't test content that gets pushed live and even casual players are coming to that realization. 10 second spell lag when you are the only player in a zone? Thats one example of a plethora of others that plague Eq2.
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 1:59PM (Unverified) said

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Sounds familiar... not sure where I've heard this story before...

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 3:16PM GreenArmadillo said

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I don't have any vested interest in this story either way since I don't play EQ2 and I'm not depending on good relations with SOE for future "exclusive" content. From this neutral perspective, I find this story very interesting.

IMO, Sony bungled their PR.... a long time ago. Right now, the OFFICIAL EQ2 forums claim to have 762 people online and EQ2Flames has 2511. (Maybe this story is influencing the "guest" user count slightly, but where logged in, registered users are concerned, the official site has 213 and EQflames has 694.) That is genuinely remarkable. How badly do you have to bungle your community before a third party site is outdrawing you 3 to 1? Every single player knows where the official site is. You have to FIND the un-official one, and its owners need to feel strongly enough about the issue to be willing to spend time and money running it (where the official one is being paid for by people who are actually making money off the game) - lots and lots of bandwidth money when you're talking about the numbers that EQFlames has. And theirs IS the better site - when I was curious about EQ2 I learned a lot more from their forums than the official ones, and seriously considered giving EQ2 a test drive as a result.

Anyway, once your community is centered on a third party site, this sort of thing is almost inevitable. Your people have to go off-site to address the community because the community is off-site, but you can't actually prevent third parties from saying things you don't like. (Ironically, Sony itself got burned just last year for blackballing Kotaku after the site published leaked information, and suffered so much backlash that they had to reinstate Kotaku's media access.) Several political campaigns had similar issues as well because they failed to register their candidates on social networking sites and were beaten to the punch.

Of course, it would help a lot if your employees could keep their noses clean so that there isn't any dirt on you to leak when you do cut ties with people. Perhaps EQ's culture makes the temptation to share inside strategies more tempting - in WoW, all the strategies are out there, almost immediately, so there is no real reason to leak insider information, while it seems that EQ has a lot more secrecy around it. And perhaps it is mean to "out" characters of innocent developers and employees who didn't have anything to do with the company's decision to cut off relations with your site, though, again, those developers should not have revealed their identities in the first place and certainly should not have leaked inside information.

But, at the end of the day, if you fail to manage your community in such a spectacular fashion as SOE has here, it's going to come back to burn you. I hope the EA-Mythic folks, with their "we don't need no stinking forums" approach, are watching to see how much power you give outside folks when you don't make a good effort to run your own community.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 6:20PM GRT said

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"lots and lots of bandwidth money when you're talking about the numbers that EQFlames has"

ANd lots and lots of ad revenue.

Don't be so naive, this guy is making plenty of income from this site. Any time you see "pop under" ads like the tribalfusion one I just got his with, you know you're in the presence of someone who has making money off a site his #1 priority.

Seriously, my living comes from ad revenue on a site too, and we wouldn't treat our customers so shabbily because we care about the user experience. This clown clearly doesn't.
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Posted: Mar 18th 2008 3:38PM (Unverified) said

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Dave.. you apparently must be very young or very inexperienced if you think that the owner/president/CEO/whatever of an operation would know every last detail of how the technical systems work.

The guy at the top makes broad decisions about the way the company proceeds. Then the managers/employees carry out those objectives by his or her guidelines. To think that LFG would or even should know every aspect of the tech behind the forums/programming is absurd.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 3:44PM (Unverified) said

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Just a tiny note here, but if you're going to base your argument on "facts" related to the number of concurrent users of one site versus another, make sure you understand the process by which different sites actually track online users.

Please note that the cookies which are enabled for the official SOE forums essentially shut off relatively quickly after you leave the page. By way of contrast, EQ2Flames maintains cookies for eight hours or more. It's simply not an apples to apples comparison.

Don't take my word on it, though. Test it for yourself.

Posted: Mar 18th 2008 6:16PM GRT said

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Meh.

For accounting purposes. I currently have an active EQ2 account.

The only thing less interesting than Guild Drama is Forum Drama, and this "LFG" person comes across as an attention whore just trying to get sites like Massively to get him some exposure. And I'm sure it'll work well for him.

People need to get some kind of perspective. At the end of the day, these are just games. If you feel like SOE is somehow hurting your enjoyment of the game, stop playing. It's really as simple as that.


Posted: Mar 18th 2008 9:07PM (Unverified) said

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First thanks to the author for treating this topic with journalistic integrity. Unfortunately most fansites expect their writers to imprint an unmistakable bias in every article they print.

I was the person that posted developer information, and based on the comments here I think it's important I express why I did that...

First of all to understand the drama you have to understand how SOE "manages" their employees. Merely revealing their character's in game names is a very serious offense. This is why Aeralik immediately deleted a reference to his character. Since compiling and posting the in-game names of developers, coders, and GMs, I have recieved plenty of direct conversation with these people saying I overreacted and that their jobs are on the line because of it. One developer went so far as to say "what's more important - this or the game?" Clearly these people feel personally threatened by my thread (this is something I did not anticipate).

SOEs community team is atrocious, which wouldn't be such a bad problem if they showed any signs of improving. As years go on, the "summit" meetings recruit more of the fansite representatives and fewer active, vocal, and upset gamers. To pull feedback from a fansite just seems ludicrous to me - all they contain are the authors throwing on party hats and reading the latest patch notes with praise and nary a complaint. SOE regularly feeds these sites early information about popular upcoming updates (such as Epic Weapons, Heroic Zones etc.) to keep traffic steady on these glorified PR circles. The sites generate traffic and money, and SOE generates positive feedback. Its a win-win situation that Brenlo clearly feels is the future of SOE Public Relations. The previous Community Manager actually had the intelligence and foresight to offer EQ2Flames certain privileges that were reserved for "standard" fansites, but progress in this direction was completely abandoned with the latest CM to step in and take over.

It's overly transparent to see why Brenlo made the decision he did to cut EQ2Flames from the "official" community. Regardless of the fact that it is the largest EQ2Community in existence (more popular than the official one)... its criticism of the game was deemed unacceptable. After all, when you are trying to manage the publics opinion of your game, EQ2Flames is certainly an easy target.

But on to why I listed developer information:

Because SOE decided to cut off constructive criticism on its official forums, and internally stated that SOE employees risk losing their jobs for even sending or reading PM's on EQ2Flames (I was told this by a dev directly), I had to ask myself how we could provide any criticism at all that would be heard. The only possible thing I could think of was providing the in-game name of a few Devs I was aware of, and asked that people send them a /tell with the type of constructive feedback we were used to generating successfully on the forum. Within 2 hours of making the post I had received almost 100 PMs containing information about more developers (most of which was so private/personal I haven't posted it). I was trying to be objective and instead of targeting a few SOE employees I tried to provide as much information as possible. It was only a logical progression that when players see a coder guilded with a top raid guild they start asking questions, and I answered those questions as best I could. Did this make some people look worse in the end? I suppose, but its all left up to interpretation. Though my opinions on SOE employees are generally seen to be negative, I have had some really awesome and candid conversations with a few employees since this drama exploded that my feelings are currently neutral. Its a shame that the worst apple of all has to be leading the community into a ditch, though.

Did my experiment work out like I planned? Not at all. In fact, I've talked to enough employees with integrity to almost make me regret doing it at all. But when an action I took on a whim gets greenlit on Fark, blogged about, and receives more page views than EQ2 has active subscribers, there is clearly a point to be learned from all of this. I think that point is obvious, and its a weight to be carried by the SOE Community staff. Thousands of people who have never heard of EQ2 at all were introduced to this conflict, and read about it and weighed in on it. And I love that. I think everyone should form their own opinions and post how they feel on the forums and threads that are discussing this. Because opinions are like assholes... even if Brenlo doesn't want to acknowledge that ^_~

Posted: Mar 19th 2008 5:19PM (Unverified) said

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"First thanks to the author for treating this topic with journalistic integrity. Unfortunately most fansites expect their writers to imprint an unmistakable bias in every article they print."

The only reason you don't see the "unmistakable bias" in this editorial commentary it's only because the bias was weighted so far in the direction of LFG it's very unmistakable. There is nothing even-handed or even journalistic about it since there was absolutely no independent validation of the information fed to the author by LFG, not even a glimmer of an attempt to get objective information.

The majority of this who fiasco has been nothing short of grandstanding. I don't think that SOE's hands are spotless in this nor that their handling wasn't ill-timed or even heavy handed and "spin-doctored" but most of the allegations by LFG and the EQ2Flames community is nothing short of perposterous.

I have openly and voraciously posted negative criticism of SOE, one dev in particular (who is no longer with them), and of game changes, yet I have never had one of my own posts removed and have never been banned nor even received any actual warnings (the closest I got was a PM asking me, politely, to tone down in a particularly charged thread). I did nearly get de-guilded from my guild on Guk because of my negativity about a certain former dev and an aspect of gameplay related to that dev, but that's because of who that guild's leader is. So, why, if I have been openly and broadly negative about aspects of the game have -I- never been banned? Simple, I don't think one is required to utter a stream of profanity or issue personal insults towards devs or other posters in order to make a point (though that aforementioned guildleader has taken comments of mine to be personal insults to him, even his reporting me to the forum moderators didn't result in warnings or bans through, since they weren't insults, just disagreements with his opinion).

In the spirit of "full disclosure", I have been on EQ2Flames and have even posted there, but generally could only stomach the Coercer forums since I don't particularly enjoy diatribe laced with profane invective. Many of the EQ2Flames posters are intelligent and insightful. Sadly a lot of it is obscured.

I really am looking forward to even one "news" outlet / fansite to have a truly unbiased, factual, fully researched article on this affair. As I said, I don't think SOE's hands are lily white in the affair, but I also don't think there was any mad conspiracy to discredit LFG or eliminate his site (providing fuel for a drama fire would be the least effective way to do anything but increase the traffic to a particular site).

Oh.. and about that pop-under. I used to read the EQ2Flames Coercer forum on my Treo while I was in transit from home to work. With the pop-under, I was prevented from doing so. Thus, my activity or participation there was severely curtailed. I hate pop-unders at any time but even more so because of their effects on my ability to surf locations.
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