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Reader Comments (35)

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 1:43PM Pyrii said

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It's an interesting idea to monitor customer services but this primary report lacks some thoroughness. There's a problem of whether results observed are remote instances or common occurrences.

Also with the heat on TERA for handing off the EU version to Frogster, they might be a good candidate for your next investigation :3

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 3:57PM Jef Reahard said

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Yeah the remote vs. common thing is something that I've struggled with presenting. Effectively there's no real way to determine which is which unless you have a team of people probing the services 24/7 over a period of time (which of course isn't feasible). By testing at different times on different days we're attempting to be as fair as possible, but I'm also open to suggestions.

I'll continue to tweak the format over the life of the column, as well as return to previously covered games to give them another shake.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 4:35PM Pyrii said

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That's understandable, you're only one man, and taking comments on board is hard as most people will only speak up about bad experiences or to complain (quiet customers are happy customers?)

I think maybe just take a few more samples over a broader period of time. The other pitfall is that these games are not US-only and you get different communities/GMs on at different times of day. I certainly tend to see different behaviour in the community of a game during the day as countries wake up and go to bed.

As I said, you're onto a good idea, so hopefully my constructive criticism won't discourage you for continuing to work on what seems to be a continually important topic for MMO players.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 1:47PM Daverator said

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Wouldn't Eve receive the average of the two tickets? You gave eve a second chance when the first ticket was unsatisfactory, but did not attempt any different type of ticket for darkfall. It is a bit unfair.

Keep in mind I don't really care for darkfall, EVE looks interesting if boring and a bit of a time sink.

But I am always interested in things being done right.

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 3:49PM Jef Reahard said

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Well, as stated in the article, the second EVE ticket was filed simply as an acknowledgment of my own error in submitting a ticket that had already been submitted on that account. Really you can just ignore the first ticket entirely; I included it to be completely transparent.

Also, I'm purposefully not assigning scores to any of these, choosing instead to record general impressions. Customer service and community are an inexact science, as is the attempt to measure them, and the methods used are a deliberate attempt to give the companies as much leeway as possible.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 6:04PM (Unverified) said

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Should have done more research. Human/elf/dwarf are one race alliance. Ork/wolf is one race alliance. Altar have no racial allies, you you asked altars NOTHING. Way to go detective!
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 2:01PM kazamxi said

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I think you are being pretty harsh on DF regarding customer service.

They have always had a very strict refund policy and so the CS staff can't make a refund. The fact they got back to you very quickly, made clear they had asked higher ups to confirm they made the right response and gave you a clear answer tells me that the DF CS guys and gals are A+.

Imagine if you asked the AV guys how to join a clan. I imagine you would have got a response 10 min later telling you exactly how to do it. What more could you want/

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 3:53PM Jef Reahard said

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Well, you could want the kind of friendly/involved customer service (and follow up) that I got last week with EQII.

Darkfall did a great job with the response time as I noted, but had I been a real new customer, I likely wouldn't have a favorable impression of them because at the end of the day they didn't resolve my issue, and were fairly curt about it.

Why is it that EVE was able to restore a lost item and Darkfall wasn't?
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 3:58PM Brianna Royce said

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Aventurine may have a strict no-refunds policy, but other games do refund these items. Those policies say a lot about their care for their customers (or lack thereof), and how much they planned (or didn't plan) for such occurrences when designing their tracking systems. They deserve to be mentioned -- they're part of the bigger picture.

Similarly, it would be fair to point out that CCP doesn't intervene when players are scammed in game, whereas SOE does. Or that EA-Mythic doesn't reimburse hacked players, but Blizzard does. Those policies count.
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Posted: Jul 28th 2010 1:09AM (Unverified) said

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To be able to delete an item in DarkFall, you have to drag it into a flaming trashcan, and then click a button than says "YES, I really want to delete this item forever." If that isn't clear the item is gone, you need more than customer support.

Also recommend: try joining clan NEW and then getting a group for something. DarkFall really is very group centric, but you need to join up with a few people, random groups don't happen very often, but clans are everywhere, and always recruiting.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 3:13PM Devoid said

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Darkfall has 3 racial alliances not two. Human, Dwarf and Mirdain (Elf). Orc and Mahirim. Then Alfar all by themselves. The racial channels are in the same groups. Nice write up though.

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 4:22PM (Unverified) said

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You mentioned EVE-U, but did not mention NEW?

I also think some adjustments need to be made to this series depending on the game. As was made rather obvious here, a game like EVE or DF plays very differently than something like WoW or EQ2. No one really 'pugs' in DF, so asking to pug and expecting anything to happen is a bit off, but that says more about the games design than the community. Join the pug-equivalent (NEW) and compare that to the average MMOs random bunch of players getting together.

The customer service piece is something that applies across the board, but more game-specific pieces like PUGs or chat channels might need some adjustment depending on the game.

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 4:40PM Jef Reahard said

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I wasn't aware of NEW, We'll definitely join them when we return to Darkfall for a follow-up. Thanks.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 5:55PM Kimoshu said

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I am one of the leaders for the NEW clan on the US server, we'll be happy to have you should you return :).

I'm not surprised at all about the responses you got in Darkfall, the community loves trolling and is cutthroat; On top of that the in-game chat system design is not the greatest so most people(Myself included) almost never read the race chat. It's essentially a spam channel and there is no real help channel. If you play the game though you'll come across all sorts of helpful people, both enemies and friends of your own race. It's this odd mix of helpful and douchebag players that gives Darkfall a very unique experience for each person as you can see the community as amazing or utter crap depending on the characters you come across in the vast world.

For this reason of a poor new player experience and also poor retention of new players the NEW clan was created by the biggest clans/alliances in the game; All new players to the game can join for up to 5 weeks. The point of the clan is to provide a little bit of gear and supplies to get a player started(You only start with a crappy 1h sword when you first make a char), advice on how to level up their skills to be able to fight well and tips about good techniques in PvE and PvP. The clan also has several veteran players such as myself(~10 months into the game now) that protect the city we own and the area around it as best we can from the dogs(DF Players that love killing newbies ^_^).

Hope that sheds some light on the clan and good luck if you come back!

-Andrew
Kimoshu Grakenshalm
US1 Server

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 6:23PM Jef Reahard said

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I'm actually sticking with the game to play personally (the column will be moving on to other games), so I'll look into joining you folks if you're still accepting newbs.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2010 6:06PM Graill440 said

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I will give EVE an atta boy when it comes to customer service, at least 5 years ago. During a particula bad bout of their server being assed for some reason lag was horrible and warpins were iffy with up to 5 minute delays. At that time i was playing my machs quite heavily. twice i lost them due to warpin destruction and both times they were replaced, to include at least have the modules.

on both occassions they sent emails stating they couldnt replace all modules which i understood but emails from two different folks at least explaining this was what i expected from a once great company before they went down the toilet.

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 6:25PM Kimoshu said

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We're always accepting new players, just put in a recruit request, we check there a few times a day usually and accept new recruits.

-Andrew

Posted: Jul 27th 2010 6:40PM Graill440 said

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Jef, i agree with the couple of folks posting here you need to do a very indepth look at CS and Community Managers.

Things not covered:

The flow charts the CS uses.
Outsourced CS personnel in relation to the game location.
Lack of simple knowledge by the CS of common game mechanics.
Bot useage by companies like SOE and Vivendi/activision to handle CS calls and "live" email chat.
Cs not being properly trained in equal opportunity criteria.
CS not being properly educated nor trained to handle volatile situations.
CS not being trained properly on game policy or tos.
CS attitudes in general, what they think they deserve in either position or station.
CS education levels. This is important for many reasons.
I could list more but you folks get the idea. I was doing a piece for a friend at Evergreen on community managers and CS persons, i gathered alot of info. One of my biggest problems was the "do you know who i am syndrome" in gathering info.

Jef,
you may know the head community manager at SOE, he started out quite amiable but after four weeks of promises by him things got dicey, i "told" him he needed to keep his promise and that i had waited long enough for the info requested, my email to him was pithy, and straight forward, something an equal would have sent to a fellow professional requesting overdue information(it was a short but detailed questionaire), he replied "you will do much better using honey to address people than pithy, bossy requests". Needless to say i never recieved the info promised a month earlier, and i wasnt about to kiss his ass to recieve it, we just placed copies of the the entire email exchange in the report, i felt that was an appropriate thing to do showing an example of what these folks are all about.

I still have the emails to this day and it is amazing to see the flow from the first emails to the last response. Some of these folks think they deserve respect for station alone, to the common sense individual you just have to step back and blink.

Posted: Jul 28th 2010 3:35AM (Unverified) said

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You also have to consider that the free trials for DF are still being created daily by new players. Everyone who usually helps new players are literally burned out from answering the same questions 12 times a day.(no exaggeration) I do what ever i can to help new players be it giving weapons/armor, advice on gameplay, or just hanging out in the area theyre playing in. However the helpful people in darkfall like to play their character as well and with the difficulty of the game its nearly impossible to pay attention to chat and kill monsters in the wild.

Ive played with and chatted with most of the leaders of NEW and i definitely recommend taking advantage of the unique experiences they have to offer.

-Ghost Chant

Posted: Jul 28th 2010 4:41AM (Unverified) said

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Hi Jef

as a DF "vet" I have a few points to tell you about your observation. But first what I would like to make clear I am no DF "fanboy" who is defending "his" game against all odds. I like to play DF because of the people I play with and against, and because it is the only game that catches up where Ultima Online let us down in the end of 1999.

About Items. People have to realize, and that includes you, that in Darkfall Online items and the value they have to you as a player are not comparable to most and the biggest MMO's way of the item usage.

In the games like WoW, EQ, Daoc et al, the game revolves about attaining items and especially epic items. Items make your character strong or weak. That is why non of those games has full loot. Imagine people would lose their whole gear in WoW. It would be mayham, and I suppose we would have dozens of suecides like it happened in EQ.

In Agon (DF's world), items are of tertiary character. First is player skill, second is character skill, third is item (You can argue about first and second though). That means items in DF are of replacable nature, actually they break, and that pretty quickly if used a lot and there is no way of replacing them.

Items, weapon and armor, are things you attain quickly, through killing strong mobs, crafting them yourself or killing others. You can craft, attain every item.

So if you use a weapon, there is no reason for the customer support to replace it at all. The only time they do replace items, is when accounts get hacked.

So losing an item or a whole set of items, let's be "krass" a high end set worth 100'000 gold (around 6 hours of farming average mobs) while comparable to a level 80 tier 6 (I havent played wow in 5 years so I am assuming) end game set, might suck in the first 10 minutes, and probably up to 1-2 hours depending your character, it is replacable :-) and losing it is part of the game.

About the friendlyness of people in chat. The thing is many if not the big majority rarely use the race chats. The reason is Ventrillo and that those chats are most of the time dominated by 2-5 players who seem to have maid it their life task to "own" it. The good thing is though, you can actually vent one's anger in Darkfall without fearing to be banned, which I absolutely love as a "pro free speech" :)

So thats it!

Take care

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