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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:07AM (Unverified) said

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I'd definitely enjoy seeing some games put up some test servers, toying around with ideas from the community that had been well recieved.

At the same time, however, it's interesting not knowing what will be coming next, or what changes are next.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:24AM Snichy said

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Obviously every request shouldnt implemented or responded to, but if a large proportion of the playerbase are demanding that something be fixed or implemented, it should be heeded. Unfortunately too many times an obvious or game-breaking feature in a game needs to be fixed or added, but inexplicably the devs jsut ignore it.

I have always wanted some kind of voting system set up by the devs to give the players a chance to have their say, so for example the devs set a poll in the forums and the players can vote to add/fix/leave a feature, that way there is no doubt. Obvioulsy it is the devs/publishers money and its their game so they can do what they want but it doesnt take a genuis to figure out that a happy playerbase is a better playerbase, and will result in a better game which will mean more income.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:30AM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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I can give a little input here too, from the 'inside' as it were...

The funny thing is that the developers usually feel that they are pretty much always already doing that. Almost every change that goes into the game comes off the back of a player suggestion of some variety or other. From speaking to other developers over the years, I have rarely heard anything different.

The perception problem we often face with this subject is two fold really:

Firstly, there are a lot of opinions out there, and while the proverbial 'you' as any given player might feel that X, Y or Z is the 'most needed' there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, (or even millions if you are Blizzard) of other players who might have other opinions. So just because any given feature wasn't something 'you' (or the group of 'you represented by a portion of a forum community) asked for, it doesn't mean it wasn't asked for.

The second issue is that there is always an inherent bias when it comes to class requests that the devs have to shift through and figure out the actual situation by research and playing because the 'forum view' of any given class is usually a pretty partisan, biased discussion (in both directions), and often presents us with a 'no win' situation community wise, as whoever we 'please' we end up displeasing someone else who thought their issues were more important (even if we will get to them later and it's just a matter of priority ;) )

Lastly, given all the different opinions out there, that situation, where doing X makes Y happy but angers Z, is pretty much true for everything a developer does. (important to note, when I say 'angry' it might not be at the feature in question, but it may be that any given group feels the resource should have been spent on something else). Any situation where players got to choose, would also face exactly the same issue, as they would soon learn that 'their' viewpoint, (especially if the game in question was not home to a specific majority interest and was split between hardcore and casual, PVE and PVP etc) was not necessarily a majority.

That is often the hardest thing to explain to any given section of a forum community.

So honestly, player feedback is usually driving virtually every addition we make. I can't remember the last time we added a feature that wasn't somehow born from player feedback. The problem we face with this particular topic is usually the diversity of interests attached to a game, and finding that 'right' schedule of additions to try and please as many people as possible is genuinely one of the toughest challenges we face as developers.

It has been the case as long as I have been involved, release solo content, and the team players complain they need more, release PVP content and the PVE players claim it a waste of time, add roleplay features and the hardcore brand them a waste of time, add raids and the solo crowd feel hard done by. So what you usually try and do at least, is balance the schedule of releases so that over a period you have added something for as many as possible...and of course the more niche your game is in terms of mechanics, the easier it becomes, as you have less interests to cater for...

...but the player feedback is always one of the most important ingredients to the decisions on what to put into that schedule...it just might not be 'your' specific feedback as it were.


...lastly on a side note, as an ex-community manager and such myself, I have always loved the idea of a truly community driven game, where players got to vote on its features. While I am not sure a great game would come out of it (I fear it would in the end suffer from a little 'design by committee') and it would probably be very hard to get funding for as a professional project, it would be a great experiment in community building. I played a few NWN module 'worlds' not long after that game out that tried just that with some interesting results...it would definitely be cool to see such an endeavor on a larger scale.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 2:29PM Plastic said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

As someone who started AoC during early access, and reluctantly left a year later, there is one argument I’ve always had a hard time accepting:

“Firstly, there are a lot of opinions out there…So just because any given feature wasn't something 'you' asked for, it doesn't mean it wasn't asked for.”

While this may be true, I think the point of this article, and the point of anyone making a similar argument, is that focusing on something like horse racing, which may have been requested by a handful of people, over something that has been requested much more frequently, is a bit strange and hard for us to grasp. Why is there such a discrepancy between what an average player sees as being major issues for the game and what the developers end-up actually addressing?

I believe I’ve lurked the forums long enough to get a sense of what the player-base feels is really important, and I don’t think it is all that difficult to assess. In fact, whenever I see a list of complaints, (such as the one posted by Lateris in this very thread), I see a consistent prioritization of issues. I even remember a time when a poll was conducted on the forums to get a sense of how people viewed their class in relation to others. It was very obvious at that time that the Dark Templar was a broken class, yet I, and many other people who played the class, left before any changes were finally implemented (to be fair to Craig, I believe this was before his time with AoC).

One may argue that the official forums of an MMO do not accurately represent the player-base, but, if not the forums, where do you get feed-back? Are people writing in their comments by hand? Calling up the offices? It seems to me that the forums are the absolute best place to get a sense of what your player-base is requesting.

Not speaking specifically about AoC, It always amazes me at how little MMO developers seem to do with the massive amount of consumer feedback they receive. Any other industry would kill to have the amount of well-thought-out analysis of their product directly from the consumer’s mouth. In fact, many companies pay dearly for this type of feedback in the form of customer surveys and consumer panels. Yet it seems to too often go unutilized by many MMO developers.

I will give a very simple example of a company who is making progress in this regard. If you check the Nexon forums for the game Vindictus, you will see that the community managers periodically start a thread asking for each player to list their top three concerns regarding the game. They then post periodic updates addressing each of the top issues that are most frequently listed. Sometimes there is nothing they are willing/able to do about an issue, but that’s OK because they are at least letting the community know that they are aware of which issues the community is most concerned about. I think it goes a long way in making Vindictus a better game, and I wish more companies would follow a similar practice.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 3:39PM Bezza said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

It's always incoraging to see you respond to these posts Craig, it lets us know somone is listening. I agree and understand the dillema that Devs must face in regard to the old adage that you can please some of the people some of the time but you cant please all of the people all of the time. It must be one of the constant challenges developers face.

However there are aspects of any game that the greater part of the community do stand united on as being somthing that needs a fix/revamp or at least a damn good look at. In the case of AoC (which i love, thanks for making such a cool game) two things stand out that have gone wanting for a very long time.

I bet you can guess what one of them will be...

1.) Crafting: I think nearly everyone who plays AoC and has dipped their virtual toes into the murky water of AoC crafting agrees that the system is seriously in need of reworking.

2.) Class based Quest rewards: Honestly i dont know if quest rewards were done the way you guys did them due to time constraints or some other limiting factor but you can not denigh the absurdity of the situation when a character completes a quest and they recieve a quest reward that they A.) Cant Use because it belongs to another class and B.) can't sell or trade to another character and are thus gaining 0% benifit from the quest reward. Either make them tradable or make them class specific. it's such a rediculous situation where you play through 1-80 and do every quest you can get your hands on and MOST of the gear you get from quests is rot you have to sell to a vendor for a pittance.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:32AM Ocho said

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I think the devs should take player suggestions into account as ultimately, the game wouldn't be around if not for its players. However, it is literally the devs job to make their product better, so since they have a greater knowledge of what needs done, whats coming up, and whats currently being worked on, as well as knowing exactly how many workers they have to do it with, anything we say as players we may think is easy and feasible, but it may not be.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:44AM Jade Effect said

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The obvious answer would be: when certain game mechanics are abused to cause an imbalance in gameplay.

ArenaNet nerfed Necromancer pet mechanics when death necros ran around with an army of undead minions, causing much content to be trivialized.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:47AM Sephirah said

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As a developer, I always try to implement reasonable customer requests (emphasis on reasonable).
In the end, it's the customer that pay for something: why should he pay for something *I* wanted and not for something *he* wanted?

(On a side note, I think ignoring customers is one of the reasons for the recent decreasing number of players in WoW: too often the answer to players request has been "We want/don't want you to do such thing")

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 10:02AM Irem said

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@Sephirah
"[...]too often the answer to players request has been 'We want/don't want you to do such thing'"

Most of the time, I trust developers to know what they're doing until they give me a reason to think otherwise. I completely understand why they don't rush to implement everything the playerbase asks for. But occasionally, this very thing you mentioned becomes a point of contention for no legitimate reason other than personal preference on the part of the dev team, and it strikes me as weird. Tanaka's repeated insistence on no jumping in FFXIV, for example, to the point where there's a joke in the game that pokes fun at it during the emote tutorial ("You mustn't -actually- jump, though--that would look ridiculous!") for example. Or ability to change the name you appear under when using Blizzard's RealID system. One thing that I hope will be implemented in GW2 is the ability to toggle "walk" for our characters, which is something the NPCs can already do, and many other people have asked for it, but someone from ANet said that so far our characters are only allowed to run because they're just too busy to ever walk. :|

Little things like that which would make a lot of players happy without much effort, but which get shot down over and over because somebody arbitrarily decides that the players shouldn't have them are frustrating. "We've decided that you shouldn't be able to turn into a giant robot, because it doesn't fit the fantasy-based aesthetics of the game" is one thing. "We've decided not to give you any privacy features for your friend list because we don't want to encourage you to be an anti-social loner and we can't see any other reason that you'd want them despite you explaining it over and over" (Blizzard, again) is quite another.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:59AM rainbowgnu said

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I think customer requests (of a substantial percentage of the MMO population) should at least be looked at, and there should be a dialogue between the team and the customers. If its crazy people who want to completely change the game from what it is, and turn it into something else more like games they are used to, this isn't cool, however, so there is also those requests that just should be ignored.
Where this is the case though, or if our requests can't be implemented, we should be told why it isn't feasible.

Basically as long as there is communication and respect between players and the team, I'm generally happy... but where possible, of course, player requests should be focused on... after all, we're the ones playing.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:03AM pcgneurotic said

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Fascinating stuff from CM, very interesting.

With game updates and patches etc, I think it's nice to have an idea of which direction the game's going in and what features are being worked on, but I'd rather trust the guys who had the smarts to a) fund the game and b) make the damn thing. Leave them alone and let them get on with it. If something's broken and it doesn't get fixed, well then, there's always a reason why, whether we like the reason or not.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:09AM Gryphmon said

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I think almost every game I've ever played has in some form responded to and implemented user requests. However I will say I think that feedback is maybe used more for not implementing features rather than adding them.

But actually, I've always had a big beef with this question of developers giving customers what they want. That's probably going to give you an OK game, but really, the bar should be higher than that. Game makers should strive to give customers not just what they want, but what they didn't know they would want. Be creative. Be imaginative. Show me an exciting wondrous world that I have never seen before. After all, that is why I play games in the first place. Surprise and delight me.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:22AM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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@Gryphmon

That's actually usually true to a degree. We generally take player feedback as an inspiration for the area upon which we should focus, or an area that needs improvement, and then the designers set to work on it.

It isn't just about innovation either, it is also that a players perception may not account for any number of things a developer has to also consider, or any set of technical considerations they have to account for etc

So there is a happy medium there, after all, it is players we are aiming to please, and surprise and delight, so we do base those efforts on what we think people would be interested in, and then try to make it as fun and interesting as possible.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:18AM Checksix said

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After reading Craigs response I was struck by something:

Who is designing this thing? I was always taught (and have found it to be true) that trying to please everyone will result in pleasing no one. So if you're trying to please PvP, PvE, RP, Hard Core Raiders etc with a small development team and limited resources, none of them will be happy.

I'm not saying the players shouldn't be listened to. But if I were the game director I would pick One aspect of the game that was the most promising and that would have the greatest financial impact on my studio (positive impact mind you) and focus all my attention on that. Other players would be disappointed, it's true, but better to offer one great aspect of the game than 10 ho hum aspects all competing for limited resources.

Maye that's why we keep hearing about how much "potential" AoC has! Because it does several things kind of well but nothing REALLY well.

Well that's my $.02.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:32AM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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@Checksix

That kind of thing does come up. Personally, if I was making a new title from scratch I would agree. (of course that would also depend on the budget and the aim for the project). I think many developers might prefer to work on a more narrowly focused game, even if that meant it was slightly more niche as it would make the decision making process easier in that regard.

However the challenge with an existing game is actually exactly what you bring up, but from the opposite point of view. When you already have X community members that are happy with what you offer in a number of areas, there then becomes a risk factor in losing those players if you choose to focus on just one aspect of a game that currently offers say there, or four, so it adds a risk factor to a change, (since you don't categorically 'know' that you would choose the right focus area)

...so that kind of discussion does happen from time to time, depending on the project - the 'should we specialize more and not support x' discussion, because you do quite rightfully identify a risk area, you could indeed fall into a 'jack of all trades, master of none' category. However it also isn't a zero sum discussion, there are a myriad of ways you can keep players satisfied with that general approach as long as you find the right schedule of releases. It does make it more challenging, but it can also service your game, and your customers, with a good diverse game experience.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:23AM kjhasdfjkhk said

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Yes and no. To an extent, if things honestly are "broken" and need fixing, then yes, as well as in a general sense, such as "we want more content". But giving players everything they want all the time will ultimately leave the player unfulfilled because nothing feels earned anymore. Players will become demanding and feel entitled to things that they barely have to work for (see: WoW). Not handing them everything they want gives people something to shoot for which ultimately means longer subscriptions and a larger user base. Complying to their every demand will only make users spoiled, selfish and lazy, which in turn will lead them only to demand MORE to get satisfaction, or they will become bored with the game and end up quitting much faster in the end.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:31AM Somnipherum said

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I believe that ultimately players requests concerning game breaking issues or bad content should be addressed as quickly as possible (albeit with some discrimination, only those that are generally agreed by the whole community or at least by the majority of it for example), especially those that come from beta testers.


Company of Heroes recently was forced to shutdown and why ? Because instead of listening to the players about the game breaking aspects of the game that existed well before CoHO in Coh vanilla, they tried to implement the money grubbing aspect in spite of several warnings from veterans and rookies alike.

World of Tanks will likely follow the same crash and burn path, they simply don't listen to their beta testers, sometimes I think we serve no real purpose.

Countless other games that could be inovative and ground breaking aren't for the simple reason that they do not listen to their community. The only company that I feel that listens to their playerbase is Arenanet with Guild Wars. If you want to make money, you design a game accordingly with the players requests wishes, not yours because it's the players that pay for the game lol. And many companies forget that and then they wonder why aren't they making profits.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:36AM SWILK3RS said

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For player changes to be implemented, the Dev's would first need to actually read the suggestions thread in the forums. Bori pretty much killed PVP for me. When you can have a kill death ratio of 100-89 and be the max PVP level 10, I have an issue with that. The Bori rock clickers nonetheless that have max AA and max PVP gear. The player fan base has completely handed Funcom a way to easily turn the game around and draw a huge crowd that would otherwise not come back to the game. The problem is, Funcom refuses to implement the ideas and the ideas that they do implement take 9 months to be released. This game has easy fixes but continuously fail to be implemented. The successful business models and game ideas are common knowledge to the industry but Funcom is the kid in the corner with their fingers in their ears saying "lalalalalalala."

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 9:40AM LordBeefy said

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This subject always reminds me of the episode of the Simpsons where Homer designs a car for the "common man" and it turns out an awful mess.

Players so often confuse their personal tastes with the majority view and are of the belief that because they have an idea it must be a good one.

Bottom line is, you shouldn't even be trying to make all if the people happy all of the time and if there's a class forum with no complaints, that class is probably too powerful :P

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 12:18PM SWILK3RS said

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@LordBeefy Not true. The last update for Eve Online was nothing but player suggested and requested changes and there were a lot. That game continues to thrive because the Dev's and game director know who ultimately pays their checks. The player base.
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