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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 8:08AM Dunraven said

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I understand why folks feel the need to know more but at the same time I miss the days where gamers just played games.

Today they are armchair stock analyst, developers, marketing managers, and of course critics. The you have those whackjob gamers who devote an insane about of time perpetuating as much bad press about whatever company pissed in their e-cornflakes....and this is all part and partial to being a gamer these days.

I guess that's why I tell folks, yes I love games but not really what you would call a "gamer"

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 9:38AM Mevan said

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@Dunraven

This is exactly how I feel. As much as I enjoy keeping up on the development of a game I wasn't hired by the company as a consultant.
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Posted: Mar 17th 2011 8:30AM Solp said

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Wouldn't need developer transparency if companies were doing things right.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 9:57AM DeadlyAccurate said

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It's one of my favorite things about EVE Online. Even with my subscription running out, I still plan to keep up with their blog posts (which are often funny and interesting). Sometimes their posts are overly geeky for me, but it makes me happy how open they are about what they do.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 10:15AM Dumac said

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I wouldn't say i would prefer, but i would certainly appreciate it. I don't really care, just make a good game, and when you do involve players in it in whichever amount, be honest and don't turn it into marketing.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 10:31AM Irem said

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It's a mixed bag. I prefer it because I love seeing the inner workings of the design process, and I like to hear straightforward reasons as to why changes are made. At the same time, though, it can lead to a lot of what Dunraven describes in the first comment. Fans will always do that stuff, but fanbases with more access to the developers and more knowledge of how things are done in their particular game have more of a sense of entitlement, too, in my experience.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 10:31AM General said

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I worked as a CSR for an indie developer for a fair few years and any transparency over and abvove the norm with that fame would have caused panic in the player base.

I mostly follow small MMO's, where a lot of the time they are accused of paying too much attention to one part of the community or another. There is a thin line between being open about your design process on the forums and being taken over by the vocal members who respond to you there.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 10:50AM Kalex716 said

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What general said is right. Their was a talk at GDC this year about that free to play battlefield online game, and how when the game was almost getting shut down they flirted with the idea of charging money for guns (something they were against originally) the uproar on the forums was staggering. People were appalled and swore it would be the death of the internet entirely.

The entire forum community was against it, but either stubbornly or desperately, the dev's implemented it to try it out anyway, for the first time ever the game started making a profit. All the people who cried about it anyway eventually got over it and started buying some guns.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 11:01AM Caliber said

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@Kalex716

The internet is not to be believed.
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Posted: Mar 17th 2011 11:08AM General said

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@Caliber

The parodox of our age. We all hang expectations and dreams of every word but never really believe it. Maybe I'm getting too old for this.
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Posted: Mar 17th 2011 11:28AM DarkWalker said

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I really like some measure of transparency, and a willingness to give an answer to at least the most common requests of the player base (even if that answer is just a "no").

It alone wouldn't make me play a game, but if two games are close in my evaluation, I go for the one with better communication between players and developers.

On the other hand, actively censoring player requests from the forums - like Blizzard did with posts asking for the return of the portals or for adjustments of the Heroic dungeon difficulty - can actually drive me out of the game. I see selectively silencing players on the forums to be a extremely troubling move without very good reason, and civil disagreement with the developers is never a good reason.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 12:02PM Space Cobra said

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I agree with General and Irem. I can see both sides of "pushing with your vision" and "listening to fans". But it is a mixed bag; many times, the fans haven't played the game (before beta) and just make judgement calls that may be in error.

Actually, I do like devs to interact and post regularly/semi-regularly on forums. I know it is an "acquired skill", but they can choose to ignore pointed questions or just dismiss them or say "no comment" if they aren't ready to ask them. I know some posts devs try to join the community as a person, then invariably someone posts, "What about the bug in sector 8 that is ruining playtimes? Shouldn't you be working on that instead of posting here?!?" Devs are people, too, and need time off as much as we do.

I do like the interplay of dev and community and it'd be nice to foster it, even if it had nothing to do with the game they are making (like some other off-topic).

Transparency can only go so far; you can get some nice opinions, but you get some lame ones. Unfortunately, the lame outnumber the nice and devs tend to ignore all of them if it gets to them. Again, they are human and walls-of-text can be tricky to read all the way through. Then, forums seem massively big and hard to penetrate or keep up with for the average folks and I think this goes for devs, too (Since they do have forum mods to condense things for them on many game boards.)

Basically, I just want some sort of contact or a pat on the shoulder, even if it doesn't address a game issue. While info is good, just knowing devs are out there, reading, can calm many a frayed nerve about games and some problems. And this should be done fairly regularly, because you always have people not using the DevTracker or Search tool.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 12:38PM Cavadus said

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Transparency is great. I think some of the people commenting here aren't drawing the distinction between dev transparency and community inclusion. They're not synonyms.

A dev company can be completely transparent and *still* not involve the community in any development decisions.

But transparency is great. If I were a dev studio I'd setup a computer station somewhere in the office with a dev company twitter account and make the employees tweet one thing a day.

As a player stuff like that makes a huge difference. I currently play Earthrise and communication with MastHead Studios is pretty hit or miss, though they're getting better, but if they just dropped a couple of tweets a day I'd *feel* like so much more was actually happening.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 1:14PM Icemasta said

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I am all for transparency for what the devs as planned, after all, we're only pawns in a virtual world where they are technically the gods.

I guess it might be off-topic, but devs really need to ignore the players opinions on the technical and balance stuff. Everyone is biased because they are PLAYERS, the devs built everything in the game and know it more. I'll give 2 examples:
#1 Arena.Net and Guild Wars. They don't even have official forums, many people QQ, but they don't care and just balance the game.

#2 Blizzard, initially, they didn't give a crap about players and balanced for balancing, and it went relatively well, until they started listening to people and nerfs were focused on what players said and wasn't looking at the general picture of the game.

#3 Ncsoft and Aion, they listened to the players TOO much and that screwed them over in the end.

Now this is only for the technical stuff when it comes to balance and future progression, of course they can factor in player opinions, but only if it's filtered by a community manager first.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 2:00PM Haldurson said

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Having experience as a software developer (not games, but still), I have to say that full transparency is definitely a bad thing. Cautious transparency is another thing, but full transparency? Programming is ugly. You don't want to know hotdogs are made, and you don't (always) want to know how large and complex programs are designed either.

A lot of times things just don't work out, or are a LOT more difficult to get to work or actually be fun than players realize. I know from experience that what users think will be hard is often easy, and what they think will be easy can often turn out to be difficult to impossible. I've had people tell me EXACTLY what they want a program to do and what it should look like, and then when I give them exactly what they asked for, they don't like it. That's just the way it is. And it's not always obvious how things will turn out, especially in games as complex and dynamic as mmos.

Also, priorities can change on a dime for any number of reasons. When that happens, devs have to take a step back and reevaluate and sometimes put current projects on the backburner. This happens in the real software world a lot more than you might think, so I'd be surprised if it didn't happen in game development.

Remember I'm talking as a typical programmer, and not as someone running an mmo company. Their situation is probably a whole lot more complex.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 5:40PM Drekor said

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I like the developers to lay out a roadmap and occasionally explain the rationale behind some changes that stir up the community a lot. I think the devs from EVE (CCP) do a good job of this with their dev blogs. I don't really care to know what the devs had for lunch or exactly what project they are working at any given time but a general idea of the direction the game is heading in as well as address large issues that have people up in arms is something I appreciate.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 6:40PM Transientmind said

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This is why I loved the interview with Scott Hartsman of Rift.
Open, honest, transparent and relaxed. If more devs from other games posted information as readily and informally relatable as that with a similar candour, I might actually bother to look into their games.

It didn't feel like he was trying to hide things from us through a dance of equivocation for fear of getting swallowed up by an avalanche of nerd-rage.

Posted: Mar 17th 2011 11:23PM Araxes said

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I like reading interviews such as are granted to media or fan sites. I can't say I care too much for forums, though. Dev trackers have their uses, but sometimes I wonder how much actual development time is lost by a developer defending / touting their position to armchair designers. I think forums serve a purpose ... the fan base can voice themselves to a degree ... but I don't feel that constant developer interaction is necessarily good or required. As with everything, it's the happy medium that works best. Don't say too much, too often ... but don't go radio-silent, either. For awhile, I think some studios were pushing their developers to communicate a LOT ... and now I think that some of them are recognizing that while it's good to communicate with the fans and take their feedback ... it's also a fine line that needs to be walked, between productive discourse, and blather.

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