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Reader Comments (37)

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 8:23AM dtoast said

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I think player councils should be listened to in sandbox games, not so much in themepark games.

I don't mean pretend sandbox games either (looking at you fallen earth), but real sandboxes like eve and (possibly, I've only had passing experience with..) darkfall, where things change in game depending on politics, combat prowess and resources.

Letting player councils rule themepark games ends up with the big rollercoasters coming out and everyone riding the twirly teacups. From what I've seen in 12 years of playing MMOs, there's usually nothing to do except 'endgame content' in themeparks and players will complain that they can't do it because its too hard to get gear/levels/experience, and this will be eventually reflected by any player councils.

Sandbox games don't force a player to do 'endgame content' because there simply isn't (read: shouldn't be) any, which from my experience does away with the 'I can't do X because of Y' mentality. You're not hurting yourself to help a new player with something because you can group and do something together and both be rewarded for the effort, as opposed to someone missing out on something useful because they out-level the content. Player councils in a sandbox have a lot more to worry about than is the top tier raid too hard/easy, the balance of the game rests in their hands - for example if changes are made to the economy, how does that effect combat (and vice-versa), exploration, etc. As changes to a themepark economy just mean that there's more/less geared people to play end-game content, nothing really unbalancing about that - who's game gets ruined by an extra group of people clearing a dungeon?

Ultimately the 'genres' of the types of mmos really indicate this themselves: themeparks are run by a company and you come to visit and play it as its presented to you, you don't get to change the park or request something be added or removed; sandboxes are where anyone can come and play and do what they want, even if it means kicking down someone elses sandcastle.

In short, Sandbox is a perfect environment for a player council, and themeparks shouldn't have them.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 8:24AM Kalex716 said

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Its all about having someone thats able to take the temperature of the current gamescape, and that's usually what player councils do.

But they have limitations i think designers have to watch out for, because they are players. They have an obvious bias as the end user, and a game that completely caters to its end users demands ends up too quickly trivializing a lot of its features in favor of noise.

Some time this isn't a big deal, and sometimes it is if a barrier, or certain play space or simulation is altered in such a way that it now makes it far less interesting to the users without them realizing that would be the result.

In some capacities, its the designers job to preserve the overall game's design direction, environments, and simulation expectations, while its the users job to break them down and try to "game" them all so to speak. If you listen to the user too much, you could end up with something that's broken.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 9:12AM fallwind said

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@Kalex716

I agree. Players also lack knowledge of features already in the pipeline. When a CSM-like group says "We demand the addition/removal of Feature X" they may not know yet that adding/removing Feature X will totally break Feature Y that is on the way. They will then get pissed when the devs say "we can't".
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Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 8:38AM Nyan said

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There's nothing worse than developers that don't stick to their vision and goals, but instead try to cater to everyone.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 1:11PM Saerain said

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@Nyan Indeed. That's what pisses me off about the situation with EVE right now. I wish CCP would just do what it wants and let come who may.
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Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 2:05PM Calfis said

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@Saerain

TBH it does seem like a lot of what CCP wants is to get more people into Nullsec. That just happens to be what a lot of the elected CSM (who are mostly nullsec players) want as well. This feeds the perception of a CCP/CSM bias towards nullsec which is where most of the controversy seems to be stemming from. For example the whole idea of "nerfing" high security space has casual players up in arms since the only other place they would find the nerfed resources is in player-controlled nullsec.

But CCP has been trying to get more people into nullsec for the last few patches. Its just that some of the casual players play style is not in sync with CCP's 'vision' and a lot people are happy to blame the CSM for conjuring up a vision that CCP had anyway.
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Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 4:54PM Kalex716 said

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@Calfis

Good point, but i think the people that LIVE in null sec, and want people to come down there is one of the reasons why it will never ever happen if CCP listens only to them.

People that are successful in null sec, want everybody to come down there and play the "game" their "way". And unfortunately, everyone thats ever been chased out of null sec, or experienced it and decided to leave has conflicts with the idea in going back down there to participate in what the vision of the large power blocks have in mind for how null should play. Those guys made their own bed down there, and they're sleeping in it alone for a reason.

So it stands to reason, if representatives of that existing playstyle tell CCP how THEY think null could be more attractive, might not necessarily line up with the people who are put off by what its become could consider it more attractive.

It could almost be a perfect example of when NOT to listen to your council.
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Posted: Oct 4th 2011 1:45PM Calfis said

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@Kalex716

It could also be that CCP had much the same ideas anyway and is using the CSM as a punching bag to take the blame. A number of CCP devs are former nullsec players anyway.

As a side point, not everyone who is chased out of nullsec has a negative view of it as a result. Sure I might whine about super cap spamming but at the end of the day its still the place where most of the action and player created stories happens.

Its not the first time I've had my ass handed to me in null and it won't be the last but thats really part of the fun.
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Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 8:38AM Dumac said

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I have no idea how CSM works so i can't comment in detail on that, but they should listen. Rather, they should pay attention. I think the word listen implies "obey" in a sense, which i don't think should happen. They should pay attention to how players feel, but whether they should act on that depends on a different set of parameters.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 8:40AM Paradigm68 said

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I generally try not to follow drama outside the game so I never paid too much attention to the CSM until Monocle-Gate, and when I heard that part of being summoned to Iceland to deal with the situation included an NDA I wrote off the whole idea of the CSM as being viable and pretty much just a CCP PR campaign.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 9:10AM Matix said

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If a game's development team isn't listening to it's players, it's already a bad sign.

As for councils in general, I think the devs SHOULD take that input in the perspective being given. What I mean by that is that solo players see things one way, PVPers another, RPers another, etc. etc.

Councils--as heads of large groups of players--give the perspective of what is good for GROUPS. And what's good for groups is important, but shouldn't be used for ALL playstyles. Each viewpoint needs to be properly applied to the game mechanic in question.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 10:42AM OutThere said

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@Matix

Your point is very well taken.

I read recently that an MMO in development changed some of its basic tenets because one of the big guilds it had brought in as an alpha tester threatened to leave and not come back--ever. I admit, it was a rumor, and no names were named, but I instantly didn't want anything to do with that MMO. Clearly a powerful, trans-game guild was applying pressure to make the game in its image. But what about the rest of us? One wonders if the emphasis on end-game raid content and gear grinding isn't the result of so many ultra big guilds having the ear of the developers to the point that others voices are drowned out.

Devs do need to listen to the players, but they should consider it a little like dining with the devil--a very long spoon is needed.
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Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 9:47AM (Unverified) said

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Odd. I have only just posted this on EvE gate

"Do the opinions expressed in this forum represent the majority of EVE subscribers?
See I find myself reading about a different game to the one I seem to be playing. The main issues seem to be regarding a relatively narrow section of the community and mostly affect very experienced players. They are very committed to the game and make up substantial (and unrepresentative?) proportion of posts on this.

Fairly new players I think have a completely different view of the game but they are not yet as immersed so probably don’t make up a representative proportion of forum posters.
I think CCP has to constantly keep this in mind when listening to the very vocal minority here."

They should listen to their customers not necessarily the forum though.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 9:55AM real65rcncom said

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Wise men seek all counsel.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 10:02AM DarkWalker said

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Listen? Hell, yeah. Nothing worse than a developer that ignores what the community actually wants.

Blindly obey? No. Players are not developers and often have different agendas. It's a bad idea to give players free reign over the game.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 10:47AM nimzy said

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In short, no. In length, HELL NO.

Let me explain. Player councils are by definition a closed circle and a (very) small group of people. This makes them an extremely vocal minority that isn't exactly representative of the average player of whatever game necessitates the formation of these in the first place. (And we all know what happens when we give a small group of noisy people even the smallest amount of power.) Effective representation aside, we have seen both good and bad effects of small groups of players influencing the path of an entire MMO. Counterbalancing the CSM for EVE Online are two groups that have changed the path of World of Warcraft forever, Ensidia and Elitist Jerks. Both are small, tightly-knit guilds with a mission: to beat the game. And they did. Ensidia crushed the endgame raiding content while Elitist Jerks continually 'broke' the game's balance by determining objectively superior game strategies. Once the baleful gaze of developers turned to focus on what these two groups had to say, the experience of everyone else was changed, and often for the worse.

I can understand developers wanting a customer/player 'sounding board/focus group' type setup-- I wholly encourage that sort of two-way communication between the players of a game and the developers in charge of making it. But providing a single location to focus developer attention on is a terrible strategy. What's more is that most developers realize this quite early on in game development, and thus completely ignore the players entirely, leaving any communication up to the woefully under-utilized and stressed-out 'community manager.' (I speak from experience here, having worked on both sides of the fence.)

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 11:09AM (Unverified) said

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Absolutely not. CCP should take it to heart that the onus is on them to ascertain the mood and preferences of their player-base, not a committee of customers. Playing politics is dangerous. Giving even the most upstanding person a pedestal to put themselves on invites corruption.

CCP has a grand design, establishing games to fund the next stepping stone of the independent publishers existence. The trouble with EVE online is that is is not a solid real world item that can be left as a set piece. It is in constant flux and requires much more resource to maintain than even they would like to admit.

My one constant wish is that CCP remembers the ELITE principles that it was founded upon. And implement all the things that an 80’s dreamer wished they could do with their Cobra MkIII.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 11:25AM jakofascalon said

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Frankly, I think all games should have a council. But, not the way CCP does it. Some of the games that have went to the land that time forgot may still be around today had they actually had this. Unfortunately, I cannot give any suggestions as to how this would work, because the only one I know of seems broken.

Ultimately, if you are game developer and you are not willing to take the suggestions of the player base and implement them into your game, your player base will shrink until you are forced to go F2P w/ Cash Shop or your studio simply closes down. The only game I have seen not do it in that format, but yet they did was APB. Before the F2P, they had a loyal fan base, now they have a loyal fan base, but the game is completely different, in my opinion.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 11:45AM FrostPaw said

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If said council was created by the developer then yes of course they should listen.

Posted: Oct 3rd 2011 12:29PM Rodj Blake said

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The problem with the CSM as it's currently set up is that if the current powerbloc controlling 0.0 wants to run it, they will, simply because they can mobilise the votes at election time.


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