*YANK* “NOW LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!” [Author: Lum the Mad]

Starting out, he circled the herd warily, pawing the dirt

Ok, I’ll answer the questions on the thread, even though I’ll get flamed, and people will still say we don’t respond, or care, or listen, or that I was defensive, or too blunt, or not blunt enough (sugar coating), etc., etc.

[excerpts follow]

…Chances of the boards in their current format surviving much longer, thanks to people like schmoe? Not good…

…Absor posts a lot, and does the best he can. He posts far more than any other official board I know of, and he doesn’t just say he’ll pass on info to the team — he actually carries on conversations, gives his opinions and perspectives, etc. I’m sorry if this isn’t enough for you, but well, it’s a heck of a lot more than other games do. As for me posting — I do it occasionally and I answer what I want to answer because, well, posting isn’t my job. It’s Saturday night right now and I’m at home and I’m posting and answering threads I feel like…

…What can I say — you don’t think we answer questions honestly. Seriously, then, why are you here? To heckle us then? To flame us? If so, seriously, go away. We work very hard on this game, and Absor works very hard to communicate with our customers. If you want to sit on a board run by us and accuse us of not being honest and never answering tough questions… well, it’s you who are not being honest and just trolling. And flames and trolling are NOT welcome here…

So, there you have it, I answered every question on this thread. I answered it bluntly, and truthfully. I responded even to trolls and flames, which most people would probably agree is a bad idea. I’m sure I will be criticized as being defensive and insulting to our paying customers.

But the thread asked for it, and I did what some of you wanted. Will it make a difference? Did communication between Verant get better?


Methinks no, and methinks there has to be a better way for us to communicate to our player base and for you all to communicate your ideas and feedback to us.

But then, after the herd pointed and laughed at the lion, in a full-throated howl of rage, he goes for the throat:

And you can call me a troller or whatever other names you want rather than responding to the points I made, but maybe you ought to think about whether you would have bothered responding to this thread and answered any questions at all if no one had flamed you. Consider that when you think about taking the board down, and consider the possibility that if you came here and answered threads such as the FIVE PART PVP THREAD that Absor, who works so diligently to do your job for you, has yet to respond to, this board might not have degenerated into a flame-fest of anger and frustration.

Yeah, that’s it. If only Absor would post more, the flaming would go away. Are you really serious? The flames and negativity exist because we don’t post ENOUGH? Actually, it appears to me that the more we post the more people believe their agendas might be listened too, and so they post even more, and then when each and every person isn’t not only personally responded to but each and every idea (no matter how contradictory) isn’t implemented, the negativity rises again. Did you ever consider why the vast majority of industries DON’T run forums like this?

I’m certain that if all I did was post here all day, there’d be just as much if not more negativity. The facts are, we can’t respond to everyone and we can’t implement every idea everybody has and we can’t change or enhance every aspect of the game everyone wants us to. We can do our best to listen, and to respond, and as I’ve posted, many great ideas have come from these boards, and many problems have been brought to light on these boards and summarily addressed.

But the fact is, when there were no official boards, there was less negativity. And then when there were official public boards, but we didn’t have official dev team people post on them, there was more negativity. And then when I came and posted occasionally, even though I had a lot of other job responsibilities, the negativity rose again. And then when I hired Abashi to post here full time, the negativity rose again. And then when I hired Absor to post here instead because players seemed to want a softer spoken, more player-advocate and less blunt community relations manager, the boards became even more negative.

And so, with all due respect, I find your assertion that things would be hunky-dory were Absor to respond to even more posts, or were we to hire 10 more community relations managers, to be absurd.

Consider also the fact that the mud wimping FAQ, which you, Smedley, and Abashi have all disparaged as simplistic and just plain wrong, predicted that it would come to this point between you and your customers should you nerf without just cause. Just a coincidence, though, I’m sure.

Is that what it says? And is that what we’ve objected to in regards to that article? And is that what we’re doing? Nerfing without ‘just cause’? Just to be big meanies, eh?

The article submits that if the people in charge of a MUD nerf in order to fix problems, that the MUD will eventually enter a ‘death spiral’. The fact is, this is empirically false for both MUDs and commercial MMOGs. In fact, the opposite is true: MUDs in which the people responsible for it have refused to fix problems tend to become ‘monty haul’ and they dwindle away. And the MUDs where the implementers have made hard choices and nerfed to protect the long-term health of the game have remained popular and populated for many, many years.

The article also advocates either ignoring balance problems or addressing balance problems by enhancing every other aspect of the game. Again, this just accelerates MUDflation, often creating a ‘monty haul’ scenario, in which the content of the game is devoured rapidly, after which the players leave. It also requires significantly more work on the part of the designers (instead of fixing the problem (nerfing), the entire rest of the game must be upgraded, which is not only a tremendous amount of work but also in and of itself prone to even more errors, etc.). And then, of course, even if the rest of the players were ‘upgraded’ in response to a balance error, the right thing to do would also be to upgrade the environment (i.e. all the mobs), which I suppose would be considered a stealth-nerf by the extreme anti-mud-wimping crowd.

So, yeah, the article is wrong in many ways (although it has some fine points in regards to managing player expectations). It’s unrealistic, and the disaster it predicts doesn’t in reality happen.

Whatever. Take the board down, if you think that that will fix things (just like you thought moderating it would); continue treating the symptom rather than the disease. And good bloody luck. Until you realize that the wishes of your customers should be the prime factor in your decision-making processes with regard to game development are concerned, the ill will you feel in this thread won’t go anywhere.

The wishes of the customer should absolutely be the prime factor in our decision making process, and they are. And the absolute, fundamental, and overriding wish of our customers as a whole is that EverQuest continue to be an entertaining, balanced, and fun game. And the decisions we make in regards to this game are ALWAYS made in an effort to keep this game healthy and entertaining. If the game isn’t fun, people will leave, and then we won’t be able to continue making these games, and we won’t have jobs.

But, you see, the customers themselves don’t speak in a unified voice. They quite often speak from their own perspective. Sometimes one customer will want something that another won’t want. And sometimes a customer will want something that, while benefiting them short term, would harm the game (and therefore the entertainment of many other customers) long-term.

We’re not making widgets here. We’re not creating a product that when given to a customer is in a vacuum. If a customer walks into a burger joint and wants their burger made a certain way, and the company complies, it doesn’t change the next burger given to the next customer. The products aren’t linked in that regard.

But if I go into the game and give a player something he wants, or implement a certain change, it quite often can and will affect other players. And so, when operating a game and service like this, the individual customer is NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Rather, the customer base as a whole is right. And it’s our jobs to ascertain what the majority of our customers want.

And, I suppose, unfortunately, that until the majority of our customers realize this, then the ‘ill will’ you refer to won’t go away.

I’ll move back to Usenet, and EQ Vault, where perhaps you can ignore it more easily. But the end result, when the Next Big Thing comes out, will be equally gruesome for the game–which, believe it or not, I happen to like.

Ah, the ‘just wait until the Next Big Thing comes out’ apocalyptic threat of doom. Well, of course if a better game comes out, many people will leave. As well they should – life’s too short to play an inferior game. We’re going to do our damndest to make sure EQ remains the best at what it is supposed to be. And, I think rather than a mass exodus occurring when that messiah of MMORGs some people think is going to come out in their lifetimes, that there will slowly but surely be more and more choices in this new and emerging genre. And then, people will have more options, and be able to choose a game that is more specifically suited to their playstyle. And that fact, combined with hopefully players understanding more and more over time that MMOGs companies have to look out for the health of their game as a whole and that the collective customer is always right, not the individual, will lead to less negativity.

At least, I sure hope so.

So, let me sum up for you Aradune’s thought processes At This Hour:

  • The Trivial Combat code implemented with the Warrens (level-inappropriate parties are denied phat l3wt) is really cool, and won’t be implemented elsewhere. Unless it is. And it’s good for roleplaying.
  • Moderated chats are necessary, as proven by the fact that Aradune is studly enough to stick around and take unmoderated questions
  • Verant can still easily be whipped into a frothing lather by merely mentioning Tenarius’ Mudwimping Guide
  • The tenor of Whineplay is completely the players’ fault, and has nothing – NOTHING – whatsoever to do with the periodic From The Mountaintop pronouncements of Aradune, the bitter You’re-Lucky-This-Is-Only-My-Hobby moderating comments of Abashi, and the fleeing of Absor into a dark, comforting hole
  • Since the players can’t handle the little eensy bit of freedom that Whineplay affords them, and since no other company EVER thought of running a message board for their MMOG (really), they’ll probably be going away soon. But don’t worry, there really, really will be a way for the Silent Majority of EQ players to be heard.

My money’s on “1-900-EQ CARES”. Now THAT could open up some serious interactivity.

Or another poll. Take yer choice.