Well, I didn’t think it possible. Mark Jacobs, GM/VP of EA Mythic, responds to the massive feedback on Mythic’s plans for official Warhammer Online forums. He has a lot to say… a lot. Here’s a little taste from his novel:
“The age we are living in is definitely a different one. I’ve gone from moderating forums with hundreds of people to seeing forums that are supposed to support games with millions of people. I wish it was as simple as set a few rules, apply them fairly, be honest with the players and then everything will be all right. It just isn’t that way, no matter how much we would like it to be. Heck, even on our own beta forums we have people who refuse the follow the rules, break NDAs, ignore stickies, etc. and we do all the right things…
… In closing, I do wish I believed that having official forums would be a great move for WAR. Even with the jerks/griefers/flamers/etc., I love online communities, I just cannot be convinced that in 2008, the right way to launch an MMORPG like WAR is with wide-open official forums.”
In the end, I still agree with Mark on this. Being a moderator myself on VN, which by comparison to an official board is tiny, is tough already. There are people who surf the internet to be nothing more than flamers and asshats. On a daily basis I experience the great joy and honor of having to read line by line every post made on the boards to ensure that someone isn’t sneaking in an inappropriate link, swearing, sharing exploits, flaming, post farming, trolling, and so on. I do all of this because I care about the community. I’m not paid or compensated for my time in any way, but to me it’s worth it because I’m able to contribute to the maintenance of a healthy community that meant and means a lot to me. The amount of resources that a company would have to invest to actually pay their moderators and cover the immense amount of content coming in every second is staggering.
Mark went on to talk more. This time it was less about why he doesn’t like or want boards, but some of the ramifications that arise from having no official boards and Mythic’s ability to overcome:
“For those of you who are worried about how we will communicate with the player base, break news, etc., take a look at what we did with DAoC (www.camelotherald.com) and consider that the minimum spec for WAR. We even have a feedback form, player grab bags, etc. for those who want to communicate directly with us (and need proof that we actually read the things sent in). Please remember that we have been making online games for quite a while now so even though we haven’t been perfect (nobody is), we certainly set a pretty high standard back in 2001 and have learned a lot more over the years.
This issue isn’t really how we will communicate with the players, as DAoC proved that we know how to communicate to our player base. The issue really is how we want to support players communicating to us and communicating to each other. If you want efficient player -> Mythic communication, the Herald feedback form is a lot better and more direct than having CMs/devs try to sort through all the noise to get to the real issues found on forums. And with our new in-game tools (as our beta testers know), we can gather a lot more information than we could with DAoC, both direct and indirectly. If you are concerned about Mythic -> player communication, well, as I said, the Camelot Herald was the best of its time and we hope to improve on that. If you want player<->player communication about the game, well, that won’t be supported officially on our own forums.”
I like seeing developers and company staff posting on community boards. I’m one of those people that like the proof that what I’m submitting or saying is being read. I like the personal responses more than I like to see the “Thank you for submitting your feedback!”. But, I have to give Mythic props. Mark does have ground to stand on when he claims they have a track record. Mythic did a nice job of listening (Although when they implemented changes they sorta failed to listen to the right people ;)) with DAOC and I can only sit back and place stock in them again. That’s all that anyone can really do right now. The time declaring the next apocalypse has come will be when they failed to live up to their words — not before the game has even released.
There you have it. I think this topic might have finally seen its conclusion. But I thought that last time as well…