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SWTOR Deserves A Revival: More Funding, Resources and Manpower

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SWTOR Deserves A Revival: More Funding, Resources and Manpower
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Kryptonomic's Avatar


Kryptonomic
02.14.2019 , 07:12 PM | #201
Quote: Originally Posted by Ylliarus View Post
I am frankly baffled at how blatantly uncaringly they cast aside all the feedback from the last few months about the gear grind and thought "yes, we'll add in even more of that crap".
This is where, generally, a community manager would step in and help explain the rationale of the design and development team to the user base and, equally, convey the concerns of the community to the design and development team.

So part of the problem is what feedback reaches the internal team and to what extent it does so is very unknown. A lot of people will assume the "developers must be aware" but it's important to note that most developers in these companies do not frequent the forums. It would take too long to sort of the signal from the noise. Which is, again, why a community management function usually exists.

I've seen this many times in game studios where the community management function is lacking, due to various factors: inattention, inexperience, etc.

Thus, at the very least, if the perception is that feedback is negative about certain things but those certain things seem to get doubled down on with each update, you have to question whether that feedback is even being recognized and received. The idea that this is handled so poorly is obviously not good but the alternative is that the feedback is simply being outright ignored. Which would seem to be an even worse situation.

Again, however, an effective community management function could go a long way towards providing some insight.

Lhancelot's Avatar


Lhancelot
02.14.2019 , 07:34 PM | #202
Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
...you have to question whether that feedback is even being recognized and received. The idea that this is handled so poorly is obviously not good but the alternative is that the feedback is simply being outright ignored. Which would seem to be an even worse situation.

Again, however, an effective community management function could go a long way towards providing some insight.
Either it's the community manager not properly communicating to the studio/devs, or they choose to not act on what is being told. As you say, that part is the unknown. there's definitely a big problem though regarding how feedback is almost always ignored.

I always make a joke that the best feedback to and from the studio was when our community manager was on vacation, and that's the truth. The newest stormhold was being constructed by the devs, and Charles was relaying between the forums and the studio then. The devs actually were making changes to stuff they had already made due to feedback off the forums. Decorators were beyond happy that (for once) the devs seemingly were listening to what the players wanted. This was one of the only times I can think of when the players/forums truly had direct interaction and an impact on what the devs were doing for the game, and the results were wonderful.

Anyway, if the community manager passes information upwards as poorly (imo) as he interacts with the forums, well let's just say it makes me question whether or not he actually does pass stuff from the forums to the studio/devs. Hard to give him the benefit of the doubt when put in that context.

EDIT: I just remember how Charles even responded to one of my posts. First time in 6+ years someone from this game actually responded to anything I wrote. That meant something to me, and many others said the same thing too about how what they wrote really mattered to him. That's lacking with our present manager, he doesn't engage anyone and the majority of his communication typically is polite but devoid of any sort of feeling.
TRUE
Quote: Originally Posted by DarthSpuds View Post
RNG is counterproductive because it massively increases player dissatisfaction.
FALSE
Quote: Originally Posted by olagatonjedi View Post
As I detailed in another thread, RNG give the players more control over their gearing.

Kryptonomic's Avatar


Kryptonomic
02.14.2019 , 07:48 PM | #203
Quote: Originally Posted by Lhancelot View Post
Anyway, if the community manager passes information upwards as poorly (imo) as he interacts with the forums, well let's just say it makes me question whether or not he actually does pass stuff from the forums to the studio/devs. Hard to give him the benefit of the doubt when put in that context.
Agreed. To put this in further context -- and I do realize I can be coming off very negative here -- consider: BioWare has a five day schedule with your generally standard eight hour work day. That means 40 hours per week. I'm not being pedantic here but that context is interesting. Interesting because ... think about what a community manager's job is. Then think about what you see with this game. And ask yourself: what is truly being done over that 40 hour work week as part of the community management function?

As just one example, think of how little "Jedi Under Siege" was actually reviewed by outside venues. It barely made a blip anywhere. Running a data algorithm with some web sc****** on the aggregate of announcements shows a huge skew towards VULKK.com. In fact, it's the dominant skew. Next would be MMORPG.com. Then Fantha Tracks.

But then look at reviews of any expansion for, say, World of Warcraft. You see skews toward GameSpot, PC Gamer, GameInformer, Polygon, App Trigger, The Escapist, IGN, VenutreBeat, Ars Technica, Digital Trends, and so on.

I'm not trying to compare one game to another nor the content of one expansion to another. Those venues will review things that are popular, to be sure. But they will also review things if prodded and assuming they feel it's worth the time given the interests of their readers. So a point here is that a community manager (or community team, if such exists) will also make sure the word gets out to those venues: "Hey all, we have a cool new update to our game. Check out 'Jedi Under Siege' as we take the story back to its roots, introducing new characters, etc, etc."

So clearly there was not a lot of outreach to other venues. Or there was and they didn't care enough to actually do anything. (Which is the worse situation I'll leave up to personal opinion). That's one data point. There is clearly a mixed bag of outreach to the community of players. Another data point. That's two arenas of what is arguably great import that are being communicated with quite poorly.

We see that Eric still has to be "shamed" a bit into actually doing his job in a substantive way.

Consider this initial response by Eric and then consider his revised response. This is just one of many examples where prodding was necessary to get something useful.

So, in some cases, it's not "More Funding, Resources and Manpower"; sometimes it's just looking at how your resources and manpower are utilizing time and effort right now. This is another reason why people should probably realize this game, and its studio, isn't being micro-managed at all. If anything, there is a laxness to this studio that suggests they have little to no oversight whatsoever and very little impetus (whether in the form of encouragement or threat) to change.

Again, I know I can seem overly negative here but this is one area where I feel very strongly because I've seen so many situations where active (and anticipatory) community management could have made a difference in terms of potentially heading off a lot of ill-will and negativity about the direction of the game or decisions being made or feedback being (seemingly) ignored.

Lhancelot's Avatar


Lhancelot
02.14.2019 , 08:13 PM | #204
Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
As just one example, think of how little "Jedi Under Siege" was actually reviewed by outside venues. It barely made a blip anywhere. Running a data algorithm with some web sc****** on the aggregate of announcements shows a huge skew towards VULKK.com. In fact, it's the dominant skew. Next would be MMORPG.com. Then Fantha Tracks.

But then look at reviews of any expansion for, say, World of Warcraft. You see skews toward GameSpot, PC Gamer, GameInformer, Polygon, App Trigger, The Escapist, IGN, VenutreBeat, Ars Technica, Digital Trends, and so on.

I'm not trying to compare one game to another nor the content of one expansion to another. Those venues will review things that are popular, to be sure. But they will also review things if prodded and assuming they feel it's worth the time given the interests of their readers. So a point here is that a community manager (or community team, if such exists) will also make sure the word gets out to those venues: "Hey all, we have a cool new update to our game. Check out 'Jedi Under Siege' as we take the story back to its roots, introducing new characters, etc, etc."
Well this is an interesting point I never considered that part of it, well it never occurred to me that's part of the community manager/team's responsibility.


Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
We see that Eric still has to be "shamed" a bit into actually doing his job in a substantive way.

Consider this initial response by Eric and then consider his revised response. This is just one of many examples where prodding was necessary to get something useful.
Now, this is funny you mentioned this. I had to really control my inner troll that day. Number one I never seen him admit to not properly communicating, nor have I ever seen him say he would work harder/try harder to communicate more transparently (I am paraphrasing here.) I honestly thought to myself, what is going on, did he get reprimanded for not doing what he is supposed to do? It's as if someone was holding him accountable to actually write something substantial instead of his usual vague/tepid response I am used to seeing him write.


Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
So, in some cases, it's not "More Funding, Resources and Manpower"; sometimes it's just looking at how your resources and manpower are utilizing time and effort right now. This is another reason why people should probably realize this game, and its studio, isn't being micro-managed at all. If anything, there is a laxness to this studio that suggests they have little to no oversight whatsoever and very little impetus to change.
That's a great point too. I am tired of reading how EA is holding this game back, when I am guessing BW decides what work is done in the game. Even if they have limited resources, the work they do on the game makes little sense to me. Just an example is how they recreate gearing systems over and over, they gut conquest meaning they had to redo how conquest worked when by most accounts conquest didn't need a total overhaul, why do such major game altering changes if they have limited resources? Surely such large projects require quite a bit of work AKA resources.

Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
Again, I know I can seem overly negative here but this is one area where I feel very strongly because I've seen so many situations where active (and anticipatory) community management could have made a difference in terms of potentially heading off a lot of ill-will and negativity about the direction of the game or decisions being made or feedback being (seemingly) ignored.
My biggest criticism over the years has been the failure to communicate between playerbase and the studio. A lot of frustration can be avoided by the studio simply communicating why they are doing what, but what happens is there is little explanation and then on top of that when some major changes are added to the game that the players do not like, instead of trying to alleviate the concerns of the players usually the players are ignored for long periods of time. Inevitably people only grow more frustrated and by the time there is a response to the players people are blowing gaskets and having meltdowns on the forums. I am sure many have quit the game due to what I can only call apathy.
TRUE
Quote: Originally Posted by DarthSpuds View Post
RNG is counterproductive because it massively increases player dissatisfaction.
FALSE
Quote: Originally Posted by olagatonjedi View Post
As I detailed in another thread, RNG give the players more control over their gearing.

Ylliarus's Avatar


Ylliarus
02.15.2019 , 03:13 AM | #205
Quote: Originally Posted by Kryptonomic View Post
Agreed. To put this in further context -- and I do realize I can be coming off very negative here -- consider: BioWare has a five day schedule with your generally standard eight hour work day. That means 40 hours per week. I'm not being pedantic here but that context is interesting. Interesting because ... think about what a community manager's job is. Then think about what you see with this game. And ask yourself: what is truly being done over that 40 hour work week as part of the community management function?

As just one example, think of how little "Jedi Under Siege" was actually reviewed by outside venues. It barely made a blip anywhere. Running a data algorithm with some web sc****** on the aggregate of announcements shows a huge skew towards VULKK.com. In fact, it's the dominant skew. Next would be MMORPG.com. Then Fantha Tracks.

But then look at reviews of any expansion for, say, World of Warcraft. You see skews toward GameSpot, PC Gamer, GameInformer, Polygon, App Trigger, The Escapist, IGN, VenutreBeat, Ars Technica, Digital Trends, and so on.

I'm not trying to compare one game to another nor the content of one expansion to another. Those venues will review things that are popular, to be sure. But they will also review things if prodded and assuming they feel it's worth the time given the interests of their readers. So a point here is that a community manager (or community team, if such exists) will also make sure the word gets out to those venues: "Hey all, we have a cool new update to our game. Check out 'Jedi Under Siege' as we take the story back to its roots, introducing new characters, etc, etc."

So clearly there was not a lot of outreach to other venues. Or there was and they didn't care enough to actually do anything. (Which is the worse situation I'll leave up to personal opinion). That's one data point. There is clearly a mixed bag of outreach to the community of players. Another data point. That's two arenas of what is arguably great import that are being communicated with quite poorly.

We see that Eric still has to be "shamed" a bit into actually doing his job in a substantive way.

Consider this initial response by Eric and then consider his revised response. This is just one of many examples where prodding was necessary to get something useful.

So, in some cases, it's not "More Funding, Resources and Manpower"; sometimes it's just looking at how your resources and manpower are utilizing time and effort right now. This is another reason why people should probably realize this game, and its studio, isn't being micro-managed at all. If anything, there is a laxness to this studio that suggests they have little to no oversight whatsoever and very little impetus (whether in the form of encouragement or threat) to change.

Again, I know I can seem overly negative here but this is one area where I feel very strongly because I've seen so many situations where active (and anticipatory) community management could have made a difference in terms of potentially heading off a lot of ill-will and negativity about the direction of the game or decisions being made or feedback being (seemingly) ignored.
In all perfect honesty, I hadn't seen it from that perspective and now that you pointed it out to us, I can't do anything else except tell you "well, damn, you're right". Communication has been really bad over the years but especially recently it has plummeted into depths it hadn't been previously. They proudly announced they had hired a second community manager but so far I'm seeing no effects. I hope it's due to the guy being worked in, but that's me being the optimist I am. Because what needs working in? There's barely anything happening so I can't imagine there to be a huge hassle.

I have stood up to defends the devs frequently on these forums. But things have been going downhill with SWTOR and it's the fault of the developers. They are making decisions that increasingly antagonize the playerbase, people are fed up with the gear grind which to many starts to look as if it's for Keith's personal raiding guild rather than for the entire playerbase. I looked to Keith with hope and positivity once, I have severe doubts now whether having him at the helm of this sinking ship is a good idea.

So perhaps it's no longer a question of more manpower, but different manpower? Or a different way of using the manpower and resource that are currently present.
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SteveTheCynic's Avatar


SteveTheCynic
02.15.2019 , 04:26 AM | #206
Quote: Originally Posted by Ylliarus View Post
So perhaps it's no longer a question of more manpower, but different manpower? Or a different way of using the manpower and resource that are currently present.
The key thing, however it's achieved, is to find a better (and therefore different) way of using what they have. Merely "different" is not enough. Having them spend six hours a day doing a conga dance through the offices (and eating pizza during the remaining hours) *would* be different, but I don't think many people here would say it's a better way of working. (That said, at least they wouldn't be *breaking* things...)

I don't have an answer about what it would take to make things better, but on the player-communication end of things, there's an interesting comparison to be made between what you see, from the companies, on the SWTOR forums and the GW2 forums. The GW2 community-manager types (and other ArenaNet staff) come on and engage with the players, responding to what people say, and so on. There are new staff posts *every* *day*, although it's usually a bit slow on weekends, and you even see posts by actual developers and designers, thanking people for their feedback and explaining why decisions were made they way they were. It reminds me of that brief time when Keith first started working in his current role, and we saw him posting a lot and discussing things with us.

(Secondary point: GW2 customer service operates on weekends (I think it's actually 24/7...). I've had a ticket updated on Saturday, then fixed on the Sunday immediately after, although it *was* a ticket of the "I can't give you money" type.)
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Noerra's Avatar


Noerra
02.15.2019 , 04:55 AM | #207
Quote: Originally Posted by SteveTheCynic View Post
The key thing, however it's achieved, is to find a better (and therefore different) way of using what they have. Merely "different" is not enough. Having them spend six hours a day doing a conga dance through the offices (and eating pizza during the remaining hours) *would* be different, but I don't think many people here would say it's a better way of working. (That said, at least they wouldn't be *breaking* things...)

I don't have an answer about what it would take to make things better, but on the player-communication end of things, there's an interesting comparison to be made between what you see, from the companies, on the SWTOR forums and the GW2 forums. The GW2 community-manager types (and other ArenaNet staff) come on and engage with the players, responding to what people say, and so on. There are new staff posts *every* *day*, although it's usually a bit slow on weekends, and you even see posts by actual developers and designers, thanking people for their feedback and explaining why decisions were made they way they were. It reminds me of that brief time when Keith first started working in his current role, and we saw him posting a lot and discussing things with us.

(Secondary point: GW2 customer service operates on weekends (I think it's actually 24/7...). I've had a ticket updated on Saturday, then fixed on the Sunday immediately after, although it *was* a ticket of the "I can't give you money" type.)
GW2 does not just have good customer service and player communications but their whole idea of players first goes to the every aspect of the game and to every single person working there from bottom to very top to the president level. All this reflects positively to whole game.

What i am trying to say here, SWTOR problem is not (in my opionion) work of the single person (like Eric) but the whole company attitude and working culture. If they is no culture of everyone working together, everyone getting involved with their community and wanting to hear what they say and everyone wanting the very best of the player, it does not matter what community manager says or does. All we know he could be constantly telling onwards everything people ask here but the caring for customers stops after him and message gets ignored. What he can then post for us? "Hey i tried but no one listened to me and they refuse to tell me what is gonna happen next"?

Kryptonomic's Avatar


Kryptonomic
02.15.2019 , 07:21 AM | #208
Quote: Originally Posted by Noerra View Post
If they is no culture of everyone working together, everyone getting involved with their community and wanting to hear what they say and everyone wanting the very best of the player, it does not matter what community manager says or does.
I get what you're saying here but realistically this is just not how game studios can generally work. There is an asymmetry between the number of developers and the number of players, of course. Plus developers generally have a job to do. Looking at forums and ferreting out the signal from the noise is not one of those jobs. It would also be counter-productive, in many cases, due to the anchor bias that tends to happen.

This is exactly why you have specialists in community management. It's an abstraction layer between the developers and the consumers of what those developers produce. It's also a layer between designers and producers. This is what helps communicate between varying levels of knowledge and technical skill but also working to distill common sentiments of the player base while also not overly focusing on outliers.

Quote:
All we know he could be constantly telling onwards everything people ask here but the caring for customers stops after him and message gets ignored.
This is very true. We don't know. But we do know other areas where community outreach has faltered. I provided one of those above. While that is by no means any sort of proof, we do start to see common patterns being applied of communication that is sporadic, at best, ineffective as a middle-ground, or entirely absent at worst. We do see where the player base has to often prod to get information that really should have just been provided in the first place.

Quote:
What he can then post for us? "Hey i tried but no one listened to me and they refuse to tell me what is gonna happen next"?
This is a good point. When you work in game studios you generally sign a "non-disparagement contract" as part of your employment. This basically means you can't go out there bad-mouthing your game or the team that produces it. Depending on the strength of the wording -- and it's usually very strong -- you can't even give a hint that things aren't entirely rosy. That is an important context to realize.

That being said, community managers are trained to deal with these kinds of situations. It's basically learning how to convey bad news but without actually giving away internal dynamics or, in fact, making it seem like entirely bad news. One is just being anticipatory. Meaning, try to anticipate what is likely going to be a problem and then respond as much as you can to at least show that you recognize the problem and that you are engaging with the delivery team (producers, designers, developers) about this.

Let's say there's something the producers want to do -- such as a type of "gear grind" that they feel is necessary for whatever reason. Let's say the community manager knows this is unpopular to at least some vocal segment of the player base. Let's say the community manager has made this clear to the product team but the product team has made it equally clear that this is going to happen. Sounds like a bad spot to be in, right?

And it is! This is where you have to work with the product team to convey a message about why this is being done, an understanding that this might be unpopular (so people don't just think the team is oblivious), and what specifically the product team is hoping to see as this is rolled out, along with a demonstrable -- key word there! -- sustained -- another key word! -- feedback mechanism.

Key to this also is a willingness of the delivery team to change, or at least course-correct, based on that feedback. This latter point is something that a community manager can in no way do anything about. So if that community manager is backed by a product team that is going a certain direction regardless of player feedback, yes, there isn't much that can be done about that. There are, however, still ways to communicate with the player base to make the situation less unpalatable or to convey a rationale.

Generally people will be less unhappy if they feel they understand some reasoning -- even if they disagree with the reasoning. Those same people will be even less unhappy if they see progress in other areas, such as better communication about whether logging in and doing activities will have some impact on, say, companion influence that seems to be getting lost.

That's probably my final point. Communication is an aggregate. So community management is about making sure that, on average, the player base feels more communicated with rather than less. Even if what has to be communicated is not stellar news, the fact that there is engagement and that there is substantive engagement can go a long way towards reducing player antipathy and apathy.

MorseGod's Avatar


MorseGod
02.15.2019 , 07:40 AM | #209
All they need to do to get more resources is sell more subscriptions. Alienating everyone except ops raiders and PvPers is likely to have the opposite effect.
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merovejec
02.15.2019 , 07:48 AM | #210
Anthem early access is launching today so we will see how it does and if they will rather go back to swtor development
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