Andy Brice recently posted on getting feedback from software customers. With Pirates, our options are similar but somewhat tweaked.
We host our own forums for our user community to hang out on. On most MMOs about 10% of the player base actually uses these, and they self-select into a very hard-core and usually unhappy group. We can use the forums to find out what they’re unhappy about, but they probably don’t represent the actual player base very well. Still, listening to this segment of our community is important.
Click-cancel surveys are another common option. When someone goes to your site to cancel their subscription you ask them why they’ve canceled. SOE isn’t currently set up to run these, so we don’t have that data available, but many games do this kind of survey. This information is useful for finding exit points for players so you can eliminate them.
Recently I’ve started doing something a little different. I show up in game with no warning whatsoever and announce that I’m running an impromptu devchat. I offer to teleport any players who want to attend to an out of the way spot and then spend an hour or so answering their questions. I’ve run four of these so far (with one of our designers helping out on all but one of them.)
The biggest difference between what I hear in these impromptu devchats and what I read on the forums is the tone.Â The forums are all about this OMG important issue or that OMG important issue.Â The devchats have all been players asking about various new stuff that we might add to the game. (The answer is almost always “That’s a great idea that we want to implement, but we don’t know when we’ll get to it.”)Â I think to get more feedback from players I’ll need to actually ask them some questions.
Maybe I’ll have to try that in the next one…