Getting Feedback

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.  The forums are all about this OMG important issue or that OMG important issue.  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.”)  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…

~Joe


3 Responses to “Getting Feedback”

  1. jliu replied on :

    :O

    What do you think of Warhammer Online’s stance on “no official forums”, because of what WoW’s forums had become – essentially full of hard-core unhappy groups out to complain of every change the designer wants to do to the game.

    Who owns the game, designers or players?

    I always think having a forum points system – each person is assigned xp points for being helpful (answering questions) or unhelpful (trolls) on the forum with the forum filter based on recent – high sum(xp) threads. I guess it’s kind of like slashdot/digg’s self moderating forum systems.

    Btw, PotBS’s forum search sucks – but I shouldn’t bring game complains to your blog.

  2. Joe wrote on :

    Lots of games have decided to not have official forums for one reason or another. We didn’t do that because we wanted to have a high degree of influence over the primary place people go to talk about our game. We set the tone of the discussion in our forums and have the ability to enforce that tone if someone gets too far out of line. It also allows us to restrict forum posting access to our actual customers, which is a big help all by itself. (Some jerk with an axe to grind can’t disrupt the forums after we ban him for jerkdom.)

    Our forum search is just the vanilla search that came with vBulletin. Hmm… I wonder if we could get Google to do search for us. :)

  3. Xavin commented on :

    Your forum search does suck, mainly because it requires search words to be four letters or more, which rules out common PotBS terms like DPS, NO, DR, etc.

    From the dev chat logs i have read, the general questions and concerns are the same as the forums. The forums are definitely more combative (it’s easier to attack someone when they aren’t standing in front of you), and the posters more knowledgeable, so they don’t ask the minor stuff that you have already answered. On the other hand, most of the regular PotBS posters have a much better grasp of the game issues than a normal player. I would put money on the fact that over half the level 50 game population still has a few very wrong notions on how the RvR contention system works, while I’m confident most of the forum posters understand it. If you are able to strip the bile and hate from the forum, I think that most of your core game issues are laid out there very well, with a lot of well thought out discussion in between the flames.

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