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Community Response, the Importance of Proper Community Management

In light of recent events and the lack of communication actually ocurring following this debacle, I'd like us all to take a step back and think of how communication between the playerbase of a game and the developers/publishers should work.

The relationship is symbiotic, the game cannot function without the developers or publishers, but it also cannot function without a satisfied playerbase. Both of these elements are key to understanding why this has turned so nasty - EME's community managers are hiding their heads, or stomping their feet and quoting the rules, and the players are extremely angry, some overreacting, but many with valid concerns. Before we start on the specifics, let's look at two examples of how this has gone for other games, shall we? One of these examples has a happy end, the other is ongoing.

First example - Warframe, developed by Digital Extremes, has seen a fair number of big clashes between developers and players (yes, I know EME aren't devs, but they are the only source we can communicate properly with in NA Tera). For this example I'm going with Viver, or Warframe's famous "loot cave" debacle. Effectively what went down is that a method existed to grind "syndicate reputation", which functioned pretty much the way reputation & credits function in Tera, the only difference was that the reputation also acted as the credits, instead of the two being seperate. This method involved a specific 4 characters on a specific map that could AFK the entire mission only pressing one button each for extremely fast reputation gain, and to counter this, Digital Extremes made changes to these 4 characters instead of changing how the map, and the game mode it was a part of, functioned.

The resulting backlash from this kneejerk change had the community in a fervor, and Digital Extremes did what EME seems to be doing now - they hid their heads after saying "you should've known" and buckled down hoping it would blow over... it did not. After a week of constant bombardment from angry players, one of the developers made an official post, apologising for the changes that genuinely made these 4 characters buggy messes, and then they reverted the changes and changed the map to a different game mode so it could not longer be farmed in this way. People calmed down and moved on, content with this end.

Second example - SMITE, developed by Hi-Rez Studios, SMITE has also had a fair number of these clashes, and two of them are still ongoing. I'm going to use EasyAntiCheat (EAC for short) for this post, sorta relevant, ain't it? EAC is a system that Hi-Rez introduced to Paladins, another game of theirs, and EAC seems to work perfectly fine on it, however, it wasn't until Hi-Rez introduced the system to SMITE in the beginning of Season 4 that things got ugly. See, the objective of EAC is, overall, to prevent cheats, however the problem with this is that SMITE already had such a low amount of cheaters that ever made it to Level 30, where most of SMITE's playerbase was actually at, that the inclusion of it had no real impact on the gameplay of the core part of the playerbase - or, I should say, no positive impact.

You see, shortly after EAC hit, the reddit flooded with complaints of constant disconnects from games, as well as a significant number of videos taken post-EAC that showed people cheating, the community perception was that EAC actually made things worse. What the community saw was: EAC hit, servers got worse, DCs constantly, more cheaters, and that last one? Ooh, that was the killer. People were outraged, and Hi-Rez didn't make many acknowledgements until one post, it was a long-winded post made by one of the community managers at Hi-Rez, and the community weren't buying into it. Sure, people were happy to get a response, but they hated the contents of it. EAC is still active in SMITE to this day and complaints about connection quality while not as frequent, are still commonplace.

Now - what do these two events have in common, and what do they do differently? Obviously both angered the community in some way, and both got responses from community managers, but what's missing?

The acceptance of the response. See, your community, no matter what game you're running, is not stupid. If they think you're trying to pull the wool over their eyes, it will only make them more unhappy, publisher/developer and community need to be able to have a proper connection, a heart-to-heart, a platform to discuss these issues. If you begin deleting everything and silencing everyone, it's like angering a swarm of bees and then poking the hive even more - just not a good idea.

EME - you need to make a proper response to what is happening here, a proper, well-ordered response that doesn't silence "naysayers" and involve you stamping your foot on the ground saying "Them's the rules, you should've known!" Everything can be made constructive, you just need to give your players a proper way to do it, and only keeping select threads up isn't the way to do it; this is a forum, a place for people to voice their concerns, share their views, and connect with you. This is too rash, while you can spin around after 4 years and suddenly start forcing out 3rd party software, you really shouldn't. Consider that you need to ease these things in, if anyone's to blame for allowing this to go on for so long with no repercussions, you have to accept that it is you, the ones in charge of the rulebook.

Please, I beg of you, for the sake of yourselves and for the sake of Tera, the game everyone here has a connection to - please do not sever this connection.

To the players - stick to your guns, this is as much your game as it is Bluehole's and EnMasse's, you have a right to be heard on anything you think is an issue, but keep it civil, at the very least.

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Comments

  • +1 upvote *^*
  • GinjitsuGinjitsu ✭✭✭✭✭
    Doviculus wrote: »
    EME - you need to make a proper response to what is happening here, a proper, well-ordered response that doesn't silence "naysayers" and involve you stamping your foot on the ground saying "Them's the rules, you should've known!" Everything can be made constructive, you just need to give your players a proper way to do it, and only keeping select threads up isn't the way to do it; this is a forum, a place for people to voice their concerns, share their views, and connect with you. This is too rash, while you can spin around after 4 years and suddenly start forcing out 3rd party software, you really shouldn't. Consider that you need to ease these things in, if anyone's to blame for allowing this to go on for so long with no repercussions, you have to accept that it is you, the ones in charge of the rulebook.

    Please, I beg of you, for the sake of yourselves and for the sake of Tera, the game everyone here has a connection to - please do not sever this connection.

    To the players - stick to your guns, this is as much your game as it is Bluehole's and EnMasse's, you have a right to be heard on anything you think is an issue, but keep it civil, at the very least.

    En Masse has made a "proper" response/update:
    https://forums.enmasse.com/tera/discussion/comment/137587/#Comment_137587

  • Ginjitsu wrote: »

    I did see that, and I referenced it, that response summed up is effectively "them's the rules, we're forcing this." I do reference this near the end of my post, that they need to ease these things in - you can't just brute force something that has been grudgingly accepted for so long, it doesn't work well.
  • ElinLoveElinLove ✭✭✭✭✭
    Doviculus wrote: »
    [...]

    To the players - stick to your guns, this is as much your game as it is Bluehole's and EnMasse's, you have a right to be heard on anything you think is an issue, but keep it civil, at the very least.

    I'll just quote this small part to say something:
    I see their stance on the issue as letting the dust settle, let people calm down 1st so they actually address it properly without the entire ganking on eme deal that was a while ago.

    Their point wouldn't even come across a few minutes ago, I see that they're just waiting for it to settle - and preparing a proper thread about it - to clarify things further. You can't discuss with people with pitchforks and torches waiting to burn the witch.

    At least that's what I hope, it's kinda had that small post but still too much on air. Tho that's also part of it, they'll never tell that you can do this and that modification - it's written on ToS and they can't tell you to ignore it on this or that case.
  • LesbianViLesbianVi ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2017
    One thing here, How about community's behavior? How about community that devolved to this? How many healthy runs happens?

    All I am saying, is you people point your fingers at EME while never ever take a look at community. Hate me all you want, but there is one thing behind all this.

    Community caused this, not EME. EME's communication might have been weak recently but the cause of this goes back to community, The few that cheated, the few followed the cheaters, Majority that said nothing and watched them and again few which innocently just wanted to have a better game experience because BHS couldn't do it for them.
  • LesbianVi wrote: »
    One thing here, How about community's behavior? How about community that devolved to this? How many healthy runs happens?

    All I am saying, is you people point your fingers at EME while never ever take a look at community. Hate me all you want, but there is one thing behind all this.

    Community caused this, not EME. EME's communication might have been weak recently but the cause of this goes back to community, The few that cheated, the few followed the cheaters, Majority that said nothing and watched them and again few which innocently just wanted to have a better game experience because BHS couldn't do it for them.

    I acknowledged some people overreacted, like I said, EME is handling this poorly - these things can't be forced, they're a slow process, weeks or months, and EME is trying to do it in a matter of days.
  • PentosPentos ✭✭
    edited April 2017
    What I am angry about with EME is them deleting threads that were discussing and questioning their methods. This is our Forum is it not? Isn't this the place where we discuss our concerns as a community.
  • GinjitsuGinjitsu ✭✭✭✭✭
    xEmptiness wrote: »
    Ginjitsu wrote: »
    Doviculus wrote: »
    EME - you need to make a proper response to what is happening here, a proper, well-ordered response that doesn't silence "naysayers" and involve you stamping your foot on the ground saying "Them's the rules, you should've known!" Everything can be made constructive, you just need to give your players a proper way to do it, and only keeping select threads up isn't the way to do it; this is a forum, a place for people to voice their concerns, share their views, and connect with you. This is too rash, while you can spin around after 4 years and suddenly start forcing out 3rd party software, you really shouldn't. Consider that you need to ease these things in, if anyone's to blame for allowing this to go on for so long with no repercussions, you have to accept that it is you, the ones in charge of the rulebook.

    Please, I beg of you, for the sake of yourselves and for the sake of Tera, the game everyone here has a connection to - please do not sever this connection.

    To the players - stick to your guns, this is as much your game as it is Bluehole's and EnMasse's, you have a right to be heard on anything you think is an issue, but keep it civil, at the very least.

    En Masse has made a "proper" response/update:
    https://forums.enmasse.com/tera/discussion/comment/137587/#Comment_137587
    Dunno what you're smoking. Everyone I asked all agreed that it added nothing we didn't know from the first post and showed the same ignorance regarding how the "third party" programs even function.

    Why not try asking everyone else that hasn't agreed? Get their perspective, find the fountain of knowledge, understand the other side, smoke what they're smoking!

    Doviculus wrote: »
    Ginjitsu wrote: »

    I did see that, and I referenced it, that response summed up is effectively "them's the rules, we're forcing this." I do reference this near the end of my post, that they need to ease these things in - you can't just brute force something that has been grudgingly accepted for so long, it doesn't work well.

    What's not clear about the update then?
  • edited April 2017
    Hey @Doviculus. I appreciate your message here, and I agree that it's always best to communicate with players even in times when we as a publisher are in some kind of disagreement with vocal players.

    Your post was no doubt spurred by the hot topic of 3rd party programs. I don't think the situation is quite equal with the examples you gave where technical problems in the game were preventing players from enjoying themselves. In those examples, there was a mechanical failure that the game developers didn't seem to agree with the players on, or something that interrupted the game. As you noted, we're not developers and this is actually a policy and hacking concern. In any case, I get your meaning even though the comparison isn't perfect.

    The topic we're tackling this week is a really tough one because so many vocal players engage in things that are against the forum rules. Threads that get posted are often angry because they think we're blaming them for the existence of hackers, or that cheating/hacking/whatever is 100% justified because from their perspective, they have done nothing wrong and are being persecuted. Many players suddenly feel like they could be banned at any moment, but they still don't want to stop breaking the rules because they've been doing it for so long.

    The reality is that the crew here wants players to enjoy TERA, and we do our best to make the game a fun environment. Some players are really messing with that goal, and we have to deal with it even if it means tackling a sensitive topic like 3rd party programs.

    I'd like to hear from your perspective what you would do if you were a TERA community manager and very vocal players wanted to break the rules, but you couldn't allow them to do it. They would think you're totally out of touch with the community, of course. It's a tough message to deliver to people.

    I hope you had time to read today's follow-up response. If not, please have a look and let me know if you agree with our motivations here.

    I'd really like to keep this thread open so we can talk about communication between EME and players, so I'd like to ask everyone to please avoid mentioning 3rd party programs, what they do, how to use them, where to get them, who makes them.... really anything that has to do with them. If you have questions please message me directly.
  • ElinLoveElinLove ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ginjitsu wrote: »
    [...]
    What's not clear about the update then?

    What I could point my finger at, would be their silence regarding the modifying of the S1.Engine and the likes, and proxy users. It's been a bit better explained their stance on the issue, they'll hunt down the creators of the hacks and who makes actually malicious programs. As far as Spacecats' post shows, they're not focusing on users of DPS meters and the likes, but still state that it IS against ToS as it's always been.

    We would all benefit from a proper reply regarding client side FPS optimizations and proxies/VPNs, but still understandable - albeit annoying - if they're not gonna say much, it's after all way too hard to draw a line on which parts of the client they would hunt you down for messing with, and which ones they'll turn a blind eye. They basically have to say it's all banned, that's the normal company stance whatever company it is.
  • xoBarbxoBarb ✭✭✭
    Spacecats wrote: »

    I'd like to hear from your perspective what you would do if you were a TERA community manager and very vocal players wanted to break the rules, but you couldn't allow them to do it. They would think you're totally out of touch with the community, of course. It's a tough message to deliver to people.

    Ban them all :')


  • Spacecats wrote: »
    I'd really like to keep this thread open so we can talk about communication between EME and players, so I'd like to ask everyone to please avoid mentioning 3rd party programs, what they do, how to use them, where to get them, who makes them.... really anything that has to do with them. If you have questions please message me directly.

    Question. How can we discuss this issue, when the issue you've just exactly prohibited discussion of.

    Several contradictory statements and inconsistencies with Enmasse recently and over the last year need to be sorted out.

    I'm losing faith and are a number of other players.
  • ObsObs ✭✭✭
    edited April 2017
    Moderator edit - This isn't a thread about game optimization or latency. Please stay on topic.
  • AngelineAngeline ✭✭✭
    t
    Spacecats wrote: »
    technical problems in the game were preventing players from enjoying themselves

    THIS IS THE ISSUE. This is what we're looking for communication around. This is why (some of) those-things-that-shall-not-be-named were developed, and it's why so many people are angry at the action you're taking against them now.
This discussion has been closed.