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posted ago by Snipthetipandsip ago by Snipthetipandsip +18 / -0

Personally I think the immediate answer I want to give is yes. It makes sense that a dev team should engage actively with the community. Simply put, a player base will always be able to find and recreate bugs, obvious balance needs, and interactions before any dev team. So being an active part in the community should mean the dev team can make changes that will effect the quality of life of the game.

On a deeper thought I remember that everyone has an opinion, and when a dev team starts bending their idea to the community it can move away from the original idea of the game. Considering how everyone has an input, I could see it being tough to implement them all within the parameters of the game.

Thoughts?

Comments (26)
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Kaarous 17 points ago +17 / -0

It depends. A lot of games have been abjectly ruined by listening to the community. Ultima Online being one of the earliest examples of that. Decades later, EVE Online is slowly strangling itself from exactly the same problem.

In general, "the community" doesn't know shit about shit, and shouldn't be listened to at all.

At the same time, games like Starsector, in which the community and the (solitary) developer are engaged with one another in a healthy and meaningful way, which is to say that he frequently ignores them, would be ideal.

But said ideal will never, ever happen in larger and more popular games, especially games that have a publisher or are part of a larger studio. They will always face pressure from management and marketing to kowtow to the whiniest voices, who are ironically the people who should be ignored. So in general I will say no.

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FiresideRant 8 points ago +8 / -0

"They will always face pressure from management and marketing to kowtow to the whiniest voices, who are ironically the people who should be ignored."

This. #1 reason for answering "no".

The only way this sort of thing can really happen is going to be if we have an advancement in the ability to create high quality games that doesn't involve more of an investment than half a dozen people can come up with. And I don't mean indie games, I mean people getting started on a full MMORPG or FPS game without having to find people to invest $300million.

Game companies need the freedom to tell players "no, if you don't like it, leave". When they are enslaved to investors who want their ROI, it is not possible to do this.

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starsabove 1 point ago +1 / -0

I mean people getting started on a full MMORPG or FPS game without having to find people to invest $300million. Game companies need the freedom to tell players "no, if you don't like it, leave". When they are enslaved to investors who want their ROI, it is not possible to do this.

Modern development isn't cheap, especially for an MMO, which requires ongoing server and bandwidth costs. If you invest hundreds of millions into an MMO, you've every right to demand a return on that investment. And you won't get an investor to just give you 300M dollars to make a highly niche MMO title that'll appeal to a few thousand players for a couple months.

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flashersenpai 1 point ago +1 / -0

modern development is as cheap as you want it to be

competition on graphics is the reason for the vast majority of expense and generally the least important part of a game's success

graphics have been acceptable in 3D for at least the past decade, and shaders/rendering can go far with just decent textures underneath

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starsabove 1 point ago +1 / -0

modern development is as cheap as you want it to be

Specifically for MMOs, you have hardware costs. You have to pay for servers, you have to pay for datacenter space to host them. You have to pay for electricity and bandwidth. These are expensive even for MMOs with healthy revenue streams. Even a private server costs money, every month.

competition on graphics is the reason for the vast majority of expense and generally the least important part of a game's success

I like eye candy in my games and generally rate visual fidelity as fairly high on a list of important attributes. Doesn't necessarily mean photo realism, but quality. Pillars of Eternity or Kingmaker aren't photorealistic, but they're lightyears better than any of the old Infinity Engine games. Visual quality can be highly subjective though.

graphics have been acceptable in 3D for at least the past decade, and shaders/rendering can go far with just decent textures underneath

I don't agree. Compare a 10 year old game to a comparable game today. Compare ME1 to MEA, no comparison. Compare AC1 to AC Valhalla, no comparison. Compare FarCry 3 to FarCry 5/New Dawn, again, no comparison. Compare Skyrim to Outer Worlds or Zero Dawn. The differences are extreme, even if you compare PC versions to PC versions, where applicable. Looking at ME3 on the X360 to ME3 PC to ME3 Legendary on any platform makes you wonder how you ever played the original release.

You could make an argument for diminishing returns, but we've seen such incredible improvement over the lifespan of the 8G console cycle that I'd want to be very hesitant to make a similar claim at the start of the 9G. Eg, any title launching for the 9G consoles today will obviously not be representative of a native 9G title a few years from now.

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Assassin47 3 points ago +4 / -1

Publishers (EA in the case of Ultima Online) are a much more onerous and damaging influence on the developer than "the community".

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Kaarous 4 points ago +4 / -0

The example was the literally first MMO of all time... ruined by community whining. Not by the publisher, not by some big company. Because the devs didn't realize that game design by committee is a bad idea.

And Ultima Online wasn't some piddling little WoW clone either, where you can't actually do much of anything besides kill NPCs and talk to vendors. UO had a depth of player freedom that has never, ever been seen since. It was a genuine masterpiece, totally destroyed because a bunch of casual pussies didn't want to have to corpse run for being stupid.

Each influence can have a wide variety of negative effects, neither is worse or better, they both suck in entirely different ways.

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Isolated_Patriot 3 points ago +3 / -0

There is one single thing that separates good and bad game design: VISION.

A good game design follows a SINGULAR vision. It's like any other form of entertainment, those that have a single person responsible for maintaining the vision do better. Design by committee inevitably ruins everything, and listening/interacting with the community is just an extension of that.

A good movie made from a book is following the vision of a single author, and the committee effect inevitably either damages or outright ruins it. A good manga is good because they have a single author building a coherent world. Comics suck because they are completely ruled by committee, not only on individual comics, and overall series, but by the existence of "shared universes." A good television series typically has a lead who holds the writers to the fire to maintain their vision.

Good games typically have a good lead who maintains their vision. Those people can interact with the community and achieve good results if they don't compromise. This is usually to the effect of addressing bugs, minor UI issues and the like. Things that are NOT part of the actual vision of the game, but can be improved.

On the whole, I think development of games should move back into the black box, only to be announced a few months before release.

MMOs are a slightly different story, there should be a large amount of communication from the devs, but it should be mostly one way. Nothing ruins a game balance faster than listening to the community bitch about things they think are unbalanced, which is pretty much 90% of everything any game community bitches about.

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Dialectic 1 point ago +1 / -0

I think you should just leave it at "it depends." You used UO as an example, but damn man that game is still going. How old is it now? 20 years? 22? It still has servers with a playerbase. And the players early on requested a way to play without pvp. UO listening to players asking for a non pvp area arguably saw the best success that game had, and paved the way for WoW. So ... it depends.

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Kaarous 2 points ago +2 / -0

but damn man that game is still going.

I've played it a few years back. It's a pale shadow of what it once was. It's just sad.

UO listening to players asking for a non pvp area arguably saw the best success that game had

You're joking, right? Trammel destroyed UO. Fuck those carebear scum.

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TechParadox 11 points ago +11 / -0

I would say "Yes, but only to a point"

  1. With regards to dealing with their reports of bugs and other technical issues with the game, definitely.

  2. With regards to dealing with requests for features and improvements, possibly.

  3. With regards to all things political, racial, or otherwise a hot-button topic - even if the game is intended to be political or other commentary - abso-fucking-lutely NEVER.

The players will always be your best source of post-release bug reports and pain points, because they're the actual boots-on-the-ground. If they're complaining about problems that are actual technical issues with the game, their voices need to be heard.

That being said, fans (and detractors) of the game can be some of the most vocal minority of people that are actually playing (or in other cases, not playing) it. Sure, the community may think that a pair of jet-powered roller skates would be the tits in your carefully-crafted precision platformer, but if it breaks the continuity of the game or causes other problems, then suggestions can and should be ignored.

Lastly, the vocal minority that screech about "everything is political" or try and shame devs over their choices for race/gender/other should be told to fuck all the way off to the top of Off-Fuck Mountain, where there are no more Offs to Fuck. No developer should be forced to self-censor their vision to appease the minor mob of people who claim they would never buy the game or that it should be canceled.

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China4Biden 7 points ago +7 / -0

No, I strongly disagree. SJWs will infiltrate the community to try to get developers to put woke shit in their games. They'll complain about female characters looking feminine and demand all the female characters look like butch ugly bitches.

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80960KA 6 points ago +6 / -0

Write-only.

John Carmack's plan file was great. Kept people up to date on how dev was going and if there was anything particularly interesting, a bit mysterious too so it built hype.

Twitter and forums actively make games worse by giving the consumer (or more likely, shill or entryist pretending to be a consumer) a voice. The community is a lot more likely to have bad ideas than good ones, this even holds true in much more serious segments with "professional adult" demographics rather than the mostly kids, dorks, and bros demo of hardcore game consumers.

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starsabove 5 points ago +5 / -0

Its definitely a double edged sword. Developers listening to a vocal minority can destroy their own game. A developer that doesn't speak within the current newspeak standards can find themselves canceled, fired, and unemployed. A developer going off against their customers can bring down the wrath of the community onto the entire studio.

I feel there's a lot to be gained by developers engaging with their respective communities, but its a minefield. One almost has to provide remedial training to developers, especially younger ones, how to engage in a professional manner. When I see a developer actively attacking a paying customer because they criticized a mechanic or other aspect of the game, I'd fire them on the spot. I would not tolerate any employees of mine attacking or insulting my paying customers.

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hilboggins 4 points ago +4 / -0

Yes, they should listen to the community but validate the impact of the issue via whatever data collection method they have.

Most community issues are minor and will be ignored tho. But few are pretty good.

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Gamieon 4 points ago +4 / -0

I plan to be cautiously engaged with the community that builds around my upcoming game; at least I hope to have one to engage with.

When players report crashes, hitches, slowness, disconnects and errors; I'll try to repro and prioritize them for fixing. Often times that means reaching out to them directly. I released a pinball game on Steam years ago, and I had to do just that to get to the bottom of some difficult bugs. Everyone I talked to seemed very happy with the outreach and, in most cases, the subsequent patch.

Regarding feature requests, my former manager said it best: "Do what has value." If a thousand players say a hero is OP, I will try to verify their claims with analytics before taking any action. If they say "This game sucks for these dozen reasons," I have to really think for each one "Is it worth my limited time and resources to make this change to the player experience? Why?" I may have the knee-jerk reaction of wanting to please them, and even want to feel the natural high of catering to the feature requests of an inner circle of "cool" players who cheer me on...but it always needs to come back to "Do what has value" and critical thinking needs to be a part of every decision.

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Snipthetipandsip [S] 1 point ago +1 / -0

Good take. This seems like the most reasonable take on it as a whole.

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Crazyteeth 2 points ago +2 / -0

if they're playing the stupid ass "early access" game, then yes.

if they aren't then no.

i guess the other option is that it depends on what the devs' goals are. if they want to create a game from their vision, then screw the masses. if they want to please the masses and try to bring in more sales by appealing to them, then they would have to.

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MustafaJones 2 points ago +2 / -0

Depends on the game. For smaller indie titles engagement will probably get great feedback, find bugs and even get some new ideas for DLC or future games.

For larger, especially online games? Just use interactions for bug fixing. Games like COD or those infinite number of battle royal games have just toxic and frankly often ignorant players and listening to them would compromise the game. In those cases is better off for devs to stick to their own vision of the game and not pander to the whiners on forums.

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SpritzingFox 2 points ago +2 / -0

One word: "discernment."

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VoidWanderer 2 points ago +2 / -0

It depends, and that's coming from someone that has worked on several medium sized games and still does some work in the sector.

The good thing is that it does lead to feedback and fixing issues faster. There were times where being able to engage with the community of the games I worked on helped refine certain things as the better players that do know what they're doing can help in various ways. When they engage with the game more than others they can sometimes help point out the very specific circumstances that an error is coming from to fix it. Other times the most dedicated that want as good game balance as possible will provide decent feedback that isn't trying to help their main class, but actually want things to be relatively even so they can actually prove their better legitimately and not just because their class is slightly better than the others.

The downside is it leads to a lot of issues. There are plenty of players that will blow smoke up your ass in hopes of getting into a position where they feel like a developer is taking them seriously and actually implementing their ideas. If you aren't careful that can lead to an echo chamber very quickly and all the issues that come from that, along with giving you an overinflated ego leading to bad decisions and flat out wrong choices in terms of implementing various bits of content. Thankfully I caught myself heading in that direction the first time it happened, and a few coworkers helped diffuse the situation entirely, but it's a trap a lot of developers fall into and never get out of. That's compounded today with cancel culture and all sorts of nonsense where those same people that were praising you one minute turn around to throw you under a bus because of something you didn't do for them.

At this point I engage with the community around any games I work on the minimum amount necessary to track down issues to fix. While I like getting feedback for the things I work on and I don't mind helping players out if they're having general issues with difficulty and such, overall it's better to be limited and let the community managers deal with most things, mostly for your sanity. (As long as your community manager isn't a lying prick like some are for some companies that I shall not name)

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christianknight 2 points ago +2 / -0

Is it the real community? Or the online SJW mob?

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Drcm 1 point ago +1 / -0

Devs should listen, but not engage.

engaging means they have to hire a media relations bluehaired person and fuck that.

Sometime the community has good points, look at all the game genres that got made out of mods. BUT and this is a big BUT, 95% of the time the community is retarded.

its like 4chan, you have to sift through the river of shit to find one nugget of gold.

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flashersenpai 1 point ago +1 / -0

As little as possible to fix the game. From a dev perspective it's just not worth the headache and distraction otherwise.

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AlfredicEnglishRules 1 point ago +1 / -0

It depends. Do we really need to know the personal opinions of the guys making a game? Not really. We just need more game.

Will it help us know how and why they made the game? Maybe. There is a lot of made up stuff within those messages. I mean, E3 Bullshots and other tricks are well known. Miyamoto gardening and seeing ants is another.

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Rommsey 1 point ago +1 / -0

Yes but have you spoken or interacted with devs before? Some of the worst humans in existence.