People of Reddit, you are being lied to…

As the patron saint of unpopular causes, my subject today is “why I am super-angry about last night’s round-table”. And not for the reasons you might think.

Like Sion, I was a little dubious about the whole event, beforehand: I was worried that, faced with the CSM’s critiques of certain areas, elements of CCP were keen to bodyswerve that and go straight to players. As someone who is on the receiving-end of a huge amount of player feedback, I thought that was fraught with potential problems, and so it proved.

In any case, I arrived home from work near the end of the session, so I sat around and talked to the players who had atttended for a bit over an hour afterwards: a really interesting group mainly from PL, NCdot, Black Legion and Goons (yes, that should ring alarm bells). Then, because I support the Scottish football team and am therefore used to suffering, I listened to the entire two hour session. Twice. If you want to know what that was like, then imagine a giant boot with “USERS IN YOUR CHANNEL IS RECORDING” written on the sole stamping on a human face, forever.

Let me deal with the first thing first. Someone malicious or stupid claimed that Fozzie said “You can have sov or you can have fun”. One of my fellow Goons, notorious shitposter Kcolor, promptly posted this to Reddit in search of easy upvotes. This naturally caused an uproar and whoever sells pitchforks and torches at the base of Castle CCP made an absolute killing. And quite right, too: how much disdain this shows for the playerbase! Something must be done! Who will pay for this outrage?!?

Except that this never happened. My hunt for this shocking expression of disdain led me to listen to the whole two hours for a second time. Not only does Fozzie not say this, but he doesn’t say anything that sounds a bit like it. Not once.

Larrikin – and what whitebread, redneck, small-town cracker can’t tell Australian from American? – does say that people, when choosing where to live in sov null, should think carefully about how much conflict they want before choosing where to live. And he is right: you cannot choose to live in Tenal or Omist, to take the most extreme examples, and then complain that all you get to do is rat. Nor can you move to HED- and then complain people are always shooting at you. But such reasonable and thoughtful statements don’t matter when someone spots the chance to grab some upvotes, so people lied to reddit and a lot of people got very angry about a bunch of devs who were, completely unpaid, choosing to engage with the community.

One other thing: we in the CSM messed up here, not the devs who gave their time to talk to the players, and not the players who came with unrealistic expectations. Us.

We didn’t make it clear enough that this was a session for CCP to listen to the players, and not to make announcements or judge peoples’ game design ideas. We left the devs to have to keep saying that they couldn’t announce how they intended to fix one thing or another, when frankly we should have stepped in and done that instead of leaving them high and dry like that. And on occasion one CSM member seemed to be acting as lawyer for the prosecution, demanding answers of people in the most aggressive terms. You can hear, a couple of times, the intense frustration in the CCP employees’ voices and they were more restrained than I would have been in their responses. But then again, I am Scottish. We covered that bit already.

There were things that I disagreed with, or that I thought were needlessly optimistic and so on, and I intend to blog about that in the next day or two as well, but whoever is to blame for how that panel went, it wasn’t CCP. And the people who told you lies about what happened owe you an apology.

  • Pepizaur

    Endie this was an utter shitshow. If you are going to take questions live and on air common practice dictates that you be ready to dodge, parry and/or placate people asking angry questions or you find a method to moderate the discussion to avoid questions that might contain more piss and vinegar that actual substance. Neither avenue was taken.

    They started off really defensive which probably did nothing to improve the attitudes of people who also spent their free time to come and ask these questions. Damn near half the time questions were danced around. If the devs were in all seriousness expecting people to hand them live feedback that goal could have been communicated BY THEM far earlier in the process of setting this up. It also begs the question why they would want to conduct a live feedback session when a forum thread could have been posted to achieve the same end in a far less charged environment. I also don’t understand their defensive posture in the first place. They of all people should know that these changes negatively effected the the game of an active and boisterous section of the playerbase.

    A public forum was then called where members of this subsection could voice their frustration and they expected what exactly? That people would tip toe their way through the questions? If anything the most passionate of an already passionate community should have been expected to show up and they should have been confident in their own ability to counter some of the more vitriolic lines of questioning. All I got out of that entire round table was that the devs aren’t particularly confident in what their saying and really have no firm idea of where these changes are going and that doesn’t bode well for the game.

    It’s easy to declare any major change in a game as a watershed moment but I’m pretty confident in declaring Phoebe, Aegis and whatever accompanying balance passes as a watershed for the game. I don’t think anyone has a problem adapting but what I personally have a problem with is a development staff that isn’t confident in the overall direction of their. The problem is that the stakes are really high for people. A lot of us I’d imagine just want to know what the game is going to finally look like so we can you know…. adapt. I’d just like some clarity and CCP has of late not continued their stellar record of the past 2 years as far as communication goes.

    I guess the tl;dr is they should have known better and they should have been prepared to provide at least a hint of clarity to their playerbase. They didn’t, and while I actually like all three of them they deserved that meeting full stop.

  • Rain

    Sorry to hear that, Endie. I had a mostly good experience with the clothing roundtable organized by corbexx, and even with only a handful of people pre-selected by corbexx himself, there was a noticeable amount of derailing from the player side. I can only suggest that questions are vetted and comms are only given to certain people. Not many, either, and if CSM have the time to do that, I think it should be them. The masses should have a chat ability, so that running comments can be seen and forwarded, but only after read out loud by one of the chosen player speakers.

    As for practical considerations, there are some things I’ve seen done right by FCs and others in the large group comms setting: Devs should have broadcast priority on comms, and there should be a discussion host who controls traffic by inviting people to speak.

    I plan to listen to the audio recording, mostly for ignoble reasons.

  • Endie

    I wonder if the more social players who would be interested in a clothing roundtable might play better together than 50 alpha gamers who until recently largely relied on the nerfed game mechanic for fun and showed up expecting explanations and apologies?

  • Carmen Electra

    I think this is pretty much it. I was at the clothing roundtable, and it’s just a different crowd. We’re a social bunch who largely might enjoy WiS more than the core internet spaceships. Your “alpha gamer” description is probably pretty apt for the bunch we’re talking about (the General Discussion crowd)

  • Rain

    😀 There might be some self awareness among the clothing divas that made them think twice before raging, but we still had one player in particular who spoke as if they had more authority than the devs. With a larger sample group, I think the outcomes could be similar. Especially with groupthink momentum thrown in the mix.

    It’s a funny point you make, so in terms of jest I want to point out it’s not the knuckle draggers but the crossdressing murders you really need to worry about.

  • Playos

    I get that you want to seem like the reasonable and civil guy in the conversation… but this is just pandering.
    Fozzie did say that you can be on offense or you can be defending your sov… they’ve clearly made the choice to force alliances into the position of doing one or the other at less than huge bloc size. This isn’t healthy for the game in the long term as players get locked into content choices and burn out without variety.
    This attitude that “the players are the problem, if they’d just act better we’d make a better game” from some CSM and CCP devs is getting stale. We were promised a vision 2 years ago with new space, content, and new systems that meaningfully gave improvements to game time… and so far nothing actually coded is really providing that.
    Player built star gates were supposed to be huge assets to rich new PvE content that empires would fight over… and it’s probably going to be a near replacement for Jump Bridges (which have been rendered almost useless)
    New sov system… that is focused so blatantly on the trolling of nodes that even when two small fleets come to one holding the field IS THE BAD STRATEGY. Has no transfer mechanics.
    And don’t get me started on the entire dismissing of Sort’s question about what pilots who miss move ops are supposed to do.
    The posts on Citadels were solid… but still CCP doesn’t quite get this concept of risk/reward and that we’re getting very little for trading out indestructible stations for completely destructible buildings and they don’t want to lower the cost?
    Everything they’re doing is about pushing people who do the same thing, have the same goals, and play at the same time to bunch up together to all do the same stuff in perpetuity instead of getting people who actively compliment one another and do a bunch of things together for some variety.

  • Rain

    Oh that’s how you organized it, disregard. It was orderly.

    Having listened to some highlights, I’m surprised? Disappointed with the devs for what I think was a defensive tone. I’m trying to figure out why a dev would be unable to maintain more of a calm and informative type of attitude? I think it approached that righteous tone a parent would have when they say ‘because I said so.’ Which is usually the answer that is given in the absence of a logical explanation.

    I seem to have assumed the opposite of what it was. I thought it was the players being rowdy and out of control. Instead it was a simple case of devs being confrontational when they knew who they would be talking to ahead of time.

    Don’t you think devs have a professional responsibility to not be confrontational? Not every dev is a community manager by title, but when they’re talking to the community, don’t you think they should be prepared to be one?