Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Building Relationships

Very few companies adopt transparent policies and communicate them throughout the community.  Even fewer do it well.  In development, ArenaNet promised to create a MMO with a different set of principles than their competitors   By doing so they began to build a relationship with their players, more intimate than I have ever seen in the large-scale, corporate.

As the game launched, I felt a barrier seemingly appear between us and ArenaNet.  Sure, we were told what we would be getting/what would be changed, but we were almost never given decent reasons.  Player input ended when the third beta closed it's doors.  And the reactions to our inquiries were met with muddled responses that often sounded like "Because we say so."

And yet, suddenly, we are seeing this change reverse. ArenaNet has begun to care, or in perhaps more accurate words, are now caring and more importantly, showing that they care.  Actions speak louder than words, I think we can all agree on that.  But, many times words have to come first.  And that's exactly what's happening now in a blitzkrieg of events over the last two days.

Yesterday, many players were asked to complete a survey about the Lost Shores Patch and Weekend.  We completed answers on a variety of topics, everything from the new sPvP map to how we feel about one-time events and whether they should be looped multiple times throughout the day.  It's just a survey, but it was an instance where I felt my feedback mattered and will directly add to my experience in the game later down the road.  When a player feels like they matter, there is something indescribable that is passed between player and developer.

Today, we were featured with a red post on the official forums by Jonathan Sharp.  His reason for posting:  the widespread misinterpretation of a previous post by another developer.  He went out of his way to show players the intricate workings of ArenaNet and how they operate.  We learned how different teams create new features, how balancing changes are created and developed through the feedback of both specific people, data, and the community.  This post startled me, because of the transparency of it all.  It's something that I personally have been wanting to see in a MMO company for so long, that I almost forgot that it could be done post-launch.  

And furthermore the post by Chris Whiteside over at ArenaNet's official blog was even kinder.  The communities of games are rarely treated with the information we received today. In the article we received a small time line of upcoming events after the Thanksgiving break, and perhaps more importantly, a list of upcoming features. Every single feature on that list was something the community has been clamoring for, and I'm excited that ArenaNet isn't beating around the bush.  

With all of the drama over Ascended gear and the arguments over philosophies behind player progression and core features of MMO design, I questioned why I fell in love with ArenaNet in the first place.  

And today I was reminded of that answer.  


  1. Sigh. I told you to have faith. The developers are on our side. They already have our money, they want us to enjoy their game. Actions do speak louder than words, so the next time they do something, do NOT overanalzye every little thing they do until they make an official post.

  2. So all it takes is a little PR and you're once again singing their praises. Everything that has been said since the update is an evasive, NCSoft-approved whitewash of the debacle. I played GW1 for seven years, and obsessively followed GW2's development from the beginning. I know what the real Arenanet "felt" like. This isn't it. Where are Mike O'Brian, Eric Flannum, or Colin Johanson now? Silent. SilenCED, I don't doubt. They know what's been done is a mistake and a betrayal of their customers' expectations.

    Even if you can apparently be persuaded otherwise by a few lines of propaganda.

    1. I love how I get attacked by one side for having too little of faith in ArenaNet, and the opposite side accuses me of having too much faith in them.

      Both sides have some merits, but ultimately I have my own beliefs. I believe that ArenaNet post-launch reacted very little to the opinions of the community and tried to improve the game from their point of view. However, the mixed reviews from the community of the Karka Weekend as well as the outrage of Ascended gear has made them realize how much the community matters.

      They just announced an AMA on Reddit that will be sure to detail specifics on both the future of one-time events and Ascended gear. I believe they made mistakes, and are trying to develop character progression. However, I believe any use of stat upgrades in conjunction with hard to get (or grind to get) gear is a mistake. It's quite a shame that their mistake with Ascended gear provides no easy fix, and will ultimately have very long lasting impacts on the game. I was simply remarking, that this wave of community-oriented interviews, news, and posts, was a breath of fresh air, and I hope to see it continue.

      When you see someone do something that you disagree with, you discuss it with them and try to change their mind. When you see someone do something that you agree with, you simply provide them positive reinforcement. That's all these series of articles were meant to be. And I wish both sides would stop trying to put words in the author of articles here on this site, as well as all of the other sites. Read the words for what they are, there is no sort of conspiracy going on here...or at ArenaNet for that matter.

  3. Imo. They have been silent, but they are not being silenced. They are hard at work. Yes, you are right. Things are not perfect. I am sure they are working extremely hard to make the game ever better.

    It is not being brain washed, it is simply having faith in the company. Perhaps they will go against some of their original plans. Does that make them a bad company, does that mean they have betrayed us? No it means they have seen something that doesn't work and are trying to fix. I would rather have them fail a million .times yet have them keep trying.