A Cynical View of Community Feedback in EverQuest Next

Scribed September 9, 2013 under The Cynic Dialogues
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So its been a few weeks since I’ve posted. I wrote up quite a few articles that haven’t been released yet into the wild because I’m honestly not convinced they were written under the right circumstances.

I saw PAX and Gamescon come and go, and yet most of the important questions relating to EQNext continued to go unanswered (PVP/Crafting/Etc).

Basically my annoyance? (frustration?) with the flow of information is that its gone from a small stream into an even smaller trickle. We recieved a large download on SOE Live, a tiny bit more of information in Gamescon (duplicated/replicated further at PAX), and then frequently saw tidbits leaked on Reddit and Twitter. All great info for sure, but lets look at the timeline.

Winter 2013. EverQuest Landmark is due to be released very soon. Awesome. Have you guys ever seen an AAA MMO launch a title with next to no information about it a month before its suppose to launch?

If we assume Winter 2013, they actually mean December, fine then. Yet, Winter 2013 means an awfully large range of time. Are they including January and February in “Winter 2013″? Doubtful, all hints point towards a THIS year release. So that basically leaves us with potentially a 3 month span; October, November, December.

Lets throw out October (no one really considers that Winter anyways).

Two months of potential release time. We are either going to see a large info dump near the end of this month or beginning of October. We have to. Or do we?

The Roundtable

See the question that’s never been answered is why exactly do we need a large population in EQNL? Why do they need to hype this title? Do they even need EQN:L to be ‘succesful’? The developers have stated multiple imaginative scenarios in which Players are given design objectives to create content for the live game (ex: ‘make us an evil temple’). When I heard this approach, my first thought was how creatively innovative that would be. I felt similar when I heard at SOE Live they were planning on ‘eliciting’ feedback from the fans via the Roundtable.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but the roundtable has mostly been a joke. Sure its a way for ‘fans’ to interact with the devs, but the topics have largely been silly, pointless, and mostly cosmetic in scope. Female Dwarf beards? This is your commitment to incorporating fan feedback in your game?

At this point the whole roundtable has been done at the insistence of the development team. Yet I get the feeling that even with that insistence came an interuption from high above the developers interjecting a mote of common sense. If you hand over legitimate questions and debate about major game design points, you may quickly find yourself abandoning the path you wanted to follow as developers.

For example, we haven’t seen them ask; What type of death penalty do you want in Everquest Next. The results would probably skew towards the oldschool EQ player (if one takes Reddit as any indicator) and the answer given to the devs would likely be ‘harsh death penaltys, loss of levels included’. Yet is that really something the developers would listen to and incorporate? Doubtful. Afterall, the ‘success of SOE depends on EQN’ according to Smedly. Alienating the casual player would be a quick way of sealing the end of SOE.

So ultimately, we as players participating in this farse of a ‘Player Feedback’ cycle are left debating the merits of female Dwarf beards and the presence of Ratonga. Is that really making any of you feel like your participating in the creation of this game?

EverQuest Next: Landmark

Applying the lesson of the Roundtable to EverQuest Next: Landmark, my skepticism is growing. I believe they aren’t drowning us in game details because they don’t know what to expect. Its the new customer centric model of ‘don’t overpromise and then underdeliver’. If ultimately players decide to use Landmark but design mediocre or poorly designed structures, would I as a developer award any of those creations with a place in my beloved new title (that’s suppose to herald a major paradigm shift in the MMO genre).

I’ve seen a few examples of this where some sites would hold contests for a new site logo. They get 3-4 piss poor logos that don’t look any better then what they are currently using. Yet the contest stated that the winner would have their logo slapped on the site. Quite a dilemma as a site owner isn’t it? Your logo is your branding, and slapping some shoddy piece of crap work on your site wasn’t quite the anticipated end to your contest. The same lesson from this example could be what the developers are fearing.

We have no further game conferences this year that I’m aware of. New information about Landmark will likely be released via traditional and social media platforms. Maybe its from interviews with major sites… maybe its just a Reddit AMA. Ultimately the question should be asked;

How committed are the developers to actually incorporating their communities feedback? Yet more importantly still is the question of when are you going to ask the questions your most fearing the answers from?

The Takeaway

Do we as potential fans of Everquest Next (and Landmark) really think our feedback is going to impact the outcome of the title? The traditional public beta phases are little more then stress tests in todays development cycles. Rarely does a public or private beta include significant design changes in a MMO. I know because I’ve participated in several over the last decade. Sure people post huge threads about what would be an important even vital change to a game before it comes out, but they largely go unheeded (or worse yet the development team is too far into going the other way to change course).

The larger point I’m trying to make is that for a developer whose very existance rests soley on the success of this singular title, they are being awfully close to the chest when it comes to major subjects for EverQuest Next. The recent layoffs at SOE are an indicator that unlimited budgets from SOE are a thing of the past and a landmark of their previous successes. It also underscores the very real truth that this title is important financially for the company as a whole.

As a publisher and game developer I’d be looking A LOT at the feedback on the forums and social media avenues. Yet I’d be watching even closer for why people aren’t flocking to fansites in anticipation. The ‘reading between the lines’ is far more important for a games success then the vocal fanbase (i’d use small-ish adjective as well) they currently have. As a developer who touted the partnership with its fans on the development of its games, EQN thusfar has been a disapointing hodgepodge of poorly phrased (did you read that shitty question about ‘contested content’ …whatever the fuck that means?) or meaningless questions debated ad naseaum on their limited and restricted forums.

If a company was truly interested in eliciting feedback, theyd open up a general forum for their fanbase and actually interact with them in an official capacity. This hiding in the social media morasses and picking and chosing what they respond to just feels like a cop-out when it comes to addressing the concern of the fans they need to be succesful. I’d love to see a refreshing dialogue where developers send a representative to the forums to collect feedback on a variety of topics players want to discuss. Instead we get…. yea… Dwarf beards.

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  1. Scree.org - A Cynical View of Community Feedback in EverQuest Next | EQN Extra
    […] from Scree.org has posted his thoughts on SOE’s methods of communications with EverQuest Net fans. In particular he critiques the […]
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Reddit Discussion on A Cynical View of Community Feedback in EverQuest Next

bibbi123 writes...
I've never really understood the value of asking for fan feedback in the first place. They have *years* of live gaming data they can use to answer most of these questions. As for the new elements, the only people who have a clue how it's going to work is the devs. Until more information is released, there's no point in asking us about things like contested content. On top of that, the fan community for an unreleased game generally consists of the most hardcore players, which make up a relatively small percentage of the playerbase. As I've commented before on these threads, the hardcore gaming style is, in many ways, inimical to the so-called "casual" gamer. That means that these fan opinions that they're soliciting now will be of extremely limited value to them in the live game. All of these roundtables and such are just ways to get EQN out into fandom with as small an investment as possible. Even if they get Landmark out before the end of the year, I don't see EQN coming out for at least one, possibly two more years. They need to kindle interest and keep it going. Since they don't have much that they can release yet, they open up forums for discussion.

jabradley writes...
> On top of that, the fan community for an unreleased game generally consists of the most hardcore players, which make up a relatively small percentage of the playerbase. As I've commented before on these threads, the hardcore gaming style is, in many ways, inimical to the so-called "casual" gamer. That means that these fan opinions that they're soliciting now will be of extremely limited value to them in the live game. This is exactly my thinking. A round-table such as EQ:N's is inherently flawed because it does not pose its questions to a significant enough portion of their target audience. My sincere hope is that the truly important questions (e.g. Death Penalty) never make it onto the panel. I trust the devs more than a (relatively) small group of fans, and I'm including myself in that group. Remember, we as fans lack *context*. There are more moving parts to a game than most people realize, and an MMO is orders of magnitude more complex than that. To give control over important decisions to the masses would be folly, not to mention the fact that another significant portion of the audience still wouldn't be happy. They can't please everyone, so they might as well just do the best they can as content experts.

KaMiKaZePiG writes...
Well, if this is going to work at all like the PlanetSide 2 roadmap, which I kind of hope it does, they'll have more to ask when the game is actually live.

promega writes...
They cant please everyone so they may as well cater to the die hard, hard core fans who have a greater likelihood of sticking around for a long time and generating more revenue for SOE then casuals who just log in for free to check out this or that and log out.

Wanderous writes...
A MUD called Gemstone III did that -- catered to only their hardcore audience, that is. 3000 concurrent users has dropped to about 300, and prices have changed to reflect that. The only way they stay in business now is by gouging the players they know won't ever leave ; $50 Premium Subscriptions, $30 events, etc. A side effect of this? A group of very territorial, high-paying players who feel they "own" the game (of which, to an extent, they do) that make life hell for new players. These guys have an interest in keeping the status quo, and because they pay the bills, it's hard for the developers to make any big changes. Forget about *anything* that'd "casualize" the game and "bring a bunch of newbies in." From what I've seen, catering to a picky, conservative group of hardcores is a sure way to tie your hands and stagnant your game.

screelings writes...
But thats one of the arguments of my article. Usually by the time a developer has settled on a specific course... lets say open-world-PVP... its far too late to back out of that and go... we are no longer going to have open-world-pvp. The release of information in EQN/EQNL has been completely lethargic since SOE Live, and their desire to share the development of this game with the community has been mostly cosmetic issues. These two areas don't jive with someone who genuinely wanted to work with its community to make a game they both wanted to be a part of. I absolutely love and adore EVE Online and its Council of Stellar Management (CSM for short) which basically allows a representation of the player community as a whole (to varying degrees of success) to help make meaningful changes to a game they both love and want to make better. I don't see anything approaching this level of cooperation yet, and for a company with a President like Brad who absolutely ADORES the EVE Online game and gameplay... the promise of a developer/player cooperation has been the opposite of reality.

ANTI_D3_NECKBEARD writes...
The entitlement is humorous. Why would a development team put big decisions at the hands of the community? What makes a small group of vocal die-hards, who are typically clueless about development, financial, and time-management standards, qualified? You guys should be thankful for the inclusion of making small time decisions; expecting to armchair advice on larger issues is just foolish. I guarantee you the devs aren't short of ideas to work on.

Brontus12 writes...
SOE promised EQ Next fans that they would have a say. The promised a spirit of collaboration. Is it wrong to ask SOE to keep their promises?

ANTI_D3_NECKBEARD writes...
How are they *not* keeping the 'promise?' They seem to be holding events for the community to decide on stuff. However, there's guys like the one above that have a sense of entitlement to be included in larger decisions. They need, and will be, left to the pros; not community dwellers.

[deleted] writes...
[deleted]

thelittleking writes...
C'mon now, the guy disagrees with you. Don't go after him for that.

screelings writes...
Maybe because we the end users are the ones they have to convince to spend money on their title? This notion that developers answer to no one but themselves has its place in indie titles maybe... maybe. On an AAA title? Its not entitlement either. Its dave going out on stage at SoE live and telling us outright the partnership between the devs and the players will be unheard of. Your just approaching this conversation as if no other context has been set down.

blade2040 writes...
Developers answer to publishers usually. I don't recall Blizzard, Bungie, DICE, Bioware, Rockstar, Infinity Ward, Naughty Dog, Irrational Games and countless others having to convince people to buy their games (nor do they generally poll their audience to figure out what they want/like). If you make a game and it's good, it well pretty much sell itself. Just do it well and show off what you have and people will drool over it for a long time. I think the problem and where games start going down hill (in general) is when they start listening to the community. Look at WoW as a perfect example. I'm don't want to go so far as to say the WoW 'community' ruined the game, but I'm pretty sure everyone acknowledges how dumbed down it became to reach the lowest common denominator. Sony's track record here is questionable as well. I don't know if the NGE started because people QQing about not being jedi or complaining it was too difficult, but we say the NGE completely tank SWG. If no one complained about the jedi system I'm sure SOe would have just left it alone - the way it was originally INTENDED to be in the first place. Lots of people liked it, but a minority of the community complained and now SWG is dead. EQ1 obviously went through a complete paradigm shift over the years from being a hardcore mandatory grouping game to virtually a single player RPG with other people around. I wasn't really too involved in the beta setup for EQ2 but I never really liked the design from the beginning, and I'm pretty sure that was more to do with Dev design decisions than anything the community requested, so it can work both ways - but I would say in general you are more likely to have a good product through professional game developers than non-professional video game players. Being a professional software developer myself I have clients request the stupidest most pointless waste of time items you've ever heard of 9% of the time because they have no clue what they are talking about or how anything actually works - so I'm probably fairly biased about this issue. The point remains though, people may have opinions about what they think is good or what they would like, but more often than not they are just flat out wrong or don't have enough knowledge to make a well informed decision or well-rounded opinion. Even though I have many years of MMO gaming experience, and I'm a software developer I believe this gives me some good insight into game design and how things could work and what things don't work - and obviously I have my own opinions based on my limited experience and knowledge, but at the end of the day I would rather trust on the development team to continue on the track that they started on that impressed me so much in the first place - rather than get sidetracked with all the communities suggestions. I have to stop reading this subreddit from time to time because some of the ideas on here just make me wtf rage quit because they are so bad/pointless. Some of the suggestions I've seen make me shake my head and hope that nobody at SOE will take them seriously because they would be such a waste of development time. Sorry /walloftext

HiveB writes...
As much as I hate SOE for the NGE and closing of SWG. It wasn't their fault entirely. It was Lucas arts primarily. The game wasn't what they wanted after seeing the success of games like WoW so they pressured SOE into changing it to be more linear and mainstream, which horribly broke the game. It's shutdown again was LA's fault, because it was time to renew the license and SWTOR was coming out, obviously they didn't want to confuse the market with a second less profitable or popular Star Wars MMO.

screelings writes...
Developers DO answer to publishers. But whose publishing a Free to Play EverQuest Next exactly? While your statement rings true most of the time, in this specific instance it does not. Sony isn't going to pay someone to put a box on a shelf for this title. They are selling us DIRECTLY as consumers on why their game should be played (and subsequently money spent on it). Your also right in that I would disregard the masses when it comes to "ideas" for EQN. I think most of them are silly, some come from a memory of a decade ago and wanting to relive their past glories. I get that. I normally would disregard the community, but its the developers telling us they want us involved in the making of this game (and the financial success they need from it as well) thats driving my argument that they aren't doing this right.

thelittleking writes...
And if all they meant by "involved" was Roundtables and publishing builds off of Landmark? Because let's be honest, allowing players to design constructions and have some say in which races will be around or what abilities/classes they will have is a high level of community involvement already.

ANTI_D3_NECKBEARD writes...
Sorry to disappoint you, but it's PR bullshit. Devs answer to their publishers.

bibbi123 writes...
EVE Online is a live game, and has been for many years. Player feedback is valuable because they know the game. For EQN, we know almost nothing. All we do know is that it won't play like any game out there right now, which leaves us with no good frame of reference on which to base an opinion. As for PvP, I don't know what their decision will be, but going by the numbers in EQ and EQ2, PvP players are a very small segment of their playerbase. EQ2 launched with no PvP, and added it later, which could have contributed to its lackluster performance. Still, not a huge portion of the revenue stream. All I can really contribute is that I've tried it (for 4 months, so I did give it a shot) and I don't like it. So yes, questions of that nature would have value - an approximation of possible PvP players, which they can use to do a cost/benefit survey in working on separate server rules for PvP. However, they don't have that many "good" questions, so in order to keep the buzz going, they ask about dwarven women and beards.

screelings writes...
We know almost nothing BECAUSE of them. If they informed us about the game, we could made informed arguments for or against a particular path they are persuing in development. I also find parallels drawn between EQ and EQ2's PvP popularity and the goals with EQN to be fantasticly silly. Neither of those games developed their titles with PvP in mind. In fact, they merely created a game where one server had it, and one didn't. If you look at GW2... their are no PVP servers. The games were designed specifically with PVP avenues. Thats not a "feature" added in as an afterthought.

bibbi123 writes...
Right now, they probably don't have much they can release and still keep the game's development relatively secret from their competitors. Until it's closer to launch, they're playing their cards close to the vest. Perfectly understandable, though frustrating for the fans. To PvP or not to PvP, that's a different question. As EQ's history goes, it is *not* a PvP game. As far as I can tell, there's not enough interest to make it a completely PvP game. As making a game capable of both PvP and PvE and having it balanced can be a bit of a headache, they are probably trying to see if it's worth the effort. Overall, the kinds of players attracted to RPGs are a bit less likely to enjoy PvP. They're more into the storyline and the questing. PvP is a popular playstyle, but it's much better implemented in FPS and strategy gaming. RPGs are less competitive, which is one of the main factors fueling PvP, causing a great deal of that PvP to be nothing more than ganking and griefing. Now I'm not saying that there isn't good, balanced, "in-character" PvP. But you must admit that if there's a way to fuck with people, it will happen.

thelittleking writes...
There have always been PvP servers in EQ games, and I imagine that trend will continue. But I highly doubt it will be a founding tenet of the game in full.

JDogg126 writes...
I just don't think they ever promised to co develop this with the community. They want feedback only for things they are flexible about. They do want us to "build the game with them" but that is a Landmark thing.

dkri9 writes...
Long story short - SOE wants to make EQN attractive to as many people as possible rather than make it as good of a game as possible.

bibbi123 writes...
"Good" is relative. What's good to SOE is a profitable game. What is profitable might not be what you consider good. What you consider good might not appeal to 90% of the gaming population. I understand the frustration some people feel when a game is dumbed down or otherwise diluted to make it more appealing to a larger range of people. But no profit = no game. That's why you see independent game developers doing Kickstarters and such. They really want to make their vision, but with no money from the larger production companies, they have to compromise somewhere. Some compromise by "selling out", some compromise with reduced graphics. Most never get off the ground.

dkri9 writes...
I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who hasn't realized that SOE doesn't give a fuck about you or what you want in a game. The entire roundtable is a farse meant to get you hooked, hyped and nostalgic. It has nothing to do with building a better game. Source: history of SOE games

Loradio writes...
lulz too true, too true.

sweetdigs writes...
Tend to agree with the author. I get the feeling SOE isn't releasing much info because they really haven't figured a lot of things out. I think they were probably surprised by some of the more vocal backlash against their art design and gameplay decisions. And instead of allowing the detractors to continue to bash new ideas, they've decided to let these simmer for awhile. I'm one of the people who gets more disillusioned about the game with each new release of info, so maybe it's a good thing they're not telling us anything more. Not that telling us two months from now is going to be any better, of course.

RuckPizza writes...
I don't think the backlash surprised them, I mean a lot of the same criticism hit wildstar for its cartoony looks and wow has been getting hit with it for years. Any developer at this point should expect it. I think the actual issue is they don't want too much hype, but the problem with that is if SOE really needs this title to make or break them then shouldn't they try to hype it.

holmedog writes...
Personal opinion warning: I **think** the reason we got what we got at the SOE event was to squash the "Remade Everquest" theme that was going with so little news about EQNext out in the wild.

screelings writes...
I agree, they were largely addressing a crowd of die-hard EverQuest and EverQuest 2 players. Based on the response they got from that crowd is was clear they went into a defensive posture. I never agreed with their decision to announce this game in front of their die-hard fans. To tell those fans to their face they are going a different direction then the two predeceding games? It was a semi-slap in the face, and many of those players clearly weren't impressed by the launch (the silence in the room was deafening during many of their "exciting reveals").

KaMiKaZePiG writes...
Yeah. It was such a wasted reveal, honestly, there's _waaaaay_ more MMO gamers that would have been like "HOLY SHIT!" at these reveals. Instead... crickets.

holmedog writes...
Exactly this. I won't lie when I heard EQNext my initial thoughts were "Sweet, relive the EQ days". Don't get me wrong, I love the way this could possibly go, but everyone was talking about how we could go back to the things EQ did right and they just came out and said "No, no we aren't doing that" to the crowd that is the most diehard EQ.

RekMMO writes...
If you thought that reaction was bad, you would cringe at the silence that the EQ1 and EQ2 expansion reveals got.

construktz writes...
Because EQ was amazing until SOE got ahold of it. I have no idea why people are saying to trust the devs. I totally wrote off SOE until I heard they wanted community feedback. They have been notoriously useless in creating anything truly successful. I am hoping they got their shit together for this game and I am looking forward to it, but I am not going to hold my breath.

thelittleking writes...
Oh Verant...

mstorer3772 writes...
Verant IS SOE, as owned by Sony. Same folks.

thelittleking writes...
Nah, it spun off of Sony initially, using them as a publisher for their early games, but were then bought out in 2000.

mcilrain writes...
I personally don't like theme-park MMOs but if any game is going to be one it should be EQN as the first EQ kind of pioneered that sub-genre, it's a significant pedigree.

Ryl writes...
You don't seem to understand what a theme-park MMO is.

debacol writes...
Tried to read the blog but got really annoyed at the wall of white text with bad line-spacing on a grey background. Fix your CSS, your readers will thank you.

nschubach writes...
If you want black text on white with a more standard font: F12 - Console - Paste: $('.contentContainer').css({'background':'#fff', 'color':'#000', 'font-family':'arial', 'font-weight':'400'})

screelings writes...
Hey Debacol, actually one of the most common complaints is the color scheme. I've got a brand new easier on the eyes color scheme launching at the end of this week. Its an issue I'm not happy with either. When I launched this I used a hastily edited Wordpress Theme and adopted most of the existing color scheme. Its being addressed, bear with me. Thanks for the feedback though, I'm aiming solely for readability in the new design.

Loradio writes...
Is it really all that cryptic or are you just jonesing for more information right now like the rest of us?

screelings writes...
Honestly I just don't understand the near silence we've had lately. The last two game conferences released tidbits, but nothing on the scale of a game thats being released in under 2 months?

Loradio writes...
One would hope they are just now finishing off something that could be used to start up a beta release, and in that release we would see more and more information come our way. I find that the fastest way to see something come about is to get excited about something else completely off topic.. Legend of Korra starts friday?? :)

mstorer3772 writes...
"Winter" includes November, December, and January. Have you EVAR seen a release date range given where the game wasn't released at the end of that range? Think "January", not "November"... 4 months, not 2. Still an OMG-Short dev cycle for a full on MMO, but not patently insane. Probably. OTOH, have you ever /met/ a dev? I have. They're not exactly shining beacons of emotional stability. But I'm hardly one to go all judgey in the stability department. >cackle<

Shadodragon writes...
They did say 2013... thus January (while always a possibility with delays) isn't in the announced window.

Cirolle writes...
Some people need to go back to school.. Spring: March, April, May Summer: June, July, August Fall: September, October, November Winter: December, Januar, February We have 12 months, devided up into 4 seasons. 12/4=3. So 3 months for each season. If you "steal" a month from fall and add it to winter, you will end up with a season of 2 months. Its not like it takes a college degree.

mstorer3772 writes...
Huh. Wonder why I thought November was a winter month. Funky. Okay then, FIVE months. Still what one might call "agressive scheduling".

wurtin writes...
Unfortunately, I think it's all smoke and mirrors at this point. I think they needed to a way to generate money relatively quickly to keep Next alive and that's how they came up with LandMark. I think we're looking at 2015 before we see Next.

Sentrus writes...
The first thing to keep in mind is that the point of the Roundtable isn't "design by committee." A majority rules game design isn't really going to turn out that great. They have the game they want to make, and the Roundtable is for tweaking the specifics. We've had mostly cosmetic questions so far, because those we can give informed reasonable input without needing a lot of context. Something either looks pleasing to our eye, or it doesn't. The game is a long way out. A lot of things aren't ready for discussion yet. They don't have enough rough prototype systems available for us to look at and give feedback on. The questions will get weightier and more specific as we get closer to release.

ForeverMarried writes...
Ive decided to step off the bandwagon long ago, as im just setting myself up for disappointment. If there are announcements I will read them, but I won't nerd out in anticipation any longer. There are far too many worries and concerns, and my concerns don't seem to match the "fanboyism" of this subreddit. With that said, I already disagree with much of this games vision, but until we -really- know how gameplay works, how combat works, the cartoon art direction, etc, it's all just banter. Ill wait and see. Not to mention the mods of this subreddit are banning ppl who dislike the direction of EQN as "trolling," at least thats what im reading.

Borneheld writes...
My Take on the whole "lack of real info"....I think SOE was taunted by Blizzard's Titan hype building and played their card to soon, which gave Blizzard enough info to take their project back to the drawing board. And has SOE hanging in the wind prematurly. Purely classic move on Blizzards part.... I see the Battle of the Bigs coming in 2015.

blade2040 writes...
I think your article is very accurate for what is going on right now, but I don't think that the way it's going is necessarily a bad thing. Asking the silly pointless questions allows some people to feel involved to an extent, even though the rest of us know that those things really don't matter. For the questions you (and the rest of us) want answered like death penalties, class information and the other big items - I think the game is still far enough out and still subject to enough change that they really should not present this to us yet until it is set in stone. I do not believe the community should have a say in these things. Basically there are too many tards out there with bad ideas and opinions about these things that should be ignored. I believe the tard ratio in the development team is probably lower than the tard ratio in the community so the probability of things being better if they don't listen to the community is much higher. But yeah, honestly I feel like the information sharing hasn't been too slow or bad. I think they have plenty of time none of that info is really relevant to Landmark anyway. EQN is still a ways out. I'm sure in the coming months they will give us more details about landmark (once they've finalized everything they will be including with that software and have the systems in place). So we'll play Landmark for awhile and at the next E3 or whatever they'll probably do the super reveal of all they've been hiding when EQN is about 6 months or so out. I think that's kind of the typical time line for MMOs. They've given us a taste and piqued the interest of a lot of well-informed community members and a lot of them(us) are excited. As far as I know a lot of well known streamers with large followings and other gaming outlets view EQN very favorably so far which is a good sign, because from there it will begin to spread like wildfire once more info hits. But yeah, I think it is far too soon for them to start revealing too much. Regardless, thanks for writing that up. One of the more interesting reads I've had on this subreddit. :)

gazelleboy writes...
I'm going to have to refer you to the PlanetSide 2 roadmap and community feedback. The devs have reversed several major design decisions based on feedback from the community. Hex was replaced with lattice and they halted the rollout of implants entirely to rework them. SOE will listen to the community and incorporate changes. They obviously won't change just anything at a kneejerk reaction from the players, but they have shown they are listening and won't turn down a good idea because of some "vision" they have for the game.

Koraxen writes...
The **contested content** question was a very good one. Not because of the poll results, but because of the conversations. The question itself is actually just a **lid for an enormous can of worms**. It's opened up conversations about how the MMO industry has become dumbed down these last 10 years. These are things that the EQN design team needs to be reminded of. This article author makes good points, but he obsessed too much over the dwarf beard thing.

ziyadah042 writes...
There's a distinct difference between player feedback and player suggestions. The former is useful the vast majority of the time. The latter, which people like to refer to as feedback, is almost entirely useless. The Round Table gathers player feedback. "Which of these options would you prefer?" "What do you dislike about this system?" "Which of these improvements would you like to see?" All of these are gathering feedback that cannot be accurate answered via data mining, and while the round table questions may seem silly and shallow, they're doing exactly what they're intended to do - give the developers an idea of the trend of player preferences. The problem is that people, like you for instance, see those questions and think "What about the important issues? Why are they not asking for suggestions on how we'd like to see actual systems work?" And the answer to that is, quite simply, because the overwhelming majority of gamers are not in any way qualified, well enough informed, or trained to provide useful suggestions. I don't say that as an insult. Game design is a very specific skillset that takes a long time to learn - it's why fresh graduates are typically put on production maintenance, rather than content/feature development. And people who are outside of the industry entirely are almost completely useless - not only do they not have the underlying knowledge of what works and what doesn't, they don't have the level of game-specific knowledge to really understand how what they're suggesting would impact other game systems. There's exceptions - notably developers for other games, or the people who are obsessive enough to sit down and work out as close as they can exactly how everything works and interacts. Thott back in the EQ days, for instance. But they're few and far between. A great example of this is the question you yourself posed in your article. "For example, we haven’t seen them ask; What type of death penalty do you want in Everquest Next." That is an incredibly complex question. Because you're not just asking what kind of death penalty people want. You're also bringing into scope what mitigation factors should be in place to manage the death penalties, what long-term effects they could potentially have, and potential impact to group dynamics and social interaction (elitism was fairly rampant in EQ, for instance, precisely because of the death penalty). Beyond the complexity of the question, there's also the problem of the question itself being useless to ask of a bunch of people who really don't have anything even remotely approaching enough information about the game to formulate meaningful answers. Which is generally the case for almost every question of mechanical substance they might ask the playerbase.

screelings writes...
I'd rather have a conversation about an in-depth complicated far reaching topic then about what I personally perceive as a trivial cosmetic one. Your right in that a vast majority of the gamers will not be able to see all of the problems and will gravitate towards a simpler answer (in my opinion many MMO designers clearly can't see all of the problems with a given system either). Yet as many others have posted in this thread, its the discussion that makes us feel like we are participating. Discussing trivial things, makes our discussion feel trivial. I'd be completely okay if they asked for feedback from the community and we spent 3 weeks debating it and after all of that time the community came to a single answer/solution. And I'd still be okay with it if then the Devs took that answer, promptly disregarded it and told us why they are going a different way. I'm not asking that they concede to the demands of a mob. I wouldn't want to play in a game that has its game systems changed by mob rule.

ziyadah042 writes...
> I'd be completely okay if they asked for feedback from the community and we spent 3 weeks debating it and after all of that time the community came to a single answer/solution Oh, I agree completely. It's just that that doesn't happen on public-facing forums, largely due to the small novelette I wrote above. Lack of knowledge + lack of experience + lack of ability/desire to understand variant playstyles does not combine into a useful discussion.

mstorer3772 writes...
I'd be stunned if there weren't lots of things that simply aren't up for discussion. Lots of plot, systems, and so forth are pretty much set in stone. For example, if there were a "Death Penalty" round table, I'd expect the range of answers available to cover what the devs are willing to do. One of the answers won't be "Smed drives to your house and jumps up and down on your face while wearing cleats", because that simply won't happen. Likewise, perma-death across the board won't happen either, though it could conceivably be an option on a particular server. The big point where SOE is asking the players to help them build EQN is in the building contests were the winner's entry actually shows up in game on launch day. That's UNPRECEDENTED. A new thing under the sun (far as I know anyway).

Gerolux writes...
They have a had a couple of serious questions. The female dwarf beards question was serious, and you have seen how now female dwarves have the option of having beards or not. Same with the question pertaining to Modern Concepts like Guns and Ninjas because people want EQN to be a "super serious" fantasy game and dont believe either of those concepts belong in EQN. This last question about favorite small race is more of a filler quesiton. But they do propose serious quetions more often than not in the Roundtable and do listen to our feedback. I think they look more at the written responses than the voting results. A lot of people arent vocal and just vote and move on. Those who vote and justify their answer are the ones who are usually given more serious consideration.

screelings writes...
I disagree with your assessment of serious questions. If you want to be a part of a game with female dwarves with beards, great. If thats the only thing thats motivating you and a million other people to play this game and make it succesful.... I'd be completely satisfied with questions like this. The problem is, I cannot for the life of me imagine what particular brand of player they are targetting or going to attract going one way or another on this issue. Its not going to be a bullet point on a store box "EverQuest Next.... Featuring: Female Dwarf Beards". It's probably only relevant for the handful of players left who still roleplay. Beyond that minority, I can't imagine this having any impact on attracting the playerbase they have already stated they need to make this game succesful (for the sake of the companys future that hinges on this being a success). All of the questions you mentioned are only going to impact cosmetic issues. Class names, weapon names, skill names, and weapon art. Thats about all I can see your "super serious" fantasy question impacting. Wheres the questions on death penalties? In-game Maps? Crafting? Economy? or any other of a million more important questions that WILL alter peoples perspective of this game. Are we excluded from inputing feedback on these topics? Basically. One of the points at the end of my article was a small blurb about why they haven't opened up the forums for general posting. What does this achieve? It focuses the energy and hype of a new title behind minor cosmetic changes, without actually garnering any meaningful input on important topics. If they keep delaying this discussion, then by the time they reveal their "decision" it will be too late to actually change course on any of it. I remember a game called "Horizons" being released a long while ago. They ignored the cries of testers to make crafted items soulbound. As a result, one crafter per server was all that was needed to create items that could be handed down to characters repeatedly. Once I outleveled the item, I could pass it on to a lower level character. Simply by listening to early testers this could have been avoided. Years later, the economy and the crafting system was one of the primary points listed by one of their development team as a mistake made early on. In a competitive market like this one, its in their interest to provide the direction they are heading and get feedback on it early. Staying competitive while being quiet, and re-assuring us they "have cool things planned" isn't actually very re-assuring at all.

LandSeagull writes...
>ignored the cries of testers Exactly, those are *testers*. They had firsthand experience with the game and know the precise results of the mechanics they had experienced. We, however, are a bunch of people speculating on a video game. We do not know SOE's ideas for issues such as death penalties nor many other ideas and I would at least like to see those ideas before they start having the community at large make the decisions. I'm fine with the masses putting up their concerns over certain features but I feel it's much more effective for SOE to put up their ideas and get a response to those specific ideas, rather than let the players run wild with ideas. Edit: And they had a reason for putting up some fluff questions, even if it was as shallow as "getting people used to it." Contested content, race/class locks (completely ridiculous in *this game* IMO) are rather large.

Gerolux writes...
because you really cant live or die by having players decide every small detail about the game. like keave death penalty to something DEVS decide, not players. something that isnt going to make or break the game is fine for the round table. like asking about glowy weapons, or weapons that transform when unsheathed, or asking if gnomes should have beards. they dont make or break the game, and the game isnt better or worse for having it. but it does alter the perception of what is and isnt going to be in the game. if you were hoping for roundtable to always be asking super serious game altering questions, I dont think you will find any. Most big game decisions will be left to the devs to decide. Roundtable is more for the fun side of game decisions. like adding a race, or a class, or a style of weaponry to the game.

screelings writes...
Thats fine, if you aren't going to let us impact these decisions then stop trying to impart the notion that you are. The Roundtable and the SOE Live conference hinted at more of a partnership then we are currently seeing represented.

Gerolux writes...
to some people, female dwarf beards are important. they want to play a game that goes against the grain on how female dwarves are perceived in MMO setting. If you dont want beards on your female dwarf, then you dont need it. But they wanted to propose the question for us to see how badly we wanted it. Was it something mandatory, or would people just be happy having it be an option. Auction houses, death penalties, and maps are decision I thnk should be left for the devs to decide. We can discuss on reddit, and they will take our feedback when the time comes to discuss such issues. But they *shouldnt* put up a poll asking if we want auction houses in EQN. They dont have the man power to moderate a forum that they would host. Right now they are happy using various public avenues and letting players self regulate. When closed beta starts, they will have a forum available since they will have a smaller community to moderate then. If/when they release, Im sure they will have a few more on the community team to help regulate the forums. As for your Horizons example, that was just a poor decision on the part of the devs and not the players. But the devs are the one who need to decide and argue on the repercussions of having such a system.

Zeledrith writes...
The beard thing was a little silly. Was simple as letting each player decide if they wanted their female dwarf have a beard at character creation.

KeepingTrack writes...
Thank you. At first I was elated to hear and before the initial impressions at SOE Live I was feeling let down. Then there was no playable game, not even landmark beta at that point... I've been slowly feeling more and more let down so much that I don't even read EQN news anymore. We were lied to about release dates (though Brasse stated that they were wrong), we've been given little information, no information on beta (which should've started by now given any timeline they have) and they just fired how many employees? It seems to me the hype machine and subtle dick-moves are because they can't produce remotely at the level they've needed to but want to still compete against the latest generation of MMOs for our attention. I hate to say it, I'm a long-term supporter of the EQ series but at this point with all the letdowns I don't know what to think. Maybe I'll change my mind when beta comes around and eventually when the game launches, but this has been one pathetic clusterfuck after another. If I wanted to hear about someone's ideas on what a great game would be, I'd pop up a survey in /r/gaming. Apparently they don't have much to show us yet, it's all still on paper. I have no interest in "the making of EQN" instead of "we made EQN".

bibbi123 writes...
Don't let the release dates thing worry you. I don't think there's a game out there that came out when it was supposed to.

screelings writes...
Its amazing how you start writing one thing and end up with something different. I was about to make a roundup of the information we recieved in August, and it turned into this. In the end I'm very dissapointed with the interactions the Devs have had this far with us. I feel like lots of publicity and questions were given/answered, but little if any feedback has been asked for or given about topics that will actually make or break EverQuest Next or Landmark.

RuckPizza writes...
I have a question about the article. Near the end you talk about the contested content question being a joke and not meaning anything. Are you saying you don't know what contested content means/is or are you saying contested content isn't a gameplay issue?

screelings writes...
My issue is how vague 'contested content' is. Are they speaking about PVE content like Monsters, Resources, what? If its a generalized question thats open in the air it gives them lee way to interpret the question as they want. It gives them ample opportunity to see the answers as they want. They didn't come out and ask .... -Do you want resources to be contested; that is more then one person is going after the same resource? -Do you want to compete with other players for monster kill credit? -Do you want to compete in a PVP world? The question is far too vague and implies they don't want to address the serious issue of telling us where they stand on PVP or Instancing, or just about any of the questions we have yet to have answered in a serious in-depth way. Someone below said "The female dwarf beards question was serious". LOL. How is that even a remotely serious question? That is a purely cosmetic decision that impacts gameplay how? I agree the only real question asked was "super serious fantasy game or not", yet we all know they had a list of classes they wanted to include. The only impact this is likely to have is again...cosmetic (change the name of ninja to assassin, change the name of pistol to hand crossbow, etc.). None of these pose any relevancy in terms of how we are actually going to play the game beyond the very trivial and cosmetic of issues.

mcilrain writes...
It's lack of context. Every aspect of a game needs to work together to form a cohesive whole, or at the very least not conflict with one another. It's impossible to answer questions regarding contested content without knowing anything substantial about the game. It's not like they're going to internalize the feedback so all they're doing is inciting irritating arguments in the community.

Borneheld writes...
Please don't do a round up of info...there is a ass load of those already regurgitated all over the web. Do as you just did...bring the hard facts we all see but no one is saying anything about...that's what I want to read...not that other crap.

HiveB writes...
So, you expected to have decisions that were make it or break it important? What?! Do you think they're stupid? Why would they even advertise the option of a different route then what they are planning to do. Smaller details is really all I ever expected because I never thought they would be stupid enough to crowdsource important mechanics to players. I honestly don't know what you were expecting. However this is extremely early in development. Expect for it not to release for two or three years from now. The amount of early access they have given us is incredible for any game. Most other devs would t show us anything but the barest of bares for a year or two. And you're saying we don't have enough information or power. They use the round table to generate conversations and see how people react to them. Had they started with a few soft balls, sure, but it's going to be there for years, relax.

mcilrain writes...
Thank you! I'm not the blogging type but I was seriously itching to address some of the things you mentioned. Round table is an embarrassment, it's so superficial that it feels almost condescending to watch. EQN is supposed to be a sandbox, right? I feel like I may have misunderstood that detail, a lot of what they've said about the game suggests otherwise and all it would take to remove that doubt is... I don't know... talk about the gameplay? Did their PR division get fired or something? Getting community feedback on specific gameplay elements with no context whatsoever is asinine. It doesn't build hype, it's confusing and irritating (and condescending). SOE needs to start feeding us some information with substance or otherwise we'll starve and go elsewhere. I'm getting real sick of all this non-information.

TheCodeJanitor writes...
> EQN is supposed to be a sandbox, right? I feel like I may have misunderstood that detail I think this is one of my biggest beefs with what they released, and a lot of the hype related to the game since then. What is "sandbox"? It's a very general concept that means different things to different people, and the EQN team hasn't done a good job defining what it means in this game (I'm guessing because it hasn't been decided yet).

screelings writes...
If you ever want a topic written about or a place to post it, I'd gladly solicit your ideas for my own site! Just hit me up on reddit anytime.

Nekryyd writes...
Just my opinion here, but... *This is all a bit like saying people shouldn't have the right to vote because they aren't keenly aware about how government operates.* A balance should be struck somewhere, and although the players might not always know what it's like to be a dev (but then again, some of us *DO*), they do know what they do or do not like, and MORE IMPORTANTLY: **Players know what they WILL or WILL NOT PAY FOR.** Let's keep this in the right perspective...

1eejit writes...
The months of winter are December, January and February.

screelings writes...
in 2013. Unless they plan on going backwards in time to release it earlier this year, that leaves November and December.

1eejit writes...
November is autumn. September, October, November.

Cirolle writes...
Because it would be natural to divide the year up, starting with spring in the first month etc. But thats not how it works hehe

1eejit writes...
I think midwinter solstice used to be the new year as that's when days started to get longer again, then later the spring quarter day (near the spring equinox) was new year in some places.

Cirolle writes...
Yeah. I have double posts in this for some reason, and the reply above was written to another poster further down. No clue what is going on

Borneheld writes...
winter is when its cold...its cold on Nov :)

Cirolle writes...
Some people need to go back to school.. Spring: March, April, May Summer: June, July, August Fall: September, October, November Winter: December, Januar, February We have 12 months, devided up into 4 seasons. 12/4=3. So 3 months for each season. If you "steal" a month from fall and add it to winter, you will end up with a season of 2 months. Its not like it takes a college degree.

screelings writes...
Also... some companies consider "Winter" based on their fiscal reporting year. So... yea. Its pointless to debate such a stupid petty point. All of you ignore the fact that Winter 2013, does not mean January 2014. At least if you use the smallest amount of common sense.

Mastahamma writes...
All I'm seeing in this is a guy complaining about not being drowned in info.

Tyremis writes...
From a developer standpoint. Software in general, just a few things to note. Players/Users don't always know whats best for a game/program. Some directions are set in stone. Some things are just not possible with the tools built or provided to do. With that said, asking Players/Users to be part of the development process isn't really a farce. It generates true direction of a project. You need input from the people who will be using your product to create the product they want to use. The team at EverQuest will not take your suggestions at face value that's not what this process is about. It's about having your ideas and thoughts and feelings shape the ideas they already have. Your suggestions may NOT make it into the game but what you said may have influenced how other aspects of the game are built and designed. For example the rat people... I could care less if they are in the game but finding out if fans want this lets them work towards the ultimate goal of putting them in the game or not. Possibly it might influence a new race that has similar characteristics. (Cute and fluffy) This is "everyone's" game and they intend on trying to make that happen. I see mention that other famous game companies didn't ask for fan input on how to build there block buster AAA product. Well that's a joke... All development companies go through RnD to find out what is worth sinking time and money into. The team over at EverQuest are just using a more transparent model. Your viewing a process that would normally be hidden to a Player/User. You are not wrong, this is about hype but the fact that you can participate and KNOW whats going on does not negate the fact this process would have happened with or without you knowing it did. To address the Landmark game. It's never been done... It's a fantastic idea to give players who WANT to play the game the development tools to effect the world around them without giving them those tools in the real game. I find this incredibly clever. They are essentially sourcing out free development work to garner in world items, zones, buildings, etc.. This will allow them to increase the speed of graphical development and leave the team to work on other tasks. It also gives players a sense of ownership on the world they are about to play in. It's a crazy neat and new idea. I definitely hope it works out for them. I know I will play both games and enjoy the whole process. TL;DR : Development is harder than you think.

Tyrogon writes...
part of me doesn't want the followers to impact the game. The game they claim to be making is going to be different then what people are used to, doesn't mean its bad (it might be). they made the game free so it gives people time to get used to new mechanics. It's going to be a free game. Why do you need to pester them for something they are going to give you? if they were asking you to pre-order i could understand this but they aren't. they already said they are going to release information slowly so people can rap there heads around it.

EuphoricInThisMoment writes...
It can still make sense to complain about things that are free, and the game isn't *really* free anyway. Free-to-play games aren't gifts from generous game developers, they're just games that use a different model of monetization.

Tyrogon writes...
My logic is you have nothing invested in it so you have no right to complain. if you are playing a game and haven't spent anything, then its free. they give you the option to spend money. I'm not going to argue pay2win with you. its SOE and this is not there first f2p game. It would be a good idea to keep the information coming to keep hype up but they have said that they are going to steadily release the information because of how different it will be from what people are used to.

screelings writes...
If they as a company are relying on its financial success.... your logic is flawed. They need players and lots of them....

Loradio writes...
btw, what are your sources that SOE is relying on EQN and EQ: Landmark for their financial success? And is that not the case for every game that hits the market?? The fact that SOE has a plethora of games running right now at least 9 mmo's and 3TCG means they must have a decent sized population of people buying station cash. Imagine if each game had an audience of ~100k thats well into 1 million customers. One single player on any of the games can blow through $100 worth of station cash in a hurry.... I know.. I have done it.. and that was only trying out EQ and Planetside 2... I don't think that SOE is do or die on EQN or EQLandmark... but it might and likely will define them as a game maker in the future.

screelings writes...
Multiple sources smedley said it in his opening speech at soe live and a quote from polygon that did an interview with him. Ill grab a link if you cant use google for it

Loradio writes...
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184805/MMO_devs_will_lose_the_fight_against_content_churn_says_SOEs_Smedley.php#.UQHptGd_2j5 Read this... and then come back and tell me they are hurting for money.... now if you want to dispute that as Dave Georgeson says, ""EverQuest Next is the future of our company," he said. "We're really committed to this." (http://www.polygon.com/2013/8/2/4582742/everquest-next-landmark-sony-online-entertainment) then I will not disagree with you. Every company that is worth an ounce of salt is working and banking on new projects for future income...

screelings writes...
“We’re betting the company’s future on this game. … The last EverQuest game launched in 2005. We’ve blown up two design ideas over the last four years because they were too ‘me too.’ It wasn’t enough of a change. We settled on a design that, when we looked at it, everyone in the room thought we were crazy. We gave it a week and came back, and we all said ‘yeah, we’re still crazy, but we can’t get the idea out of our heads. … It’s going to be the world’s largest sandbox game.” (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184805/MMO_devs_will_lose_the_fight_against_content_churn_says_SOEs_Smedley.php) GG. Combine that with recent layoffs, and you really think its a stretch that a company that's been around this long without significantly large 'hits' is struggling to keep staff on board? I'm not saying the companies going bankrupt, but these quotes hint at a larger deeper truth about how important this title is for them.

Loradio writes...
GG eh? gratz you just disqualified yourself for a sensible argument, but I won't stoop to that level. I will say that your assessment of Tyrogon's logic is garbage. I have very strong doubts that SOE would go bankrupt because they are developing EQN and Landmark. They have done layoffs yes but that is not always indicative of a company's financial situation, but can be a smart business move especially if you are paying people whose jobs have become redundant. In any case even if EQN and Landmark were SOE's last hope for staying afloat, they still don't need to sooth and console anyone out here in internet land with more information. They have started the hype train, and the community is doing a good job of keeping it rolling. We will see more info when the time comes.. and when the game comes out we will see if people show up or not. My guess is it will attract a lot more people than you would think.

Tyrogon writes...
Never said they didn't. just said that you have not invested anything into the game yet. you have no money down on it. they owe you nothing. They announced the game a little over a month ago. They said they are going to try new things with it. The last two gaming conventions were within a month of that initial announcement. did you really expect there to be that much info.

gt4980b writes...
I think the reason we haven't seen much is because they just spent 3 weeks demoing the game across the globe. Terry Michaels tweeted a pic of DG doing another demo yesterday. They haven't had the time to prepare anything else to show. They could post a blog about what's going to be in the game but people would just blogs such as the one above poo-pooing their ideas so what is the point of releasing new info to the cynical community?

thelittleking writes...
The game is in *alpha*. Everybody clamoring to be heard needs to understand that the game is barely a game at this point. Getting a bit ridiculous.

ForeverMarried writes...
So we should just sit back quietly until it is too late? Hint: Once beta is here, most of the design, combat, gameplay, art, you name it, is already set in stone

thelittleking writes...
Isn't that what you do with 98% of games you play? Many of which you enjoy, some of which probably even fanatically?

screelings writes...
Alpha? Eqnl comes out in less then two months. Thats basically the game minus some core systems.

thelittleking writes...
And then it will be in pseudo-beta. edit: Also, I think you have some serious misunderstandings re: game development if you think 'missing a few core systems' means a game is close to release somehow. Those core systems that need to be implemented will need to be thoroughly tested, balanced, and then tested again. The game is a year or more from full release, and possibly even further than that.

77bc writes...
This entire post is a mass of tldr.

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